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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
Shall we divide the foreplay from the feast? In the gloom of morning, the flight began. The sun rose not in the east but south, where the clocks said it was night. “Too many cocks spoil the broth,” said Bernard Malamud to Philip Roth. But why choose? Why not take both? “Too many cooks suffer from sloth.” Many exist, but few can deal. Few can feel the hunger for height of an eagle on a girder of steel. Many believe, but few are right. So let us divide the foreplay from the feast. Too many crooks get away with murder. No one can satisfy the lust of the beast or bus, with corpses thrown under. Continue reading
Posted yesterday at The Best American Poetry
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Arthur Mitchell, right, with George Balanchine Arthur Mitchell Slim dragon-fly too rapid for the eye to cage, contagious gem of virtuosity make visible, mentality. Your jewels of mobility reveal and veil a peacock-tail. -- by Marianne Moore -- sdh Continue reading
Posted yesterday at The Best American Poetry
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Ed note: A few weeks ago, Angela Ball visited David and me in Ithaca, NY. One morning over coffee, Angela showed me pictures of her lovely home in Mississippi, where she lives and teaches. I was struck by the arrangement of objects on her mantelpiece and asked for the story behind each. This poem is Angela's reply. Thank you, Angela. sdl: photo(c)Angela Ball Arranging things on a mantel you have latitude the longitude is missing just the latitude to choose things A series of completions or incompletions; in 2014, John Ashbery’s husband said of their interior, “It’s probably the last version” but so changed now as is James Tate’s the house of the strangest yard sale that after a warm rainy breakfast of intersections and messages asked me to choose Size of course is always relative The red scarf above the fez-capped man, the wiener mobile, Dagwood, and R2D2 could wrap their Central Park, their Yosemite; maybe their outer space The mirror is an ocean propped to the wall As for the miniature edition of James Wright’s The Branch Will Not Break its largess saved many from the wish to give up before beginning This ragtag display’s password might be “generous” since below it, in summer, no edited forest burns The man with the fez is some remote relative of the Shriners who swooped down the hospital hill gripping the steering wheels of their midget cars on the very day a newborn was presented to a mother by the gull-wing armature of a nun. And it is this very Zebra-cat with its free birdseed who is now heard neighing, meowing, and trilling from a James Tate poem standing alone near a cotillion of fruit trees and Minnow-Bucket Road Angela Ball directs the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, MS, where she lives with her dogs, Miss Bishop and Scarlet, and a volunteer cat, Whisker. Her most recent book is Talking Pillow (University of Pittsburgh Press). Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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for David Lehman (1) A lady inquires about a common acquaintance by her maiden name. (2) The lost pencil was a present from the brother-n-law with whom he later quarreled. (3) In the New Testament we read of women as "the weaker vessel." (4) In dreams embarking on a journey represents dying. (5) A broken arm coincides with the breaking of a marital vow. (6) "One half of me is yours; the other half yours, -- Mine own I would say. . . " (7)" In his great career, he has punished many authors.". (8) The primitive man (Urmensch) became the clock-man (Uhrmensch) because it was time for lunch (9) "Do all Italian women dance so well?" "No, just the better part of them" (the bona parte). (10) "He treated me famillionairely." Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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We have gone to great pains translating the universe into a forgettable vernacular. Life speaks to us in the New International Version so that the day lacks a certain cadence, the night any discernible yearning. A grocery list of mysteries is written down each morning. Idols fall like old argyle socks. And then, one rain sodden rush-hour, I see him nailed to the back wall of the last carriage, like twilight at midday, the faint apparition of a miracle, easy to miss but for those who catch it they cannot turn away a Messiah of befuddlement, beautiful amongst the mass of pleasant and amenable ugliness. We are given a parable without meaning anything more than its intention to offer us the sensation of understanding what will always remain beyond our grasp. Something magnificent and indeterminable. Not an answer but a much more interesting way to phrase the question no one else would think to ask. Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at The Best American Poetry
