Saturday, July 26, 2008

 

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Friday, July 25, 2008

 

Robert Grenier
reading the wall

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When typographers scribble

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Scrawl

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This Sunday, reading
An Ear in Bartram’s Tree
in Bartram’s garden

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Maxine Chernoff’s “World
in English & Portuguese

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Tom Raworth, who just turned 70,
talking with Charles Bernstein (MP3)

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Nancy Galbraith has died

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Charles Bernstein’s “Hero of the Local:
Robert Creeley & the Persistence of American Poetry”
(scroll down,
but if you read Spanish,
check out Antonio Ochoa’s
Autobiografía de Robert Creeley”
on the same page)

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Some new recordings by yours truly
on the Academy of American Poets website:

Albany” from The Alphabet

Quindecagon,” also from The Alphabet

A Love Song” by William Carlos Williams

from ‘What,’” from The Alphabet

Another passage “from ‘What’

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Robert Kelly reads Coleridge’s “Kublai Khan

Susan Howe reads “The Nonconformist’s Memorial

Clayton Eshleman reads César Vallejo’s “XIII

Wanda Coleman reads “American Sonnet (35)

Christian Bök reads Hugo Ball’s “Karawane

Jena Osman reads “Mercury Rising (A Visualization

Allen Ginsberg reads “Howl

Anne Waldman reads “Stereo

Richard Howard reads Browning’s “My Last Duchess

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Talking with Ravi Shankar

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Talking with Nick Piombino

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Seven riddles of form

Appreciating Zukofsky
from the other side of poetics

Robert Leiter on Zukofsky’s sound & sense

Zukofsky’s Dell

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53 new book reviews at Galatea Resurrects

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Jeffrey Beam on Asheville’s WPVM Wordplay (MP3)
(sound link good only until the weekend)

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Mark Truscott:
“interventions in poetry”

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A monument to Nicola Vaptsarov

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Talking with Blake Butler

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Some recognition for Penn Kemp

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Remembering William Studebaker

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Gloucester’s laureate announces his program

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Brian Turner on Fresh Air

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A profile of John McNamee

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Salman Rushdie, a novelist again

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Talking with Ric Royer

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Butcher-poet

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“We had to destroy the library
in order to save it”

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Next season at the Folger:
Rae Armantrout &
a whole bunch o’ quietude

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Talking with Francisco Aragon

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Peter Riley’s obit of Andrew Crozier

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It is hard to turn away from  running water

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Opening ¶¶ for sale

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From flarf to barf

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Kay Ryan, Alice Notley & tarot

An excellent profile of Kay Ryan

How much of any outsider is Ryan?

America’s busiest poet

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The Trial of Ezra Pound
(streaming audio available until the weekend)

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Rilke & the question of self-identity

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Kevin Killian on Tom Devaney

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Is any Amis any good?

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Poetry of the self-taught

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Message to Poetry:
more quietude please
(& quoting Zukofsky to justify it!)

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The Dylan Thomas walking tour

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What’s in a name?

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Tale of the Genji mss.
turns up after 68 years

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Amazon’s impact on small publishers

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How to speak Shakespeare

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Sending in full professors
to teach comp.

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The death of Harry Potter?

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The writer who could not read

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A bookstore closes in Bakersfield

& in North Andover, MA

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Newspapers are dying

Oh no we’re not

The impact on “minority” journalists

Abandoning a responsibility

Saving the industry

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Grim news
in the war on criticism

An era ends

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Wikipedia goes into print

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French resistance to Google Book Search crumbling

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In Canada, libraries thrive

How to store data digitally
for a century or more

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Paul Hoover
on the decadence of the
US

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Did Google make Nicholas Carr stupid?

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A Project Runway for artists

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Talking with Rem Koolhaas

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Everything is Godard

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Ebert says goodbye to TV

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Blogging & theater criticism

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Beckett’s novels on stage

Beckett’s voice
(a video!)

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Martin E.P. Seligman & the big Oops

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

 

The city of Boston is filled with frogheaded flies and British policemen. The other day I saw the corpse of Emily Dickinson floating up the Charles River.

