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The History of Art January 14, 2008: Journal Entry - Saturday, Jan 12th: Bennington, VT At the graduation ceremonies this evening, Frank Bidart began his address with this emphatic warning: "The history of taste is not the history of art." Although he was speaking to the 25th graduating class of the Bennington Writing Seminars, who endured the loss of its founder Liam Rector last [...] by

Elevator Girls January 3, 2008: One of my great treasures last year was the discovery of Japanese photographer Miwa Yanagi’s Elevator Girls series, which upon first viewing felt like large stills from an early Hype Williams video. I was able to catch Miwa Yanagi’s exhibition at The Chelsea Museum the day after The Poets House Annual Walk across Brooklyn Bridge. Elevator [...] by

Book Parties December 28, 2007: Is there any moment more fulfilling and celebratory in a writer’s life than the book party? I have hosted one of my own, but have attended nearly a half-dozen and have found all of them superbly festive. I love that moment when a room full of family and friends raises their glasses in officious honor of a dear friend or relative having [...] by

Right On! December 22, 2007: Congratulations to poets Nikki Giovanni, Gregory Pardlo, and Tracy K. Smith. They are finalists for the first annual Essence Literary Award in the category of Poetry. Their books are: Acolytes by Nikki Giovanni; Totem by Gregory Pardlo; and Duende by Tracy K. Smith. All three books are exceptional, and I urge you to read them. Essence [...] by

Asian American Writers’ Workshop December 20, 2007: Occasionally, I like to visit the Asian American Writers' Workshop website and when possible attend one of its literary events in New York City. One of the great joys of the contemporary arts in the United States of the past three decades is the emergence of organizations whose aim is to promote and celebrate the richness of the American [...] by

What’s In & What’s Out -2008 (Part I) December 5, 2007: I love year-ending "What's In & What's Out" lists for the upcoming year. They are authoritative, self-generating, biased, and goofy. I thought I'd get a head-start on the pundits. The list kept going, so I'll post over a few days. I hope you enjoy. With consultation from some friends, here is the start of a provocative list, sure to test the [...] by

Some Thoughts on a Snowy Day in Vermont December 4, 2007: December 4, 2007 - 8:43am When I moved to Vermont, I knew I was signing up for long winters, which was fine by me, because I knew the cold, hard days and nights would be ameliorated by crackling fires, books, and scotch. Even still, I longed for the balmy, humid Decembers of New Orleans. Weatherwise, relocation to the north was terribly [...] by

First Loves November 30, 2007: Debit: As an Accounting major at Temple University, enrolling in an Introduction to Poetry course was an indulgence beyond rationale for many of my friends and family. Credit: Of course I had “electives” but it was general knowledge that one used those “free” courses, not to enrich and round out one’s education and become a human being [...] by

Poetry & Influence of the Non-literary Variety November 29, 2007: So many strands/strains of the old country and other people’s cultural traditions inform the arts of the Americas, even if we do not readily acknowledge them. Klezmer, Blue-grass, Deep soul, southern Gospel, the Blues: these musical styles embed in me, and I’d be so lucky to exact poems that are their equivalents in spirit and expression. I [...] by

More Academic Bashing: The Kids Want More November 27, 2007: I admire David Mason’s article “The Limits of the Literary Movement” in the December ’07 issue of AWP’s The Writer’s Chronicle. Mr. Mason rightly calls our attention to the injustice of off-handedly lumping poets according to whatever school of poetics they practice or are historically associated. I, like him, have shuddered at the [...] by