June 16, 2013
In Beauty Bright By Gerald Stern W.W. Norton. 125 pp. $25.95 Stealing History By Gerald Stern Trinity University Press. 306 pp. $17.94 Reviewed by Frank Wilson Gerald Stern is one of those writers whose style insinuates itself into your consciousness like a catchy tune, so that you find your thoughts echoing its rhythms, bopping from one to another, back and forth, like thought and language doing a jitterbug. Here he is, in Stealing History , telling about "a ghostly experience" he once had: . . . when it happened I would have described it as a kind of dizziness, of being filled with deep pleasantness, a pleasure in which I was overcome and held onto the brick wall of a building beside me. I seem to remember I was always going slightly downhill, and it was my right hand I held against the wall - and it lasted for maybe ten, fifteen seconds - I think longer - and it was delicious, and there was absolutely no fear in it, and I walked normally and happily immediately after, and I never much thought about it and never told anyone about it. More laid back and (seemingly)
May 24, 2013
THERE ARE MANY kinds of desperation, as many as the stars above and the souls beneath them. The death of a child, the disintegration of a marriage, homes lost to floodwaters and whirlwinds, all of these things can drive you to - and beyond - the point of suicide. And yet, there are sources of strength as varied as the sorrow. For one man, that source was found in unwritten words, tapped out on prison walls and shared with his captured brothers in Vietnam. Major Gen. John Borling, a 6 1/2-year "guest" at the infamous Hanoi Hilton is, like Joyce Kilmer and Wilfred Own, a soldier-poet.
April 30, 2013
We asked, you wrote, we like! Our second annual Inquirer poetry contest attracted more than 200 entries from all over the place, on subjects ranging from swimming to astronomy, pets to love. So many people out there care about poetry and are writing good stuff. As we did last year, we're printing the three finest of many fine poems, with thanks to all. A further selection appears online at www.philly.com/poets . A Wall-Eyed Pike in a Glass Tank Open mouthed, like Placido Domingo holding a high note, he charges the glass he can't see, separating him from the minnows.
April 24, 2013 |
Steve Burns is a part-time waiter. He does carpentry, too. But his real job is poetry. The Sicklerville resident, 23, volunteers for Apiary, a print and online literary magazine as energetic and eclectic as the Philly poetry scene it nurtures. From the current issue, available free in the literature room at the Parkway branch of the Free Library: I lost my Philly accent somewhere in the outback returned with a tan and an easy disposition "Apiary is a medley of everything," says Burns, who reviews readings, tours independent bookstores, and conducts interviews for his "Captain Steve" column.
April 15, 2013 |
Some think of poetry as something you do alone. The "single genius" idea. Sometimes it is. But, just as often, poetry is a communal thing - as it will be, in Philadelphia and environs, throughout April, Poetry Month, and on down the year. "This shows you that the Philly poetry scene has a big heart," says Joanne Leva. She's referring to the third annual poetry festival, starting at noon April 27, a free poetry Woodstock at which 22 diverse poetry-centric people and groups will read and talk poetry at the Central Library of the Free Library of Philadelphia.
April 9, 2013 |
The topics ranged from love and sex to history and time, but it was all poetry in motion Sunday at the Arts Bank in Center City. Among the recitals was a graphic short poem by Lamont B. Steptoe, "New Orleans," that described having nonviolent, sexual fun with women in the Big Easy. "Most people can't pull that off," Sean Lynch, 20, said. "It's so hard to pull off being vulgar in poetry. " Lynch, a student at Rutgers University's Camden campus, said he had been writing poetry for a decade but performed for the first time in a public forum during Sunday's 17th annual Poetry Ink. Lynch said Steptoe inspired him to go public.
March 16, 2013 |
If you're going to put on a poetry festival . . . first get on a ship. Paul Muldoon, poet and professor at Princeton University, is setting up the third Princeton Biennial Poetry Festival for Friday and Saturday. And getting on a ship, in part, is how he chose the poets who'll be there. We'll explain. First: The festival, which began in 2009, is a great chance to see a diverse group of wonderful poets, poets who write all sorts of ways about all sorts of things. Friday kicks off with the New Jersey state finals of Poetry Out Loud, a national recitation competition for high school students.
March 8, 2013
Poems 1962-2012 By Louise Glück Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 656 pp. $40. Reviewed by John Timpane My mixed feelings about Louise Glück's poetry may, in some eyes, make me unsuited to write a useful review of this book. It's a very important book to have, if you like the U.S. poetry of the last half-century. Louise Glück, no doubt about it, occupies a singular and influential place - for the good - in poetry since 1962, inspiring countless poets, and teaching countless more.
January 18, 2013 |
Siduri Beckman, 14, swoons over George Eliot's Silas Marner with a passion many girls her age reserve for, say, One Direction boy-band phenom Harry Styles. "I loooove that book," she said, sitting in the auditorium at her school, Julia R. Masterman. Correction. She loves Eliot's Middlemarch first, then Silas Marner . But Philadelphia's first youth poet laureate - Mayor Nutter announced her title this week - has never read Harry Potter. If her tastes seem a little serious, Beckman herself is not. She explains that her parents, Karen and Michael Beckman of West Philadelphia, named her Siduri after the "bartender to the gods" in the Epic of Gilgamesh . The literary Siduri knows the secret of everlasting life, Beckman says.