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From the Archives: The Maxims of Pelham (1828)

An Excerpt from Pelham: Or the Adventures of a Gentleman by Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1828) 1.) Do not require your dress so much to fit, as to adorn you. Nature is not to be copied, but to be exalted by art. Apelles blamed Protogenes for being too natural. 2.) Never in your dress altogether desert that […]

Posted in July 2012: The Literary Dandy, This MonthComments (1)

The Director of Imperial Pleasures: Gaius Petronius

It is not until the reign of that frustrated artist and unsurpassed egotist, Nero, that we again recognize the true dandy, so insolent in repose, embodied in the fragmentary figure of Gaius Petronius (Arbiter). Nero was particularly sensitive to the opinions of artists. Just as Seneca had exercised a benevolent influence on the young emperor, […]

Posted in July 2012: The Literary Dandy, This MonthComments (0)

The First Literary Dandy: Plato

The first literary dandy of whom we still have record was Plato—who was unquestionably the greatest “exquisite” of his day. This will strike most modern readers as astonishing or inconceivable but it is neither for those who know their Greek. As a young man in love, he wrote epigrams to his courtesan Archaeanassa (which are […]

Posted in July 2012: The Literary Dandy, This MonthComments (2)

Introduction: The Literary Dandy (A Special Issue)

When was man first freed from the drudgery of earning his income? And who was the first to dedicate himself to the art of living well? At what point in history did an entire leisure class of hedonistic egoists first appear? And what is dandyism after all? It is merely an excessive delight in clothes […]

Posted in July 2012: The Literary Dandy, This MonthComments (0)

The Lighter Side: What Did Neruda Know?

We have all heard the story of an aged Pablo Neruda at a poetry reading, turning down a request to perform a poem from the earlier days of his career, citing a failing memory.  There were plenty of copies of it at hand, but the Chilean poet wouldn’t countenance anything as unprofessional as reading his […]

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A Claptrap Canon: On the Modern Canadian Poets Anthology by Zachariah Wells

Reviewed: Modern Canadian Poets: An Anthology of Poems in English. Todd Swift and Evan Jones, editors. Carcanet Press, 2010. 260 pages, $32.95   Anthologies, particularly those dedicated to presenting the poetry of a particular stretch of geopolitical space-time, are, by necessity, Procrustean beds. Thousands of poets producing work over many decades get pruned to a […]

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The Lighter Side: Happy Anniversary, AWP!

(Here’s a salute to Creative Writing programs from our poets and critics, past and present, culled from various interviews and essays.) “Abolish the M.F.A.! What a ringing slogan for a new Cato: Iowa delenda est!” – Donald Hall “We are now at the point where writing programs are poisoning, and in turn we are being poisoned […]

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The Lighter Side: How to Prepare for AWP

I have attended dozens of poetry readings. Virtually all of them were identical: • The introductions made me think I was about to witness the second coming of John Donne. • All of the “poems” were preceded by tedious, unhelpful explanations. Typically, these involved the author’s state of intoxication when they wrote this stuff or […]

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Monsters All the Way Down: Bill Coyle on Bruce Taylor

Reviewed: No End in Strangeness: New and Selected Poems by Bruce Taylor. Cormorant Books, 2011.   There’s a marvelous description in Book X of Paradise Lost of the astronomical and climatological changes that accompany the Fall, and of the beginnings of predation among the animals.  Milton is more concerned there with the vast scales that […]

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“Is That Really the Best You Can Do?” Quincy Lehr on Poetry and Personal Style

When Solon declared that he learned something new every day (or was it Pericles?—some dead Greek guy, at any rate), he perhaps was not thinking of the utility of the Pratt-Shelby Knot when trying to keep a leather tie proportional enough that the thin end does not emerge at an inconvenient and insistent angle. However, […]

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