‘The page is printed’

Among the most notorious figures in twentieth century poetry, Ted Hughes will forever remain Sylvia Plath’s husband. They never officially divorced, leaving him heir and literary executor, so he couldn’t escape anyway. To quote Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven, “deserve”‘s got nothing to do with it. Writing a craggy, gnarled poetry about animals at their mostContinue reading “‘The page is printed’”

The ponderous ‘The Green Knight’ takes too long to tell story

© A24 / courtesy Everett Collection[/caption] The emergence of the Delta variant has quashed my interest in returning to live movie experiences, though several colleagues have claimed that if anything this skittishness has emptied theatres, thus reinforcing their safety. How I might’ve responded to The Green Knight on the big screen I’ll never know.

July readings

When I discovered Paul Bowles long ago I recognized the sensibility permeating Naked Lunch, David Cronenberg’s entertaining amalgam of William Burroughs fictions: a drollness precipitating the arrival of terrible violence. The Sheltering Sky could not help but impress a nineteen-year-old with a fetishistic glee for novels which clung as tightly to their secrets as DebraContinue reading “July readings”

‘I broke my life, to seek relief…’

The little known Louise Bogan wrote poems of chiseled beauty. is my favorite. As poetry editor for The New Yorker, she published Marianne Moore and William Carlos Williams, among others. “The Alchemist” is one of my favorites. I dig these metaphysical conceits that teeter on the edge of camp. I burned my life, that IContinue reading “‘I broke my life, to seek relief…’”

June reading

Graham Greene never loitered, intentionally or otherwise. The writer who emerges from Richard Greene’s (no relation) new biography let wanderlust transform him into a polymath, comfortable with writing screenplays and film reviews, amiably distant from his children while committed to a Catholicism he on occasion interrogated. Crisply written if often miserly about analysis, The UnquietContinue reading “June reading”

‘I never said I loved you, John…’

Long in the shadow of her brother Dante Gabriel, Christina Rossetti wrote acerbic verse hidden in the brambles of nursery rhymes. She seemed, to quote Keats, half in love with easeful death; immortality didn’t interest her so much as the consequences of desire. No ascetic, she knew more about temptation than she lead on. IContinue reading “‘I never said I loved you, John…’”

‘Let me rise/as larks, harmoniously…’

Often formatted sideways like an ancient Greek shape poem, “Easter Wings” memorializes the sacrifice of Christ without getting flossy about it. In the twentieth century Frank O’Hara, May Swenson, and James Merrill tried shape poems. The lightness of Herbert’s touch makes his attempts unique. Note how the structure mirrors the speaker’s description of a descentContinue reading “‘Let me rise/as larks, harmoniously…’”

‘First — Poets’: a Good Friday post

Once, this was a day of dedication. First the ritual, then the silence. The Catholic Church specialized in filling our imaginative and sacral crannies with noise: hymns, communal prayer, homilies, the clacking of plastic rosary beads. Good Friday service ends with the priest stripping the altar of its cloths: a symbol of Christ’s humiliation onContinue reading “‘First — Poets’: a Good Friday post”