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The Best American Poetry
Welcome to The Best American Poetry blog. We launched this blog in January, 2008, to create a place where we and friends can exchange, discuss, and argue about poems and poetry. We soon discovered that it would be even more fun to post about anything that fuels our passions, be it movies or sex or baseball or ballet or cocktails or finance or music, because these are, after all, the same subjects that generate poems. Then we flung the doors open and invited others to join in. And we decided that contributors to the blog need not be poets as long as they share a love of good writing and poetry. The only things we ask our regular and guest bloggers to avoid are personal attacks. You'll find enough of that stuff elsewhere. We celebrate freedom of expression. The opinionS of our contributors are their own and not necessarily those of the blog's editorial team or of other contributors. We welcome comments as long as they keep within the bounds of civil discourse. Our roster of correspondents is always changing. We are large! We contain multitudes! Please visit often.Our roster of correspondents is always changing. We are large! We contain multitudes! Please visit often.
Interests: music, food, finance, cocktails, movies, baseball, sex, poetry, mad men.
Recent Activity
Sharon Olds will take part. (John Hodgen and Stanley Plumly have had to cancel.)
My lovely freedom my little chestnut blinking your one eye bring back to me a quarter of a century of missing melancholia. For each Fall I missed there was a drought of wistfulness as if I drank my own sweat instead of eyes-shut naked on the balcony I just saw lowered in its entirety by a super-crane operated by Hart Crane in the new Manhattan fantasy of drafting its new skyline that to its credit and to Hart’s allows for better places for jumping from its heights. How thoughtful. Suicide must be given beautiful places to be conducted from. Personal esthetics aside the city owes this much to its surplus of sensitives. I don’t owe anyone any money, I’m a jewel in this city making itself like all America out of the future that will happen whatever the state of your soul bank account or opinion. I can go into business now: there are so many books. They are all about the future when no one will read them. The ones I have written can by themselves tower above us. To the bricks I say don’t worry about me I’m well prepared -- Andrei Codrescu Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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cover image (c) Anna Cypra Oliver Thursday, September 28 at 7 PM - 9 PM The Auditorium at The New School 66 W 12th St, New York, New York 10011 Every year, poets travel from near and far to celebrate the launch of the popular annual anthology. This is your chance to hear poems selected by guest editor Natasha Tretheway and to have the books signed by contributors. Series editor David Lehman will introduce the 2017 volume with readings by the following contributors: Dan Albergotti, David Barber, Jericho Brown, Allison Cobb, Carl Dennis, David Feinstein, Vievee Francis, Jeffrey Harrison, W. J. Herbert, John Hodgen, David Brendan Hopes, John James, Rodney Jones, Meg Kearney, John Koethe, Jamaal May, Judson Mitcham, John Murillo, Joyce Carol Oates, Matthew Olzmann, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Robert Pinsky, Stanley Plumly, Taije Silverman, Emily Van Kley, and Crystal Williams. Sponsored by The New School's Creative Writing Program. Free. Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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The New York School of poetry has long merited a blog or three of its own, and in Locus Solus, edited and written by Andrew Epstein, we who follow the lives and words of Ashbery, Koch, O'Hara, Schuyler and all the great others affiliated with them, we have a superb resource. The name of the blog is taken from the remarkable novel by Raymond Roussel, whom Ashbery and Koch and Trevor Winkfield have done so much to promote to an initially indifferent public. The title has a further ring inasmuch as Ashbery, who toyed with the idea of writing a dissertation on Roussel, grew up in Sodus, New York, a fact not lost upon the editors of Locus Solus, one of the two greatest avant-garde literary magazines of the early 1960s. The editors -- Ashbery, Koch, schuyler, and Harry Mathews -- sometimes called it "Locus Sodus" in their playful transatlantic correspondence. Here is a splendid piece Andrew Epstein posted about Karin Roffman's superb biography of JA's early years. I'll quote a paragraph or three below. -- DL <<< ~ The