April 17, 2012 |
‘That was the stupidest poem ever. " Imogene, a ninth-grade English student, was critiquing my favorite poem, "Year's End," by Richard Wilbur. Such moments in teaching give me second thoughts about whether I should have gone into law, or plastics. I actually enjoy answering the question: "Why do we have to read this poem?" But more and more, the question has become: "Why do we have to read poetry?" This was essentially Imogene's lament, and it made me feel like a defender of the faith — a solitary English teacher facing the forces of darkness, chaos, and MTV. The resonant literary image, the ordered experience and cadence of the sentence, the counterpoint of the paragraph, and the music of the muse needs preservation — though we may be bloodied in the attempt!
April 8, 2012 |
'Poetry is dead. Long live poetry!" That's my rejoinder to National Poetry Month's seasonal hue and cry - febrile lament of poetry's demise coupled with celebration of its monarchal reign as highest of arts. For poetry lovers this renders April "the cruelest month," as T.S. Eliot observed. Like most poets writing today, I grew up with the notion that poetry is knock, knock, knocking on heaven's door. My teachers, my peers, and many literary journals reminded me that I am merely bloodying my knuckles.
March 16, 2012 |
AT TRADITIONAL poetry events, poets read their written work aloud. But this weekend, Swarthmore College shows that not all poetry is composed in a written language, or even in a language that can be spoken. "Signing Hands Across the Water" is a sign language poetry festival featuring American and British poets who express themselves through movement rather than by speaking. The festival is the work of Rachel Sutton-Spence, a reader in Deaf Studies at Britain's Bristol University and a visiting professor at Swarthmore this year.
February 16, 2012 |
David Livewell found poetry in Kensington long before downtown artists discovered that rough and resilient Philly neighborhood. "As a poet, you're always looking for that right word," says Livewell, whose fondly remembered childhood in a Master Street rowhouse inspired many of the poems in Shackamaxon . His manuscript won the 2012 T.S. Eliot Prize from Missouri's Truman State University Press, which will publish the book in September....
January 5, 2012
The Deleted World Poems By Tomas Tranströmer Versions by Robin Robertson Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 64 pp. $13 paperback. Reviewed by John Timpane Why wouldn't you buy this book? Thirteen bucks. Exactly 15 poems on 37 pages, plus a short introduction. Less than a dollar a poem, people, to be introduced to the latest Nobel Prize in Literature!? Most of the poems are 20, maybe 30 words long. I realize poems scare the lightning out of people, but really, can we be serious?
December 29, 2011 |
HAIKU: A leading lady in poetry embraces Philadelphia Sonia Sanchez, a retired Temple University professor and an award-winning poet, educator and activist, will be Philadelphia's first poet laureate. Mayor Nutter was to make the announcement this morning in City Hall. "I considered it quite the honor," Sanchez, 77, told the Daily News yesterday. "I accepted this post because you really want to remind the city, the country and the world that poetry reminds us of the best in ourselves and others . . . it brings us to that avenue where conversation will be discussed.
December 20, 2011 |
The life of Václav Havel, who died Sunday at age 75, shows poetry can shape the destiny of nations and change the course of history. Dazzled by dollar signs, we in the United States tend not to take the art of language seriously. But Havel (who was awarded the 1994 Liberty Medal) knew the potency of words to mold the future. For more than five decades - in the tradition of Mohandas Gandhi and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John Lennon and Pope John Paul II - Havel used words to do just that.
December 4, 2011
By Les Murray Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 82 pp. $24 A Memoir of Depression By Les Murray Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 86 pp. $13 By Adam Zagajewski Translated by Clare Cavanagh Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 128 pp. $23. By Don Marquis Everyman. 224 pp. $13.50 Reviewed by John Timpane The world's made better by each good book of poems. We have few better examples than the Polish poet Adam Zagajewski.
November 25, 2011 |
LOUIS C. McKEE once said that it requires a large dose of arrogance to think that anyone would be interested in "something you have thought and written down. " That's why, he said, writers who think they are poets are advised to hide their poems "in a box under the bed. " Fortunately for those who enjoy the kind of poetry that Louis McKee was known for - "clarity and candor," as one critic observed - he didn't hide his work under the bed. He published his poetry in more than a dozen chapbooks while also serving as an editor and reviewer of the efforts of fellow scribblers.
September 22, 2011 |
'It's not the Da Vinci Code ," says Stephen Greenblatt, "but it tells the same story: the thrill and astonishment when something very old, something thought to be lost, forgotten, returns to the world with the potential to change it. " Greenblatt - who reads at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Central Library - is speaking of his new book, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern . He's right: Swerve isn't much like Dan Brown's ...