Berfrois

Two Lines of Poetic Development

Two Lines of Poetic Development

What seems to me chiefly remarkable in the popular conception of a Poet is its unlikeness to the truth. Misconception in this case has been flattered, I fear, by the poets themselves.

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Gertrude Stein’s texts always stress infinite forward motion…

Gertrude Stein’s texts always stress infinite forward motion…

Gertrude Stein by Samuel Vriezen Fail again. Fail better. Fail again. Better again. Or better worse. Fail worse again. Fail better worse now.” By the writer who most famously explored the theme of failure, Samuel Beckett, this sequence is one of the most famous instances, from his...

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Ron Rosenbaum on Auden, Larkin and Love

Ron Rosenbaum on Auden, Larkin and Love

I was prompted to revisit these ancient questions anew by a long footnote about a single line in the new Complete Poems edition of Philip Larkin’s poetry. The footnote refers to “An Arundel Tomb”—widely regarded as one of Larkin’s finest poems—and contains a provocative remark about that the poem’s...

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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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