Essays and Comment

  • Aldon Nielsen: White Mischief Redux

    I’ll confess at the outset that, despite my intense interest in contemporary poetries, the name of Anders Carlson-Wee was utterly unknown to me before the day I saw his excited post on social media celebrating the fact that one of his poems was to be published by The Nation. Had his name been known to me, I would never have

    Issue #86 October 2018
  • Piotr Florczyk: The Milosz Festival

                      The Miłosz Festival, which takes place in the city of Kraków over four days during the second week of June each year, prides itself on being the largest event of its type in East-Central Europe. However, its size—how is it calculated? —has nothing to do, in my view, with its quality.

    Issue #85 August 2018
  • Marc Scroggins Why Swinburne? (An Open Letter)

    Why Swinburne? (An Open Letter) Dear B——, The other night at the bar, when I had just gotten in from the street and we had barely started the first round, you asked, “Why Swinburne?” The long version of that question might go something like this: “You’re a poet who looks to J. H. Prynne and Susan Howe as lodestars; you

    Issue #84 July 2018
  • Alexander Dickow: Poetry, Sentimentality, and the Laugh Track Compulsion

    Poetry, Sentimentality, and the Laugh Track Compulsion   The Anglo-Saxon world – many would say mercifully – never brought forth anything quite like Alphonse de Lamartine. Lamartine’s Méditations poétiques of 1820, a bestseller well beyond anything today’s poets could ever dream of, ostensibly typifies French Romanticism. Virgil Nemoianu has convincingly argued that French Romanticism bears more resemblance to the aesthetically

    Issue #83 June 2018
  • Robert Archambeau: The Poem in White Space

    The Poem in White Space   White space comes first, for the poet and the reader.  I don’t mean anything as interesting as the idea that poetry exists primarily in the space of whiteness, conceived as a racial identity, as a field dominated (at least in these United States) by white people, white norms, the white past, and white structures

    Issue #82 May 2018
  • Amish Trivedi: Taylor Swift is a Barbarian or: Stephanie Burt’s Defense of Poetry

    Taylor Swift is a Barbarian, or: Stephanie Burt’s Defense of Poetry   In November 2017, Cosmopolitan published an interview with Stephanie Burt in which Burt critiqued poems Taylor Swift had included in “magazines” packaged with her latest album, Reputation. In the interview, Burt draws a line between the work Swift does in writing poems and the work that professional poets

    Issue #81 April 2018
  • T.R. Hummer: The Poet Retires

    intr. Of an army, troops, etc.: to fall back or give ground, esp. when confronted by a superior force; to retreat.   As a poet, I’ve been a lot of people. I don’t mean that I have written from the perspective of various personae or characters, or even of “heteronyms” in Fernando Pessoa’s sense. I mean that, as a poet, I

    Issue #80 March 2018
  • Mario Murgia: Gerard Manley Hopkins in Spanish?

    What happens, then, when such a unique type of language is transplanted into a completely different linguistic code? In other words, how does the poetry of Hopkins manage to take flight—as vigorously as it does in its “original”—in other languages like, say, Spanish? * In the sonnet “Let me be to Thee as a circling bird …,” Gerard Manley Hopkins

    Issue #79 February 2018
  • Sally Connoly: Transatlantic Poetics: An Autobiography

    Transatlanticism is a rather quaint notion. Outmoded even. the transatlantic traffic between the UK and American that defined twentieth century poetics – the figures of T. S. Eliot and W. H. Auden straddling the Atlantic like some sort of twin Colossus of Rhodes– has, quite rightly, given way to a twenty-first century transnationalism. The approach allows for a far more

    Issue #78 January 2018
  • David Wojahn: AT THAT URGE FOR MORE LIFE: ADVENTURES IN LO-REZ (Part 2)

    AT THAT URGE FOR MORE LIFE: ADVENTURES IN LO-REZ  (Part 2) Let me now talk about what happens in one of my letters to students, beyond the anecdotes and exchanges of pleasantries. Typically, a letter first addresses questions students may have posed in their own letters, questions ranging from nuts and bolts stuff (“Could you please talk to me about

    Issue #77 December 2017
  • David Wojahn: AT THAT URGE FOR MORE LIFE: ADVENTURES IN LO-REZ (Part 1)

                    AT THAT URGE FOR MORE LIFE:   ADVENTURES IN LO-REZ (PART ONE)                                                             Let me start with a poem by the late Galway Kinnell, a figure much revered among readers of contemporary poetry, although he was a decidedly uneven writer. Kinnell is generally associated with the so-called Deep Image School, whose best known figures are

    Issue #76 November 2017
  • Michael Gregory Stephens: Angels on the Avenue: The Lower East Side When Poetry Was the World

    Angels on Second Avenue: The Lower East Side When Poetry Was the World   At the start of the 1960s, the Lower East Side transformed itself—from a Jewish ghetto that was still peopled with immigrants from Russia and Eastern Europe—into the East Village, a neighborhood of jazzmen, hipsters, alternative poets, ranting public intellectuals, drug addicts and winos and dropouts, students

    Issue #75 October 2017