Wednesday, April 20, 2016


As someone who has always – at least since I was 10 – been reading a lot of books at one time, it’s rare that I don’t find at least one of the current selection to be a long, thick, slog or otherwise deficient in some aspect. Right now, however, I am in that rarified space of only reading books that I think are terrific – good, if not great & really more of the latter than the former. So I just thought I’d say thanks to all of these authors for making this magical moment come about. Books involved include

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016


Philly poets -- bad news. Readers’ Forum Books in Wayne (N. Wayne Ave just above route 30, half a block from the train station) has to be out of their space by next Sunday. The silver lining in this is that somebody recently sold a very large, very good selection of poetry books and journals and that you can probably negotiate prices below the $3-10 that most of the items in the store are marked at. I got a dozen books that included Hugh MacDiarmid, Roy Miki's anthology of criticism on the Martyrology, some George Bowering, an early Bronk, some Donald Finkel, Marjorie Welish, Paul Beatty etc. Books I did not pick up because I already owned them included those by Kit Robinson, Carla Harryman, Clayton Eshleman (lots!), Jerry Rothenberg, Hank Lazer, Doug Messerli's big anthology. Also remaining a lot of interesting quietist volumes (collected Ted Hughes, the underappreciated George Starbuck, some Geoffrey Hill, Gertrude Schnackenberg) etc. Also lots of issues of Sulfur, Conjunctions, Boundary2, even The Dial. Seriously recommend the trip. Novelist / manager Ed Luoma runs the operation and talks about buying lots of books from Guy Davenport when he'd come and teach at Swarthmore.



Thursday, January 14, 2016


Some 30-plus years ago, the Poetry Center at San Francisco State, concerned at having given its annual book award the previous two years to, I believe, Laura Moriarty and Jackson Mac Low, asked C.D. Wright to judge the 1985 prize, under the presumption that this would take care of any implication that the school was too much in thrall to language poetry. They should have known better than to expect the woman who brought Frank Stanford’s battlefield where the moon says I love you to the world to meet expectations. She picked my book Paradise, thereby initiating what I take to have  been the real prize, a thirty-year friendship with a wonderful person. She was a great writer with a restless, probing intelligence that never settled and was always questing. Although I had not known who she was back in 1985, I was to learn a lot from her, as I expect to do from her writing till the end of my days. The last time we saw each other was at a reading she gave at Haverford College, after which we went to dinner with Tom Devaney, Gus Stadler and others. I’m going to hold the tone of her voice & that lilt of Arkansas accent in my ear forever.


Friday, December 25, 2015


Thursday, December 03, 2015


Ryan Costello, the GOP congressman from our district in Chester County, PA, looks like one of those farm implement or panty-hose execs used to comic effect in so many episodes of Mad Men. But when he’s not channeling the late 1950s-early ‘60s fashion sense of mainstreet Midwest, he’s an active puppet for the NRA, having received $9,900 thus far from the folks who brought you Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Virginia Tech and literally hundreds of other nightly news horror shows.

Some pols got a lot more – by US electoral standards, Costello’s a cheap example of the world’s oldest profession – and quite a few have gotten less. But he’s what you get when Dems don’t turn out in off-year elections. And he’s precisely the kind of pol who convinces people that government is hopeless, useless and corrupt.

But the biggest con of all here is not all the little congressmen who do the bidding of the gun lobby, but the NRA itself. The idea that the NRA represents gun owners is a total fabrication. It represents gun and ammunition manufacturers. Plenty of polls have shown that NRA members support rational constraints on gun sales and ownership. They don’t benefit from mass murders and the 30,000+ Americans who die by gun violence every year. The only folks who do are the manufacturers. They are the problem. Time to focus on them.

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