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Sources of Delight: What We Respond to When We Respond to Poetry by Jan Schreiber

When I was seventeen years old and barely aware of poetry, with no idea what good poetry might be, or even what if anything might please me, a friend, just back from his English class, rushed breathlessly into my room at boarding school, book in hand, and cried, “Listen to this!”

I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level | underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing .

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The “I” as Great Imposter: Confession, Monologue & Persona by Joan Houlihan

After his reading, the poet was approached by a tearful woman. She thanked him for the poem about his brother who had died. “My brother died recently,” she said, “and I sympathize with your feelings about your brother’s death.” “Oh, thanks,” the poet said, “but I don’t have a brother.” Why is this story disturbing?… continue reading...

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These Are the Poems, Folks: On the Relationship Between Poetry and Joke-telling by David Yezzi

Stand-up comedian Tony Campanelli confessed Monday to the Feb. 26 killing of 180 comedy-club patrons during a performance at Crack-Ups in Royal Oak. . . .continue reading...

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Without a Net: Ernest Hilbert on Optic, Graphic, Acoustic, and Other Formations in Free Verse

The present survey is provisional and intended to serve as only the merest introduction to a vast and extraordinarily complex field, one that commands broad, ongoing attention.continue reading...

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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.… continue reading...

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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.… continue reading...

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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.… continue reading...

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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 a mere abstraction and obviously untrue, I would like to begin by suggesting that there are exactly two things happening in every poem: what a poem says and what a poem does.… continue reading...

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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 can cull out fine diamonds or superb soufflés?… continue reading...

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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.… continue reading...

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