book includes a few more details about Auden and Ashbery that were new to me: six years later, Auden would of course choose Ashbery’s manuscript for the Yale Younger Poets Prize (passing over Frank O’Hara’s manuscript in the process), an award which led to the publication of Ashbery’s first book. That much is known, but apparently it was Auden “who insisted he pick a title from one of the poems in the volume, and thought Some Trees best, a decision about which John was ambivalent.” Ashbery informed Roffman in an interview that he “had included his best experimental poems in the manuscript, but Auden removed any poem that had objectionable language, including ‘White’ (because of ‘masturbation’) and “Lieutenant Primrose” (because of ‘farting’). Ashbery accepted all Auden’s changes, but he privately objected.” Also, as is well-known, Ashbery wasn’t crazy about the begrudging introduction Auden wrote for Some Trees. Roffman suggests Ashbery’s displeasure may have gotten back to Auden himself, who — she reports for the first time — once told a friend that Ashbery was “‘the most ambitious person’ he had ever known,” which, given Auden’s circle of acquaintances, is saying something… This is just a glimpse of the many gems of literary gossip and new insights that abound in this biography. As I said in my review, “The Songs We Know Best offers up a feast of new details, documents and colorful anecdotes that will be foundational for any future understanding of Ashbery.” >>> Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at The Best American Poetry
Alice slid down the cute and stopped along the way to enjoy -- the poetry of F. T. Prince, represented with three exemplary poems, on Tom Clark's blog -- a profile of Mets' announcer Gary Cohen, the best play-by-play man in baseball today -- Notice that the caption on the TV had it that "Game of Thrones" was not eligible of this year's holocaust." With the sound turned off, I wondered whether it was "telecast" that was meant? -- an interview with French scholar Vincent Debierre of the Unversity of Lyons: the subject, deconstruction; the guest, David Lehman. -- Alice thought about Stanley Fish's statement that as a professor and scholar he was obliged not to speak the truth but to be interesting. Was this statement an example? -- Kafka: "A melancholy conclusion. It turns lying into a universal principle." (The Trial) -- Do you think deconstruction and its strategies as adopted in various disciplines has anything to do with the emergence of "fakery" and the underlying debate on what constitutes truth and falsehood? -- Did you write a poem called "Fuck You, Foucault"? Yes, I did. It was published in Hanging Loose, the new issue of which has some wonderful stuff by such poets as Robert Hershon and Terence Winch. -- Aren't Alan Ziegler's "squibs" swell? -- Whether you have seen "La La Land," or not, the idea that its box office and critical success aroused controversy will seem either a foggy memory or a strange piece of info. But it did, and for its explication, and for excellent insights along the way about the art of Hollywood musicals, you can do no better than read Geoffrey O'Brien's essay "Let's Face the Music and Dance" in The New York Review of Books, April 6, 2017. -- Then Alice, gainfully employed, had to go back to work. on http://tomclarkblog.blogspot.com/2017/09/ft-prince-three-poems-mimicry.html Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at The Best American Poetry
And then the Braves of Milwaukee, formerly the Browns of St. Louis (and of Boston previous to that) win the World Series with a lineup lacking a single Russian. -- DL
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In the December 2016 issue of POSIT, Susan Lewis's magazine, you'll find a Jerome Sala poem that reflects the brilliance of his mind confronting the actualities of culture. In "To 'Content," Jerome takes on that big important word that looms so large in the lives of writers who may become content-providers in the not so distant future, like maybe 2018. Here's a cascade-like stanza: << like Marx’s ‘value’ made labor between a bricklayer a dog walker a shoeshine boy and an atomic scientist equivalent if translated into proportionate measure of time, effort and general difficulty or ease so you like Marx’s dad Hegel turn quality into quantity helping to accomplish in your case not the discovery of the ‘Absolute’ but the absolutely complete commodification of all human and artificial minds! >>> For the whole of Jerome's poem, click here -- and here for the rest of this sparkling issue. And then read the new issue (the cover of which adorns this post) with work by Charles Borkhuis and Patty Seyburn. The issue is dedicated to the late John Ashbery. Susan Lewis writes in her editor's note, "all of the work in this issue offers 'what we need now:' these 'unlikely / Challenger[s] pounding on the gates of an amazed / Castle' (“Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror”). So I hope you’ll honor his passing by reading, or re-reading, his work — and theirs." -- DL Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at The Best American Poetry
