Berfrois

Poetry can restore our sight…

Poetry can restore our sight…

Protesters chanting against SCAF in Tahrir Square, November 2011. Photograph by Hossam el-Hamalawy. by Yahia Lababidi It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there. - William Carlos Williams Physical distance is difficult because of the helplessness...

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Neil Besner: Where Rivers Meet

Neil Besner: Where Rivers Meet

What is a map, and which maps are memory’s or imagination’s to invoke, and then how? What lies in the incantatory power of names, or in the pull North or South, West or East? What is time, what is memory, and what’s imagined about these plain facts here, or...

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Larkin Wrote Poems

Larkin Wrote Poems

Philip Larkin From Humanities: Philip Larkin started writing poems in 1938 when he was fifteen or sixteen and very nearly stopped about ten years before he died at sixty-three. His reputation, during his lifetime, was based almost entirely on three collections published at intervals of  approximately ten years: The...

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Nicholas Rombes: Flowers Cover Everything

Nicholas Rombes: Flowers Cover Everything

by Nicholas Rombes 1. My life, in those days, was to be defined by three female poets: Dana Levin, Olena Kalytiak Davis, and Brigit Pegeen Kelly. Where lies the fault in that? Could I be blamed for seeing darkness in everything? Or for feeling, at some point of no...

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The Awful Daring

The Awful Daring

T. S. Eliot in 1923. Photography by Lady Ottoline Morrell From Poetry: In the summer of 1918, T.S. Eliot was alarmed by the news that the American armed forces in Europe, then engaged in the final campaign against Germany, would begin to conscript American citizens living in England. Eliot...

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Charles LaPorte: Seeming Prey

Charles LaPorte: Seeming Prey

Victorian poetry is famous for documenting the emergence of key strains of secular modern thought, including those associated with natural science and modern biblical criticism. Breathtaking advances in astronomy, geology, and evolutionary biology during this era had produced a very different looking cosmos from that imagined in the book...

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X & Co.

X & Co.

Melvin B. Tolson by Harris Feinsod Whenever a new anthology of modern U.S. poetry comes along, it seems that some distinguished critic or other is fated to take up arms, defending his or her vision of canonical distinction against the treachery of “inclusiveness.” The latest eminence to cast herself...

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High Ships

High Ships

Lampudesa From Poetry: Across the piazza, there’s a little museum for the found leavings of refugees. Here are the things that wash up: plates, water bottles, prayer books in every imaginable language. Its curator is Giacomo Sferlazzo, in dreadlocks, who is a painter and musician (he gives me a...

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What do poetry editors do with all their time?

What do poetry editors do with all their time?

From Poetry: In a conversation I’m picturing, an imaginary American novelist named Pat is having drinks with a poet who is also the editor of some sort of poetry journal.  This poet is named Kendall: Pat: Does it ever happen that someone gives you a poem for your magazine,...

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Magdalena Slyk: Congrats Tomas!

Magdalena Slyk: Congrats Tomas!

Tomas Tranströmer by Magdalena Slyk After I had been studying Swedish for three years, and had begun to read an increasing amount of Swedish literature, I encountered the poetry of Tomas Tranströmer. At first, I found that it was not easy to read and understand all the different images...

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Nicholas Rombes on Olena Kalytiak Davis

Nicholas Rombes on Olena Kalytiak Davis

Olena Kalytiak Davis, photograph by Gerard Malanga by Nicholas Rombes What I said at the end last time, about how my friend K. never showed up at the bar, wasn’t exactly true. He did show up, disheveled and unshaven, his black hair long and a little greasy and almost...

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As a Fly

As a Fly

Williams skipped college, enrolling directly in the University of Pennsylvania’s medical school in 1902, and it was there that he met Pound, along with Hilda Doolittle, who would become the poet known as H.D. when Pound showcased her poems in the various Imagist manifestoes and anthologies that flourished in...

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Niklas Schiöler on Tomas Tranströmer

Niklas Schiöler on Tomas Tranströmer

Franz Schubert’s handwritten sheet music by Niklas Schiöler The opening lines of Tomas Tranströmer’s poem “Schubertiana” from 1978 are: In the evening darkness at a place outside New York, an outlook where you can perceive eight million people’s homes in a single glance. The giant city there is a long...

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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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