Sweet God, it is lonely to be dead. Sweet Good, is there any God to worship? Sweet God, you stand in Boston like a public statue. Sweet God, is there any God to swear love by? Or love it is lonely, is lonely, is lonely to be lonely in Boston.

Now Emily Dickinson is floating down the Charles River like an Indian Princess. Now naked savages are climbing out of all the graveyards. Now the Holy Ghost drips birdshit on the nose of God. Now the whole thing stops. Sweet God, poetry hates Boston.

This 1956 poem by Jack Spicer, which first appeared in The Poker, no. 5, in the winter of 2005, is taking on something of a promiscuous history. It appears in the current issue of The Massachusetts Review, devoted to GLBT writing, and is reprinted, with credit to the Mass Review, in the current edition of Harpers (subscription definitely required). Both, being School of Quietude haunts, fail to credit The Poker.

One can only imagine what Jack Spicer would have made of an appearance in Harpers, at least once he’d stopped puking his guts out. The cosmic joke at the heart of Book of Magazine Verse, the volume that was in press when Spicer died at the age of 40 in 1965, is that none of the magazines for which this diffident, supremely geo-centric author “wrote” his poems would ever have deigned to print them.

Not only did Spicer proleptically assume automatic rejection by The St. Louis Sporting News (now just The Sporting News) and Down Beat, two publications that didn’t (and still don’t) normally print poetry, but also by Ramparts, the SF-based Catholic theological journal that, in the 1960s, transformed itself into a radical antiwar publication (Mother Jones is a pretty direct descendent of Ramparts), Poetry – which by 1965 was regularly publishing Louis Zukofsky, Charles Olson, Robert Creeley &, most pointedly from Spicer’s perspective, Robert Duncan – and The Nation (whose poetry editor at the time, Denise Levertov, Spicer despised as she did him¹), but even an emergent post-avant mimeo rag such as Vancouver’s Tish and the apparently non-existent Vancouver Festival.

Spicer was very protective of his outsider status. He would allow his mimeo magazine J to be distributed as far east as Berkeley, but no further. To discover that you had sent a contributor’s copy to New York or Boston was to be banned from its pages forever after. While he did live & work in both Boston & Minneapolis for short periods, the poem above is pretty typical for the respect which Spicer showed them.

In the past several months, tho, works by Spicer have turned up in both Poetry and The Nation, part of the run-up to the publication next  month of My Vocabulary Did This To Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer, edited by Kevin Killian and Peter Gizzi. Having seen the manuscript at different stages of editing, I can say without hesitation that this is one of the great books of the 20th and of the 21st centuries. Gizzi & Killian have done a tremendous job.

Still, it is very strange to see Jack Spicer’s poetry turn up in places where it never would have done so in his own lifetime.²

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Today’s Philadelphia Inquirer has a feature on the city’s Car Share program entitled – in 80-point type on the front of the Magazine section of the paper – “Drive, They Said.” Is this the largest print in which an allusion to Robert Creeley has ever appeared? And who at the Inky besides editor John Timpane & book reviewer Carlin Romano will even recognize it as such?

 

¹ Spicer appears to have seen her as a homophobic bluenose, an enemy of poetry. She seems to have seen him as a racist alcoholic. The fact that, in the mid-1960s, she was still something of an acolyte of Robert Duncan’s certainly did not help.

² I believe Spicer did send his poems both to Poetry and The Nation, both of which, true to his expectations, rejected them.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

 

   

Recently Received

 

Books (Poetry)

Kim Bridgford, In the Extreme: Sonnets about World Records, Contemporary Poetry Review Press, West Chester, PA 2007

Catherine Savage Brosman, Range of Light, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge 2007

Julie Carr, Equivocal, Alice James Books, Farmington, ME 2007

Maxine Chernoff, The Turning, Apogee Press, Berkeley 2008

Kelly Cherry, Hazard and Prospect, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge 2007

