Thursday, September 29, 2016

My, my …

 Scholars and Writers for America . (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Still pertinent after all these years…

… Mary Beard: The glory of Rome | National Post.

Tracking the decline …

Employment picture darkens for journalists at digital outlets - Columbia Journalism Review. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

Well, if you keep thinking in terms of another older model, up-to-date technology won't help you much.

Mark thy calendar







Philadelphia, PA

more info:

This Event Is Free

Autumn McClintock grew up in Chester County and has lived in Philadelphia for over a decade. Her first chapbook, After the Creek, was published in late summer 2016, and poems of hers have recently appeared in Drunken Boat, Green Mountains Review, Poetry Daily, RHINO, and others. An essay of hers appears in the 2013 anthology The Poet’s Sourcebook, published by Autumn House Press, and she is a staff reader for Ploughshares.  She works at the Free Library.

Tuesday, November 15, 7 PM
Jan Freeman, author of Blue Structure,
published by Calypso Press

What think you?

… Does Bob Dylan Deserve a Nobel Prize? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Well, I'd give it to the Swedish Academy's own Torgny Lindgren before I gave to any of those mentioned, including Bob.

Join in …

… Solitary Praxis Revisited: Nathaniel Hawthorne and Solitary Praxis Revisited.

Two reviews …

… Sentinel.

… Time Extends Life To Those Who Survive.


… Vermont writer David Budbill dies at age 76 | VTDigger. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Patchen reading …

Yes …

… Blogs: Asthma. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

I once saw someone have a serious asthma attack. It was quite scary.

Hmm …

… The Prosblogion — The new creation part 3: Disability and the Eschaton, by Kevin Timpe. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Do read Rus's comment on this post. I tend to think of heaven myself in terms of transfiguration, including transfiguration of my identity, which I doubt is all it could be.

True and lovely …

 Truepenny — Partisan. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It happens from time to time …

 Bruce Charlton's Notions: Poetry in prose - its rarity. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I wrote an article once suggesting that success for most poets consists in writing one or two pieces that achieve anthology status. Walter de la Mare's "The Listeners" is a perfect example. 

In honor of St.Michael …

Today is Michaelmas. So here is a musical tribute to the archangel.

Problems, problems …

… Why Princeton University Has to Change Its Name | The Fiscal Times.

In previous outbursts over this issue, some worried about what to do with terms such as “manhole.” Somehow person hole doesn’t sound right. “Mankind” should yield to “humanity,” but the word man is embedded in humanity, just as “son” is right there in “person” and “male” is buried in “female.”

Something to think on …

Proverbs are short sentences drawn from long experience.
— Miguel de Cervantes, born on this date in 1547

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

If nothing else, Alexander Solzhenitsyn's Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is a reminder of just how bad we can be. 

Three points I wanted to make, two of which are raised in the afterward by Eric Bogosian:

First, despite having himself been sentenced to the gulag, Solzhenitsyn crafted a novella, not a memoir. True, you might say he did that later with Gulag Archipelago, but the point still stands: why would Solzhenitsyn take recourse to fiction when he might have crafted a history instead? It's a simplification, of course, but I think the answer has something to do with the ability in fiction to manipulate - and with it, to exact revenge. For years, Solzhenitsyn was subject to inhumanity: he was manipulated at will. It's through his fiction - through A Day in the Life - that he exacts revenge, that he constructs characters who are beholden to him, despite their cruelty. 

The second point that Bogosian makes - and I think it's a smart one - has to with the uniquely Russian character of the gulag. Unlike Primo Levi or Eli Wiesel - individuals subject to the penal systems of a foreign power - Solzhenitsyn was trapped in a universe designed by fellow Russians. There's an element of exasperation here, but also of resignation. It's as if to say - "Let me out of here, this place we've created." That dynamic generates an odd literary atmosphere, one in which fear is supplanted by a curious sense of detachment. 

Finally, I wanted to highlight the pity of it all: Denisovich is imprisoned because he can no longer be trusted. And yet he can no longer be trusted because the state itself has failed him: Denisovich was captured by the Germans because the Russians could not protect him. And when Denisovich escapes and returns, he's welcomed with perverse skepticism. The question immediately becomes: Is he a spy? 

He's not, of course. He's a victim of the modern order, and a prisoner resigned to the enormity of the state. In Denisovich, we see Solzhenitsyn, and in his story, we see the merging of history and fiction. We're witnesses to an apocalyptic vision: both of state control, and of a society gone terribly bad. 

Hmm …

… Acne sufferers live longer,  research suggests.

The headline is misleading. The article indicates that persons who suffered from acne when young show fewer dermatological signs of aging later on. No indication that they actually live longer.

Better late …

… Paris finally bows to the importance of Oscar Wilde.

Good luck with that …

… Syrian poet Adonis says poetry 'can save Arab world' | The Times of Israel. (Hat tip, G. E, Reutter.)

A sad tale …

… From recovery to relapse, how divine intervention failed the troubled genius of John Berryman | National Post. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

God may well have been with during the fall. Some years ago, a friend and I drove by the spot where he jumped. Here is one of his last poems:

He Resigns

                   Age, and the deaths, and the ghosts.
                        Her having gone away
                        in spirit from me. Hosts
                        of regrets come and find me empty.

                        I don’t feel this will change.
                        I don’t want anything
                        or person, familiar or strange.
                        I don’t think I will sing

                        anymore just now,
                        or ever. I must start
                        to sit with a blind brow
                        above an empty heart.

