Monday, June 25, 2018

Something to think on …

The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it.
— George Orwell, born on this date in 1903

e.e. CUMMINGS ...

Certainly, the core of his belief system was much more staid than his explosions of font. The poems gravitate toward the time-honored themes set down by Yeats: “sex and the dead.” With regard to form, my sense is that there’s been very little new in the field of the visual pun or typographical jeu d’esprit since 1759, the year of the publication of “The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman,” in which Laurence Sterne marked the death of one character with a black page and mimicked the twirling of a stick by another with a squiggle

NYT's list of 25 best plays since 1993

here.  and readers' responses here.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Check these out …

 Forgotten Poems travel hiatus (but have some anthology recommendations).

Poem and gloss …

… Laudator Temporis Acti: Pay Thy Blessing to Delight. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


… Prolific, painfully candid ex-poet laureate Donald Hall dies | Hosted. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Former U.S. poet laureate Donald Hall dies in New Hampshire. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


Anniversary …

… R.T.’s Informal Inquiries : John Ciardi and the purpose-driven journey.

Worrisome …

… R.T.’s Informal Inquiries : “Surgeons must be very careful” — Emily Dickinson.

Who needs it …

… First Known When Lost: News.


… Poet David McFadden, 77, was a master of magical yet accessible verse - The Globe and Mail. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

Silence is God's first language.
— John of the Cross, born on this date in 1542

Health risk...

...‘Cultural Marxism’ Explained and Re-Evaluated
Indeed, Cultural Marxism as a worldview often produces a quite depressed and dysfunctional personality. I therefore worry more about the impact it may have on the psyches of its most committed adherents than I do about those who reject it. How a person looks at the world can deeply affect their well-being, and the organising principles of Cultural Marxism can be difficult to live with because they leave individuals both hyperaware of injustice as well as distraught by how little power their analytical framework affords them as individuals.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

A most noteworthy centenary …

… Celebrating the unnoticed | A letter to Gerard Manley Hopkins. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Today, at Roehampton University in your beloved London, forty Hopkins scholars, from around the world, have come together to talk about you: about you, your poems – and your Poems. There’s plenty to say – about religion, of course, sprung rhythm and so on. But I wonder if another aspect of your work has been forgotten: your poetic care for unnoticed or unimportant people. That’s a significant achievement in itself. Though born into an affluent family and growing up in fashionable, moneyed Hampstead, you didn’t write about kings or queens or popes or people of power and wealth, but of “little” people – a rare, countercultural choice, for both your age and, for the most part, ours, too.

Father Feeney is a friend of many years. The link above is of an excerpt from his letter. Here is the whole thing: A Love Letter to Gerard Manley Hopkins, Poet.

Post bumped.

Innocence and beauty …

… Zealotry of Guerin: La Cigale, “The Grasshopper” (Joseph Lefebvre), Sonnet #410.

Please note the link to Christopher's book.

Who knew …

 How Christianity Created Rock ’n’ Roll | Public Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

As Stephens points out, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, James Brown, Johnny Cash, B. B. King, and Jerry Lee Lewis (cousin of Jimmy Swaggart, the now-defrocked televangelist) all grew up under the influence of Pentecostal or holiness churches. In those settings, religious experience for congregants of all colors was defined by its deep emotionality, submission to otherworldly forces, and all-consuming, overwhelming physicality. It shakes your nerves, and it rattles your brain. It breaks your will, but ooh, what a thrill. Goodness gracious, great balls of hellfire!

Sound advice …

… eileen chengyin chow on Twitter: Try to praise the mutilated world. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The typewriter is born …

 R.T.’s Informal Inquiries : QWERTY birthday.

Something to think on …

Metaphysics abstracts the mind from the senses, and the poetic faculty must submerge the whole mind in the senses. Metaphysics soars up to universals, and the poetic faculty must plunge deep into particulars.
— Giambattista Vico, born on this date in 1668

Multispecies contribution...

