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Poetry news, poetry blogs, poetry magazines, poetry journals, poetry sites, poetry links, etc.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004
Thom Gunn has died.

Thom Gunn, 74, Poet Who Left Tradition for the Counterculture, Dies (NY Times):
Thom Gunn, a transplanted British poet identified with the San Francisco scene and the California liberated style, died on Sunday night at his home in San Francisco, his adopted hometown. He was 74.

His death was announced by his companion of 52 years, Mike Kitay.

Acclaimed as one of the most promising young poets of postwar Britain, Mr. Gunn found his own voice after he migrated to California in the 1950's and established himself in San Francisco, his home for the rest of his life. There, he wedded traditional form to unorthodox themes like LSD, panhandling and homosexuality. He experimented with free verse and syllabic stanzas. In doing so he evolved from British tradition and European existentialism to embrace the relaxed ways of the California counterculture.

Thom Gunn (Guardian):
In a poem from his 1982 collection, The Passages of Joy, Thom Gunn delightedly announced: "I like loud music, bars, and boisterous men."

But he immediately provided a characteristically cerebal explanation: these were things "That help me if not lose then leave behind, / What else, the self."

This relationship - balance rather than conflict - between the body's hedonism and the mind's discipline is a central, enduring theme in the work of one of the late twentieth century's finest poets.

More at:

Tuesday, April 27, 2004
A beautiful, impressionistic cine-poem (and a companion piece to her short Chronic), Jennifer Reeves's debut feature combines elements of experimental film, narrative cinema, and documentary to create a stellar example of personal filmmaking. Poet Lisa Jarnot plays Robyn, a borderline agoraphobe who can't prevent the outside world from penetrating her Brooklyn apartment—whether it's a murder-suicide next door, memories of her true love, or September 11.

Anselm Dovetonsils, ladies and gentlemen.

Diagram 4.2 is out.

Sunday, April 25, 2004
Walt Whitman was an awful child molester who was born in ancient Hong Kong. He is over 3,000 years old and remembers the names of all the forgotten gods.

Saturday, April 24, 2004
What's Going On (Tucson Citizen):
Heriberto Yepez - Poet, essayist, short-story writer and translator Heriberto Yepez lectures - 1-3 p.m. at the Poetry Center, 1600 E. First St., on the University of Arizona campus. Call 296-6416.

Run Loses Poet Laureate Bid (www.allhiphop.com):
Rev. Run [of Run/DMC] was denied the status of poet laureate yesterday (April 23) in Queens, New York.

The winner was noted Korean-American poet Ishle Yi Park who is ironically, a poet that appears on Def Poetry, which was created by the younger Simmons' older brother Russell.

Yi Park, 26, said that she was honored to be compared with Run, because she grew up listening to Run and Hip-Hop music. [...]

Simmons said that he felt Queens wasn't ready for a rapper as a poet and was setting a goal of becoming the national poet laureate.

Her journal is here.

Thursday, April 22, 2004
Dylan Thomas's local bought by voice of Bob the Builder.

Poets die young - U.S. study
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Poets die young -- younger than novelists, playwrights and other writers, a U.S. researcher said on Wednesday.

It could be because poets are tortured and prone to self-destruction, or it could be that poets become famous young, so their early deaths are noticed, said James Kaufman of the Learning Research Institute at California State University at San Bernardino.

For the report, published in the Journal of Death Studies, Kaufman studied 1,987 dead writers from various centuries from the United States, China, Turkey and Eastern Europe. He classified the writers as fiction writers, poets, playwrights, and nonfiction writers. He did not study the causes of death.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Sandy Duncan is Emily Dickinson:
Whether she's soaring above the stage in "Peter Pan," or flying solo in the "The Belle of Amherst," Sandy Duncan loves to take risks in the theater.

Americans fell in love with Duncan as the feisty fairy, a role that earned her a 1980 Tony nomination for best actress in a musical. This week, she's playing a more complex character, the poet Emily Dickinson, in a revival of "The Belle of Amherst." Commonwealth Theatre Company is premiering Duncan in the one-woman show Wednesday through Sunday in the Roper Performing Arts Center in Norfolk.