Leigh Anne Couch, Houses Fly Away, Zone 3 Press, Clarksville, TN 2007

Anne-Marie Cusac, Silkie, Many Mountains Moving Press, Longmont, CO 2007

Carol V. Davis, Into the Arms of Pushkin: Poems of St. Petersburg, Truman State University Press, Kirksville, MO 2007

Greg Delanty, The Ship of Birth, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge 2007

Diana Der-Hovanessian, The Second Question, Sheep Meadow Press, Riverdale-on-Hudson, NY 2007

Brendan Galvin, Ocean Effects, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge 2007

C.S. Giscombe, Prairie Style, Dalkey Archive, Champaign, IL 2008

Noah Eli Gordon, Acoustic Experience, Pavement Saw, Montpelier, OH 2008

Jeff Gundy, Spoken Among the Trees, University of Akron Press, Akron OH 2007

Diane Jarvenpa, The Tender Wild Things, New Rivers Press,  Moorhead, MN 2007

Andrew Kozma, City of Regret, Zone 3 Press, Clarksville, TN 2007

J. Ladin, The Book of Anna, Sheep Meadow Press, Riverdale-on-Hudson, NY 2007

Joan Larkin, My Body, Hanging Loose Press, Brooklyn 2007

Heller Levinson, Smelling Mary, Howling Dog Press, Berthoud, CO  2008

Karen Mac Cormack, Implexures, Chax Press & West House, Tucson & Sheffield 2008

Herbert Woodward Martin, Inscribing My Name: Selected Poems: New, Used, and Repossessed, foreword by W.D. Snodgrass, Kent Sate University Press, Kent OH 2007

Steve McCaffery, Slightly Left of Thinking, Chax Press, Tucson 2008

Sandy McIntosh, Forty-Nine Guaranteed Ways to Escape Death, Marsh Hawk Press, East Rockaway, NY 2007

Constance Merritt, Blessings and Inclemencies, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge 2007

Richard Miles, Boat of Two Shores, University of Maine at Machias, Machias 2007

Kate Northrop, Things are Disappearing Here, Persea Books, New York 2007

Sue Owen, The Devil’s Cookbook, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge 2007

Hermine Pinson, Dolores is Blue / Dolores is Blues, Sheep Meadow Press, Riverdale-on-Hudson, NY 2007

David Ray, When, Howling Dog Press, Berthoud, CO 2007

William Reichard, This Brightness, Mid-List Press, Minneapolis 2007

Leonard Schwartz, A Message Back and Other Furors, Chax Press, Tucson 2008

Priscilla Sneff, O Woolly City, Tupelo Press, Dorset, VT 2007

Kathleen Spivak, Moments of Past Happiness, Earthwinds Editions, Chelsea, MA 2007

Elizabeth Treadwell, wardolly, Chax Press, Tucson 2008

Barbara Louise Ungar, The Origin of the Milky Way, Gival Press, Arlington VA 2007

John Tritica, Sound Remains, Chax Press, Tucson 2008

Anca Vlasopolos, Penguins in a Warming World, Ragged Sky, Princeton 2007

Sam Witt, Sunflower Brother, Cleveland State University Poetry Center, Cleveland 2007

C. Dale Young, The Second Person, Four Way Books, New York 2007

Elizabeth Marie Young, Sonnets, Omahrahu, New York 2008

 

Journals

Sal Mimeo, no. 8, Spring 2008, New York. Includes Jean Day, Max Jacob, Clark Coolidge, Steve Malmude, Ann Stephenson, David Perry, Allan Kaplan, Michael Gizzi, Fran Carlen, Erica Carpenter, Ron Horning, Rick Stull, April Koester, Carol Szamatowicz, Emma Rossi.

 

Other Media & Formats

Vincent Quatroche, Matador from Another Planet, Sleeping Giant Records, Fredonia 2004. Spoken word CD with soft-jazz ambient music background.