...Scholar writes a paper about her cat dying

This is a Twitter link. Just keep scrolling.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Hermit lore …

… R.T.’s Informal Inquiries : Cave of Kelpius — Philadelphia.

I have walked the Wissahickon to Chestnut Hill and back many, many times. I lived not far from the Wissahickon for 20 years. Ah, those were the days.


… City Journal’s Leonardo — Remembering Stefan Kanfer  | City Journal.

… Farewell, Old Friend | City Journal.

… Irreplaceable Steve.

(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Predicting is difficult …

… especially the future: Thirty Years On, How Well Do Global Warming Predictions Stand Up? - WSJ.

The problem with Mr. Hansen’s models—and the U.N.’s—is that they don’t consider more-precise measures of how aerosol emissions counter warming caused by greenhouse gases. Several newer climate models account for this trend and routinely project about half the warming predicted by U.N. models, placing their numbers much closer to observed temperatures. The most recent of these was published in April by Nic Lewis and Judith Curry in the Journal of Climate, a reliably mainstream journal.
Sounds as if these people were had: Hansen receives Tang Prize award. (Hat tip, Dan Bloom)

Blake and America …

… A natural ally – TheTLS. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In terms of direct poet-to-poet inspiration, “Howl” is a high point. Blake’s America: “every thing that lives is holy, life delights in life”. Ginsberg’s “Howl”: “Everything is holy! everybody’s holy! everywhere is holy! everyday is in eternity! Everyman’s an angel!” You get the idea. As Ginsberg saw it, Blake was “a social critic and rebel etc but the ROOT of his work as of ours [that is, the post-war Beat writers, with their commitment to free speech, opening the doors of perception and the rest] has been in exploration of modes of consciousness”.


… Koko, gorilla famed for using sign language and crying over kitten, dead at 46.
Koko was believed to have had an IQ of between 75 and 95 and could sign more than 1,000 words. The average IQ of a human is around 90 to 110. She also understood spoken English.
Too bad she couldn't have run for office.

Hope for those feeling helpless …

… Literary Nonprofits Using Books to Make a Difference. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I don't feel helpless myself, at least with respect to things over which I have no control. But that's just me. I am sure much good will come of this.

Something to think on …

Never do anything complicated when something simple will serve as well. It's one of the most important secrets of living.
— Erich Maria Remarque, born this date in 1898

Literary Inquisition...

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Longest day, shortest night …

… Nigeness: Solstice,

In case you wondered …

How to Be Serious in a Time of Absurdity. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
… the law of trespass governing literary territory has become noticeably less liberal, but Shriver remains resolute in the conviction that she is as entitled to describe the speech, look, and attitudes of fellow creatures of whatever race or class as anybody else is to describe her. “All boundaries between cultures are fluid,” she told me recently. “We are living in a big hash. It’s fun . . . and interesting . . . and it’s complicated.” In her pacing, and not least in her impressive articulacy, Shriver sometimes talks as if addressing a lecture room. As it happens, she has done so on this topic, “cultural appropriation,” more than once. Her thoughts emerge in clear outlines. “But the solution is not to place a fence around everybody. We are putting together a version of the world that is false: Not only do you not own your culture, whose boundaries you are therefore not allowed to police, but you don’t even own your self. Which is to say, you are unavoidably a part of other people’s lives.”

As the trail nears its end …

… “My Friends Don’t Get Buried” | The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Landmark …

… Nina Simone's Childhood Home – Tryon, North Carolina - Atlas Obscura. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Living beneath a shadow …

… The Oakling and the Oak | Lapham’s Quarterly. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

When I recently mentioned Hartley Coleridge to an English professor at Yale, she said, “Ah yes, Hartley! Didn’t he lose his fellowship at Oriel?” And I thought how strange it was that people who know little else about Hartley have somehow heard of what STC’s friend Harriet Martineau called “the great catastrophe, the ruinous blow.” 
I would like to interject a small reality check. In the academic sphere, Hartley did better than his father, who dropped out of Cambridge. He did better than Wordsworth, who took his degree from Cambridge “without distinction.” He did better than Southey, who dropped out of Oxford. And he did better than Byron, who dropped out of Cambridge, and Shelley, who was expelled from Oxford. Hartley graduated—with a second! 191 years after the fact, why do we continue to associate him with the loss of a job for which he was unsuited? Might the memory of this episode be less adhesive—and might Hartley have been more resilient—had his father viewed it as a disappointment rather than an apocalypse?


