On Poetry

August 8, 2013

Doses of Medicine: The Words and Wisdom of Louise Glück 3

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Glück’s work has always “spoken” to me more than many poets because she examines the concerns I have about being in the world: loneliness and being alone, searching for happiness, and desiring to have my feelings validated, though they often aren’t.

July 1, 2013

Frank O’Hara’s Lessons for Being Gay 6

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In this moment of giving thanks and talking about what the new gay future looks like, I’d like to propose a toast to a man we owe more to than we have ever admitted.

May 6, 2013

So That If I Died It Mattered 31

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When asked to explain my choices, I’ve said, “Art is how you explain what it feels like to be alive in the 21st century. I am an emotional historian.” But that’s really my answer to, “Why should we all make art?” My why is more personal.

April 26, 2013

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Poets 3

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I once had a real-life encounter with a poet at four a.m. in a Las Vegas Denny’s. He leaned over the back of his booth, made some awkward introduction, and began reciting lines from a wrinkled paper about the haunting sound wind makes or some nonsense.

This encounter gave me an acute poet-phobia that lasted for years.

April 11, 2013

The Poet Who Died for Our Sins: On Charles Baudelaire 6

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Faced with such misery, a little spiritual compromise doesn’t look like such a bad thing. That Baudelaire was incapable of such compromise was his undoing and our good fortune. Like a blasphemous Jesus, he took on our worst sins — pride, sloth, envy, lechery — and turned them into art.

March 27, 2013

21st Century Butterfly, 19th Century Net: Fourteen Years in Haiku 5

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The poem itself is not the point of writing poetry. Instead, I forged this new definition. Daily haiku writing is a practice of attentiveness, the major byproduct of which is a seventeen-syllable poem.

February 19, 2013

Occupy Parnassus!: Kirill Medvedev’s ‘It’s No Good’ 1

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Occupy Wall Street may have had real consequences for our national economic debate, but its vision of a just society again seems hazy, as if glimpsed from the far side of sleep. We need some outside force to jolt us back awake. Kirill Medvedev, meet your audience.

January 25, 2013

Try Not to Shield Your Eyes: On Mathew Henderson’s The Lease 5

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Thias collection’s full of little details, turns of phrase that you just know other writers are going to try and steal.

January 24, 2013

Topographies of Desire: The Millions Interviews Megan Kaminski 2

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One of my good friends is a very successful novelist. I was with her when she was approached by another (male) writer who was attempting to deride her work: “Aren’t all your books about the same thing?” My friend asked him what he meant by that. He replied without missing a beat — “Well, aren’t they all about women?”

November 14, 2012

Playing Telephone with Emily Dickinson and Paul Legault 1

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Legault transports Dickinson into mostly fortune-cookie length snippets of contemporary English, a dialect spoken widely in urban pockets like Brooklyn, where increasing numbers of the highly educated and literary classes live, procreate, keep each other amused, and make their own cheese.