Tag Archives: writing

‘A Royal Poet of a Sky’

The poem is “A Gazetteer of the Backyard (In Which Pedanius Dioscorides Takes Stock”) by Sylvia Legris (Poetry, March 2020). It’s a Pernambuco of a backyard. Over a span of dogged spells with this rhapsody of nature-naming I hit upon … Continue reading

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‘Horrific Surrealism’

Behrouz Boochani wrote his book with desperate means from imprisonment in a brutal Australian camp for migrants. A collaborator from outside who helped assemble the book terms it a work of “horrific surrealism.” Boochani’s book challenges readers to acknowledge that … Continue reading

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Blood & Rabbit Enchiladas

Spencer Grammer (Kelsey’s daughter) was slashed at an NYC restaurant! Or maybe not. Dried blood remained Saturday afternoon outside The Black Ant, whose dinner entrees include $24 rabbit enchiladas and $27 braised pork cheeks… “Frasier” star Kelsey Grammer downplayed his … Continue reading

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Irish and Not Proud

William James arrived penniless in Albany, NY from County Cavan, Ireland in the late 18th century. Over the next 30 years he created a fortune second only to that of the Astor family. His grandsons, novelist Henry and philosopher William, … Continue reading

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Mindreading the Meritocracy

Of the opinion writers I read regularly in the NYTimes, the one who uses the term “meritocracy” most by far, and with pronounced ambivalence, is Ross Douthat — himself a confessed meritocrat (Hamden Hall Country Day School, magna cum laude … Continue reading

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What Makes a Poem ‘Hard’?

“Syntax” is the answer to the fudgy question. It’s hard to reach image and reference through muddy syntax. In narrative and exposition, context comes to the rescue; in poetry often not, because a poet revels in flare-gunning lap dance moon … Continue reading

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A Conservative with Elite Style

But there was one small difficulty: This hawk was no Truman or Reagan, but rather a reality-television mountebank whose real attitude toward China policy was, basically, whatever gets me re-elected works. Who has heard recently, or ever, the word “mountebank”? … Continue reading

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Why Do Poets Ampersand?

The poem is “Sacrament I” by Robin Gow (Poetry, March 2020). Excerpt, first stanza: & all the faucets pour oil or milk.We fill father’s bottles, the brown and green;thick glass blood cells, a throat-slit pouring silk.When will the baptisms make … Continue reading

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What Does a Poem Teach? Fluidity

Excerpts are from the poem “A Future History” by Suzi L. Garcia (Poetry, March 2020). A muster of peacocks show off their tails, but instead of feathers, knives. This line introduces me to “muster,” a collective noun applied to peacocks. … Continue reading

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Rudolfo Anaya (1937 — 2020)

“Bless Me, Ultima” repeatedly drew the ire of censors, who cited what they viewed as foul language and anti-Catholic messaging… The book was banned in California, Colorado and… New Mexico. In 1981, the school board in Bloomfield, N.M., burned copies … Continue reading

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