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September 2, 2013 | By Robert Faggen
Thirty years ago, I became a graduate teaching fellow in a popular undergraduate course at Harvard University called Modern Anglo-Irish Poetry. What made it popular? The subject matter was certainly rich. But the professor, Seamus Heaney, was the special attraction. He was already a major figure in the poetic landscape; we watched him artfully mapping its peculiar geography. Heaney, who died Friday in Dublin at age 74, was powerful and widely read, receiving countless honors, including the Nobel Prize.
August 30, 2013 | By Carolyn Kellogg
Seamus Heaney, the poet and essayist from Ireland who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1995, has died . He was 74. An Irish Catholic who was growing up in Ulster when the Troubles began and who later moved to Dublin, Heaney engaged with the violence in Northern Ireland, sometimes through history and myth, exploring the conflicting emotions it raised. "We lived deep in a land of optative moods, / under high, banked clouds of resignation," he wrote in "From the canton of expectation.
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.
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