When Lt Columbia received the invitation to appear on the show, his "wife deposited the telegram in their safety deposit box until we can get it framed." Columbo hands Sinatra a bar napkin and gets him to autograph it. Present are Dean Martin, James Stewart, Milton Berle, ex-governor Ronald Reagan, Gene Kelly, Orson Welles, George Burns. Then. . .Don Rickles takes his turn."Bob Hope couldn't be here tonight. He's looking for a war." Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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Three of Hitchcock's movies are allegories: "The Lady Vanishes" is an allegory of Western reaction to Nazi aggression as Europe crept to the second World War. On the train there is an appeaser and a pair of know-nothing sportsmen of the British ("Hello, what's this!") sort. Not coincidentally the appeaser is a two-timer in his romantic entanglements, and an indecisive one at that. He is a casualty of the incipient conflict. The sportsmen, good-natured and far from quick to leap to arms, line up on the right side. "Lifeboat" is an allegory of the allies uniting to defeat the Ubermensch. "The Birds" is an allegory of nature -- which is either angry and unforgiving, or unpredictable and indifferent to mankind, or possibly even diabolical. These summaries leave out the love affairs in each of the movies, but in each it is of less significance than some odd detail. In "The Lady Vanishes," it is the tune the lady sings and makes the young couple memorize. In "Lifeboat" it is the expensive bracelet that Tallulah Bankhead donates to the cause of landing a fish. In "The Birds" it is the birds and how quickly they can become menacing, they, the most poetical of creatures if Keats and Shelley and Whitman are to be believed. Nevertheless it is always useful to remember that Hitchcock had a Catholic upbringing and worked out his guilt issues with the same vexed but poker-faced countenance as Montgomery Clift in "I Confess." The character who gets clobbered and humiliated in "The Birds" is Tippi Hedren, who, as any TV summary of the movie will state, plays a "San Francisco playgirl," a woman of easy virtue with magnificent hair and a beautiful face. Sex is a punishable or guilt-inducing offense except when there's legitimate issue (the offspring in "The Man Who Knew Too Much"), and the beautiful blonde in a Hitchcock movie will be poisoned almost to death (Ingrid Bergman in "Notorious"), will leap to her death from the top of a church tower (Kim Novak in "Vertigo"), or will have to fight off a murderous husband's hired killer (Grace Kelly in "Dial M for Murder"). The fate of Farley Granger's wife in "Strangers on a Train" demonstrates Freud's theory that the wish is equal to the deed as far as its potential for producing guilt. It is tempting to regard the characters played by Granger and Robert Walker as split sides of a divided personality, with Walker as more interesting than Granger (whereas Mr Hyde is less interesting than Dr. Jekyll). There are times when the prankster in Hitchcock prevails, as when Robert Cummings and Priscilla Lane fight in "Saboteur" and an onlooking couple comments that they must be very much in love -- or when Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint climb to the upper berth and the train penetrates the tunnel at the end of "North by Northwest." The test of a true Hitchcock fan is whether you like Joel McCrea's speech at the end... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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Midwife to Gargoyles (c) Jane Hammond (click for a full-sized image) My story starts with Robinson Crusoe and ends with a martini. Like Raymond Roussell, I’ll try to write between the two. In 1989 I had my first NYC one-person show at Exit Art which featured 18 paintings—a big show. My good friend Trevor Winkfield brought John Ashbery to the show and reported back to me that John was enthusiastic about the paintings. Without this favor from Trevor, the whole story never gets off the ground. I needed a catalogue essay for a show in Sweden and John agreed to write it. To date, it is still something I treasure—as John compared me to Robinson Crusoe—seeing in him another