Wednesday, April 23, 2014
  • It’s a commonplace in the UK that the seventy-nine-year-old Geoffrey Hill is the best poet now writing in English, which doesn’t mean it’s not true.
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  • Perhaps it is this curious view of life, shaped with such visual exactness, and at the same time, with quiet matter-of-factness, that draws ever more readers to Tranströmer. His poetic investigation of the complex human identity, as well as his construction of bridges between nature, history and the dead never results in structured patterns or in loud-voiced confessions.
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  • When trying to kick off a discussion in class, I often ask my students to begin by stating the obvious. So I’ll take my own advice here, in hopes that others will find herein a (k)not to worry or a sturdy scaffold upon which to hang some heavy ideas.
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  • Many years ago, when there were still second-hand bookshops in which to skulk, I found a leather-bound volume with ‘BENTLEY’S HORACE’ on its spine. It was only twenty quid, so I dropped into the standard routine for bagging a bargain.
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  • I had been working on a long short story, “The Messiah Detective Agency,” when I came across Dana Levin’s book of poems In the Surgical Theatre.
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  • The recent controversy over Blazevox Books’ publishing practices, by Internet standards now an ancient five days past and quickly fading from memory, brought up a lot of philosophical issues regarding small press publishing and also about what one might call the author fantasy in contemporary American culture.
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  • The New American Poetry both captured and helped to create the spirit of the 1960s.
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  • The question of whether Zukofsky is truly neglected (and of whether said neglect has been just) is far less interesting than the simple fact that one can approach Zukofsky with a readerly freshness—an innocence, if you will—that is perilously hard to come by for such art without equal.
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  • On a winter day in 1883, aboard a steamer that was returning him from Marseilles to the Arabian port city of Aden, a French coffee trader named Alfred Bardey struck up a conversation with a countryman he’d met on board, a young journalist named Paul Bourde.
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  • One of a series of nine of his pieces published in the Experimental Music Catalogue’s Verbal Anthology (1972), Gavin Bryars’ Far Away and Dimly Pealing is a challenge.
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  • In March 1970, the poet Ted Hughes found himself in a tricky real estate situation. There was a charming seaside house he wanted to buy, in Devonshire, but the necessary funds weren’t at hand.
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  • Robert Penn Warren, Carl Sandburg, and Sherwood Anderson himself all testified to Seager’s talent and skill. Poet and novelist James Dickey said he owed his career to reading Amos Berry
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  • “Knoblauch and Dibble” is in that poem because I was writing right after my kid was born, and my brain felt completely empty, so I would let things in as I was hearing them.
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  • What did Chinese poetry sound like in 1914 to speakers of English who knew nothing about the Chinese language and had to rely exclusively on translations?
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  • Reading the late Inger Christensen’s poetry collections Light, Grass, and Letter In April (New Directions; 148 pages), as translated by Susanna Nied, is akin to stepping into a river of deceptive depth.
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  • Art and writing at the end of the 1960s had expanded into new kinds of experience. Almost anything could suddenly be labeled “art”—a pile of tires, a conversation, the sound of rain outside a window.
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  • Early in the twentieth century, there is evidence of faith and prayer in poetry, and of belief in the sacred. Toward the middle of the century, there is a discernible shift toward alienation from the deity.
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  • Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA, for short) probably wouldn’t describe themselves as poetry.
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  • Bradley and DuBois are on Lupe’s side. Like highbrows of all genres, they mock the best seller (Vanilla Ice comes in for a sharp word) and praise the obscure.
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  • When at age 4 my daughter Anna became increasingly anxious at bedtime, I tried coaxing her to sleep with the most melodious poems I knew.
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  • We spend so much time grappling with thought itself that we often shortchange the process of thinking. An impenetrability congeals somewhere in that interzone between the noun and verb.
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  • You will enter a dim room appointed with fireplaces, silk tapestries, velvet banquettes, and damask wall hangings flecked with tiny mirrors and sequins
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  • I spend a lot of time at a pharmacy which is also a bookstore and at which a prominent scholar tells me a global ethnomusicologist to whom I have for a long time only been very scarcely connected via the Internet is, in fact, a jerk. This is a dream. I wake up and decide to write about Ara Shirinyan’s book, Your Country Is Great.