A one-woman show? We won't get to see Emily's wacky neighbors?

Meanwhile, Emily Dickinson's 'castle of sunshine' discusses the Dickinson house and museum.
"famed reclusive poet"
"literary pilgrimage"
"she shut herself off from the world"
"Legend has it"
"climb a curving staircase"
"the woman in the white dress"
"It was not until after Dickinson died"
"found the handwritten poems" [Oh! They weren't typed?]
"The bedroom window, draped with white gauze curtains"

Castle of sunshine or Castle or Otranto?

Tuesday, April 20, 2004
I wonder how much they'll massacre the language?
The NEA this week is unveiling “Operation Homecoming,” in which troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan will attend workshops run by such writers as Tom Clancy, Tobias Wolff and James McBride. The best submissions will be published in an anthology, scheduled to come out at the end of 2005.

“I’ve always believed that one of the signs of a healthy society is when all aspects of that society communicate with each other,” Gioia said.

Twenty-six authors will participate in “Operation Homecoming,” which Gioia expects to get under way this summer. The program has an initial budget of $300,000, with $250,000 donated from Boeing, Inc., a leading defense contractor. Gioia said the Boeing money comes without restrictions and that submissions will be based on artistic merit, not on whether they’re pro- or anti-war.

Tim Yu on what to call it.
The new Chicago Postmodern Poetry site (a spinoff of Ray Bianchi's former Chicago Postmodern Poetry Calendar) is now up [...]

I admit that I'm a little wary about the "postmodern" label that Ray's chosen; academic discourse these days has developed something of an allergy to the term [...]

Not that there's really a good alternative. Ron Silliman uses the term "progressive" to headline his "Philadelphia Progressive Poetry Calendar" (although I originally thought this was meant to suggest people going to each event in succession, like a progressive dinner). For Ron this label is pointedly political--progressive poetics as progressive politics--but no one else really seems to have adopted it, and I can't say "post-avant" with a straight face. If anyone needed evidence that "experimental" as a label is dead, just look at recent arguments on the Poetics list, which suggest that "experiment" has become an empty gesture, a mere label of value. Even Chicago Postmodern Poetry's own about page just complicates things further, declaring itself "firmly rooted for lack of a better term in the innovative 'avant garde' tradition".

So what's left? Well, working on my dissertation has convinced me that "avant-garde" still hasn't outlived its usefulness as a label, in part because it avoids the merely formal connotations of "experimental" and "innovative" and the critical baggage of "postmodern"; it suggests not just an aesthetic but a social formation, a community of writers making its own way. Hope I'm right.

K. Silem Mohammad on the recent “Is Poetry enough? Poetry in a Time of Crisis” conference.
My own thoughts on the “is poetry enough?” question: I read it as “is poetry-as-usual enough?” with "poetry-as-usual" pointing both to dominant media representations and traditions of poetic practice (MFA workshop models, etc.) and to the pre-existing popular conception of the poet as a de facto opponent of war and political oppression. Heriberto’s statement spoke especially effectively (and bitingly) to this liberal fantasy. (Heriberto, any plans to post it on your blog?) Also, “enough” as “enough of what it could/should be” in the hands of the communities that are concerned with the topics addressed at the conference. One idea that almost threatened to emerge once or twice during the course of the day was the question of how we might take our politically-charged experimental practice out of what is sometimes its quasi-academically impenetrable box and make it more available/legible/desirable as a form of public discourse—a medium geared toward “inundation,” to use Eileen Myles’s term.

Born Magazine Spring 2004 is out.
Born Magazine is an experimental venue marrying literary arts and interactive media. Original projects are brought to life every three months through creative collaboration between writers and artists.

Saturday, April 17, 2004
From Britain's shore
(A Toronto Globe & Mail review of New British Poetry, edited by Don Paterson and Charles Simic):
Edited by a young Scot and a well-known American poet, New British Poetry presents the work of 36 British poets born since 1945. Two caveats: "British" here excludes the immensely skilled and influential Northern Irish poets such as Paul Muldoon and Ciaran Carson. Second, because the book is arranged in alphabetical order with an egalitarian three to five poems (or five to eight pages) per poet, it is really a sampler of poets that omits some great poems by important poets (Simon Armitage, Carol Ann Duffy, James Fenton and Paterson himself) in order to give others their due allotment.