person with diverse goals, restricted means and imaginative aptitudes applied toward that differential. John sent Ragnar Stromberg –his Swedish translator to my Gothenburg opening. The whole thing felt felicitous and easy and real. Some years later I woke up one day with an idea. As background to this let me say, I had made paintings using a lexicon of found imagery for a number of years and all the paintings had numerical titles—there wasn’t a single word attached to these paintings. I had long loved John’s poems and one of the things I admired is the bricolage of found lapidary language set into the matrix of the poem but still retaining a strong scent of its foundness, of it coming from somewhere else—cooking, television ads, the cartoons, women’s magazines, etc. And I might have seen a poem of John’s in the New Yorker that read like a list of titles—or I might be making that up. No One Can Win at the Hurricane Bar (c) Jane Hammond (click for a full-sized image) Anyhow, this is all pre-Email so I screwed up my courage and I called John. I reminded him that I have had only numerical identifiers for my paintings, that I used found imagery from a great variety of sources and I suggested the idea of “found titles” for my paintings. That is, found to me. I suggested that he write a set of painting titles and I, afterwards, would then make the paintings for those titles. I gave him no further information, hints, instructions or thoughts about what I was looking for with these titles. In fact, I had no agenda, I wanted to be surprised. As I recall, John mostly listened and I mostly babbled. At a certain point I said “well, why don’t you think about it and call me back if you are interested.” I felt a little embarrassed that I had even presumed that this great poet would want to spend any time creating something for me. A week later the phone rang and it was John saying a bit mischievously, “I have your titles. I’m faxing them now.” I will never forget hanging over the fax machine, reading upside down and seeing forty-four titles spill forth: Confessions of a Fop, The Hagiography of this... Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
Juan Martín del Potro is playing Rafael Nadal in the Semifinal at the U.S. Open, and suddenly I am thinking how John Ashbery could, had he been watching, turn all this — the court, the colors, the fans, the ball persons, the players and their ultimate struggle — into poetry, and that thought inspires me to want to write poetry. John’s poetry was, and is, always so inspiring. From Some Trees to The Tennis Court Oath, Rivers and Mountains, The Double Dream of Spring, Three Poems, and Vermont Notebook — each book was a reinvention of what poetry can be, and what John could be as a person. He felt unlimited, and that was truly exciting, as exciting as his unpredictable word choices and combinations of language-types. It’s funny, in a way that makes total sense chronologically, that what these reinventions most remind of are the exciting swerves of some of my favorite rock and roll musicians — David Bowie primarily, but also the Beatles of the late 1960s, Lou Reed as well. John seemed to tap into the sense of the artist as, ultimately, a performer. He had a vast knowledge of music, of many varied aspects of culture, and he seemed to desire and be able to perform different versions of himself, different selves. After Vermont Notebook, with the publication of Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, John became the iconic international figure he has remained. As he put it, in “As One Put Drunk into the Packet-Boat: …But the summer Was well along, not yet past the mid-point But full and dark with the promise of that fullness, That time when one can no longer wander away And even the least attentive fall silent To watch the thing that is prepared to happen. Thank you, John, for making it so clear that poetry can be so exciting. Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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Kate Millett, sculptor, author and feminist, on her booted stool by her useless piano, two-headed bed and bachelor chest at Judson Memorial Church in New York, March 1st, 1967. Photograph: Neal Boenzi/The New York Times Kate Millett died on September 6, 2017, in Paris, eight days before her 83rd birthday. We met in the mid-1960s when we were doctoral students at Columbia University and part-time lecturers in English at Barnard College. For years, we were close friends, and then, without any quarrel, without any design, we met with less and less frequency. However, I never lost touch with my feelings of love, some concern, and respect. She was streaked with