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  • I’m an economist. Yet poetry is my first stop on the way to invention—discovery of metaphors. No matter the audience, a model is a metaphor. Not every economist understands that. Poetry can fill the gap between reason and emotion, adding feelings to economics.
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by Kristen Zipperer
There are very few Urdu writers who have written about these despondent days in Pakistan’s history, with perhaps one notable exception. Intizar Husain is a novelist and short story writer whose work takes an unrelenting look at man’s attempt and ultimate failure to keep his humanity during the post-Partition period.
by Daniel Bosch
Even before the camera slowly swings upward from her mouth to her eyes, even before we realize that those are not opaque black pits but irises, the first frames of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo have made us conscious of how a camera and a screen limit and fix visual perception — even with all their jump cuts, films concentrate better than we do. And so it is strangely a relief to fall as we do into the pupil of the eye that Hitchcock’s camera enters.
by Stephen T. Asma
In his 1790 Critique of Judgment, Kant famously predicted that there would never be a “Newton for a blade of grass.” Biology, he thought, would never be unified and reduced down to a handful of mechanical laws, as in the case of physics. This, he argued, is because we cannot expunge teleology (goal-directedness) from living systems. The question “what is it for?” applies to living structures in a way that has no corollary in physics.
by Eric Schneider
Were Philadelphia police different? In some ways, yes; in other ways, no. City police may not have exchanged their badges for the white hoods of vigilante groups, but a nearly completely white police force held the same racial prejudices of the Philadelphia neighborhoods from which they were recruited.
by Russell Bennetts
Wittgenstein certainly regarded himself as a philosopher, and certainly believed in the fundamental truth of what he was saying. So it would be a misleading oversimplification to maintain that he was “against philosophy” or against “the possibility of philosophical truth”. More accurately, what he criticized was a certain kind of philosophy – perhaps the dominant kind in the West.
by Michael B. Katz
The biological definition of poverty reinforces the idea of the undeserving poor, which is the oldest theme in post-Enlightenment poverty discourse. Its history stretches from the late eighteenth century through to the present. Poverty, in this view, results from personal failure and inferiority. Moral weaknesses – drunkenness, laziness, sexual promiscuity – constitute the most consistent markers of the undeserving poor.
by Volker M. Welter
Following a map for a driving tour along Palm Spring’s mid-twentieth century Modernist homes and buildings, I had just peeked at Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann House, the rebellious sibling from 1947 of Frank Lloyds Wright’s Fallingwater House in Pennsylvania, which was begun for the same client in 1935. Figuring out on the map where to drive to next, a house whose owner was identified as Dr. Franz Alexander caught my attention.
by Albert Rolls
Consider, for example, the Pynchon anecdotes told by the television producer Deane Rink — who attended Cornell a few years after Pynchon and studied creative writing under Walter Slatoff, with whom Pynchon had also studied. Rink tells his stories as part of an early Web exercise in which he sent emails for publication to the B&R Samizdat Express at the end of 1996, when he was in McMurdo, Antarctica, to work on Live from Antarctica (1997) for PBS productions.
by Cain Todd
In an effort to be interdisciplinary, and to keep up with the current trend for all things neuroscience, I recently attended a conference in Berlin on neuroaesthetics. One of only two philosophers in the room, I found myself on the receiving end of an incredibly hostile attack after asking a question of the founding guru of the discipline, the neuroscientist Professor Semir Zeki of University College London.
by Patricia Emison
I came to John Berger’s Ways of Seeing through the back door. About a decade after the four-part series on the BBC (1972) had excited attention as a scrappy response to Kenneth Clark’s staid Civilisation (1969), I read the book because the title was so often cited. I confess that I was left wondering what all the fuss was about. It was a little, murkily grey book that seemed to make rather obvious points about how the Old Masters had reinforced orthodoxies to which we no longer subscribe.
by Frank R. Stockton
In the very olden time there lived a semi-barbaric king, whose ideas, though somewhat polished and sharpened by the progressiveness of distant Latin neighbors, were still large, florid, and untrammeled, as became the half of him which was barbaric. He was a man of exuberant fancy, and, withal, of an authority so irresistible that, at his will, he turned his varied fancies into facts. He was greatly given to self-communing, and, when he and himself agreed upon anything, the thing was done.
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