Hick: "Got the mail. Here's a list of 'Easter Fun Facts,' straight from Jesus. Did you know He suffered from 'Dysfunction, Resurrectile,' until His Father threw a thunderbolt projectile? It broke the stone to pieces--" Willie: "--'and scared all the feces out of Magdalen, Peter, and John the Reptile'? No, I didn't know that. Let me open their 'Dreck File'-- maybe there's a paparazzi shot where Mary 'V's us." Hick: "You're disgusting. Did you know if you have a Resurrection lasting longer than 'Eternity' by Calvin Klein, you should consult an attorney? Or that John Calvin was saved in a run-off election?" Willie: "Well, he had a lot of followers. He was a Twitterer, after all. Is that from the 'Atheist Collective'? Do they want money? Okay, I'll lighten up and try to be funny-- although the guy who wrote 'Snowbound' was Whittier." [from the archives; originally posted May 2013] Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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1) My First Backpack 2) Bad Hair Day 3) A Selfie with Pope Francis 4) Brawn Trumps Brains 5) Yiddish for Nudniks 6) No Place Like Rome 7) Ode to the West Wing 8) To Indite / To Indict 9) The Watusi 10) Break Point at Roland Garros 11) A Level Playing Field 12) Cruising with Tom and Penelope 13) All Wives Matter 14) The World Trade Center and Me 15) The Search of the One-Armed Economist 16) "Madam, I'm Adam'" (and other pleasing palindromes) 17) Odes and Ends 18) Sonnet ("The last time I spoke truth to power. . .") 19) Madame Ovary 20) The Iconic Cigarette 21) Your Dog Has Your Back 22) The Best American Pottery These are in addition to the thirty-two listed on the back page of the Spring/ Summer 2017 issue of 32. These will be posted soon on this blog. Also, see Matthew Zapruder's essay "Bad Titles." And this rumination reflecting the thoughts of Dan Nester, Jim Cummins, and others. -- DL Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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On May 30, 2008, in this space, Dan Nester posted about an afternoon he and Jonah Winter spent sending up the titles that adorn poetry books. The titles that occurred to them "all seemed so aggressively portentous, imbued with such fawning obsequiousness," Nester wrote. "To exorcise ourselves of the real-life titles we were mentioning, titles that shall not be mentioned here, we played a word association game wherein either Jonah or myself would think of the second word of a two-word poetry book title, which would “after after” whatever the other participant named as the first." The "after after" in that sentence is hard to parse, perhaps deliberately, but the list of titles that follows clarifies the idea and gives us a window into the lads' minds that day: "Technical Vulva," "Variegated Cock," "Airport Beaver," "Stiff Flowering," "Tremulous Beaver." The best of the list formed a category of their own: "good bad titles." Such was the thought of Corey Zeller, who approached a bunch of other poets to see whether they would produce self-parodying titles on order. Zeller's objective: "to write a book of serious prose poems" borrowing the deliberately bad titles. That She Could Remember Something Other Than _________, a Nester / Winter nominee, is the working title for Zeller's collection. Among those who have responded to the summons thus far are Dean Young ("Tears of My Shadow"), Major Jackson ("The Shoeshine Chronicles"), Nin Andrews ("Beta Male Ballads"), Kim Addonizio "What Color is Your Vagina," "What Do Assholes Want?" "My Despair"), Arielle Greenberg ("Four Thousand Short Notes on Heidegger") as well as Joe Wenderoth, Dana Levin, Tim Seibles, Matthew Zapruder, and Joyelle McSweeney. A few conclusions can be drawn. Heidegger, who figures in several titles, handily beats out Descartes as the bad philosopher of choice. Sex, body parts, and bodily function retain their ancient popularity, with Dean Young's "My Mother's Thong" rivaling Dorothy Lasky's "Sitting by Your Mom's Bush in Broad Sunlight" but topped in tastelessness by the simplicity of Peter Markus's "On the Rag." Here are some of the titles Jim Cummins has punfully proposed: NOSTROMOSEXUAL THE INTERPRETATION OF JEANS PRIMO LEVI'S THE LIVES OF A CELLO ALL THE PRESIDENT'S PERSONS Jim also suggests some plausible pseudonyms, chosen from the imaginary "tablet of contents" that he has been tinkering with for years. W S Merlot pours well. With Kenneth Joch you wonders how to pronounce the surname: Jock? Joke? Josh? Not one to shirk a challenge, I came up with titles for books, not necessarily poetry books, that might appear in a publisher's catalog: Useful Canadian Revenue-Sharing Plans The Woodrow Wilson Story Do It Yourself Dentistry vol. 1) When the Manure Hits the Ventilator Dead Money: Prizer, Cisco, and Other Value Traps How to Get Rich While Saving the Planet Shakespeare’s Happiest Couple: The MacBeths The last on this list was prompted by the proposition that the Macbeths may be Shakespeare's happiest husband and wife -- in the tragedies at least. Speaking of Shakespeare, I thought of another... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
This video was created by Mike Gioia for Blank Verse Films. For more BAP videos, scroll here. For more videos, subscribe to the Blank Verse YouTube channel. -- sdl Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