genius. Now, I must be one of her sorrowing mourners. The first time I heard her voice was over the phone in 1963 or 1964. I was living over an Irish bar in an apartment with a Pullman kitchen and a pink-tiled bathroom at 1254 Lexington Avenue in the Yorkville District of New York. I was experimenting with the contours of my adult life. I had begun teaching at Barnard. I was going through one of the transitions of that period, from a putative heterosexuality to a precarious bisexuality to a settled if partially secretive lesbianism. When a women’s sports magazine later satirically selected me for its Hall of Fame, my sport was “Hide and Seek.” That first conversation with Kate was professional and correct. She had been told to call me for advice because she was in a situation that was similar to mine. She had a B.A. from Oxford. I had one from Cambridge. She had gone to Japan for a while, but she was now back. She was entering the doctoral program at Columbia. I was already there. What was it like? I am, I said, truthfully, an indifferent and probably irritating graduate student, but here is how I managed the situation with credits from an English university. She also inquired about teaching at Barnard. The students are wonderful, I answered. . We ended up with adjacent desks, two of the four in an office on the 4th floor of Barnard Hall. We were urgently earnest, enthusiastic teachers, who adored literature and learning, and who marked student papers with zeal. We once calculated that with our classes and our attention to student writing and our conferences, we were earning $.81 per hours. We seemed to understand each other, a balance of seriousness and irony. Soon we became known as the “two Kates.” All the pictures in her current obituaries, whether of the young or the aging Kate, show her with long hair, but in the office, her hair was in a bun, and she wore long skirts and shoes with wooden heels. She seemed to be emulating a stereotype of a female Oxford don. I, on the other hand, danced around in mini-skirts and ran my hands through my curly black locks. Soon I met Fumio Yoshimura, the artist, whom she had met in Japan. She had... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
Tower Two I have since imagined you-- a thousand pounds ofpaper, escaping windows floating to safety from a hundred stories higher. I have since spoken to you on the bathroom floor where towel meets tile where I sat while you washed the subway off your scalp, where I asked you, nightly, what you had for lunch then told you about my day, my lunch, buttered corn and mashed potatoes. Every day like Thanksgiving. I have since kept you in a rubber band tied around my dollars, and in other quirks and quiddities inherited like skin. And I have worn your book bag from the bombing With my string braided bracelet in the zipper loop until someone stole it at the gym. But I have avoided your smoke-stained shirt from that same prescient day, hanging lonesome in the basement, too much a symbol of the time you got away. Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
Episode of November 11, 1956, "What's My Line?" moderated by the erudite John Daly, with panelists Arlene Francis, Dorothy Kilgallen, and Random House publisher (and Columbia grad) Bennett A. Cerf. And who's the mystery fourth panelists? One half of the reigning supreme comedy duo of Martin and Lewis that is about to dissolve after ten glorious years: Joey Lovich, I mean Jerry Lewis, in character. One guest with an odd occupation on that evening shortly afterr Election Day, a fellow named Nixon, albeit a Brit,, was "either a mindreader or pickpocket," as Kilgallen correctly guessed. Host Daly pointed out that Dorothy had scored a "double shot," since "the great Nixon's" son, a chap named Vic Perry, had appeared on the program a season earlier as a pickpocket -- "and took the watch off my wrist," Daly said..Notice the tiny amount of prize money. The blindfolded panel identified Walt Disney -- who gave his yes and no answers in French, Spanish, and German -- with no trouble. Note the intelligence of panelists and host, their vocabulary, their syntax, their pronunciation of the language. As a high-school student I watched "What's My Line?" most Sunday nights. It went on, I believe, at 10:30 and lasted half an hour, so it was with a certain melancholy mixed with pleasure that i watched each week. I remember when Brooklyn-born Barbra Streisand, a big hit on Broadway, was the mystery guest whom the panelists, blindfolded, had to identify on the basis of ten yes-or-no questions. Possibly the best guest panelist ever was Groucho Marx. on a Sunday evening in 1959 when Claudette Colbert, then on Broadway, was the mystery guest. Groucho cracked up everyone, even the usually poker-faced Daly. The folks with peculiar occupations that evening included a prison warden with an amazing resemblance to Nikita Khrushchev and a stunning blonde from Florida who made her living as a professional wrestler. I also love "What's My Line?" because of the colloquial meaning of "line" at the time. -- DL Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
