October 23, 2013 |
What is a writer's obligation to the privacy of his or her subjects? It's a tricky question, especially in a culture as confessional this one, where we tweet or post with alarming frequency the mundane details of the day to day. But what about those whose stories were never intended for a public airing, and yet have left behind a kind of testimony anyway? That issue resides at the center of Jeff Griffin's remarkable and disturbing “Lost And” (University of Iowa Press: 160 pp., $20 paper)
October 16, 2013 |
"Lecture on Nothing," which is published in John Cage's "Silence," is a classic, studied and often recited. One of its much-quoted lines is "I have nothing to say and I am saying and that is poetry as I need it. " The conductor Robert Spano read the lecture at the 2006 Ojai Festival, as the director Peter Sellars once did at the Salzburg Festival, slowly savoring every instant. But what Cage called a composed lecture didn't always go down so easily. The composer first delivered the 40-minute lecture - which is structured like a piece of music, with pauses and repetitions - at the painter Robert Motherwell's 8th St. Artist's Club in Manhattan in 1950.
October 10, 2013 |
For more than half of his life, actor William Shatner has been on a mythical mission "to boldly go where no man has gone before. " Though he no longer commands the Starship Enterprise, the 82-year-old poet and TV pitchman is still visiting bizarre worlds. His most recent? That oddball realm of prog rock. His concept album, "Ponder the Mystery," finds the man formerly known as Capt. James T. Kirk supported by a new crew that wields musical instruments rather than phasers. They include former members of the band Yes - Tony Kaye, Billy Sherwood and Rick Wakeman.
October 2, 2013 |
The Forward Prize for poetry was thrust into the news last month when a poet withdrew from consideration after it was revealed he had plagiarized some earlier work. The British prize , worth more than $16,000, was presented Tuesday night to Michael Symmons Roberts for his collection "Drysalter. " Each of the 150 poems in the collection is exactly 15 lines long; the title refers to an 18th-century store stocking poisons, powders, gums and drugs -- "with a nod, too, to the Psalter," as is noted on the prize's website.
September 17, 2013 |
Can you name any of the poets on the longlist for the National Book Awards' 2013 prize in poetry ? If you listen to National Public Radio, the answer is yes, you probably can. That's because one of 10 finalists, named Tuesday, is nationally known for his radio essays. But Andrei Codrescu isn't just a radio commentator, he's a poet, nominated for his collection "So Recently Rent a World, New and Selected Poems: 1968-2012," published by Coffee House Press. Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner Brenda Hillman, who has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, made the longlist with her new collection, "Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire," published by Wesleyan University Press. Two of the finalists have been Cave Canem fellows, writers who participated in the selective workshops for African American poets.
September 6, 2013 |
In the New Criterion this week, Bruce Bawer recycles the classic conservative screed against the Beats by way of lamenting the publication of Jack Kerouac's collected poetry by the Library of America. It's an odd piece, not least because “Collected Poems” came out a year ago, but also because of how completely Bawer misses the point. “[P]erhaps the best way to try to get through Kerouac's poems,” he complains, “is to approach them not as literary texts but as private ramblings of the sort you might find in the files of a psych ward.” A line or two later, he reminds us that “a voyeuristic frisson is not the same as an aesthetic experience.” Well, yes, of course ... but to dismiss Kerouac's poetry through the lens of voyeurism (or worse, psychosis)