February 19, 2012 |
Leave it to Wislawa Szymborska, the 1996 Nobel Prize-winning Polish poet who died this month at 88, to write a poem celebrating tragedy's nonexistent sixth act. This is when, as she described it in "Theatre Impressions," the offstage dead return for their bows, actors straighten their wigs and fancy gowns and, as the curtain falls, it's possible to see a hand as it "quickly reaches for a flower" or "picks up a fallen sword. " Only after the stage has gone dark does the poet feel the hand of tragedy grabbing her by the throat.
December 25, 1988
I was one of many who wrote to you to protest the change in the Book Review's policy on poetry reviews. But I owe you this letter of appreciation. I think that the new format and policy serve poetry well, albeit differently. I have enjoyed the poems and the vignettes about the poets immensely, and look forward to them each week. I want dialogue about poetry, but I think that in this poetry-starved media universe we inhabit the presentation of poetry itself is more important.
June 7, 1987
In "My Nephew Tony" (May 17, in some editions), Jessica Reynolds Shaver quotes some letters she said Anthony Reynolds had sent her from prison, adding, "I didn't know he wrote poetry." In reality, Tony does not write poetry. He copies poetry, and it appears that he has conned his aunt into believing that she sees "a Tony in them that I have never seen before, the Tony I knew must be there." The poems in the article were written by James Kavanaugh, published in a book titled "There Are Men Too Gentle to Live Among Wolves" (Dutton, 1970)
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 4, 2013 |
Ruth "Uncle Ruthie" Buell, who lives in L.A.'s Pico-Robertson neighborhood, had a thought one day. Actually, the thoughts are always bubbling over with her, but this one was particularly inspired. Why not replace the rotting tree stumps in her frontyard with benches as a way of inviting neighbors to take a breather, talk and get to know one another? That was Part One of the idea, which took shape about two months ago. Part Two was a note to visitors from Uncle Ruthie - who has graced the planet for 82 years - encouraging them to take pen and paper from pouches pinned to the tree and share their thoughts.
September 10, 2011 |
For the reader boiling in triple-digit SoCal heat at the end of the summer, Donald Hall's "The Back Chamber: Poems" arrives like a sudden cloudburst and shower of cooling rain. Again Hall takes readers into his New Hampshire, a realm of "fiddleheaded ferns, lilacs purpling / trilliums, apparition of daffodils" and soft breezes where "my grandfather and I," he recalls in "Maples," "with Riley the horse, / took four days to clear the acres of hay / from the fields on both sides of the house.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 5, 1991 |
"Am I glad to be a woman?" begins a poem written by Gailellen Conyers. "Am I glad to be a black woman in the 20th Century?" Several times a month, Conyers reads this and other poetry at small Orange County coffee shops and community theaters. The poems express the joy and anger that span her 40 years. "Poetry is my heart, my soul," said Conyers, sitting in her elegant, contemporary house in Orange, a place far removed from the foster homes and abuse of her childhood.