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August 18, 2013 | By Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times Music Critic
LA JOLLA - SummerFest, one of the country's most significant chamber music festivals, devoted its annual program of new work Friday night at Sherwood Auditorium in the Museum of Contemporary Art here to three American masters. The composers - Steven Stucky, David Del Tredici and John Harbison - are major figures and had never before appeared together on a program. Their works had something to say. But the one thing the evening wasn't happened to be what it was called: "Musical Crossroads.
July 12, 2013 | By Hector Tobar
As busy as Roberto Bolaño's afterlife has been - he's published 19 books in English since his death in 2003 - his time on Earth was even busier. Bolaño, who died at age 50, had a life that was rooted in three continents. He was born in Chile, the son of a boxer; he came of age in Mexico City and became a poet there; and he later moved to Barcelona, where he wrote the works that would make him a celebrated novelist. Best known to U.S. readers for two novels - "The Savage Detectives," first published in Spanish in 1998, and the posthumous "2666" - in the years since his death Bolaño has earned a global following as a prose stylist with rampant narrative ambition.
July 8, 2013 | By David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Critic
On the back cover of Rebecca Gayle Howell 's debut book of poetry “Render: An Apocalypse” (Cleveland State University Poetry Center: unpaged, $15.95 paper), there's a definition I've never seen. In it, we learn that “apocalypse” can mean “a literary genre informed by hallucination, grief, and a long view of history (primary concerns: the past, the present, and consequence).” Is this for real? A quick look at Webster's leaves me with my doubts. And yet, either way, it manages to encapsulate all that's vivid and moving about Howell's remarkable collection, winner of the 2012 Cleveland State University Poetry Center First Book Prize , which uses the filaments of farm life (growing, tending, slaughtering)
July 5, 2013 | By Carol Muske-Dukes
The Big Smoke Adrian Matejka Penguin: 128 pp., $18 paper Boxing may be a brutal blood sport, but its devotees range from ringside brawlers to ringside literary gentility such as Joyce Carol Oates. Boxing's history offers not only opportunities for poetry (Muhammad Ali's "Float like a butterfly/ sting like a bee") but also for a shocking chronicle of America's racism -- in and out of the ring. Adrian Matejka's new collection, "The Big Smoke," is a series of dramatis personae poems: swift uppercuts, fast hard-hitting insights.
June 4, 2013 | Steve Lopez
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.
May 23, 2013 | By Elizabeth Hand
The books go ever on and on. Forty years after his death at 81, works by J.R.R. Tolkien continue to appear. The latest, "The Fall of Arthur," lists nine works published during his lifetime ("The Lord of the Rings" trilogy appears as a single title) and 24 posthumously, including the 12-volume "History of Middle-Earth," edited by Tolkien's son and literary executor Christopher. After his father's death, Christopher left his own position at Oxford to devote his life to Tolkien's vast oeuvre.
May 2, 2013 | By Carolyn Kellogg
The MAVEN spacecraft is leaving for Mars in November. Along with scientific gear and advanced communication technologies, it will be bringing along some poetry. It could be yours. NASA launched -- or, rather, opened -- the poetry contest on Wednesday. Anyone 18 or over can enter -- or, as the entry form puts it, "Anybody on planet Earth. " No Martians allowed. To enter, write a haiku that is a message to Mars . Haikus, of course, are three-line poems with a specific syllable count -- five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second, and five again in the third.
April 23, 2013 | By Randy Lewis
Boston-based musician Amanda Palmer has generated an outpouring of responses to her posting over the weekend “A Poem for Dzhokhar,” in reference to Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. It's a 35-line series of statements, posted to Palmer's blog , each beginning “you don't know … .” Beginning with “you don't know how it felt to be in the womb but it must have been warmer than this.” Some of the other lines: “you don't know how intimately they're recording your every move on closed-circuit cameras until you see your face reflected back at you through through the pulp.
April 11, 2013 | By Jenny Hendrix
A tiny poem written by a teenage Charlotte Bronte has sold for more than $140,000 , the Guardian reports. Called "I've Been Wandering in the Greenwoods," the poem, composed when Bronte was 13 years old, is handwritten on a piece of paper just three inches square. It is difficult to read without a magnifying glass. The manuscript is dated Dec. 14, 1829, and signed " C. Bronte . " Written in a minuscule hand on the scrap of paper (easy to hide, one imagines, from one's siblings or clergyman father)
April 9, 2013 | By David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Critic
I've got mixed feelings about National Poetry Month - not because I don't love poetry but because I do. If you ask me, every month should be poetry month, and the idea of setting one apart feels a bit like cultural condescension, as if we were paying lip service to an art that we all know ought to be important, even though, deep down, we fear it's not. And yet, poetry is important, as a form of expression that does (or can) stand outside narrative, that makes meaning through language, that connects us through the music of words.
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