Vincent Quatroche, In Dreamthink, Sleeping Giant Records, Fredonia 2006. Spoken word CD with soft-jazz ambient music background.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

 

The Dark Knight is a very good motion picture, a superb one in many respects. But count me out of any attempts to raise this film to the level, say, of The Godfather or even Lord of the Rings. Or, for that matter, the last film in which Heath Ledger & Christian Bale both appeared, the Dylan biopic, I’m Not There. There is something missing right at the core of this event.

I’m tempted to say that what’s absent is emotion. Where you really notice it is in the remarkably sanitized & muted demise of one of the key characters. It’s entirely off-screen as the heroes of this film rush to rescue another key character. There’s plenty of explosions, but it’s difficult to tell which are the ones that almost get our rescued one & which perhaps claimed the other. Everyone appears affected by the death, but not really. Batman is confused. The film’s other primary protagonist responds counter-intuitively, to say the least. Out of grief, that one decides to stand for everything the late one opposed. What’s wrong with that picture?

But to call this emotion is to confuse the effect with its cause, the less-than-perfect narrative skills of Christopher Nolan. The key to The Dark Knight, I fear, is its PG-13 rating. There are an enormous number of explosions, lots of shooting, more than a few key deaths, but very little blood or gore. The very worst of it is some stitching Bruce Wayne does to his own bicep fairly early in the going. The Joker, tho he talks a good knife, never actually deploys it onscreen. His own scars, which at one point he suggests are the consequence of child abuse, are covered by paint, coming across most of the time as a blur. His very best moment is his most femme, waltzing out of a hospital in a nurse’s uniform & red wig as the building implodes behind him.

The alleged gore that greets Two-Face is right out of The Terminator¹ and borders on the cartoon gore of Indy Jones or Ghostbusters, tho this is definitely Aaron Eckhart’s breakout motion picture. But one of the reasons he stands out is one of the deeper problems of the picture. Against Heath Ledger’s decidedly creepy & very hot adaptation of the Joker, Nolan has made the decision to keep everyone else, save Meister Eckhart, very very cool. The blue flame explosion that occurs in advance of the title at the beginning has it exactly right. Morgan Freeman is hardly used at all, Gary Oldman, again playing against type as the good cop, has exactly one meaty scene & that on his back², Michael Cane plays Bruce Wayne’s manservant in a much lower key than he did in Batman Begins, and Christian – “It hurts to smile” – Bale, the latest in the Robert Mitchum school of under-emoting, tones it down even further, if possible.

Eckhart tho, because he has the most complex role in the film, is allowed to ramp it up a little. And tho he’s not Laurence Olivier, nor even Heath Ledger, he does a credible job. He & Ledger are the two bright lights in this otherwise very dark & muted landscape.

Consider, by way of contrast, how the death of Sonny, played by James Caan, impacts The Godfather, how it transform every character, from Brando to Pacino all the way to John Cazale’s pathetic Fredo. This is exactly what we’re supposed to be feeling as Bruce Wayne tries to figure out whether or not to go on & as Two-Face does his flip into evil. But I didn’t feel it at all. Perhaps because you (I) never buy these characters as in any way people. Oldman & the one who gets blown up are really the only two exceptions.

What replaces characterization, the human element, is pacing. This is the strangest aspect of The Dark Knight . It keeps basically to the same rhythm from beginning to end. Whether it’s a chase scene under the el (with the Joker alternately driving a garbage truck & in the back of a moving van with rocket-propelled grenades – how does he do that?), or a swank fundraiser with the hoi polloi for the new DA, this film never lingers. Consider, again by way of contrast, how pacing was used in the latest Bond flick, Casino Royale, going from the hyperventilating opening chase to the feels-like-real-time game of poker. The Dark Knight feels more like a sluggish version of a Bourne film, the same incessant drift from scene to scene, but without the constant threat of capture.

So it just doesn’t quite work, at least for me. I should note that I think the balance between cool Christian Bale & hot, agitated, psycho-giggling Heath Ledger does. They counter one another quite effectively & their scenes together improve throughout the course of the film. When the Joker tells Batman he’ll never kill him because “you complete me,” you realize just what a great film this could have been. Ledger is the most memorable villain since Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men, all of nine months ago, tho both pale against Anthony Hopkins’ original performance as Hannibal Lecter. Will Ledger get a supporting actor nomination from the Academy? Almost certainly. Will he win? Only against a very weak field.

