Micah Towery

What’s Your Style Book of Choice?

October 8, 2010
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I followed Strunk religiously until I read Geoffrey Pullum’s extensive bitchfest in the Chronicle of Higher Education about Strunk & White, and in recent years I have reconsidered my devotion.

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LOLcatspeak, pt. 2? The Internet of Babel

October 1, 2010
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I tend to believe that we don’t realize that technology is (always already?) an assumption about the world (as one philosopher called it “an account of the good”), not only a tool. Ironically, this writer is lamenting the disappearance of languages via the internet, which has become battering ram of English domination. The more I read and learn, the more I think that questions of technology and how man relates to nature are primary questions (not economics, race, sexuality, etc.—in many ways, the controversies over these can be directly traced to questions of technology).

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The Story of English and LOLcats

October 1, 2010
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Now for a spin on the story of English from the internet age…LOLcats. In particular, the LOLcat Bible Translation Project. Many linguists depend upon the work of Bible translators deployed around the world in remote (to us, at least) regions of the world. I happen to know a man who worked as a Bible translator and created the only existing dictionary in the world for his regional dialect. Concerns about dictionaries (and their purpose) aside, the LOLcats Translation begs a question: is LOLcats a true pidgin English? It has a history, it has its own grammar and rules, and now it has its own Bible.

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The Cartographer Electric is Dead

September 30, 2010
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This was a true community magazine, and it fed on the energy of the readings and was inspired into existence the other poets we knew and were excited to read. It was a great experience, and I think that everyone should start a small community rag like this. It doesn’t have to be big or ambitious…just something that you share between you, your friends, and their friends. I don’t spend lots of time reading the latest issue of Ploughshares, but I was always interested in reading local indie rags like the one we were putting out.

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Thoughts on “Mock Orange” and Minimalism

July 14, 2010
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Minimalism is not about powerful messages about the nihilism or poverty of the human condition (though it’s certainly easy to think so!). Instead, minimalist art creates a framework through which you view the world. It gives you the bones of the skeleton and then you fill out the flesh. But watch out! The minimalist artist still controls the bones (and hence the body that you have put on them). Minimalism is as silent as the movie frame.

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More about McLuhan and the Poetic Line

July 10, 2010
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When McLuhan described linearity (I think he actually used the term lineality…not sure if there’s a difference? Spell check doesn’t recognize the latter, if that means anything!), I couldn’t help but think about the poetic line and the way it is changing. As print culture (and hence the divorce made by the phonetic alphabet) ends, we move from the line, back to the field, back to non-linear, acoustic space.

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The Future of Poetry at the Research University

June 27, 2010
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Wendell Berry recently decided to pull his personal papers from the University of Kentucky, and it got me thinking. While I know this news story isn’t directly related to the topic of poetry (and this is–loosely–a poetry blog), I can’t help but feel it connects on some other level as we (poets) think about the […]

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Poetry Fix Episode 1: Robert Hass.

June 25, 2010

[Episode 1 of "Poetry Fix"]

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Print and Rhyme

June 24, 2010
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I’ve been reading a lot of Marshall McLuhan in the last several months. I know he’s not the most fashionable critic anymore, but I admire his attitude toward culture. I’ve heard some call him a “futurist” but this seems to run directly counter to McLuhan as I read him. If anything, McLuhan is a medievalist […]

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Hamlet and his (Public) Problems

May 28, 2010
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Hamlet self-consciously reveals his inner thoughts to an audience he does/n’t know is there. Perhaps this soliloquy is a proto-modern lyric?

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Excerpt from The Book of Tea: “V. Art Appreciation”

May 14, 2010
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V. Art Appreciation Have you heard the Taoist tale of the Taming of the Harp? Once in the hoary ages in the Ravine of Lungmen stood a Kiri tree, a veritable king of the forest. It reared its head to talk to the stars; its roots struck deep into the earth, mingling their bronzed coils […]

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Herman Melville Drinks Your Milkshake

May 13, 2010
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I was fortunate enough to have a American Literature professor who blew off the typical survey class BS and just gave us some of the best literature of the 19th century: Hawthorne, Dickinson, Melville, among others… In that class, I read Moby-Dick for the first time. I believe I read most of it over the course […]

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Imitation/Interaction: the Greek Anthology, Augustine, the Psalms

April 28, 2010
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It’s immediately clear why Augustine is often seen as the last classical and first medieval man. He marks the ultimate synthesis of classical rhetoric and sensibilities with the concept of self that marked the Judeo-Christian tradition. As Cahill points out, the Psalms stand out among classical literature, as exceptionally personal. Augustine, says Ronald Heine, was “the undisputed master of using the psalms to lay one’s soul bare before God in the praise and confession of prayer….The psalms permeate everything Augustine wrote.” Rowan Williams points out that the very first sentence of Confessions is a quotation from the psalms. Augustine weaves them throughout such that we hardly know when the words are his and when they are not (a modern citation nightmare).

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Incantations: Michael S. Harper, A Love Supreme

April 13, 2010
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NOTE: In lieu of Grossman today, I’m posting a short essay I wrote on Michael S. Harper’s poem “Dear John, Dear Coltrane” for one of my classes back at Hunter’s MFA program. Listen to the following as you read: A Love Supreme It is almost impossible to read Michael S. Harper and not feel as though […]

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Closing a Poem (Blogging through Grossman, Part 6)

April 6, 2010
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How do you know when you’re “done” a poem? I’m not speaking about revision, but rather, the act of writing, particularly lyrical free verse. Donna Masini once described it to me (or a class I was in—can’t remember which), as a settling in the body: a literal sense in the poet’s body that there is […]

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Do Movie Critics Matter?

March 25, 2010
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Journalistic standards have changed so drastically that, when I took the podium at the film circle’s dinner and quoted Pauline Kael’s 1974 alarm, “Criticism is all that stands between the public and advertising,” the gala’s audience responded with an audible hush—not applause.

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