Literary pilgrimage …

… A Visit to Robert Frost's New Hampshire Farm. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Henry James, postmodernist …

… Relentlessly Relevant | The Smart Set. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
James’s dense and difficult style meshed with a shift in orientation in his later work. If you can grope your way through late James, you’ll find you have moved out of the Victorian era into the modern and, beyond that, into what we have come to refer to as the postmodern. This postmodern James is a harbinger of some unfortunate trends in our society today. It’s hard to believe that the difficult late writing of this long-dead writer has had a dangerous effect on our time, but — Jamesian enthusiast though I am — I am obliged to admit that this is so. But I’ll get to that.
This is a great piece of true criticism.

Where books go …

… Remainders of the Day - The New York Times. (Hat tip, Virginia Kerr.)

Something to think on …

To know how to grow old is the master work of wisdom, and one of the most difficult chapters in the great art of living.
— Herman Melville, who died on this date in 1891

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Always aggrieved …

… Social Justice Warriors Whine Over 'Cultural Appropriation' at Fiction Festival | PJ Media.

How telling …

… Crucifix, Trump chalkings reported as 'hate incidents' at UW-L.

This reminds me of G. K. Chedterton's remark about people whose minds were so open their brains had fallen out. Thisis supposed to be a place for higher education. How can that be, when the people running it are so obviously dumb?
I presume there still are colleges worth attending, but it looks as if they are getting harder and harder to find.

Good …

… Instapundit — THE UNIVERSITY ENDS ITS INVESTIGATION: “In short, no disciplinary action will be taken against Professor Reynolds.

Anniversary …

… Solitary Praxis: Celebrating the Jesuits -- 27 September.

I attended a Jesuit college. Edward Gannon, S. J., under whom I studied existential phenomenology, was one of the two most important teachers in my life (the other was Mother Holmes, of the Religious of the Sacred Heart, who was my sixth-grade teacher). Both made the practice of the faith something intensely authentic.

We link …

… you decide. (I didn't watch.)

 I Score the First Debate | Scott Adams' Blog.

Hillary Won Last Night's Debate.

(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Better than anti-poetry …

… AttackingtheDemi-Puppets: “Hip-Hop Pop”.

Pretty neat, actually.

The lectures of time …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `Sanding Off Such Pretense or Exploding It'.

See also: One more.

The power of symmetry …

… The Art in BBC Sherlock's Blood | Bill Peschel.

What a subtle mind …

… Solitary Praxis: Emily Dickinson -- Cobweb and Gauze.

Next Monday …

Monday Poets / Leonard Gontarek & Michele Belluomini
Monday, October 3, 2016 6:30 PM
Parkway Central Library
Room 108
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia PA

Cost: FREE


Leonard Gontarek is the author of six books of poetry including Take Your Hand Out of My Pocket, Shiva (2016) and He Looked Beyond My Faults and Saw My Needs (2013), both published by Hanging Loose Press, with work appearing in American Poetry Review, Spinning Jenny, Fence, Exquisite Corpse, Verse, Poetry Lore,  Poetry Northwest, and The Best American Poetry, among others. He coordinates Peace/Works, Philly Poetry Day, The Philadelphia Poetry Festival, and hosts The Green Line Reading & Interview Series. His poem, 37 Photos From The Bridge, was a Poetry winner for the Big Bridges MotionPoems project and the basis for the award-winning film by Lori Ersolmaz.

Michele Belluomini is the author of two chapbooks published by Plan B Press, Crazy Mary & Others, and Sign Posts for Sleepwalkers. Her poems have appeared in American Poetry, The Mad Poets Review, Poetry Motel, Philadelphia Poets, Beltway, The Fox Chase Review, and Apiary, among others. She recently won first place in the Hidden River poetry competition.

Monday Poets is presented in Room 108 at Parkway Central on the first Monday of every month, except in January when it is on the 9th.  It is moderated by Lamont Dixon.

The Free Library is pleased to present The Monday Poets on the first Monday of every month, October through April. Now in its 21st year, the Monday Poets Reading Series showcases a variety of talented local and regional poets.

Readings are moderated by Lamont Dixon and take place from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Room 108 of the Parkway Central Library, 1901 Vine Street.

Copies of the featured poets books may be available for cash purchase after the reading.

Time permitting, at the end there may be a short open-mic session.
For additional information, please call the Free Library of Philadelphia's Literature Department at 215-686-5402.

One-man dance team …

… ‘Ready Take One’ by Erroll Garner Review: Dancing on the Keys Once Again - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.

Something to think on …

To shun one's cross is to make it heavier.
— Henri-Frédéric Amiel, born on this date in 1821

Monday, September 26, 2016

Poor babies …

… Hofstra University Provides 'Trigger Warning' for Presidential Debate | MRCTV.

Looks like it's time to raise the voting age to, say, 30.

Anniversary …

George Gershwin was born on this date in 1898.

A poet against poetry …

 A Poet Undone | The Nation. (Hat tip, G. E. Reutter.)

Although his arguments are hampered by summary judgments and blind spots, Lerner often writes with flair. The avant-garde, he offers, “hates existing poems because they are part of a bankrupt society.” Consequently, an avant-garde poem is “an imaginary bomb with real shrapnel…. a weapon against received ideas of what art is.” Lerner, who considers himself an avant-gardist, stresses that poets aren’t alone in hating poetry. He criticizes journalists who denounce poems for failing “to be universal, to speak both to and for everyone in the manner of Whitman.” This is true, but Lerner has written a Denounciad of his own that allows poets no alternative to anyone’s hatred.
I didn't know there was any avant-garde anymore.