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A SHORT, HIGHLY PERSONAL OBSERVATION COMPLETELY LACKING IN EXAMPLES WHICH I COULD HAVE NEVER HAVE MADE THIRTY YEARS AGO WHEN I WAS A YOUNG POET STILL LIVING IN NEW YORK, BECAUSE I DIDN’T KNOW ENOUGH TO KNOW IT WAS TRUE. BUT I DO NOW. May 19, 2009: Germaine Greer, 
Paula Rego, 1995. (Pastel on Paper laid on aluminum
 120 x 111 cm., National Portrait Gallery). W.H. Auden once said that he always felt that he was the youngest person in the room, even at an older age, when this was certainly not the case. I’ve felt similarly while blogging, especially when being reprimanded by [...] by

Writing on Stone May 5, 2009: Looking east towards Alexanderplatz and its famous television tower, East Berlin City Center   We are rapidly approaching the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, the most emblematic event of the collapse of communism in Europe, and of its ensuing collapse in the Soviet Union itself.   This will take place on November 9, [...] by

Some Practical Advice for Young Poets Considering Exile: Part 2 April 21, 2009: The catalyst, the fuse, call it what you like, whatever it is that sets sweeping change into motion, often comes in the form of epiphany, the sudden realization that things are not what they had seemed to be a moment earlier. At the time this happened to me, I was living in an attic apartment in Paris down the street from the Moulin Rouge [...] by

Some Practical Advice for Young Poets Considering Exile: Part 1 April 9, 2009: Perfect Parallax Correction In my case it took almost two years of leaving and then returning, and then leaving once again to reach the point at which I finally gained what I would call a legal footing in Europe. In the midst of these two years (1984 - 1986) I even spent a week in China - an alternative to the European project - having [...] by

One Big Self: Finding The Noble Vernacular (C.D. Wright / Deborah Luster) April 2, 2009: Much of what passes for poetry these days is written by talented pretenders, or pretending talents. They are the products of a system which turns out poets as ably as medieval Italian city-states turned out artisans: legions of well-trained technicians who made careers out of duplicating the brush strokes of their masters. Their task was to [...] by

Dear Harriet March 20, 2009: I want to apologize for being out of touch lately. Blogs should press forward under even the worst of circumstances. But those of you who have been following my posts, all seven of them, have no doubt noticed that I’ve not yet learned how to compose a blog. I’m learning. And I’ve learned an incredible amount about contemporary American [...] by

Wernicke’s area March 8, 2009: Sometimes I wonder how it would go if I had to chose between writing and reading. It’s one of those desert island questions. More than travel, more than interpersonal relations, more than food, sex, sleep, these are the two loves of my life. They are what connect me to myself, and connect my self to the world. Though I am increasingly wary of [...] by

Hives February 27, 2009: Brueghel - Children's Games (1560) On a recent trip abroad to visit my parents I developed a case of hives. It started in the early hours of the 17th of June, 2006. I woke up with itchy feet at about four in the morning. The next night the same thing happened, though now it had spread to the palms of my hands. Within a week I would begin to wake [...] by

Translation and its Discontents, Part 3 (reading Blake backwards) February 16, 2009: The last major twentieth century poet to have included William Blake in his gallery of crucial ancestors was Allen Ginsberg. Lately, we hear less and less about Blake, not to mention Ginsberg. This is perhaps a shame, but as shames go, not a great shame. They’ll be back; first to return will be, I imagine, Blake of the Songs. In fact, he [...] by

Translation and its Discontents: Part 2 (some preliminary examples of attitude) February 10, 2009: Two of the comments on my recent post stood out from among the others in the tone they struck. They were the ones that generated the dynamic of this particular thread. As obviously as Horace Engdahl was wrong about America and its relation to world literature, the questions that arose seemed to turn upon why he was wrong. One of the two [...] by