March 28, 2013
Ten White Geese By Gerbrand Bakker Translated by David Colmer Penguin. 240 pp. $15. Reviewed by John Timpane Introducing Gerbrand Bakker: He is Dutch, by trade a gardener. In 2010, his piercing, unexpected, original novel The Twin literally amazed the literary world by, out of next to nowhere, winning the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the world's biggest prize for an individual writer. Even with the deserving competition that year, The Twin deserved to win. Ten White Geese is not a twin to The Twin , but it shares the laconic restraint that made The Twin something new. In Bakker's novels, we must watch and be patient, learn how to understand; no one is coming to tell us. There will be clues, surprises, apparently random disjunctions.
September 9, 2011
On Canaan's Side by Sebastian Barry (Viking, $24.95) The lyrical, award-winning novelist depicts Depression-era America through the eyes of Lilly Bere, a political refugee from Ireland. (Sept. 6) Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women by Melissa V. Harris-Perry (Yale, $28) The author, a professor of political science at Tulane University, explores how black women negotiate the many images society throws at them. The personal really is the political - and vice versa.
June 9, 2011 |
A friend, upon hearing that The Belle of Amherst was in production at Rose Valley's Hedgerow Theatre, commented, "That thing is going to play until there's nothing left on Earth but Cher doing it for an audience of cockroaches. " That's a fairly accurate portrait of our species - Cher representing our pathological need for attention and poet Emily Dickinson the quiet delights of privacy. And even if Penelope Reed, Hedgerow's artistic director and poet channeler, doesn't have half Cher's half-life, her longevity in the title role gives her a serious claim on that postapocalyptic lead.
March 20, 2011
1. h. Henry David Thoreau. 2. c. Mark Twain. 3. j. Rainer Maria Rilke. 4. i. Pablo Neruda. 5. a. Langston Hughes. 6. b. Emily Dickinson. 7. f. Margaret Atwood. 8. g. Nadine Stair. 9. d. Pam Brown. 10. e. Bern Williams.
August 22, 2010
Emily Dickinson and Her Family's Feuds By Lyndall Gordon Viking. 512 pp. $32.95 Reviewed by Polly Longsworth Among a spate of biographical and fictional works about Emily Dickinson pouring forth this year is Lives Like Loaded Guns , Lyndall Gordon's volcanic replay of the Dickinson family feud, the famous "war between the houses," which resulted in the most bizarre debut of any major figure in American literature....
April 13, 2010 |
Zayd Dohrn's Sick is recognizably a Luna Theater production: a play with big ideas that will fit on a small stage, stylistically pushing the parameters of realism, commenting on some aspect of life in contemporary society. Director Gregory Campbell excavates the big idea here contained in the various understandings of the title. First, there's the fact that the mother, Maxine (Sally Mercer), believes the only way to protect her children's health is to keep them sheltered from the noxious world outside the door.
August 28, 2006 |
When the yellow school buses start coming around again this fall, it's time for parents and children to start thinking earnestly of school. For many young people, especially teens, the first few days of school are exciting, a time to compare summer adventures, scope out the new fashions, and mingle with new peers. I wonder how many of them will share summer experiences that had something - anything - to do with reading a great book. Not many, I bet. I was no different at their age; I don't think I read a book from cover to cover until I was nearly old enough to drive.
December 27, 2002 |
Recently one of the talk-radio mules on a local conservative talk station resurrected the Amiri Baraka controversy. The new charge: Baraka's poem "Somebody Blew Up America" was in violation of "the facts. " Keats (who confused Balboa with Cortez and had the wrong one discovering the Pacific Ocean) once said a fact is not a truth until you have fallen in love with it, a fairly good test of what a poet means by truth. Truth in poetry is the truth of the imagination, not of "evidence" or reportorial accuracy.
October 20, 2002 |
To help her start an online poetry and writing journal, Sylvia Baer turned to an old friend, one she regularly brings to life in her one-woman poetry show: Emily Dickinson. For the last eight years, the Gloucester County College professor has put on a replica of a dress worn by the New England poet and performed Passion for Life at schools, nursing homes and other settings. "One reason why I love her poems is that they are not rooted to a specific time and place," Baer said.
April 1, 2002 |
You're walking down Walnut Street and decide to pop into Borders. You quickly choose a paperback and head home. About to lose yourself in the tale, you prop up your feet on the coffee table. But what's this piece of paper in the back - another antitheft device? You unfold it, and the whimsy of it all piques your attention. "Free Poem," it states in large type. Free, and pretty good, too. In this indecisive autumn I stalk my city streets a pacifist in army boots nothing to offer but an inarticulate no . . .. At the bottom of the page, more bold lettering: "(For you, from the Philadelphia Poetry Provider)