Acts of Will

The full text of this feature is not currently available online.

I recommend all seven of these books, six for their promise, and the seventh for its fulfillment of promise.  The seventh is Sydney Lea’s The Floating Candles; I think it clearly demonstrates potential made powerful.  The other six books are as different from each other as their promise and their problems, though they each involve, in some essential way, an act of will.

Tennessee's Long Trip

The full text of this feature is not currently available online.

Feature: Tennessee Williams

Featuring the short plays:

  • Beauty Is the Word
  • Hot Milk at Three in the Morning

Critical Theory and Contemporary American Poetry

The full text of this essay is not currently available online.

Some time ago T.S. Eliot impatiently (and correctly) declared that “criticism is as inevitable as breathing.” Perhaps the contemporary equivalent would be the proclamation that theorizing is as inevitable as breathing.  Indeed, a quick glance at MLA job lists or ads for new books of literary criticism quickly convinces us that all “serious” English departments must have specialists in critical theory and that graduate students and literary scholars must have training in critical theory.  My intent is not to trace the rise of critical theory in current academic curricula, but to ask about a different relationship: what is, or what ought to be, the relationship between critical theory and contemporary American poetry?

Coming to an Understanding of Understanding

The full text of this essay is not currently available online.

A few years ago philosophy was widely perceived (by non philosophers, of course) as having become an irredeemably irrelevant intellectual enterprise.  No longer a discipline with any semblance of unity, philosophy was conceived of quite differently in English speaking countries and on the continent.  The existence of this split led to the circulation of rather unflattering pictures of each philosophical traditon: on the one hand, Anglo-American philosophy was caricatured as a minute inquiry into grammatical subtleties that no one without such an analytical training can see the point of; on the other hand, Continental philosophy was caricatured as an ineffable and incomprehensilbe search to say what cannot be said. The analytical traditon produced trivial clarity; the Continental tradition produced profound nonsense.

Reflections on a Year in Harvard's Woodberry Reading Room

The full text of this essay is not currently available online.

Last summer a bronze sculpture by Henry Moore was installed in a corner of Harvard Yard outside the Lamont Library. For a month workers rehearsed placements and then roped off a small area to direct the sinking of the base.  Two forms were set down, securely but not permanently, and the roped removed.  In the sculpture’s first hours, passers by approached, inspected, and cautiously touched as the placers watched from a distance.  In its first year the work has become an extension of the scenery.  All fall and spring students have studied and sunned there, casually hugging the forms.

An Interview with Charles Simic

The full text of this interview is not currently available online.

I had what Jan Kott calls “a typical East European eduation.” He means, Hitler and Stalin taught us the basics. When I was three years old the Germans bombed Belgrade.  The house across the street was hit and destroyed.  There was plenty more of that, as everybody knows.  When the war ended I came in and said: “Now there won’t be any more fun!” That gives you an idea what a jerk I was.  The truth is, I did enjoy myself.  From the summer of 1944 to mid-1945, I ran around the streets of Belgrade with other half-abandoned kids.  You can just imagine the things we saw and the adventures we had.  You see, my father was already abroad, my mother was working, the Russians were coming, the Germans were leaving.  It was a three-ring circus.

Poetry Feature: Dino Campana

Featuring the poems:

  • From Orphic Songs
  • Voyage to Montevideo
  • Autumn Garden
  • In the Mountains
  • Song of Darkness

Poetry Feature: George Bogin

Featuring the poems:

  • A Sunday at the Beach, 1938
  • A Summer Night on Long Island

Poetry Feature: Katherine Kane

Featuring the poems:

  • The Arriviste
  • The Rabbi Said Never Go to Bed Angry