On Poetry

October 11, 2011

“I am the turnstile”: Roaming with Tomas Tranströmer 3

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I’m a rank amateur, but when I read the Boston Globe’s dismissal of Tranströmer as “an elderly Swedish poet virtually unknown outside his homeland,” it felt necessary to speak up with the voice of an amateur.

October 3, 2011

A Poet Laureate from the Proletariat: An Appreciation of Philip Levine 9

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I came upon a book of poems that proved to me that art can be made from absolutely anything, from a night-shift job at Chevy Gear & Axle or a job picking Gravenstein apples.

July 4, 2011

Embracing The Other I Am; or, How Walt Whitman Saved My Life 17

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The first edition of Leaves of Grass is a poetical Declaration of Independence in so many ways it can be hard to keep track of them all.

April 22, 2011

A Year with Peter Porter 1

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Porter had a united vision of the arts, switching in his conversation between literature, music and painting on a whim, but talking about each discipline with equal authority and interest. And then I read his poetry.

April 21, 2011

American Laurels: The Poets Laureate Anthology 4

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As a volume in the cultural history of American poetry, there’s no doubt that Elizabeth Hun Schmidt’s The Poets Laureate Anthology is a valuable text. For starters, it’s the only book of its kind.

March 2, 2011

In the Company of Amy Clampitt 2

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Two years ago I spent some time in Lenox, Massachusetts, at a house once owned by the poet Amy Clampitt. I slept in her bed, rifled through her books, gazed out the kitchen window at the tree by which her ashes are buried.

January 25, 2011

Dada Pedagogy: Andrei Codrescu’s The Poetry Lesson 2

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Regardless of how it’s labeled, The Poetry Lesson is a brilliant work.

January 7, 2011

No More Irony: A Review of Monica Youn’s Ignatz 2

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I was suspicious of Ignatz’s subgenre: poetry books that are designedly books rather than collections, their titles linked by a single unifying conceit. The category was proliferating, it seemed to me, cultured by a world of book prizes and writing programs, or encouraged by distinguished precedents and obvious advantages.

July 20, 2010

War Comes Home: Brian Turner’s Phantom Noise 1

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Contemporary war, in America at least, is now defined as much by coming home as it is by shipping out.

June 10, 2010

Machine Gun Sonnets 4

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World War One, when educated and idealistic young men wrote of mustard gas and aerial bombardment using sonnets and couplets.