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Some Thoughts On Poetry Readings: Part Three (Legendary Gigs) March 26, 2009: I was there at the Six Gallery in San Francisco where Allen Ginsberg read Howl for the first time. (I suggested the venue.) And I was there at that baseball stadium in Minneapolis where T.S. Eliot spoke before a crowd of 14,000 strong – or so the pundits who still dream of a general audience for poetry like to remind us. (Eliot came on stage [...] by

Some Thoughts on Poetry Readings: Part Two (Various – and Occasionally Notorious – Characters Defined) March 21, 2009: (I offer the following lexicon in good fun. Your additions are most welcome.) bartender (bar’-ten-der), n., the only person allowed to make noise while poets are reading at a venue that holds a liquor licence. ill-prepared reader (ill’-pre-pared’ rea’-der), n., a poet who holds his book of poems at arm’s length, and who frowns at it [...] by

Some Thoughts On Poetry Readings: Part One (A Lot of Less Is More) March 16, 2009: Recently, I agreed to take part in an upcoming poetry reading with an economy-sized premise: twenty poets read their poetry but for only five minutes each. A few years ago, a music critic, assessing The Magnetic Fields’ triple LP 69 Love Songs, assured readers of the review that the 69 songs are brief: “nearly all under three minutes: [...] by

Everybody Gets to Go to the Moon: An Extended Letter for the Print Magazine which I’ll Just Post Here March 12, 2009: Until I read A.E. Stallings’ recent piece on rhyme for the print magazine – a future-classic-of-poetics-masquerading-as-mock-manifesto? – I was living, unbeknownst to me, a slightly complacent life. I now realize I was prepared to let the American songwriter Jimmy Webb enjoy the last word on a tired rhyme – moon/June/spoon – a rhyme I [...] by

A Few Quick Questions About the Education of Youth Circa 2009 March 7, 2009: A recent post of Annie's got me thinking: do educators still make it a habit of forcing students to recite poetry in the classroom, before the students' peers? (I had to memorize and recite a few poems in my day, my day being the not-exactly-distant-or-sepia-tinted 1990s.) Is there a pedagogically sturdy reason for requiring students to get some [...] by

The Occasional Curse of the Duty-write March 1, 2009: The duty-read is slogged through easily enough and usually for good reasons: sometimes one needs to finish a book so that one can cross it off a list or take a test or assure an uncle or aunt (with the proof of knowledge of specific passages) that his or her gift of literature was a great choice. But the duty-write is another inconvenience [...] by

In the Year 2000 February 21, 2009: The current number of one of the better magazines in Canada asks a cross-section of smart writers and intellectuals to predict the state of the arts in 25 years. These are nervy folks, not unlike the sort of type-A’s you often find sealed in astronaut suits, tottering forward in slow motion. Facing the future, after all, wants bravery. And [...] by

Child’s Play: A Reading of a Poem I Like February 17, 2009: One word that gets a lot of play in our critical writing – since the dawn of Derrida, anyway – is ‘play’ itself. We’re often wanting more of it, not less, and the freer the play the better. But I wonder if the logic of Eliot’s old saw about free verse – “No verse is free for the man who wants to do a good job” – can be extended [...] by

The Poetry in the Prose: Part Two February 11, 2009: Last time around, I dealt with the unreadable poems of the fictional poets in Roberto Bolaño’s novel The Savage Detectives, or what one fellow blogger neatly dubbed, "dark-matter." It’s not that these unreadable poems are composed solely of punctuation or something, like the experimental works of D.L., the self-anointed postmodernist in a [...] by

The Poetry in the Prose: Part One (and If You Haven’t Read The Savage Detectives Consider Yourself Spoiler Alerted) February 6, 2009: The only piece missing from The Savage Detectives, Roberto Bolaño’s 648-page puzzle of a novel about avant-garde poets in Mexico, is, oddly enough, their poetry. In an online conversation with David Orr and Marcela Valdes, Carmine Starnino points out that this poetry “is, quite likely, terrible,” especially since Bolaño’s poets spend [...] by