That said, it has plenty going in its favour. First off, there's Paterson's own introductory essay, a tour-de-force defence of "mainstream" poetry which deserves to be read by all poets, particularly in Canada, where postmodern schools have been more prevalent than elsewhere. Paterson argues, among other things, that since postmodern poets delegate the production of meaning wholly to the reader, their poems cannot fail; only their readers can fail them. Mainstream poems, in contrast, "make an honest attempt to generate the literal or argumentative context by which they are to be understood," and therefore actually engage a reader who can say true, false, good or bad.

Poet, physicist and father of the bomb:
Already regarded as a genius (he had learned Sanskrit at Harvard), the young Oppenheimer was also a struggling poet. This led to a famous reproof from the British physicist Paul Dirac, who chided him for the time he wasted writing verse. "How can you do both poetry and physics? In physics we try to tell people things in such a way that they understand something that nobody knew before. Whereas in poetry . . ."

(By the way: why is having learned Sanskrit at Harvard evidence of genius?)

Friday, April 16, 2004
How not to run a poetry reading (Kim Addonizio):
Not to get off on a rant here, but the bookstores in the Twin Cities made me wonder what's up with literary presenters who are happy to have writers read but then don't do much of anything to make the event happen. Kudos to Bookstore A--the owner emailed me before the event, got the program listed in the local weekly, and talked up the book to her customers. Result: a good audience, a good time for everyone, and writer and bookstore owner got to sell some books. At Bookstore B, it was clear they weren't motivated to get the visiting writer much of an audience. Result: tiny turnout, no books sold. Did I mention how humiliating this is for a writer? Then there's Public Library C, where I just read--it managed to scare up about four people. I have put on plenty of literary events and I know it's hard to get people out to hear poetry. But if you're not going to do the work of getting an audience to the event--to make it an actual event--don't ask a writer to read, or agree to have a writer read. FYI: Unless the writer is Very Famous, it's your job as a presenter to do audience development, or let the writer know he or she will need to bring their own audience (BYOA). FYI: I am not Very Famous.

The point of posting a poem at As/Is 2 is to get criticism. If you've got the time, there's another poem there right now that could use your critique.

Thursday, April 15, 2004
erasing.org (Scott David Herman):
For the time being, I tentatively maintain that what this photo depicts, in essence, is what I’ve forgotten, a photographic record of one of the countless scenes of my life that I might as well have not even experienced, moved through, been a part of, since no memory of these scenes exists; and that the strange luminous sublevel the stairs descend to might as well be said to be some sort of mnemonic dead-letter office, the sealed-off storeroom where these misdirected memories eventually all end up.

Vestal Jogging (from "Anita Rust"/Paula of Paula's House of Toast)

Dakota (with the sound turned on)

Also, of course, Cunnilingus in North Korea

Johnson published his dictionary on this day in 1755.
ELECTRICITY. n.s. [from electrick. See ELECTRE.] A property in some bodies, whereby, when rubbed so as to grow warm, they draw little bits of paper, or such like substances, to them. Quincy.

Such was the account given a few years ago of electricity; but the industry of the present age, first excited by the experiments of Gray, has discovered in electricity a multitude of philosophical wonders. Bodies electrified by a sphere of glass, turned nimbly round, not only emit flame, but may be fitted with such a quantity of the electrical vapour, as, if discharged at once upon a human body, would endanger life. The force of this vapour has hitherto appeared instantaneous, persons at both ends of a long chain seeming to be struck at once. The philosophers are now endeavouring to interpret the strokes of lightning.

Not a bard job, at the pub
POET Karl Beer has been given £2,500 of Lotto cash — to get DRUNK.

The 27-year-old bard specialises in poems about going out boozing.

And the Lottery cash handout will pay for the “researching” he does at pubs, late-night parties, bars and clubs.

Karl, of Port Talbot, South Wales, aims to write a book about his boozy nights on the tiles.

'Doggerel' politics is all rhyme and rhythm
Calvin Trillin, a columnist for The Nation, is about to released Obliviously On He Sails: The Bush Administration in Rhyme.