David Solomon, soon to be CEO of Goldman Sachs, moonlighting in the sun as a disc jockey at Gurney’s. (Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg) As summer winds down, and Labor Day recedes in the rear view mirror; as political ads pollute the air, kids go back to school, and the temperature drops twenty degrees, it is time too take stock of the economy and the stock market's prospects as we enter what is historically the scariest time of year on Wall Street -- September and October. It is with this in mind that we read about David Solomon, the incoming CEO at Goldman Sachs, who likes spinning discs at beach parties in Montauk and plans to continue the practice. This is from Amanda L. Gordon's Bloomberg article of September 4, 2018. Note, in the first sentence of this excerpt, "the iconic, oceanfront venue in Montauk,New York," a phrase that authenticates everything else in the piece: <<< On Sunday at the iconic, oceanfront venue in Montauk, New York, he started his set at 3 p.m. playing mostly electronic house music from a thumb drive, including "Sax on the Beach" by Party Pupils and MAX. The music’s tempo matched the scene of clear-blue sky, post-brunch, with people easing into the second day of a three-day weekend in the final weeks of summer. Playing cornhole. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg It was chill, yet exuberant. A few women in bikinis danced by the booth. A couple of cornhole games were in play. The loungers on the day beds sipped rose. There was a bachelorette party, the lead singer of the band East Love and a Quick Fix IV specialist, who’d just returned from infusing a client with a hangover. >>> I don't know about you, but I have a weakness for paragraphs beginning "It was chill." It was reassuring to learn that Solomon, with the wisdom of his namesake, views such beach parties as part of his "transition" to the corner office. Not only that but it's hard work, a word that turn up twice in the following: << Asked if he’s working on any new songs, Solomon made clear his mind is on Goldman. He would have loved to stay longer, but ended his set at 5 p.m. because he had other plans, a social event "with a lot of work," starting at 7 p.m. in Southampton. >> I could also not help loving thess sentences: << One admirer who approached the DJ was Kellan Carter, a 2009 college grad and venture capitalist, who was wearing a T-shirt printed with the dubious honorific "Lehman Brothers Trader of the Year 2008." He asked to pose for a photo and Solomon obliged. >>> Other recent appearances of my name in business-page headlines (in, for example, the Wall Street Journal) have lifted my spirit on the cold, rainy day that Jimmy Van Heusen envisaged. For more of the Bloomberg article, click here: Goldman Sax on the Beach. You may wonder how the information conveyed here will affect the market.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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Molly with Stick, Cayuga Lake, 1981 (c) Glen Hartley For I will Consider Your Dog Molly For it was the first day of Rosh Ha'shanah, New Year's Day, day of remembrance, of ancient sacrifices and averted calamities. For I started the day by eating an apple dipped in honey, as ritual required. For I went to the local synagogue to listen to the ram's horn blown. For I asked Our Father, Our King, to save us for his sake if not for ours, for the sake of his abundant mercies, for the sake of his right hand, for the sake of those who went through fire and water for the sanctification of his name. For despite the use of a microphone and other gross violations of ceremony, I gave myself up gladly to the synagogue's sensual insatiable vast womb. For what right have I to feel offended? For I communed with my dead father, and a conspicuous tear rolled down my right cheek, and there was loud crying inside me. For I understood how that tear could become an orb. For the Hebrew melodies comforted me. For I lost my voice. For I met a friend who asked "is this a day of high seriousness" and when I said yes he said "it has taken your voice away." For he was right, for I felt the strong lashes of the wind lashing me by the throat. For I thought there shall come a day that the watchmen upon the hills of Ephraim shall cry, Arise and let us go up to Zion unto the Lord our God. For the virgin shall rejoice in the dance, and the young and old in each other's arms, and their soul shall be as a watered garden, and neither shall they learn war any more. For God shall lower the price of bread and corn and wine and oil, he shall let our cry come up to him. For it is customary on the first day of Rosh Ha'shanah to cast a stone into the depths of the sea, to weep and pray to weep no more. For the stone represents all the sins of the people. For I asked you and Molly to accompany me to Cascadilla Creek, there being no ocean nearby. For we talked about the Psalms of David along the way, and the story of Hannah, mother of Samuel, who sought the most robust bard to remedy her barrenness. For Isaac said "I see the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the offering?" For as soon as I saw the stone, white flat oblong and heavy, I knew that it had summoned me. For I heard the voice locked inside that stone, for I pictured a dry wilderness in which, with a wave of my staff, I could command sweet waters to flow forth from that stone. For I cast the stone into the stream and watched it sink to the bottom where dozens of smaller... Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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When Rocky Colavito was hitting forty-two home runs a year, a dark-eyed, rifle-armed right fielder for the Cleveland Indians, my monthly sports magazine said he made the bobby-soxers swoon. I wasn’t sure what that meant. I was nine or ten. And when Rocky Colavito was traded to the Detroit Tigers, even up, for the American League batting champion, a crew-cut mean-eyed shortstop with a cheekful of chaw, the magazine said the Cleveland bobby soxers were in mourning. Rocky hailed from the tough Crotona Park section of the Bronx, they said. One night he leaped the fence at Yankee Stadium, bat in hand, because he saw his dad fighting with some bum in the stands. The Rock always looked like he needed a shave. Charming but dangerous. He was the clean-up batter. The slugger. Struck out a lot, too. And when it was over, after he finished up back home in the Bronx, we never heard another word about him. And where are those bobby-sox grannies who swooned for Rocky Colavito and mourned for him, too? [from the archive; originally posted October 12, 2016, reposted today on the occasion of Mr. Katz's birthday. Photo above: Colavito in Cleveland, c. 2016] Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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for Jamie Katz Speaking of the devil you know and the tenor saxophonist your father played with, today is Sonny Rollins's birthday (September 7, 1930) how's that for good luck his rendering of “I've Got You Under My Skin” is on Blue Note Plays Sinatra (1995) I knew they called him Newk because he looked like Don Newcombe of the Brooklyn Dodgers and for a while he practiced daily on the Williamsburg Bridge but not until I talked to you today, dear friend, did I learn he said it was a good place to practice because no one complains about the noise 9 / 7 / 17 5 PM Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
Men are mad so unavoidably that not to be mad would constitute one a madman of another order of madness. —PASCAL Busting out with mumble, the year when low-grade virus opinion took on hysterical prestige. Inability the only right, but technically perfect. The year that turned to smirk, and when music of a foul repetition stacked the money. Homer was not here, or Whitman— who forgave even laundry lists, and was quoted, “America, wake up!” The classics of Western thought hid from the public genre in bad remakes. Cowardice, looting cowardice. Jazz polarizing Mozart, when nobody needs a divorce. Satire was limp spaghetti. Computers were great, but their side effects did vital injuries. Like exiled Poles, a few recited books, a cataclysmic backward glance. When arcs were built to drown us. from SLEEPING LATE ON JUDGMENT DAY (published 2004, Alfred A. Knopf) <<< Sleeping Late on Judgment Day was published by Knopf in 2004, when Jane Mayhall was 85. The poems were selected new work, written in her chosen city of New York. Mayhall’s extraordinary outpouring of fiercely lucid work followed the death of her beloved intellectual and artistic companion, her husband Leslie Katz. Mark Doty called the book “singular and alive,” and Molly Peacock wrote, “the genius of her poems [was] born in the twentieth century, but aimed like an arrow for our age.” -- Leslie Daniels >>> Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
Bruce Bond is a poet living in Denton Texas. When visiting Bond at his house in a shady suburb of Denton, multiple subtleties strike you about the man-- his quiet manner, his late hours, his constant digressions into philosophical topics -- but it's impossible to miss the abundance of cats and guitars. Deeply interested in music, Bruce studied music performance and still plays jazz and classical guitar regularly. Music is central to Bond's poetry both as a subject and a component. Bond teaches at University of North Texas and his wife teaches at the nearby Texas Women's University. Bond's most recent book of poetry is "Blackout Starlight: New & Selected Poems", which you can buy here: https://amzn.to/2Pwh3Zz Dana Gioia selected "Anthem" for the Best American Poetry 2018. Mike Gioia is a filmmaker. His Youtube channel is Blank Verse Films, which will regularly publish videos of poets reciting their poetry. Subscribe to his channel to see more poetry videos. Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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From Anne Harding Woodworth's review of Terence Winch's latest book: <<< Terence Winch is not a narrative poet all the time, though The Known Universe contains some lovely stories in verse. Nor might he be pegged a singularly lyrical poet, though his cadences and vocabulary flow as real as music. No, Winch defies to be tagged. One marvels at his known universe. It is an amalgam of humor, pathos, love, longing, self-effacement, observation, wisdom, reverence and irreverence, a place the reader can enter comfortably with eyes and ears wide open, warmly ready to believe and disbelieve. It is a place filled with sounds, memories, family, vignettes, Ireland, rites of passage; and the path within this universe, though not necessarily chronological, meanders through youth, middle age, and the years in which the end of life seems near. And there’s Winch’s craft, filled with the spark of occasional rhyme, metaphor, message, and laughter. Winch can’t stop himself from having fun with words and then using them to pluck at the reader’s heartstrings. But he is never saccharine. He doesn’t know what a cliché is, and even in those times when he becomes irreverent, he never goes over the edge. >>> For more, click here. Continue reading
Posted Sep 5, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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The greatest senate majority leader we have ever had was Walter Pidgeon in Advise and Consent. who is "as virile as a bull-goat," according to his charming mistress (Gene Tierney), in addition to being indispensable to his party and his nation because he is unfailingly humane, rational, loyal, and wise. In a movie featuring Henry Fonda, Charles Laughton, and distinguished others, Pidgeon as senate majority leader Bob Munson bests them all. And that's as it should be because Walter Pidgeon's role in the movie is not as the nation's leader -- the president is Franchot Tone -- but as a number-two man. And Walter Pidgeon was particularly gifted at portraying the second in command, the assistant to the chief, the spouse. He is Greer Garson's husband in Mrs. Miniver, an enviable part, and there's no shame in playing second fiddle to the incomparable Ms. Garson. He is also William Holden's right-hand man in Executive Suite. In both parts he brings to life a character sorely missing from public land private life today: the gentleman, the grown-up, reliable in the clutch, the guy you'd want to have next to you in the trenches. Born in Canada, Pidgeon could portray an Englishman in Mrs. Miniver and other movies for the simple reason that he speaks the language as it should be spoken. You can and should catch him in the films I've mentioned and in Man Hunt, Fritz Lang's 1941 thriller, based on the novel Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household. Pidgeon is the hero here: he represents Great Britain, steadfast and resourceful, in opposition Nazi Germany as embodied by George Sanders, smooth, suave, and deceitful. -- DL Continue reading
Posted Sep 3, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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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. -- from the archive; originally posted September 12, 2017] Continue reading
Posted Sep 3, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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Fairfield Porter, John Ashbery (Argyle Socks), 1952. IM John Ashbery, July 28, 1927 -- September 3, 2017 Continue reading
Posted Sep 3, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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In The Nation, Katha Pollitt writes: <<< What are we to make of the bizarre story of Avital Ronell and Nimrod Reitman? She’s a superstar deconstructionist professor at New York University, teaching in the German and comparative-literature departments. He’s a graduate student who came to NYU to be her advisee. In 2017, two years after getting his PhD, Reitman claimed that Ronell had stalked him, sexually harassed and assaulted him, and sabotaged his job search. After an 11-month Title IX investigation, the university found Ronell guilty of sexual harassment, both verbal and physical, and punished her with a one-year suspension without pay. Ronell denies everything. To me, her hundreds of histrionic e-mails read like a humorless novel of obsessive passion. Not so, she claims; they were lighthearted fun “between two adults, a gay man and a queer woman, who share an Israeli heritage, as well as a penchant for florid and campy communications arising from our common academic backgrounds and sensibilities.” Well, all you queer Israeli academics out there, do you address your grad students as your “sweet cuddly baby” or warn them that “‘I love you too’ does not cut it darling,” if they fail to respond with sufficient enthusiasm? The truth behind the charges and countercharges isn’t easy to discern. I’ve read Reitman’s 56-page legal claim against NYU, which he’s suing—reportedly for millions of dollars (according to his spokesman no amount has been specified)—and came away thinking that if even one page is true, she was way over the line. Her constant demands—for attention, affection, time, loyalty, reassurance—seem unhinged: “I am a bit weepy and confused, a normal aftermath I suppose, and also a response to the separation from you…. But I will try to gain some ground with a visit to shrinky-winky.” >>> The photo in the upper left is a still from Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast. What is its relevance to the story? Just that deconstructionists prefer to discuss the periphery, so here's something for them to discuss when they try to evade the issue at had. The choice of photo was made during the latest meeting of our department of academic Schadenfreude.-- DL Click here for the full article ("Power in the Ivory Tower") as posted yesterday (Aug 29) in The Nation Continue reading
