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On Gene Tanta’s “Critical Introduction to Unusual Woods.”

October 30, 2010
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Even though both the form and content of Gene Tanta’s work are particular to his Romanian-immigrant experience, he insists that his poetry is accessible to everyone. His poetry, he says, exists both as aesthetic objects and political propaganda. This is absolutely true about all poetry, not just his own. Inevitably, literary criticism will come to see that literature is always both.

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How to Edit Poems in a Workshop (Towards a Different Kind of Workshop, Part III)

October 30, 2010
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Break up into groups, something they love to do now-a-days: Line/space coach, image/word choice coach, rhythm/syntax coach, and meaning/subtext coach.

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Death of Self: Memorization

October 27, 2010
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Even just reading poetry aloud is better than reading silently — silent reading is a relatively new phenomenon. But memorizing engages reading, writing, speaking, hearing, and memory. Memory is one of our most complex powers and is interconnected with our other senses. Memorizing actually brings a poem to life.

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Trying to do something important: a couple of thoughts on ambition in a work of art

October 27, 2010
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Melville worries that his ambition will fail, that his picture of the whale will “remain unpainted at the last.” He is always aware he’s always on the verge of the whole thing breaking down, but the ambition is there. Beating underneath. It acts as the will to will it onward, the drive to make it work, a promise to try to do something great, the stakes that are high enough to make it worth while even if the whole thing fails.

Ambition, all by itself, makes the work a thing of value.

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Poetry Comic from the Monsieur Fragments

October 25, 2010
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When the TV came / We wept

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Joe Weil’s Must Have Books (Towards a Different Kind of Workshop, Part II)

October 23, 2010
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Some days in a writing workshop should be like rainy days with a coloring book.

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An Asshole in the Service of Heaven

October 21, 2010
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My aesthetic test for music when I was 13 still applied: if I play a song one hundred times in a row, and, on the last playing, it still has an effect, then it is part of my synaptic hit parade, and can never be vanquished.

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How to Ransack a Poem for Parts, Part II

October 19, 2010
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Voice cannot be ransacked because true voice, unlike tone, may be inconsistent within its range of indicators. The ability to play a modulating voice against a consistent tone is a deep mystery of poetics—especially of what we might call the conversational poem.

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A Beautifully Scrambled Egg

October 19, 2010
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Mathews is just talking about how to cook eggs. He’s paying really close attention to both the delicate things eggs are the delicate process of cooking them. What for? Because it’s frickin’ awesome. Shut up and enjoy the eggs.

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Scotch Wave of Light

October 18, 2010
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Klein speaks for those of us who are trying to decipher between what is real and what is illusion; these poems depict a speaker who is, like many of us today, trying to stay not only alive, but sentient, all the while bearing witness to the current tides of war, financial collapse, and personal loss.

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The Paris Review’s implement fetish

October 18, 2010
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William Styron didn’t write in notebooks. He tried notebooks, but they didn’t work for him. They do work for Paul Auster, though, so he writes in notebooks. He likes the ones with gridded lines, which he calls “quadrille lines — the little squares.” When Auster’s done with the notebooks he types everything up. He has a typewriter he bought in 1974.

What is that supposed to tell us? What does this reveal about Styron? What do we know or understand about Auster that we didn’t before?

Joseph Heller wrote stuff down on 3×5 cards he kept in his wallet, which he called a “billfold” in ’74. Gore Vidal writes fiction on yellow legal pads, but essays and plays on a typewriter. John Updike had a typewriter too and Jack Kerouac had two. Gay Talese wrote outlines in different colors of ink or the shirt boards he got when his clothes come back from the drycleaners.

What if none of this information actually acts to reveal anything?

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How to Ransack a Poem for Parts

October 16, 2010
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Hunch against the wind. / Call to the shadows / of lengthening children.

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Sarah V. Schweig, Zachary Pace, & more!

October 15, 2010

[Reading: Oct 22]

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Is Democracy Incompatible with the Humanities?

October 15, 2010
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Humanities programs aren’t being attacked because the voters are cretinous philistines (though we poets & writers prefer to stroke our own egos in thinking so). The humanities are suffering an identity crisis and are being picked off as the weakest competitors for state funding.

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More Construction Notes

October 14, 2010

Just a few things to notice about the site redesign.

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Outing and Demonizing

October 12, 2010

I don’t believe in “blessings” in disguise. I don’t believe that all that doesn’t kill me, strengthens me. I believe I was murdered emotionally. I believed that an already severe sadness was aggravated by being taunted relentlessly. This kid who was outed without his permission, who was exposed for the “entertainment” value of the reality TV culture is not merely an instance of gay bashing. He is a test of our failure not to torture. He is a victim of our pro-exposure, lack of empathy, sociopathic contempt for privacy or kindness. I keep his picture on my desk. I look at him every day.

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