Tag Archives: Poetry

‘Not yesterday I learned to know/The love of bare November days…’

One of Robert Frost’s earliest poems, detectable because the language has a faint Edwardian stiffness. Happy November. My Sorrow, when she’s here with me, Thinks these dark days of autumn rain Are beautiful as days can be; She loves the … Continue reading

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‘These modest gods touch us…’

Best known for the fictions that read like notes on how to write fictions, Jorge Luis Borges wrote poetry too, most of which has the gnomic wisdom of his prose without the surprise. “Shinto” is one of the exceptions; it … Continue reading

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‘We who follow you invented forgiveness/And forgive nothing’

Because it feels like end times and his publishers have assembled a handsome paperback edition of former poet laureate W.S. Merwin, here is “For a Coming Extinction.” Happy October. Gray whale Now that we are sending you to The End … Continue reading

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The uses of poetry

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth. There is no happiness like mine. I have been eating poetry. – Mark Strand True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, As those move easiest who have learned to dance. … Continue reading

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Ideas about thoughts: John Ashbery — RIP

Fuming, the late Butler Waugh blamed himself for asking his undergraduate writing composition students to bring favorite poems to class. Some brought song lyrics, which he could accept; others brought Hallmark verse, which he could not. “It’s probably too much … Continue reading

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‘The obligation due to every thing/That’s smaller than the universe’

A master at writing long narrative poems in which Dante and Renaissance art commingle with personal meditations (Adam Kirsch called them tableaux vivants), Gjertrud Schnackenberg needs to be read slowly and in book form, particularly 1992’s A Gilded Lapse of … Continue reading

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‘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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