Berfrois

Owen and Keats

Owen and Keats

Wilfred Owen by Claire Bowen To read Wilfred Owen as anything other than an English war poet might seem like sheer, anachronistic willfulness. Yet Owen’s generational self-understanding develops as a corollary to his assertion that “English poetry” is un-“fit” to speak of war. Owen makes that assertion outright; it’s...

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Ten Foot Alice

Ten Foot Alice

From Alice in Wonderland, Walt Disney Productions, 1951 From Poetry: In a Jefferson Airplane song that was something of a psychedelic anthem, Gracie Slick’s exhortatory, I’m-verging-on-ecstatic, sandpaper growl spoke to the feeling of transformative power that drugs held for a certain kind of user: One pill makes you larger,...

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Wait–Whit–What?

Wait–Whit–What?

by Mike Chasar The January 2013 issue of PMLA has a pretty cool article (“Whitman’s Children“) by Bowdoin College English Professor Peter Coviello that takes as its starting point a couple of babies born after the U.S. Civil War that were named Walt—a nominal tribute that two veterans paid...

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A Very Dark Bargain by Nicholas Rombes

A Very Dark Bargain by Nicholas Rombes

Right at the phrase “…Black beads and broke” – I felt the sharp kick of recognition and, putting The Glimmering Room back down on my desk, understood that Cruz's words activated a dark mechanism whose soft gears I could feel turning within me. They would tear me apart from...

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Daniel Bosch: Dambudzo Marechera

Daniel Bosch: Dambudzo Marechera

Years ago, reviewing Dambudzo Marechera’s collection of stories and poems, The House of Hunger, I called him the Zimbabwean Keats. I don’t want to recant the estimation of the power of his work such a moniker implies, but it should be said that Marechera was no slight, mild-mannered, generous...

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THE CAPACITY

THE CAPACITY

Kirill Medvedev’s poems are easy to get into. He explains situations, tells stories about people. You don’t mind listening and want to hear more. He’s contemplative and calm and reasonable, even when he’s making a wakeup call, dissing and dressing down, asking why things can’t be rearranged. The vocabulary...

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Girls Like Sappho

Girls Like Sappho

Poet and performer Olga Krause traces her life as a lesbian in Russia—from Soviet times, when the word itself was barely known, through increasing acceptance, and back to a newly violent and hostile environment.

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Song of Whitman

Song of Whitman

Walt Whitman, Camden, New Jersey, 1891. Photograph by Samuel Murray by Justin E. H. Smith I am able to read Walt Whitman only in small doses, for fear of being overpowered by a sort of rapturous assent, tears in my eyes, unable to comprehend how it is even possible...

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To Love a Wall?

To Love a Wall?

Robert Frost’s second book, North of Boston (1914), has almost universally been considered the defining moment of his literary maturation. First published in England when the poet was forty years old, it reflected twenty hard and lonely years of quiet artistic development.

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Fingio

Fingio

Critics have long held that, even if Cervantes was at least somewhat aware that his work would be successful, this was only because he knew it was funny, and hoped that, in reading it, as he famously wrote in his first preface to Don Quixote, "the melancholy would be...

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Everything you need to know about love can be found in a canoe…

Everything you need to know about love can be found in a canoe…

From Ascent: Maybe the reason Michael recites poetry whenever we are in the natural world, rather than, say, when doing the dishes or taking out the trash, is to attempt to narrate, to hold within the bounds of language, a kind of beauty, joy, fear that we will never...

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Logan K. Young on The Replacements

I, myself, was barely six months old when Twin/Tone put out The Mats’ Let It Be. The day, they say, was Orwellian: Tuesday, October...

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Tyranny Is a Growth Industry by Vladimir Savich and Zachary Bos

Tyranny is a growth industry. Each day brings exciting new developments. These events imprint themselves upon the world in the form of newspapers, magazines,...

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Tjoa Shze Hui: 1920s

Of the many witticisms that make up The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, one voiced by Picasso really gets under the skin. He says...

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Elias Tezapsidis on Lorentzen, Batuman, Lerner, Smallwood and Stein

Contemporary narrators feel entitled to their own realities now more than ever. The internet has created this fascinating binary, one in which individuals can...

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Henry Giardina on Bob Hope

All mythical creatures need an origin story. The Bob Hope character springs into being, Athena-like, from out of the head of Preston Sturges in...

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Mattilda B. Sycamore: Yearning From Spurning

One problem with gentrification is that it always gets worse. But then I go into a Hooters, and it’s a vintage clothing store. A...

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Alexander McGregor
Alexander McGregor: Trauma

Following World War II, the German philosopher Theodor Adorno wrote, “Nach Auschwitz ein Gedicht zu schreiben, ist barbarisch”: to write poetry after Auschwitz is...

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John Crutchfield: Chords

But music, even bad music, is a symptom of hope, is it not? Naturally one would prefer the music to be good, but any...

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Menachem Feuer on Robin Williams

Regardless of whether you are from Europe, the United States, Asia, or Africa, we can all agree that there is something special about the...

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Reality Principles: Berfrois Interviews Frank Smecker

I don't know if I ever wanted to become a theorist. I struggle with this position. For me, it's a hystericized — and therefore...

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Albert Rolls: Which (Side) Are You On, Man?

James Parker begins his review of Inherent Vice with the quip, “If Thomas Pynchon were a stand-up comedian, and Inherent Vice his newest routine,...

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Keith Doubt
Keith Doubt on Serbia

The intellectual integrity of cultural anthropology is based largely on its commitment to cultural relativism as a principled notion. Cultural relativism is the principle...

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A Gosse in Woolf’s Clothing by Andre Gerard

On May 31, two weeks after his death, and the day before Orlando was sent to the printer, Woolf noted his death as follows:...

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Andrew Gallix: Let’s Go!

Retro-futurism, as we now call it, came out of the closet in the late '70s due to the widespread feeling that there was indeed...

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