Each week, he writes short, rhyming doggerel for The Nation, a magazine known more for its left-wing politics than poetry. Trillin finds poetic inspiration in politicians.

A collection of his verse, to be published by Random House in June, is titled Obliviously On He Sails: The Bush Administration in Rhyme. [...]

Monday night in New York, Trillin was emcee for the Authors Guild Foundation's benefit gala, which honored former poet laureate Robert Pinsky and poetry editor Alice Quinn.

Trillin, an essayist and former reporter for The New Yorker, noted the irony of inviting a "doggerelist" to appear with two serious poets whose work doesn't rhyme. He compared it to having John Grisham introduce an avant-garde novel.

The Authors Guild is an 82-year-old organization designed to "protect writing as a livelihood." In that spirit, Trillin discussed the economics of poetry, in which hundreds of dollars can be earned.

He says The Nation pays him $100 a poem, which explains why "there is never a big crowd in front of the poetry booth at career fairs."

Wednesday, April 14, 2004
Listeners name 'greatest Bengali':
Listeners of the BBC's Bengali service have voted Bangladesh's first president, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the "Greatest Bengali of All Time".
Sheikh Mujibur, assassinated in 1975, easily beat Nobel prize-winning poet and playwright Rabindranath Tagore. [...]

Tagore is revered widely - regarded by many as the Bengali Shakespeare - and is the composer of both the Indian and Bangladeshi national anthems.

In the survey, popular fascination with poetry and rebellion was reflected in the listeners' choice for number three - Kazi Nazrul Islam, a firebrand poet who was jailed by the British for writing subversive verses.

Still revered by Bengalis as the Rebel Poet, Nazrul Islam also composed hundreds of love songs and religious chants.

Can you imagine polling Americans, for example, and getting poets in the second and third spots?

Amherst: Emily Dickinson's world:
AMHERST, Massachusetts (AP) -- For years, the house where Emily Dickinson lived was used as faculty housing by Amherst College.

But fans of the famed reclusive poet, intent on making a literary pilgrimage to the place where she shut herself off from the world, kept leaning on the doorbell and tramping over the lawn.

And so, the college bowed to the inevitable, and the Emily Dickinson Museum was born. [...]

This summer, the college plans to repaint it mustard yellow like it was in the poet's day.

That's a summer job I would enjoy, painting Emily Dickinson's house.

The first of Wole Soyinka's 2004 Reith Lectures is online at BBC Radio 4.
In his first lecture Wole Soyinka considers from his viewpoint as a poet and drawing on his personal experience as a political activist the changes since the Cold War in the nature of fear and its impact on individuals and society. Fear can be bearable, even a force for good, for example bringing a community together to fight a common threat from the natural world like a forest fire, "a kind of fear one can live with, shrug off, one that may actually be absorbed as a therapeutic incidence".

Other kinds of fear, though, are "downright degrading". Crucially, they involve a loss of human dignity and freedom to act. First we had the fear of nuclear war between the superpowers, now "the fear is one of furtive, invisible power, the power of the quasi state, one that is not open to any negotiating structure."

After they are broadcast, each lecture will be posted as printable text and a downloadable .mp3 sound file.

Rare second edition of 'Hamlet' to be auctioned:
A rare edition of William Shakespeare's "Hamlet" could fetch well over $1 million when it is auctioned at Christie's in New York.

The nearly 400-year-old book is one of 19 copies of the 1611 printing of known to exist, and is the only one remaining in private hands. It was owned by Mary Hyde, Viscountess Eccles, a reknowned New Jersey book collector and English literature scholar best known for her extensive Samuel Johnson collection, now at the Houghton Library at Harvard University.

While other rare finds from Lady Eccles' collection are also being auctioned Wednesday, early editions of "King Lear," "Richard II" and "Macbeth" among them, the "Hamlet," because of its condition and rarity, is expected to attract the most attention. Christie's has estimated its worth between $1.5 and $2 million.

[You could buy an actual hamlet with that kind of money.]
Lady Eccles, who was among the first women admitted to the bibliophile Grolier Club in New York, was 91 when she died in August. Her Samuel Johnson collection and other books in her collection were pledged to institutions, including Harvard; the remainder is being auctioned Wednesday, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting her many philanthropic interests.

