Saturday, June 15, 2013

Friday, June 14, 2013

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Does an unvarnished truth exist? And, if so, does it intersect, even slightly, with what one might call good? Those questions are at the core of Margarethe von Trotta’s Hannah Arendt, a heady film that is only superficially a biopic of the famed political thinker, “Martin Heidegger’s favorite student” and one-time lover, the first woman hired to teach at Princeton. Arendt has opened in New York & Los Angeles, after having been nominated for & won a number of awards,  in Middle & Eastern Europe, including two German best actress nods for Barbara Sukowa as Arendt.
Although the film has flashbacks to Arendt’s days as a student in Marburg, von Trotta focuses on the few short years of Arendt’s career in America after the capture of Adolph Eichmann, whose trial she “covered” for The New Yorker, resulting in a series of articles published in book form as Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil.  The drama of the film itself occurs not in capture of Eichmann, which happens in the first 30 seconds, nor in Arendt’s relationship with Heidegger, nor even in the trial itself – though this may well be the heart of the movie – but in the revulsion with which Arendt’s reporting is met by her closest friends at Princeton, in New York, and especially in Israel.
Arendt, who fled to Paris as the Nazis came to power, was briefly interned in a French concentration camp at Gurs near the Spanish border, from which she escaped and eventually made her way to the US. Alluded to but not represented in the film itself (which is more than can be said for much of her writing, her work with Karl Jaspers, her friendship with Walter Benjamin, her first marriage, or her work in Germany after the war), von Trotta presents Arendt as wanting to understand this ultimate evil by staring it in the eye. Her friends among the US exiles are wary of her trip to Jerusalem to report on the trial for a readership that cannot be expected to comprehend their experiences of horror, a sharp contrast to the almost boyish enthusiasm of New Yorker editor William Shawn (portrayed by Nicholas Woodeson doing everything he can to mimic Wallace Shawn, who might have been better cast to portray his father). Her husband thinks the trial itself is a travesty of justice. In Israel, her friends are frank about the political nature of the prosecution. Israel, she is told, needs myths.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Evie Shockley
on race & the poetry canon
Britain looks at its own
gender-balance issues in publishing
Afghani couplet form
Fady Joudah:
support for
Ghassan Zaqtan
Organizing for Zaqtan works!
Sargon Boulus’ Knife Sharpener
a magazine of modern Arab literature
Art & pop culture from the Middle East
We are all capulchu
Did CIA op Michael Townley
Pablo Neruda?
Nada Gordon @ Writers House
2 poems for Anselm Hollo
Talking with Don Share
re the future of Poetry
Talking with Tyler Meier
re the future of Arizona’s Poetry Center
Daisy Fried’s Women’s Poetry
2 from Anna Strong’s Apostrophes

Monday, June 10, 2013


The world of poetry is changing. This has consequences.

Overwhelmed by the absolute number of poets, the omnibus poetry anthology has become impossible in book form – examples  can be judged only by the degree to which they fail. It’s a form in which the best intentions of editors simply prove embarrassing, a circumstance that is never aided by the fact that the motives of publishers are far more venal than those of hapless compilers. More sharply defined collections – Poems for the Millennium, Vol. 4: The University of California Book of North African Poetry, Beauty is a Verb, The Reality Street Book of Sonnetssucceed to the degree that the best editors are rigorous in their containment of a given territory and honest with their readers as to what they do (and, more importantly, do not) address.

Like the omnibus anthology, such collections are inherently depictive: they represent the poetry of a terrain, a social category, or a literary form. Their virtue is to be found in their modesty of scope, their sharpness of focus and thus the diligence of their editors. If they attempt any intervention into the social fabric of poetry, it is primarily to indicate that X also is a part of the landscape.

Another type of anthology raises the stakes by adding a second, argumentative dimension, using the anthology form to make the  case for some new understanding of the poetic whole. The classic example – for good reason – is Donald M Allen’s The New American Poetry: 1945 – 1960 (NAP) which sold over 100,000 copies and is credited with either opening mid-century poetry up to a wealth of new possibilities, or, alternately, triggering the irremediable decline of civilization. Allen’s anthology was not the first such venture in English – that would have been Pound’s Des Imagistes, which appeared as the February 1914 issue of The Glebe, published by Alfred Kreymborg & Man Ray. But, while both Des Imagistes & Louis Zukofsky’s 1932 An ‘Objectivists’ Anthology would have significant long-term implications for poetry¹, neither remotely approached the impact of the Allen.
Neither did Daisy Aldan’s excellent A New Folder: Americans: Poems and Drawings, which appeared one year before the Allen anthology, covering much of the same aesthetic terrain, but with some notable differences. I’m interested in why one anthology becomes a transformative event for a generation of writers and readers, while another, similar in scope, arguably comparable in quality and first to market, essentially sinks out of sight. Less than a dozen copies remain available in used book stores.

The differences are telling. As Michael Hennessey notes in his Jacket2 essay on the Aldan anthology, the collection included over 30 visual artists. The Allen, by not including the likes of Pollock, de Kooning, Mitchell, Kline, Rivers, Motherwell et al, presents instead an unwavering target.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Photo by Erin Goldberger

in February