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Poetry Tourism? December 9, 2007: We are now approaching that time of year … when we wish we were elsewhere. …I am now in the town that time forgot, San Carlos, after a night on a crazy ferry, but on my way to tropical islands presided over by Ernesto Cardenal, known as El Poeta, probably the most famous Nicaraguan, who built his own community of local primitive artists and [...] by

Dispatch from a Banquette December 3, 2007: Lou Reed was sitting at the table next to mine last night, in a tiny basement cabaret in the theater district. I have no talent for recognizing celebrities, but the few I have have invariably been musicians. On the banquette right next to me was a man there alone, in beautiful clothes, and we struck up a conversation. (“I’m a jazz [...] by

Sound and Drink November 29, 2007: I don't think brevity will ever go out of style. June Dangled above the traffic's rasp: a contrail a crow a nail gun's echo. Sappho Hears gossip makes it song it won't be long before everyone hears "June" is by Joseph Massey, from a new chapbook called Within Hours (The Fault Line Press) and "Sappho Hears" is by Gloria Frym, from a chapbook called [...] by

Marianne Moore and Revolution November 27, 2007: Was it really four years ago already that the new edition of The Poems of Marianne Moore was published? I remember standing in a bookstore in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with a new baby, worshipfully cradling that expensive hardcover. And then, rashly, buying it. I dug it out today to re-read an obscure, previously uncollected poem from 1919 called [...] by

A Note on Christian Wiman’s Reading of Basil Bunting November 25, 2007: After more or less admitting that I think exhortations to political poetry are essentially religious, I finally get my hands on a copy of Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet. There, in a brief on poetry and religion, Wiman writes, citing Tillich, “Art needs some ultimate concern.” At every turn, it seems, poetry is turned into a vehicle: [...] by

The Canon within the Canon November 20, 2007: W.H. Auden’s Christianity is the subject of a fascinating article by Edward Mendelson in the current issue of the New York Review of Books. “In apparently secular poems, he kept hidden what was often their religious starting-point.” That Auden kept his religious awakening under wraps at first, so as not to call down the wrath of his [...] by

Make This My Default Location (II) November 15, 2007: The Dark Months of May is a companion volume to Ballad of Jamie Allan: a prequel, really. It starts out as the chronicle of a breakup in a terse, personal plainstyle, which Pickard has been honing since the 1960s (see Hole in the Wall: New & Selected Poems). The personal is always imbricated with the landscape (a la Hardy): there is something [...] by

What’s a Political Poem For? November 15, 2007: This is for Rigoberto following his Szymborska post. A few weeks ago, I attended my first town meeting. Somehow, it was nothing like the town meetings of Stars Hollow, with its “lovable curmudgeon” of a mayor and enchanting agendas, motions to rename the streets to reflect their 17th-century heritage, etc. No, it was a town meeting in a [...] by

Make This My Default Location (I) November 12, 2007: “Jamie Allan was a Northumbrian piper, a border gypsy, born 1734 in Rothbury and who died in the Durham Lock Up in 1810 where he was serving a life sentence for stealing a horse from Gateshead seven years earlier. During his lifetime he became a legendary rogue, but one of immense talent as a musician, often patronised by the aristocracy who, [...] by

It Must Give Pleasure, It Must Change November 9, 2007: We can all rest easy now. A judge ruled on what makes a poem. In a twist that Alicia will appreciate, the plaintiff apparently argued that a poem in rhyming couplets is not a poem. The judge ruled otherwise, noting that “a poem sometimes possesses rhyme or meter, though this is not necessary.” An old law prof of my husband’s, who is now a [...] by