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An American Way to Go: John Foy on Peter Balakian

Reviewed: Ziggurat by Peter Balakian. University of Chicago Press, 2010. Peter Balakian’s poetry is a “strange brew of wind and light” distilled to one degree or another from primal trauma. He’s as American as Walt Whitman and Joe Namath, a product of high school football teams in the affluent New Jersey suburbs, but he is […]

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Telling the Broken Rosary: Notes on Narrative Verse

1. The Tyranny of Narrative A simple Google search for the phrase “against narrative” will lead you to any number of websites in which someone declares that narrative is tyranny of some sort. We are swept up by its momentum, we lose our minds to someone else’s version of reality. This resembles Plato’s arguments against […]

Posted in November 2010: Poetry Criticism ConferenceComments (1)

Learning and Teaching Taste

1. MAKING SOUL Two days after my birth I arrived at my grandparents’ stone house on the plains. Around us ripe wheat spread across swaying prairie, and words rose from the fields offering themselves to my grandparents’ mouths by way of the King James Bible. Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren […]

Posted in November 2010: Poetry Criticism Conference, This MonthComments (0)

The Dark Pool

Robert Benchley, the actor, critic and member of the Algonquin Wits, once quipped that “There are two kinds of people in the world, those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don’t.”  At the risk of murdering to dissect and conferring ontological status upon a distinction that is […]

Posted in November 2010: Poetry Criticism ConferenceComments (2)

Poetry and the Problem of Standards

“Building my work, I build myself.” –  Paul Valéry “Thought tends to collect in pools.” – Wallace Stevens Ordinary readers, literary editors, and some English professors confront an inescapable question of judgment: In principle, is it possible, faced with an overwhelming body of work in print, to cull out excellent poems in the way one […]

Posted in November 2010: Poetry Criticism Conference, This MonthComments (4)

The Rest Is Criticism

Time was when there was too much criticism around. Randall Jarrell thought so, when, in the early Fifties, he pronounced it “the bane of our age.” Auden, whose fourth doorstop volume of collected prose recently appeared from Princeton, was similarly disenchanted. In The Dyer’s Hand, Auden announced that, when his daydream College for Bards convened, […]

Posted in November 2010: Poetry Criticism Conference, This MonthComments (5)

Special Issue Introduction: Poetry Criticism

The six papers which will appear this week in the CPR were all delivered on July 31, 2010, at the first annual Western State College Seminar on Poetry Criticism, in Gunnison, Colorado.  The impulse behind the seminar, which we plan to hold each year, was a growing sense that critical writing – by which we […]

Posted in November 2010: Poetry Criticism Conference, This MonthComments (1)

CPR Classic Readings: Philip Larkin’s “Broadcast”

While far from being the most ambitious and successful poem in The Whitsun Weddings, “Broadcast” seems to me in many ways among the most essentially Larkinesque of Philip Larkin’s poems, and at the same time the most uncharacteristically romantic.

Posted in Classic Reading, May 2010: Philip Larkin Special Issue, This MonthComments (0)

CPR Classic Readings: Philip Larkin’s “Here”

Philip Larkin’s 1964 volume, The Whitsun Weddings, contains two poems describing train-journeys. One of them is the volume’s title-poem and is one of the most famous (and best-loved) poems in English since the Second World War; it has been said that with this work he brought a whole new English landscape into poetry. The other […]

Posted in Classic Reading, May 2010: Philip Larkin Special IssueComments (5)

The Celebrations of Life Aren’t Over Yet

In Indian English poetry Bibhu Padhi belongs to the second generation of post-Independence poets. Some of his active contemporaries are Meena Alexander, Agha Shahid Ali and Vikram Seth. Writing for the last twenty five years, Padhi has carved a niche for himself in Indian English poetry.

Posted in April 2004: Indian Poetry in English, ReviewsComments (1)