Meanwhile, Dylan's love letter to Caitlin fetches £12,400:
THE earliest surviving love letter written by Dylan Thomas to his future wife fetched more than £12,000 at auction last night.

It was among a collection of his work that sold for more than £60,000 in total.

The poet's letter to Caitlin Macnamara was sold for $22,800 (£12,400), including buyer's premium - nearly four times its estimated value.

So remember, between auctions and blackmail potential, it pays to hang on to embarrassing love letters.

You're Published. Now the Fun Begins? Think Again. (NY Times):
Writers just want to be humiliated. Over and over again. That's the way it seemed to Robin Robertson, a Scottish poet and editor who solicited authors' reminiscences about their most humiliating moments for a book. The stories poured in. Writers, some famous, seemed only too glad to share their humiliations. The result, "Mortification: Writers' Stories of Their Public Shame," published last month by Fourth Estate, is bound to ensure their humiliations endure, on paper. [...]

The idea for the book came to him after he escorted authors to readings and finding "a sign saying `Reading Canceled,' or three chairs occupied by people released from mental institutions and not thought to be violent," he said. "People who would much rather be gluing seashells to flower pots."

Ancient Islamic Texts Crumble in Africa:
TIMBUKTU, Mali - Lit by a sunbeam slanting through his broken roof, a 16-year-old Islamic student chants verses from a brittle, yellowing page — one of an estimated 1 million ancient texts that experts say are crumbling to dust in this once-thriving city of Islamic learning. [...]

Twice in the past eight years, conservationists working to save the manuscripts have come to this fly-buzzed home of sand floors and outdoor toilets, hoping to buy the disintegrating pages.

But while the family earns no income and lives on handouts, it refuses to part with its sole possession of value — about 40 volumes with ripped bindings and torn pages, heaped in a medical supplies box.

The student, Alhousseini Ould Alfadrou, cites the Prophet Muhammad to explain that holy writ cannot be sold for money.

"So we're obliged to keep them," Alfadrou says. "We're the ones who read them. It's written in these books: Those who read them must protect them."

But scholars say irreplaceable Islamic texts representing a historic era of Muslim culture, including West Africa's unique part in it, are decaying to oblivion in sweltering homes.

Tens of thousands have been rescued and put in safe storage here and abroad, but many more are scattered around Timbuktu — private heirlooms handed down from parents to children over the centuries.

The Timbuktu texts "are probably among the most important unused scholarly materials in the world," said Chris Murphy of the U.S. Library of Congress, who was co-curator of an exhibition of 23 of the manuscripts in Washington last year.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004
National acclaim for young poet:
Grasshopper. Had one. Kept it. Tickling. It jumped away. I let it go. I was touching something live.

Quick Picks (Inc.com)
When Ford Motor Co. asked Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Marianne Moore to christen a new automobile, she suggested the Silver Sword, the Resilient Bullet, and the Utopian Turtletop. Ford rejected them all and instead chose...the Edsel.

I wonder how other poets would name cars...

Monday, April 12, 2004
Attar, the Man Who Spoke to Birds:
Today [April 13] marks the birth anniversary of Attar. Attar, Farid-ud-Din Mohammad ibn Ebrahim was born in Neyshabur and lived about 1119?-1220?. He lived for nearly 100 years and was killed by the Mongol invaders. [...]

Attar is one of the most ancient poets of Persia. His work has been a source of inspiration for Rumi and many other mystical Persian poets. Rumi considered Attar the spirit and Sana’i the eyesight, both of whom his poetic masters. Attar met Rumi at the end of his life when Rumi was only a boy and gave his book Asrarnameh (Book of Secrets) as a present to him.

Has anyone seen an online edition of The Conference of the Birds?

Masterpiece: Chagall:
Here, Chagall's mother recognised his talent but his father thought he had a better future as a clerk. Nonetheless, money was found to give him art lessons, though it wasn't to last. As Chagall explained: "I was incapable of learning. Or rather, it was impossible to teach me."

Not poetry, but there isn't much, poetry or otherwise, that is better than Chagall.