Posted Sep 2, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
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The New School The Auditorium 66 W 12 Street, New York, NY 7 PM Best American Poetry series editor David Lehman and guest editor Dana Gioia headline an all-star cast of poets included in this year's much anticipated volume. Join them for the launch reading, an annual rite of Autumn in New York. Allison Adair, Kaveh Akbar, Andrew Bertaina, Bruce Bond, George Bradley, Brendan Constantine, Mary Ann Corbett, Cynthia Cruz,Warren Decker, Dante Di Stefano, Nausheen Eusuf, Jonathan Galassi, Sonia Greenfield, Ernest Hilbert, R. Nemo Hill, Anna Maria Hong, Marie Howe, Steven Kampa, Mandy Khan, Ilya Kaminsky, Karl Kirchwey, Nate Klug, Nkosi Nkululeko, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Alfred Nicol. Sharon Olds, Jacqueline Osherow, Elise Paschen, Wang Ping, Aaron Poochigian, Michael Robbins, Jill Rosser, Jason Schneiderman, Nicole Sealey, Michael Shewmaker, Adrienne Su,, Agnieszka Tworek, G. C. Waldrep, James Matthew Wilson, Ryan Wilson. Read an excerpt from Dana Gioia's introduction here. Free and open to the public Books will be available for purchase. More information here. Also for sale: the thirtieth anniversary edition of the series inaugural volume, The Best American Poetry 1988, Series Editor David Lehman, Guest Editor John Ashbery. With updated contributors' notes and a new preface. Continue reading
Posted Sep 2, 2018 at The Best American Poetry
<< Kenneth Koch, adding to the famous adage by Wallace Stevens, said: “Not only is all poetry experimental, but all that is truly experimental is poetry.”>>> Swell quote, and a nice opening to this dialogue. -- DL
"Impudent prophetic plagiarism" is even better, of course. -- DL
I love "inadvertent prophetic plagiarism" -- as a phrase & as a noble accomplishment. -- DL
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<<< October 30, 2001 Dear David It was very nice indeed to meet you and hear your poems. I have a quick question. Do I remember correctly your saying that you had received via e-mail a number of copies of Auden's "September 1, 1939" after Sept. 11? I ask because I've agreed to give a lecture here in the spring on the subject of -- vaguely -- poetry in the world, or poetry/art's response to events like Sept. 11, or more precisely, the relation of poetry to consolation. I want to use Sept. 1, 1939, especially in light of Auden's fraught relationship with the poem and particularly with what seems like its key line--"We must love one another or die." Nobody sent me any poems after Sept. 11, but I'm interested that the Auden poem would be one that was going around electronically. Am I right in recalling that you mentioned this? Do you remember if that line was in the versions sent you? (Auden changed the line, as you probably know, and later cut the whole stanza, before disavowing the entire poem.) Thanks, Larry >>> <<< November 1, 2001 Hello, Larry, and thanks for your note. I undoubtedly did mention receiving "September 1, 1939" in the form of an e-mail. At least four or five persons sent it to me in the immediate aftermath of September 11. Many have commented on the electronic circulation of this poem in particular and of poems in general. Others making the rounds include Yeats's "Easter 1916," Larkin's "An Arundel Tomb," and Marianne Moore's "What Are Years?" but Auden's "September 1, 1939" had by far the greatest circulation. A column about it appeared on "Slate" toward the end of September and someone responded with a less enthusiastic view of the poem [going so far as to associate it with conservative Republicanism]. "Sept. 1, 1939" also turned out to be the subject of an "American Notes" column in the "TLS." There has been a recent spate of articles about poetry's "healing" properties, the appeal of verse in difficult times, including an otherwise unremarkable piece in today's "New York Times" (Nov. 1), which, of course, mentions Auden's "September 1, 1939" prominently. Part of the reason for the poem's sudden relevance is the general suspicion that September 11th may be our September 1st, the first day of a global war on a scale and against a foe that may make us nostalgic for the [ambiguities of the] Cold War. And then there are the blind skyscrapers and dense commuters, the odor of death in the September night, and the great flawed stanza, with that line Auden wound up hating. (But the more accurate "We must live one another and die" just doesn't work, does it?) The history of the poem, with Auden's hesitations, revisions and disavowals, would make fascinating reading right now. I've always been curious about just those poems of his that Auden ruthlessly disowned like "Spain 1938" and almost the whole of "The Orators." In... Continue reading
Posted Sep 1, 2018 at The Best American Poetry