… R.T.’s Informal Inquiries : A midsummer detour into an operating room.

Let's all pray that everything goes well.

A favorite of Joyce …

… James Clarence Mangan, the rebel poet. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… in a 1903 article, Joyce declared Mangan to be “one of the greatest romantic poets among those who use the lyrical form”. And in two other substantial pieces, he swallows his various reservations, conceding finally, surprisingly and reluctantly that “with Mangan a narrow and hysterical nationality receives a last justification” (1902) – which in 1907 becomes: “in that “miserable, reedy, and feeble figure, a hysteric nationalism receives its final justification”. In this latter article, Joyce called Mangan “the most distinguished poet of the modern Celtic world and one of the most inspired poets of any country ever to make use of the lyric form.” His “winged, lyric music and fervid idealism…manifested themselves in his extraordinary rhythms and unstudied beauty, perhaps unencountered elsewhere in English literature, if we except the inspired songs of Shelley.”

Something to think on …

Humor is a prelude to faith and laughter is the beginning of prayer.
— Reinhold Niebuhr, born on this date in 1892

Tom Wolfe and Me

No not me, but the author...reappreciating Tom Wolfe's work, including his later books:
... a reconsideration of Charlotte Simmons, a book I now hold to be a masterpiece. It took me a decade of rumination and other study to “get it,” but once I did, its impact became as indelible as Wolfe’s other books, its theme just as urgent.
I should reread Charlotte Simmons.  

Wednesday, June 20, 2018


In my continued effort to tackle the Shakespeare plays which I did not read in high school or college, I've landed most recently on The Winter's Tale.

Let me say at the start just how much I enjoyed it. This is a play with lots going on: there's commentary on gender relations and power dynamics; there's discussion of inheritance and social class; and more, there's analysis of oaths and promises, and how characters hold themselves to account. 

Among these themes, gender dynamics is perhaps most central to the play. King Leontes banishes his wife, Hermione, after accusing her of infidelity. This suspicion is quickly proven false, but the damage has been done: Leontes loses everything -- his wife, his children, his happiness. 

The rest of the play focuses on how this beleaguered king might make up for what he's done. Though victimized, women are not exactly victims: they serve instead as counterpoints to Leontes and other male characters. They serve as the voice of reason, as the unexpected source of justice. It is, after all, Hermione's friend and protector, Paulina, who orchestrates the grand reunion at the end of the play (when all, in effect, are forgiven). It is she who has the power to do so. 

Men here -- especially Leontes -- are seen as impatient and conniving; they act impulsively, sometimes with disastrous result. Women, meanwhile, represent reason and method, and are mostly void of the emotional quality Shakespearean audiences might have expected. In many ways, gender roles here are inverted. 

The Winter's Tale seems one of those Shakespearean plays that straddles the line between tragedy and comedy -- or at least between drama and comedy. Certainly, there are comic aspects to the play, and there's some tomfoolery among tertiary characters that fits the mold. But there are parts of the play -- particularly the first two acts -- which border on tragic, and which speak to darker human impulses. 

I found those sections of the play particularly compelling: because while the resolution of the play is fun and satisfying, the road leading there is full of missteps and accusation. It was that route -- that early part of the play -- which shed most light on the human condition and our propensity to act without reason, to accuse without first confirming blame. The result of that tension propels The Winter's Tale.


