Category Archives: Commentary

Opinion or analysis concerning whatever’s on my mind.

The Struggle to Lose Control

To All a Good New Year! Audrey Petty describes her first one-on-one conference with her poetry teacher Agha Shahid Ali at the University of Massachusetts. After she read her draft to him, he reviewed it and said, “What if you … Continue reading

Posted in Anthology, Commentary | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

‘Confound, Torment, Swallow Us Whole’

To write, first and foremost, is to choose the words to tell a story, whereas to translate is to evaluate, acutely, each word an author chooses. Thus starts Jhumpa Lahiri’s essay drawn from the afterword of her translation of “Trust” … Continue reading

Posted in Commentary, Quotations | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Moons of Poesis

When reading poetry I try to think like astronomers. They are a doughty lot, trucking with the unexpected, stalking questions that defy asking. “What I really hope for is something we don’t expect” [John Mather, Goddard Space Flight Center, on … Continue reading

Posted in Anthology, Commentary | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Paula Rego Likes to Work

Portuguese-born artist Paula Rego (b. 1935) studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, London. She lives in the UK. Quotable saying: “Doing work, that is to say, drawing, is an erotic activity.” Anna Russell writes that the urgency of … Continue reading

Posted in Commentary | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Kafka’s Drawing Isn’t Kafkaesque!

A trove of drawings by Franz Kafka was brought to light in 2019. They share, says Philip Oltermann, features with paintings Kafka describes in his fiction: “… men riding flying buckets, singing mice and creatures made of household detritus… dream-like … Continue reading

Posted in Commentary, Quotations | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Mean or Not, It’s a Feat

Can a poem hurt the reader into glimpsing its cargo? The poem discussed is ‘From “Banana [ ],”’ Poetry, December 2021, by Paul Hlava Ceballos. I encounter poetry I perceive to be all kinds of icky: cryptic, elliptic, hierophantic, delphic, … Continue reading

Posted in Anthology, Commentary, Quotations | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

‘Except for Perhaps Poetry…’

In 1970, David Godine started a small publishing company in an abandoned cow barn in Brookline, Massachusetts. After a distinguished history of publishing select titles in well crafted editions, he has sold the company. I enjoyed reading what he did … Continue reading

Posted in Commentary, Quotations | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Carmen Mola’ Is Three Men

¡Me cachis en diez! Nadie está en su sitio. “Hell and damn! No one is in his place”; that was my father-in-law’s take on the hanky panky of a popular soap opera in late-Franco Spain. In post-Franco Spain what’s to … Continue reading

Posted in Commentary | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poetic Researches

Is the soul our dark matter — pervasive but undetectable by any instrument we possess? If there’s a part of me that isn’t glia, neurons, and enzymes, it has found a modicum of rest in the revelation that John Ashbery’s … Continue reading

Posted in Anthology, Commentary | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Marlene Dumas: ‘Art Is Not a Mirror’

This article gives a stimulating sample of Marlene Dumas’ painting. Here’s a whiff of its curatorial patter: “She is a master, in the classical sense: she makes masterpieces”… Dumas [takes] us somewhere beyond prosaic materiality… “[Faces and portraits by Dumas … Continue reading

Posted in Commentary, Quotations | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment