How does a poet come to belong to a place? Who are the poets of our American places? As I travel in and around Boston I’m reminded of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. His verses leap to mind when visiting Plymouth, the Wayside Inn in Sudbury, or the Old North Church
When I was a teenager I read T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound obsessively. (And yet somehow managed not to have a girlfriend. Go figure.) Eliot and Pound might seem stodgy and academic to most but for me—growing up in Fresno, California—they represented a larger, better world. Ivy League schools.
Irish poet Sinéad Morrissey first caught my attention with her long poem “The State of the Prisons” about the 18th century reformer John Howard’s humanitarian mission to bring some sanity and basic decency to England’s prisons. Morrissey brought to life a fascinating story from history using regular stanzas and a bit
When you’re tired of the same old books but then you discover a new favorite, it’s a major event. It’s like finding liquid water on Mars: wonder and joy and promise where before you’d seen a barren landscape. The big discovery for me this year has been Yehuda Amichai
A life is divided into three parts: the time before you’re able to work, the time after you’re able to work, and the monstrous bulk of time between. After obedience to the law and some basic moral code, work is one of the great demands placed upon the able.
The poet C.K. Williams died this Sunday, September 20, 2015. For the last few months I’ve been enjoying a review copy of Farrar, Straus and Giroux’s beautiful new collection of Williams’ poems, the Selected Later Poems, but I’m finding that now, in light of Williams’ death, I can’t
A car that can’t get you from point A to point B is a bad car. A pitcher that can’t hold liquid is a bad pitcher. A garment that doesn’t fit the human form is a bad garment. (Make it work, designers!) A poem that doesn’t make you feel something
Katsushika Hokusai, contemporary of Goya and Turner and Ingres, artistic godfather of Monet and Van Gogh, was recently the subject of an exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts here in Boston. He’s been on my mind ever since. Most of us know Hokusai’s artwork from the image above,
With five new critical studies of Northrop Frye hitting the bookstores this year, 2015 is turning out to be Frye’s year. Frye was one of the 20th century masters of myth criticism: if you’re at all interested in archetypes, the hero’s journey, or the intersection of religion and literature,
Here’s the story of my first and only encounter with Harold Bloom. It was the first week of a new semester, my last semester of graduate school, and I was waiting in a stuffy seminar room packed with sharply dressed undergraduates. The luckiest students had secured seats around the grand