Author Archive

Whitman and Dickinson and the Civil War

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Contemporary American poetry was born in the context of the Civil War, the war that claimed more Americans than ever before or since. Whitman and Dickinson, two of America’s seminal poets, were alive and writing poetry during the Civil War.

Perfectly Aligned: Inger Christensen’s Poetry Through Her American Translator Susanna Nied

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Though Christensen’s work has been well-loved in Europe since the publications of her first two collections of poetry, in Danish, her poetry did not reach American audiences until alphabet, translated by Susanna Nied and published by New Directions in 2001.

A Word for Blue

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Across languages, cultures, and time, blue is humanity’s most novel color.  As far back as we can track human words for colors and their appearance in art and artifact, black and white were first, then red, yellow, and green.

Poetry, Science, Politics, and Birds

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In watching birds, I understand Adrienne Rich’s idea of triangulation through poetry, science, and politics. Someone thousands of miles across the globe must also value, give voice to, and protect the homes of my most familiar backyard birds.

Why Poetry Is Difficult

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Because there is language. Humanoids happened, then Homo sapiens happened, and somewhere down the line, we started to talk. Why? Because pictures weren’t enough. Because pictures, dazzling as they were (and still are), are a little less portable, less mutable to the nuances of our shifting perceptions.

On Topophilia and a Complicated Love of Jim Harrison’s Fiction

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Topophilia, coined by W.H. Auden in 1947, means the love of place; a straightforward word to describe thoughts and feelings I have with regularity.

Somewhere Else: One Woman and Her Car

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About two years ago, I arranged for a one-way ride to York, Maine, to buy a 2004 Toyota Matrix that I found on Craigslist. While the owner counted the cash, he gave me a brief history of my new car.

Feminism and Tillie Olsen’s SILENCES

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Though Tillie Olsen published very little in her lifetime, her body of work had a great impact on the women’s movement of the 1960s and ‘70s. She was a champion of underrepresented writers. Olsen’s book, SILENCES, became a classic feminist text, and her works of fiction were met with

The Physics of Poetry or the Poetry of Physics

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When I started my Google search with the words “physics and poetry” I did so with some reluctance, knowing that each time I clicked on a headline or hit the return key I was willfully handing over hours of time to the trailings of one of my recent curiosities.

Into Obscurity, Poetically Speaking

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I first found CD Wright’s poem “The Obscure Lives of Poets” back in February, and was afraid to get too close, as though examining it might blind me, or worse, put out the fire.