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Afternoon of the Ode: a failed attempt to dispense with the unique soul and write in the style of Kenneth Goldsmith April 24, 2012: Perhaps, then, the copying exercises Kenneth Goldsmith talks about in his address to the White House workshop come at a moment when students badly need tools to make constructs more satisfying than their attempts to bare their unique souls. Marjorie Perloff, Towards a conceptual lyric, From content to context / Jacket  2 - 14h20: just [...] by

The Difference Between Poetry and Prose April 19, 2012: Prose is all about accumulation (a morality of work), while poetry as it is practiced today is about the isolation of feelings (an aesthetics of omission). Among other things, prose is principally an ethical project, while poetry is amoral, a tampering with truths which the world of prose (and its naturalistic approach to mimesis) takes for [...] by

“What Must Be Said” April 10, 2012: True or false: 1. Major daily newspapers no longer publish poetry. 2. Poems are not about anything. 3. Nobel laureates in literature politely remove themselves from the public forum immediately after nomination. 4. Poetry is too difficult for the general reader. 5. Bad poems still bite. Last Wednesday on the 4th of April, Günter [...] by

Looking for Poetry April 6, 2012: [caption id="attachment_41257" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Heleno Queiró/ Portugal"] In their opening salvos this month at Harriet, both Camille Dungy and Linh Dinh confirmed what I had long expected to be the case: that poetry in America has a life of its own beyond the ivied halls of academe and the smoke-free ruckus of [...] by

The Well-Packaged Estrangement of Jack Gilbert April 2, 2012: When Dwight Garner in the New York Times, or anyone else, tells me that something is likely to be one of the year’s “two or three most important books of poetry” my sweeping generalization Geiger counter starts bleating and its needle jumps around in the red zone. That’s not because I don’t believe in important books, but rather because [...] by

I Often Wish April 29, 2011: I often wish I could pry day-like spaces out of second-long openings, cracks between Wednesdays and Thursdays. There would be a kind of low rumbling over my wrist as the escapement of my watch accommodates the wormhole. Weeks and months are even shorter than days, looming like large warehouses over my sense of broken efficiency. I really only have [...] by

Timely Timelessness: a response to Rachel Zucker April 25, 2011: If you’re going to be a hack these days, you’ve got to do a lot of hacking. This is timely work that, hopefully, I’ll be paid for in timely fashion. Besides doing the final edit of a book I translated on the rise of nationalism in northwestern Iberia (anthropology) due out with Berghahn Press (London) shortly, and finishing the [...] by

What’s Missing April 18, 2011: Great poems adapt to our needs over a lifetime of reading them. Philip Larkin’s “Aubade,” written in his last decade of life, and arguably one of his greatest poems, has come to mind again and again as I read through my colleague’s posts, reminding me of what seems to be an almost a seismic shift in the American poet’s relation to work. [...] by

A Poem by the Portuguese poet Ana Luísa Amaral April 11, 2011: It is hard to speak about contemporary European Poetry without differentiating between countries and even regions of countries. The same thing, of course, holds true for American poetry, though in different ways, especially if we – as we should – take an inclusive view of the Americas, not just looking at North America, and certainly not just [...] by

The poetics of ethics and the ethics of exile, a reading of Alan Gilbert April 7, 2011: The other day Alan Gilbert wrote on what he called an “ethics of exile” and a “poetics of exile,” the latter being the title of his piece. I find both expressions problematic. To illustrate these notions he calls upon both an essay written by Judith Butler entitled “Who Owns Kafka” and Butler’s notion of  “a poetics of [...] by