I believe that for those of us who came of age in the late 60s, "The Skaters" may always be the long poem we love best. -- DL
There is that extra layer in the poem. "You" equals I equals the lonely citizen JA, and "we" are the employers of the secret police. Given this poet's loose use of pronouns, sparked by the insight that language is tautological (it is what it is), you might entertain the proposition that the poet is to the reader as O'Brien is to Winston Smith. -- DL
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A photo I took of a newspaper clipping John Ashbery tore out for me (21 years ago, I can't believe the thing's still in one piece and among my oft moved belongings!) I have an uninterrogated belief that all language is accessible to the dead. I have trouble conceiving of the afterlife, but of this I am sure: either retroactively or in their present state, the dead receive our transmissions. And though I ought to have written this letter earlier, it’s only now that I know what it contains. Dear John, last winter walking through the crowded AWP bookfair, I bumped into a writer I hadn’t seen in twenty years. In your fall 1996 poetry workshop, C and I sat across the table from each other. I remember C in ironic polo shirts, maybe a club vibe. I leaned thrift store and was bad at parties (I went to them, I acted weird). Here we were in 2017 looking like the middle-aged Gen X parents we are. We knew each other immediately and smiled. We’re friends on social media, of course, and I follow his writing, but I’d like to think we really remember each other from your heavy wooden seminar table in Olin Hall. We hugged, caught up. Mostly, we talked about you. How we channel you in our teaching, how we try to model your patience. You were so patient with us! As kids, we hadn’t read Moore or Bishop. Do you remember that? You didn’t judge us, unkempt readers, but the following week brought copious photocopies. My introduction to “The Fish.” Somehow I got it in my head that Moore and Bishop were buried in our little graveyard on the dirt road shortcut that connected North and South campus. Over time, I’d come to picture them holding hands. I imagined you’d told us that, until I one day said it aloud. My memory righted itself. You’d simply described the complex friendship that led me to imagine such an internment! You brought us translations and hoaxes and the first literary journals I’d ever held. When a student submitted a snide caricature of teen mothers at the mall, you weren’t unkind to her, but to my great relief duly firm in your critique. I would file away your articulate expressions—how to hold one’s gaze softly on a student or class, which, though generally beloved, has surprised even your seasoned self with something blunt and foolish. How to communicate happier surprise, lights flipping on behind the brow. How to simultaneously contain and communicate delight in the corners of one’s mouth. You were often delighted. In my end-of-semester crit, you said “There is something almost Plath-like in the intensity she brings to poetry.” It was a warm ingot, your approval not just of me, but of her before she was de rigueur in the classroom. You might remember handing me a newspaper clipping, detail from a painting by de Kooning that you’d found in the Times. It reminded you of one... Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
When Art Tatum played piano, God was in the house Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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Jeff Hipsher has posted this excellent interview that Bruce Kawin conducted with John Ashbery in, I would guess, spring 1966. At the time Bruce hosted a half-hour radio show, "Literary Workshop," on WKCR, Columbia's radio station. (He was editor-in-chief of Columbia Review in my freshman year.) The interview begins with JA reading "These Lacustrine Cities," the opening poem in Rivers and Mountains, his 1965 collection. Far less reticent than in later years, JA -- then still in his 30s -- responds at length to questions and says he believes that all poetry must communicate and that he hopes his poems do. The line between "incomprehensible" and "obscure" must be drawn, he says. He