 Stanley Cavell, 1926–2018 | by Christopher Benfey | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Oh, please …

… Strunk at 100: A Centennial Not to Celebrate – Lingua Franca - Blogs - The Chronicle of Higher Education. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Talk about using a sledgehammer to crush a gnat. I read the book during the year I spent between high school and college, which was when White’s edition came out. I found it quite useful. Robertson Davies was probably right when he said that what it could teach you was how to build the literary equivalent of a chicken coop. But you have to start somewhere. Better a sturdy chicken coop than a faulty bridge. 

Still of help after all these years …

Manhunt …

… Paul Davis On Crime: My Washington Times Review of 'Hunting El Chapo: The Inside Story of the American Lawman Who Captured The World's Most-Wanted Drug Lord'.

Listen in …

… Episode 274 – Chris Reynolds – The Virtual Memories Show.

“I once had this idea that anything that was already in the world when you were born was okay, but anything that was invented or came up after you were born, you weren’t quite sure.”

Court of law …

 R.T.’s Informal Inquiries : Lizzie Borden acquitted June 20, 1893.

Blogging note …

I am awaiting a visit from my computer doctor. I am not logging in to my desktop until he arrives. Among other things, I have been phished. I am also getting strange messages. So I won’t be doing much blogging until after Kevin performs his magic.

Hmm …

… Useful Idiots | The Point Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The significance of The Idiot, as of Batuman’s writing in general, is not literary so much as literary-theoretical: it throws these issues into sharp relief by imposing upon the reader a paralytic attentiveness antithetical to narrative and development, let alone drama. It is an ideological novel composed under the assumption that reading and writing, in and of themselves, might substitute for x. Despite her towering disdain for program fiction, Batuman appears to have reiterated its central principle on her own initiative. This accounts for why the difference between The Idiot and the median MFA novel feels like one of degree, not kind: though Batuman is immeasurably more amusing in tone and more cosmopolitan in setting, the same parochial suspicion of belief systems strong enough to grapple with America’s intrinsic egoism lingers over both.
Great novels are about life, not writing qua writing, not ideology, not programs. The great novelists did not have degrees.

Something to think on …

Reading is not an operation performed on something inert but a relationship entered into with another vital being.
— Clifton Fadiman, who died on this date in 1999

Something I missed …

 R.T.’s Informal Inquiries : Blaise Pascal — born June 19, 1623.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Creative Destruction

General Electric Co. will drop out of the Dow Jones Industrial Average next week, a milestone in the decline of a firm that once ranked among the mightiest of blue-chips and was a pillar of the U.S. economy.


Hear, hear …

… Undernews: Why journalism isn't a profession. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

As late as the 1950s more than half of all reporters lacked a college degree.
And Clarence Darrow never graduated from law school. He just got around one day to passing the bar exam. I have a degree, though it is not in journalism. I don't think many activities are improved by being reduced to a syllabus.

Bob and Frank …

… Dylanizing the Great American Songbook - Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Though the singer just turned 77 (born May 24, 1941), his recent efforts to echo the sounds of his parents’ radio — the sonic world his voice helped overturn — showcase some of his most distinguished singing and punctuate his catalog in a way nobody would have thought necessary.
His parents' radio? Dylan is just a few months older than I am. We both grew up listening to Frank and Perry and Nat — and lots more. And — surprise, surprise — we really liked them.

Something to think on …

It's not those who write the laws that have the greatest impact on society. It's those who write the songs.
— Blaise Pascal, born on this date in 1623


… Diversity in publishing is under attack. I hear the sound of knuckles dragging | Hanif Kureishi | Opinion | The Guardian.

When I was invited to join Faber, in 1984, the fiction editor was Robert McCrum. He was excitable then, and so was I. I couldn’t wait to be on his list of writers, since he was publishing Kazuo IshiguroMilan KunderaJosef ŠkvoreckýPeter Carey, Mario Vargas Llosa, Caryl Phillips, Paul Auster, Lorrie Moore, Danilo KišMarilynne Robinson and Vikram Seth. Not long before, Rushdie had won the Booker prize for Midnight’s Children and that masterpiece, with its echoes of Günter Grass and Gabriel García Márquez, suddenly seemed like a great opportunity. The world was coming in. What had been a narrow and sterile place was opening up. These books were successful; readers discovered that they wanted them. Today something similar can happen to Penguin.