Sunday, April 11, 2004
Symphonies for the red devil (Scotsman):
Yet as Stalin’s power became absolute, no aspect of life could escape his personal influence. Music was taken under state control in 1932, and "socialist realism" became its dogma. Tolstoy had used realism to highlight the plight of the oppressed; but in Stalin’s Russia there were no longer supposed to be any social problems. Art instead had to celebrate the triumphs of socialism. In music, anything that failed to toe the line was denounced as "formalism", and The Nose became a perfect target.

Formalism meant anything progressive or intellectually challenging. Volkov quotes a letter by the novelist Alexander Fadeyev - Stalin’s chief literary bureaucrat - more or less defining it as "capable of satisfying only people in glasses, with skinny legs and thin blood".

Left poet pens 40-verse ode to Vajpayee (IANS):
Hindus have their Hanuman 'chalisa', a 40-verse salutation to the monkey god. Now a poet here has penned an 'Atal chalisa' on the same lines glorifying Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. [...]

In India's chaotic, clamorous electoral exercise, all kinds of populist campaign tools -- stars, film lyrics tailored to the party or the candidate and traditional folk songs -- have been used to attract the all-important voter.

But Vajpayee is the first prime minister to feature in a chalisa, literally meaning 40 stanzas, which were composed for devotees of Hindu gods to be recited during their prayers.

Saturday, April 10, 2004
From Through the oval window (Guardian): "Robert Potts on why the famously obscure poet Jeremy Prynne deserves wider acclaim in the UK"
Although Prynne has a sizeable following in England, it sometimes feels as if his international reputation is much larger: in France, the US and, markedly, in China. When the French poet Jérôme Game, the reading's organiser, introduced Prynne it was as the most important living English poet: the same claim some critics perceived in Randall Stevenson's recent Oxford English Literary History, and which launched an unlikely flurry of media interest recently.

Part of the pleasure for some readers, including myself, is the discovery of fresh vantage points on the world, garnered from chasing references in the poems, whether historical, musical, literary, scientific or economic. As one reader has said, "the experience I always get reading Prynne, going to the dictionary and the encyclopedia, is the excitement I was cheated out of by my education, having it all served up, rather than, like my grandfather, finding it out for myself (after work) with great effort and little societal encouragement."

The recent controversy over Prynne's merits has made more people aware of his work, at a time when all of it is easily available. It is undeniable that his poetry offers both pleasures and challenges of an unusually complex kind: and it is for precisely this reason that many people will testify, without hyperbole or sentimentality, that his poetry has changed their lives.

Also, a bit of Triodes.

Everyone is the current or former poet laureate of some damned place, so why not make Joseph Simmons (the Run of Run/DMC) the poet laureate of Queens?

Here are the lyrics he is supposed to have submitted with his application for the job.
Christmas In Hollis

It was December 24th on Hollis Ave in the dark
When I see a man chilling with his dog in the park
I approached very slowly with my heart full of fear
Looked at his dog oh my God an ill reindeer
But then I was illin because the man had a beard
And a bag full of goodies 12 o'clock had neared
So I turned my head a second and the man had gone
But he left his driver's wallet smack dead on the lawn
I picket the wallet up then I took a pause
Took out the license and it cold said "Santa Claus"
A million dollars in it, cold hundreds of G's
Enough to buy a boat and matching car with ease
But I'd never steal from Santa, cause that ain't right
So I'm going home to mail it back to him that night
But when I got home I bugged, cause under the tree
Was a letter from Santa and all the dough was for me

It's Christmas time in Hollis Queens
Mom's cooking chicken and collard greens
Rice and stuffing, macaroni and cheese
And Santa put gifts under Christmas trees
Decorate the house with lights at night
Snow's on the ground, snow white so bright
In the fireplace is the yule log
Beneath the mistle toe as we drink egg nog
The rhymes you hear are the rhymes of Darryl's
But each and every year we bust Christmas carols
(Christmas melodies)

Rhymes so loud and prod you hear it
It's Christmas time and we got the spirit
Jack Frost chillin, the ?orchas out?
And that's what Christmas is all about
The time is now, the place is here
And the whole wide world is filled with cheer

My name's D.M.C. with the mic in my hand
And I'm chilling and coolin just like a snowman
So open your eyes, lend us an ear
We want to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I checked a few sites and they all have "?orchas out?" instead of whatever he really sings. Unless, of course, he sings, "question mark orchas out question mark" in the song.