 

¹ And if you forgot that, seeing an advance preview for Terminator Salvation, due out next year, starring not Ahnold the Govenator, but none other than Christian Bale (!!), ahead of Dark Knight, brings it all right back.

² Oldman’s amphetamine-fueled bad cop in The Professional (a.k.a. Leon) shows just how over-the-top he can go, much hotter & wilder than Ledger. One of the genuinely great character actors of our time, Oldman’s muted, even slack performance here clearly is a choice.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

 


Filreis & Bernstein in the PENNsound studio photo by Mark Stehle

Charles Bernstein on Al Filreis’
Counter-Revolution of the Word:
The Conservative Attack on Modern Poetry, 1945-1960

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an aversion to cooperative endeavors

Edward Byrne on Kay Ryan

PBS

San Francisco Chronicle

Adam Kirsch on Ryan

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Armantrout on Armantrout

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David Shapiro on the faux FOH controversy

Kent Johnson’s “reply”

Kirby Olson has an opinion

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The poetry collection with a six figure advance

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Patrick Oguejiofor’s Drums of Curfew

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Every broadside has a story

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Marjorie Perloff on an odd Mayakovsky medley

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Chingiz Aitmatov has died

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John Ashbery: readings from the 1960s & ‘70s
(also ‘80s, ‘90s & ‘00s)

Ashbery, talking for an hour with Al Filreis (MP3)

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Cognitive mapping, poetry & cluster bombs

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Poetry & navigation

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The relentlessness of Clayton Eshleman

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Sam Beckett in Dublin

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Reb Livingston’s Dream Poet Anthology

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Lunchtime for Dr. Benway

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The most redundant site on the web

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Yang Yi wins Akutagawa Prize

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Rabbit Light Movies:
a video zine of poets reading

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Karlo Mila’s A Well-Written Body

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The man who collects
Governor-General Award winners

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Getting into Zukofsky

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Larry McMurtry’s Books

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ABA offers indie bookstores
a print-on-demand program

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Quantum poetics

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Jerry Rothenberg on Jean Pierre Faye

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Did Robert Browning murder Elizabeth Barrett?

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Who was Homer?

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A profile of J.M. Barrie

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Library funding support
is only marginally related
to library visitation”

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Truth in blurbing?

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the plums
that were
in the icebox

& so much more

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Is this the Shakespeare thief?

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Wendy Cope
writes of & for the BBC

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Talking with Tobias Wolff

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Noel Hodgson’s Dancing over Cheviot

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Rushdie claims really stupid record

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Talking with Doug Manson

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A promo piece for poetry
for
New Zealand’s Montana Poetry Day

Plus an anthology on dying

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An unexpurgated First Circle at last

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Tess Taylor on Kathleen Jamie

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Birkerts on Naipaul

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The poet & the fisherman

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Talking with Mary Jo Salter

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A short profile of Jordie Albiston

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Ian Blake & a benign ghost

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A Borders closes in upstate NY

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Poetry CDs an alternative to talk radio

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Yeats goes intermedia

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The poetry of Carlos Rivera

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The Gas Hike Poems

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Edward Thomas’ Annotated Collected Poems

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How fiction works

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Mary Karr on Charlie Simic

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25 years of interactive fiction

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Leslie Anne Mcilroy, live & with music

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War of the Worlds the cover

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Buried Treasure Island

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Talking with Douglas McLennan

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Degas & Levine

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Christopher Hitchens, Damien Hirst
& the art of the stunt

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Parsing language online

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Drum Tao

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Steve Lopez on the violin music of
Nathaniel Ayers

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Can dance ever be too sexy?

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Gonzo

More Gonzo

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Deconstructing
the right’s attack on theory

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Who misses critics?

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40 years after
the Prague Spring

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The United States
& the narrative of decline

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The problem of comments stream bullies

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Making Richard Rorty

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The nerd / geek divide

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