Tag Archives: Poetry

‘The light passes/from ridge to ridge’

I’ve avoided the Imagists because so much (bad) contemporary poetry confuses vagueness for lacunae. Hilda Doolittle, like William Carlos Williams, is easily imitated and rarely matched. After a month of ninety-degree days, the delicacy of “Evening” is like a cool … Continue reading

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‘In search of anything usable left behind…’

Before his death in 2015, Philip Levine left a number of poems awaiting collection. Edward Hirsch edited and assembled The Last Shift, which contains some of the former poet laureate’s most poignant work, and without the flatness that occasionally marred … Continue reading

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‘And the woman calling…”

I’ve returned to Thomas Hardy in the last three weeks, rereading The Woodlanders, finishing Claire Milgate’ss excellent biography, and thumbing through my well-worn copy of his Selected Poems. I love “The Voice” best, as poignant an example of Hardy’s idiosyncratic … Continue reading

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Best movies of 2017 – first quarter and a half

I’ve reviewed about thirty-five films this year to date, an underwhelming 2017 thus far. Look for reviews of Alien: Covenant soon; I missed the press screening. A Quiet Passion and The Lost City of Z are easily the most accomplished … Continue reading

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‘A Quiet Passion’ understands Emily Dickinson’s art

Legends linger because reckoning with art is difficult. Emily Dickinson’s penchant for wearing white and her purported reclusiveness, even her habit of writing her poems on cards and bundling them – reckoning with these points is a way of avoiding the typographic … Continue reading

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‘A game, a grid, a system, a mere folder’

A poet who found fascinating verbal and rhythmic correlatives for her observational powers, Amy Clampitt didn’t publish her first book of verse until 1984 — in her sixties. Then she wasted no time. “Athena” turns the Greek goddess into her … Continue reading

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‘I had a life that did not become

A.R. Ammons wrote the best of Easter poems: I have a life that did not become, that turned aside and stopped, astonished: I hold it in me like a pregnancy or as on my lap a child not to grow … Continue reading

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‘Restore Thine image, so much, by Thy grace…’

As I wrote last week, I don’t celebrate Holy Week anymore, but I still respect the numinous and especially the vast body of religious poetry in English. Chief among its writers is John Donne, whose “Good Friday, 1613, Riding Westward” … Continue reading

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‘The palm at the end of the mind…’

When I was still a Catholic, the sense of anticipation that Palm Sunday rendered mute and useless the jockeying for space in the pews for once-a-year worshipers fighting over the consecrated fronds. For Wallace Stevens, the palm stood for the … Continue reading

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‘There is a value underneath/The gold and silver in my teeth’

A crucial link between the so-called confessional poets of the sixties and a previous generation’s shaking the rheumatoid arthritis stiffening its metered joints, W.D. Snodgrass is often forgotten, a wiseacre whose acerbic couplets and rhythmic facility did not obscure the … Continue reading

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‘I keep, and pass, and turn again’ — poems of my life

I date my love for poetry to 1987 when in seventh grade I read Robert Frost’s “The Pasture” and “Stopping By Woods in a Snowy Evening.” At the start of eighth grade I read Sylvia Plath’s “Mushrooms” and Emily Dickinson’s … Continue reading

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Derek Walcott — RIP

Allusive but demotic, Derek Walcott was Robert Lowell’s truest heir and often surpassed the American poet in using geographic points to populate a topography of the soul. Walcott set many of his poems in St. Lucia, but during the late … Continue reading

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