Anyway, it looks like he's a formalist. Old school.

The Write Stuff from Tasmania:
An online journal miscellany of literary content from downunder and elsewhere.

Edited by Anne Kellas of North of the latte line.

Thursday, April 08, 2004
A critical gap (Lebrecht Weekly):
...for the difference between Anglo and American broadsheet journalism is slight, even between Tory Telegraph and conscience-wringing New York Times. Both favour the free world, the free market and the free expression of honestly-held views.

There is, however, one striking anomaly. Turn to the arts sections and you will find a divergence so extreme in tone and content that you will rub your eyes and wonder whether the two papers are discussing the same subject. Every serious British newspaper carries two, three or more pages of arts commentary and criticism which report, reflect and review a razzle of activity in a style which may be ponderous, or provocative, or purely piss-taking.

No American newspaper dares venture past the first of these ps. The tone in US arts coverage is uniformly respectful, uninquiring, inherently supportive.

Slammer Taylor Mali at Cornell:
Ticket: Your new live CD, "Conviction," is very accessible.

Mali: That's the difference between spoken word and poetry. Those who write for the page know that the biggest thing they have on their side is that if the reader doesn't get it, he or she can go back to read it over and over again.

But if you're writing for an audience--which is spoken word's main difference from poetry--then your poetry has to be immediately accessible, because if the audience doesn't get it, they can't go back and check it. So it's okay to put in allusions to Dante's Inferno, but the success of your poem can't hinge upon the audience's knowledge of "The Divine Comedy." [...]

T.S. Elliot screwed that up. He turned poetry into something you had to go to school in order to learn how to understand it. He was one of the first New Critics, who if nothing else, validated "close readings"of a poem. They basically believed it was perfectly legitimate to talk about what a poem means, and show evidence for it, even if it wasn't what the poet intended. So lot of people went to graduate school to write and understand poetry, and academic poetry exploded and flooded the market with all kinds of poets who are utterly and completely opaque and abstruse. Subsequently, poetry did experience a decline in popularity.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004
I didn't take much notice of this:
Scientists who have been examining what they thought were Petrarch's remains have discovered that the skull belongs to someone else. And they suspect it could be that of a woman.

until I saw this headline!
Head hears of prize - by phone

Unfortunately, it wasn't Petrarch's head on the phone.
A HEADTEACHER was interrupted on his pilgrimage to the World War I grave of a celebrated Welsh poet with the news that he had just won a top Eisteddfod prize. [...]

Sunday, April 04, 2004
(This would be a lot more fun to write, and maybe to read, if I had a real internet connection. Anyone else ever browsed the net with an old PC clone over a Polish telephone line? If I were driving, this would be a Yugo over rough terrain.)

Stevens Walk in Hartford, Connecticut:
So, is there any place in Hartford devoted to Stevens? The answer is "Yes ... and no, not yet," according to Schnaidt. That place is in fact a set of places: the two-mile route the poet walked every workday between his home at 118 Westerly Terrace and his office on Asylum Avenue. The city of Hartford has officially named this route "The Wallace Stevens Walk," and the HFEWS have begun raising funds to place thirteen black granite markers along the Walk, each inscribed with a stanza from Stevens' poem "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird." These stones will constitute a fitting memorial for a poet who, like his great Romantic predecessor William Wordsworth, composed many of his poems while walking. Until the commemorative markers are erected, however, there will be no visible sign of Stevens' route for the visitor who wants to trace the poet's daily peregrinations.

Meanwhile, in Lowell, Massachusetts:
On working-class Lupine Street, where a plaque commemorates five neighborhood veterans, there is nothing to mark the apartment as the birthplace of Mill City's most famous son. But even as Kerouac's legacy remains unheralded in his hometown, his literary reputation is enjoying an international revival of unprecedented proportions.

Friday, April 02, 2004
riley dog has moved to Old Crow, Yukon.