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What I’ve been reading

I’ve been lazy about posting for the last month so I thought I’d just jump back in with a quicky. I took a trip to my favorite poetry book store today and got some new reading: Maureen McLane’s Same Life. The text is sparse and cryptic — starts with a fragment, makes allusion to sappho …

Sokal Hoax and friendly Simon Blackburn

I found this to be a very thoughtful and even handed review by Simon Blackburn of Alan Sokal’s latest book, Beyond the Hoax. Sokal mercilessly mocked a generation of postmodern scholars… and as anyone who’s read in that area knows, some of the criticism is deserved. But not all. Blackburn does a very good job …

Tragedy, Logos, Mythos and Louise Gluck’s "Lament"

Louise Gluck the prepares the readers of her book, Ararat, to read arguments. She perhaps wishes she didn’t have to write so many arguments or respond to them, asking in the opening poem, “Why should I tire myself, debating, arguing?” But the trouble is, she was “Born to a vocatoin / to bear witness / …

Why "me"???

I was assigned to read “Andrea del Sarto,” because in Shapiro’s words, “there’s nothing but character” in this poem. But whose character? There are at least two important characters in the poem, represented directly and indirectly: the speaker and the addressee of the monologue. Both characters concern me: what are their characteristics and how does …

Poems I love???

What sort of poems do I love? What a question. It’s a question Alan Shapiro asked me when we started out this term. That is, what were some of the first poems I loved? The poems I read before I even knew the names of the authors or what poetry was “for.” I remember going …

Civilizations, Images, and the Subjunctive

Today I’m reading Elizabeth Arnold’s second book, Civilization. That’s quite a hefty title to take on, but the book manages that sweep (most of the time). A set a poems about her father interspersed through the first half anchor the book. At first, every other poem treats some broader, less personal subject. By the end …

Imagism, Dramatic Monologues … Presentation, Representation

Las week at Elliot Bay books,I found a cute little book of Imagist poetry in the used section. It was just small enough to fit in my purse making it an excellent purchase. Imagism was a short but extremely influential movement that begin around 1910 and continued (officially) until 1920. Some of the canonical, founding …

Bittersweet

The theme of the residency this term, from the first to the last was “bittersweet”: happy in the sad, pleasure in pain,If it makes you happy why are you so sad,etc? Why can’t poets write happy poems? Because usually joy makes you forget to write. Lolita is high contrast — ecstacy, pain, rape, communion — …

I’m back! (In Asheville)

Hello, infrequent but welcome visitors to Mlle. Le Renard. I’m back… and ready to attempt blogging. A year later after some pesky doctoral exams, I’m back in Asheville at the Warren Wilson residency where I’m getting ready to write some poems. I had a fabulous time as a fellow at the Kenyon Review workshop where …

Word and Helen Adams

I watched a documentary on spoken word poetry in the ’60s and 70s . My favorite was Helen Adams. Wow. A crazy old Scottish lady who sang a ballad of a Long Island junky riding the train. Damn. She said that in the traditional ballad, poets would write down verses that were spontaneously made up …