patiently explains "These Lacustrine Cities" line by line. The pronouns in his poems, he says, "can never be trusted to refer to any single person for any length of time," and illustrates with examples. The conversation with Kawin is meant to disprove that poetry is "incomprehensible." After doing his best to illuminate "These Lacustrine Cities," John is asked to read the poem a second time, and he does. Then he reads the title poem of River and Mountains, "Civilization and Its Discontents," "The Ecclesiast," and others from the recently published volume, which had been nominated for the National Book Award. The show lasts about 27 minutes. -- DL https://media.sas.upenn.edu/pennsound/authors/Ashbery/Ashbery-John_Complete-Reading_Interview-Bruce-Kawin_WKCR_5-5-66.mp3 painting by Fairfield Porter,John Ashbery (Argyle Socks), 1952 Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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David Lehman, the series editor of The Best American Poetry, is also the editor of the Oxford Book of American Poetry. His newest book of poetry is Poems in the Manner Of. Other poetry books include New and Selected Poems, Yeshiva Boys, When a Woman Loves a Man, and The Daily Mirror. His most recent nonfiction book is Sinatra’s Century: One Hundred Notes on the Man and His World. He teaches at The New School and lives in New York City and Ithaca, New York. David Lehman has been writing “poems in the manner of” for years, in homage to the poems and people that have left an impression, experimenting with styles and voices that have lingered in his mind. He has gathered these pieces in a striking book of poems that channels poets from Walt Whitman to Sylvia Plath and also calls upon for inspiration jazz standards, Freudian questionnaires, and astrological profiles. Daniel Nester is an essayist, poet, journalist, editor, teacher, and Queen fan. He is the author most recently of Shader: 99 Notes on Car Washes, Making Out in Church, Grief, and Other Unlearnable Subjects. His previous books include How to Be Inappropriate (Soft Skull, 2010), God Save My Queen I and II, and The Incredible Sestina Anthology, which he edited. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in the New York Times, Buzzfeed, The Atlantic, and American Poetry Review, and collected in Best American Poetry, Third Rail: The Poetry of Rock and Roll, and Now Write! Nonfiction. He is associate professor of English at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. Susan Comninos is a freelance arts journalist and poet. Her book reviews, author profiles and trend stories have appeared in The Atlantic Online, The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor and Jewish Daily Forward, among others. Her poetry’s most recently appeared in literary journals including Rattle, Harvard Review Online, Subtropics, TriQuarterly, Quarterly West, The Cortland Review, Nashville Review, The Common, Hobart and Southern Humanities Review. In 2010, she won the Yehuda Halevi Poetry Contest run by Tablet. Last year, she won a Tishman Review Staff Favorite prize, a VQR Writers’ Conference Scholarship award and a Poets Respond (to the news) contest run by Rattle. She has taught at The University of Michigan, RPI, Schenectady JCC, Temple Sinai in Saratoga and The Arts Center for the Capital Region. Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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Geoffrey O'Brien, outgoing editor-in-chief of the Library of America, has put together this package of short reminiscences from writers on whom JA had a major influence. Photo credit: Star Black (at Tibor de Nagy Gallery, 2008) THE HISTORY OF MY LIFE Once upon a time there were two brothers. Then there was only one: myself. I grew up very fast, before learning to drive, even. There was I: a stinking adult. I thought of developing interests someone might take an interest in. No soap. I became very weepy for what had seemed like the pleasant early years. As I aged increasingly, I also grew more charitable with regard to my thoughts and ideas, thinking them at least as good as the next man’s. Then a great devouring cloud came and loitered on the horizon, drinking it up, for what seemed like months or years. from Your Name Here (2000) Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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Everyone knows that stocks these days, especially US stocks, are overvalued. But picking a market top is no easy matter. David Aronson, former professor at Baruch College,now president of a research firm that develops methods to enhance stock market trading systems, says, "the process of topping out can take