Archive | This Month

Great Moments in Criticism: Bierce Attacks Wilde

That sovereign of insufferables, Oscar Wilde has ensued with his opulence of twaddle and his penury of sense. He has mounted his hind legs and blown crass vapidities through the bowel of his neck, to the capital edification of circumjacent fools and foolesses, fooling with their foolers. He has tossed off the top of his […]

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Ahead Was Silence: Matthew Buckley Smith on Louise Glück

Reviewed: Faithful and Virtuous Night by Louise Glück. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2014. Reading a good poem by Louise Glück is like taking a slap to the face in a large, cold bathroom. Resonant, if not always enjoyable. A psychiatrist told me once that the depressed often speak with an odd combination of flatness and exuberance, […]

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Of Man & Beast: Rick Joines reviews Mark Wunderlich

Reviewed: Mark Wunderlich, The Earth Avails, Graywolf Press, 2014. 71 pages. $15.00 Mark Wunderlich is a poet of remarkable skill and range. His best poems are lyrical observations of the shared essence of man and of beast, of their taste for brutality, and of their struggles with the cruelties of nature and of one another. […]

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Mark Bauerlein Reviews James Matthew Wilson’s Some Permanent Things

James Matthew Wilson, Some Permanent Things (Milwaukee, WI: Wiseblood Books, 2014), 143 pp. $15.00 Reviewed by Mark Bauerlein The poems in this weighty volume are too numerous and ponderous to summarize in a review. Some of them date from more than a dozen years ago. Verse forms vary (sonnets, blank verse, rhymed quatrains, heptameter couplets . […]

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Writing the Rockies, An Invitation from David Rothman

As you know, the West Chester University Poetry Conference is going on a one-year hiatus in 2015. We are writing to let you know that Western State Colorado University has generously enabled us to fill this gap year by inviting you to our conference, Writing the Rockies, which will take place from Wednesday, July 22 […]

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“Revisiting Vice Versa” by Dana Gioia

Of all the literary scenes Saddest this sight to me: The graves of little magazines Who died to make verse free. — Keith Preston   It is impossible to tell the story of modern American poetry without examining the role of little magazines. During the twentieth century these idiosyncratic, mostly ephemeral, and inevitably uncommercial journals […]

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Stalking the Typical Poem

When I tell people I teach and – God help me – even write poetry, they often say, “I wish you could explain modern poetry to me. I just don’t understand most of it.” My response is usually to talk to them about the kinds of modern poem you can understand, among which I include […]

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James Merrill’s “The Friend of the Fourth Decade”

David Kalstone, a longtime professor of English at Rutgers University and, prior to that, at Harvard, was one of James Merrill’s closest friends. An expert on Sir Philip Sidney, Kalstone extensively studied 20th-century Americans as well; his second book Five Temperaments (1977) included a chapter on Merrill along with Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, Adrienne Rich […]

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The Unstiflement of the Story: James Merrill’s “The Broken Home”

“The Broken Home” is a sequence of seven sonnets that appeared in Merrill’s 1966 volume Nights and Days. The sonnets are connected by imagery, themes and autobiography, concerning, as they do, two central issues: the trauma of Merrill’s parents’ divorce and the poet’s own incomplete or “broken” childless home. The sonnets travel far, both temporally and […]

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James Merrill: “After Greece”

The young James Merrill first saw Greece in 1950 as part of a two-and-a-half-year long European tour, a trip he would later detail in his memoir A Different Person. He traveled to Greece specifically to visit his friend, teacher and first lover, Kimon Friar, a Greek-American poet and translator. In 1957, he and his companion […]

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