Archive | This Month

No Justice Done To Poetry At The Inauguration: On Richard Blanco

John F. Kennedy’s request that Robert Frost read at his inauguration had no precedent in United States history, but, in retrospect, appears rather predictable. The 86-year-old writer was already “the embodiment of American poetry,” as Jay Parini puts it in his biography.  Parini recalls that Kennedy enjoyed Frost’s poetry, and – more importantly, no doubt […]

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Dennis O’Driscoll (1954-2012): An Appreciation

Until recently, Dennis O’Driscoll was among the few living poets I most wanted to meet. He was also the only such poet whose writings I barely knew. Yet shortly after his sudden death on December 24, 2012 (a week shy of his 59th birthday), I resolved to fill this gap in the coming year. I […]

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Dancing In Borrowed Time: Bill Coyle on Andrew Sofer

Reviewed: Wave by Andrew Sofer. Main Street Rag Publishing Company, 2010. 63 pages, $14.00   The epigraph to Andrew Sofer’s debut collection of poetry comes from Yehuda Amachai—“And for the sake of remembering  / I wear my father’s face over mine”—and it could hardly be more apt. Among other things, the quotation prepares readers for […]

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The Man Who Killed Poetry: Joseph Epstein And His Essays

It is nearly twenty-five years since Joseph Epstein published his now famous essay—or as Dana Gioia referred to it, his “mordant 1988 critique”—under the flashy title “Who Killed Poetry?” (Commentary, August 1988) “A brilliant polemicist,” Gioia wrote, “Epstein intended his essay to be incendiary, and it did ignite an explosion of criticism.” That came from […]

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A Variety of Courage: John Foy on Gerry Cambridge’s Notes for Lighting a Fire

  If lighting a fire on a winter night is a way of staying alive, then so, one feels, was the writing of the poems in Gerry Cambridge’s new book, Notes for Lighting a Fire. These poems are filled with light and heat. They are often about light and staving off darkness and cleaving to […]

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Thomas Hardy’s Artistry in “The Darkling Thrush”

I teach Hardy every other year in my “Modern British Poetry“ course at Wells College, and this year I decided to use “The Darkling Thrush” to introduce his work to students, many of whom had not read him before. As I looked particularly closely at the poem in preparation for the class—and then, later, during […]

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Thomas Hardy’s “In Tenebris”: The Problem of Relativity

Click here (and scroll to the bottom of the page) to read the poem sequence. I’d like to start by making a claim that I have recently asserted elsewhere: The lyric poem is fundamentally elegiac. That is, the lyric constitutes both the inscription of a moment’s utterance and a memento mori—an object that cannot help […]

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“The Convergence of the Twain”: Thomas Hardy and Popular Sentiment

On April 15, 1912, on her maiden voyage, the British steamer Titanic, the world’s largest and most luxurious ship, struck an iceberg in mid-Atlantic and sank. The White Star Line’s ships had previously suffered major wrecks and loss of life in 1854, 1873, and 1893. But 1,500 people, more than half the Titanic’s passengers, died, […]

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“Effulgent” by David M. Katz (A parody)

  “Effulgent” by David M. Katz           Part seemed she of the effulgent thought –“Her Initials,” Thomas Hardy   Glitter, brilliance, candor, dazzle; Luster, splendor, lambent lightness; She evokes a lucid ghazal All shot through with flashing brightness: Of those words, he chose “effulgent.” Anhedonic to a fault, dour Hardy’s verse betrays his waning Adolescent […]

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Thomas Hardy: The Flexible Strength of “Neutral Tones”

How can you account for the love you have for a favorite poem?  One way is simply to say that it sparks personal associations for you. For me, that’s true in the case of “Neutral Tones,” as I suspect it is for the many who regard it as one their favorite Hardy poems. After all, […]

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