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Laura Orem
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On October 13, 1915, during the Battle of Loos, Captain Charles Hamilton Sorley was shot through the head by a sniper. He was 20 years old. He had enlisted out of Oxford for whatever reasons young men of his generation enlisted. Also, like many of these young men, he was well-read, well-educated, and wrote poetry. Sorley is largely forgotten today, and this is unfortunate. Robert Graves called him, with Wilfred Owen and Isaac Rosenberg, “one of the three poets of importance killed during the war.” His juvenile work, found in his collected poems Death and the Downs, address classical themes... Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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If men (and women) die every day for lack of what is found in poetry - or dance, or the visual arts, or film, or music - how then to make the world aware of what it is missing? On the one hand, popularization of art is often seen as a cheapening; on the other, art that exists within its own vacuum is ultimately pointless. And how to provide context for the arts for the vast majority of the general audience who are not pursuing MFAs or PhDs - that is, without sounding like hifalutin’ snobs or academics who have... Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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For almost a century, Pete Seeger walked the walk and embraced the possible. He was a man who understood the power of art and the dignity and worth of each human being; who risked imprisonment and endured the blacklist for refusing to compromise either his principles or the Bill of Rights; and who worked locally to change the world globally and globally to change the world locally. But mostly, he was a man who never forgot that singing is joy and all of us are singers. He sang with Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, and Cisco Houston. He saved old American songs... Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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When President Kennedy was assassinated, the world stopped, then shifted. In the way we now talk about September 11, for those who were alive and aware that November day fifty years ago, “I remember exactly where I was when I heard” is a touchstone of personal history. Virginia Woolf called these instances “moments of being,” when the difference between before and after is burned into memory by our hyper-awareness of the extraordinary. We have precise and perfect recall of the smell of classroom chalk when the principal’s choked voice came over the loudspeaker, the polka-dot scarf our neighbor was wearing... Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
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"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives, that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should... Continue reading
Posted Nov 19, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
Things You Should Know About Ravens 1. They are found virtually all over the world. 2. They look like crows, but are much bigger. 3. They are extremely intelligent. They use tools, learn from each other, and engage in play. 4. They are great imitators. 5. According to the Animal Spirits Guide, Raven medicine includes rebirth and renewal, the ability to find light in darkness, introspection, and eloquence. Poets, take heed. If you see a Raven, say hello and thank you. He may answer back. Continue reading
Posted Oct 30, 2013 at The Best American Poetry
Stay safe, everyone! Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
The Olympics are here again, and I can’t rally up much interest. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because I keep finding out who won and who lost each event before it’s broadcast (thanks a lot, New York Times). Maybe it’s because, as I’ve written before, there are no characters anymore; everyone is slick, smooth, and tediously decorous. No real drama, not even in the athletic performances, which are uniformly excellent and hinge on the tiniest millisecond. I used to love to watch the swimming and diving events. I love to swim, even though I’m neither fast nor elegant in... Continue reading
Posted Jul 31, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
T. - it says "for Ipad" - I don't know if you can use it for other tablets. Maybe shoot them an email? S. - I adore Stephen Fry. Why isn't he reading more of them? Grrr!
So you're sitting in an airport, waiting for your flight and jonesing for some poetry. Guess what - there's an app for that! Touch Press has announced Shakespeare's Sonnets for Ipad. At $13.99, it's expensive, but worth it. The app includes performances of all 154 sonnets, facsimiles of the original text, notes, and commentary, along with other gadgets and functions. In other words, hours of fun for the poetry-minded. Here's a sample: Patrick Stewart reading Sonnet 29 ("When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes"). The sonnets are read by David Tennant, Kim Cattrall, and Jemma Redgrave, among others. My... Continue reading
Posted Jul 25, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
Johnny, you obviously were never a little girl, because if you were would know it was all in magic. Jeesh.
Grace, did your girls watch "Cinderella" when they were little?
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The great character actress, Celeste Holm, died this past weekend at age 95. Miss Holm was a fixture in the acting world for more than six decades. The first Ado Annie in Oklahoma, she famously won the part when she demonstrated for Rodgers and Hammerstein her ability at hog-calling. In 1948, she received an Oscar for her performance as Anne Dettrey in the social drama about anti-Semitism, Gentleman's Agreement, and was nominated twice more, for Come to the Stable (1949) and All About Eve (1950). She more than held her own against Frank Sinatra in 1956's High Society. She performed... Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
How many poems can you name that explore the complicated relationship between fathers and sons? There are a lot. Some of the best and most-well known are Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz"; Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays"; and Ray Carver's "Photograph of My Father in His Twenty-Second Year". These poems all explore the relationship with tenderness, even when the father's faults and limitations are patently obvious. How much more difficult is it to write without descending into inarticulate rage and grief when the relationship was fraught with violence and abuse? Mark Doty, in an interview with Bill Moyers in Fooling With Words,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
What a handsome young man! And thank you for your service, Pvt. Horowitz.
LO loves Jim C, too. ;)
I loved this piece in the NY Times, too, and I want the book.
Wilfred Owen, officer in the British Army during WWII and poet. Killed in on Nov 4, 1918, one week before the Armistice. Connection to "The Great War and Modern Memory" by the late Mr. Fussell, see any of Owen's poems, almost all of which employ irony, especially "Dulce et Decorum Est," which challenges, by describing in vivid and gruesome detail the death of a man by poison gas, "the old lie" that dying for one's country in war is "sweet and proper."
Nin, I'll pay you a bazillion bucks if you whisper the professor's name in my ear.
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The Convergence of the Twain by Thomas Hardy (Lines on the loss of the "Titanic") I In a solitude of the sea Deep from human vanity, And the Pride of Life that planned her, stilly couches she. II Steel chambers, late the pyres Of her salamandrine fires, Cold currents thrid, and turn to rhythmic tidal lyres. III Over the mirrors meant To glass the opulent The sea-worm crawls--grotesque, slimed, dumb, indifferent. IV Jewels in joy designed To ravish the sensuous mind Lie lightless, all their sparkles bleared and black and blind. V Dim moon-eyed fishes near Gaze at the gilded... Continue reading
Posted Apr 15, 2012 at The Best American Poetry