a really long period of time, evolving over a year or more." Aronson demonstrated his credentials as a two-armed economist when he told Mark Hulbert of the Wall Street Journal.that only time will tell whether the coming top will precede a major bear market or something less dire, something of merely "intermediate-term significance." (See The Myth of Stock-Market Tops," September 5, 2017, p. . R1). Admirers of Sergio Leone's masterpiece Once Upon a Time in America know that the character named David Aaronson, played by Robert de Niro (top left), bears the nickname "Noodles" from the time he and his buddy Maxie were the most notable personalities of a gang of Jewish teenagers in New York's Lower East Side in the early decades of the twentieth century. Noodles remains "overweight" on emerging-market equities. as well as overweight in the old-fashioned sense, as befits a man of his mature years who has done his share of losing, done what he had to do and now finds it all so amusing to think he did all that . "All that" includes knifing a vicious rival, for which act he serves time. He has fallen hopelessly in love with Deborah (played by Jennifer Connelly as a youth [top center] and by Elizabeth McGovern as a grown up [top right]). She is his one true love, yet, alas,he date rapes her in the back of a rented limousine. He has also smoked his share of opium with the song "Amapola" in his brain, cried in his sleep, carried on with Tuesday Weld, a decoy during a jewel heist, and teamed up with "Uncle" Maxie (James Woods) and buddies to smuggle booze during prohibition and run a fabulous speakeasy, Thirty years have gone by in some remote upstate burg after his gang buddies are shot in one fatal last caper. During this time, and prior to mysterious letters that lead him to return to New York City and learn that he had been deceived and betrayed, David Aaranson has had the opportunity to make an independent study of stock market trends. In the book that made his academic reputation, Aaranson writes that "bottoms are easier to identify, in real time, than tops." When asked whether he had in mind either Jennifer Connelly or Elizabeth McGovern, Noodles just winked. The take-away: Major bull market tops are a process, not an event. The long-term topping process may have begun without anyone taking note. Many people have shunned the market since the 2008-09 collapse. Only when they start buying stocks will we know for sure that the long-awaited end has come. Will there be a correction -- or a crash? How painful will it be? The jury is still... Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2017 at The Best American Poetry
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<<< Waking skies at sunrise Every sunset too Seems to be bringing me Memories of you. . . >>> JA's love of popular song has not been sufficiently documented. He adored the Gershwins' "Love Walked In," for example. Back in 1998, on my telephone answering machine I had Sinatra singing the opening of "It All Depends on You." JA left a message: "Hello, Old Blue Eyes." A year later on the machine I used the opening of "Accentuate the Positive" as sung by the song's lyricist, Johnny Mercer. JA's message: "This is Mr. In-Between." In a restaurant in Hudson NY with an old-fashioned juke box, circa October 2000, JA sang along with Tex Beneke and the Glenn Mlller band's rendition of "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo. . .zoo . . zoo. .zoo." That gal was "a real pipperoo." Another time, we did an impromptu duet of "Blues in the Night": "Hear that lonesome whistle / Blowin' across the trestle Hoowee! / A hoowee ta hoowee, clickety clack / It's echoing back the blues in the night." JA liked the "hoowee" line in articular. There was one night, I think in 2009, when JA and David Kermani and some others -- Jim Cummins and David Schloss, Mark Bibbins and Brian Chambers -- came over for dinner. Stacey (who made bouillabaisse) had bought a CD of Charles Trenet,the French songwriter and performer whom my friend Roger Gilbert has described as "the French equivalent of Irving Berlin, except that he could also sing." (Trenet's "La Mer" became Bobby Darin's great "Beyond the Sea.)" A Trenet song, the title of which roughly translates as "don't park your horse in the coatroom," came on, and John got so excited he started dancing in his seat. I love Larry Rivers's picture of JA typing (circa 1975). He was writing "Pyrography" on a commission. Star Black took the picture on the lower right following a John Ashbery poetry forum I moderated at the New School in February 2011.-- DL Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2017 at The Best American Poetry