McCrum, of course, is one of those white Oxbridge men. The list of authors in this paragraph rather undercuts the thesis of the piece, since it provides evidence that a lot of diversification has been under way for quite some time — though it would appear that the authors were chosen not for ethnic reasons, but for the quality of their work. Kureishi, I gather, would prefer that an author's ethnicity be given pride of place.

The British creativity I grew up with – in pop, fashion, poetry, the visual arts and the novel – has almost always come from outside the mainstream: from clubs, gay subcultures, the working class and from the street. Many of the instigators may have been white, but they were not from the middle class – a class that lacks, in my experience, the imagination, fearlessness and talent to be truly subversive.
Why art that is subversive is better than art that is not  escapes me. As for the suggestion elsewhere that Lionel Shriver may not realize that "greatness can come from anywhere," I can assure our sanctimonious author that  she is well aware of that.

Fascinating ...

Some 16 years ago, The Boston Globe published an article about a jobless man who haunted Marsh Plaza, at the center of Boston University. The picture showed a curious figure in a long overcoat, hunched beneath a black fedora near the central sculpture. He spent his days talking with pigeons to whom he had given names: Checkers and Wingtip and Speckles. The article could have been just another human-interest story about our society’s failing commitment to mental health, except that the man crouched in conversation with the birds was John Kidd, once celebrated as the greatest James Joyce scholar alive.


Monday, June 18, 2018

Listen in …

… The Biblio File hosted by Nigel Beale: Jonas Hassen Khemiri on writing, memory, death, speed and language.

Tomorrow night …


P O E T R Y   I N   C O M M O N



                                POETRY + MUSIC

DICK LOURIE, Poet, Saxophonist

BOBBY ZANKEL, Saxophonist

SEKAI ‘afua ZANKEL, Poet



Tuesday, June 19, 2018, 7 P/M.

(Please note the address, there are
  other Green Line Café locations.)

     This Event Is Free

Bobby Zankel

Writing in the Boston Phoenix, ASCAP Deems Taylor, award winning author Norman Weinstein
declared that ”Bobby Zankel deserves any Talent Deserving Wider Recognition Award that the
jazz press might offer”. In reviewing the CD “Emerging from the Earth, ”Jazz Times wrote, “He’s
headed to the status of a prime jazz innovator “. But who is Bobby Zankel and where has he

The Brooklyn born composer/alto saxophonist first began attracting national attention
around 1971, while a student at the University of Wisconsin as a member of the legendary jazz
master, MacArthur Fellow Cecil Taylor’s “Unit Core Ensemble”. Zankel was combining his
performing and research with Taylor with saxophone studies with the renown Fred Hemke and
working with master drummer George Brown’s quartet that featured organist Melvin Rhyne. His
“underground” reputation grew on the New York “Loft Scene” (73-75), where he performed with
the likes of Sunny Murray, William Parker, and Ray Anderson. He continued his apprenticeship
with Taylor working in his large group which at times included Jimmy Lyons , Hannibal, David S.
Ware, and Andrew Cyrille. In 1975, Zankel moved to Philadelphia to raise his family and to
expand his artistic vision without heed to commercialism or the trends of the times.
Since arriving in Philadelphia his performances as a sideman have ranged widely from the
Hank Mobley Quintet ,Sunny Murray Group, Jymie Merritt’s Forerunners, the Dells, NRBQ,
Odean Pope’s Saxophone Choir, Tyrone Brown’s Group, and Mogauwane Mahoele (who he
toured South Africa with). He has continued into the 21st century to work in different ensembles
lead by Cecil Taylor in Europe and New York. Zankel has recorded as a sideman with Fred Ho,
Odean Pope,Tyrone Brown and his string ensemble,, and Ruth Naomi Floyd(alongside with
Gary Thomas, Terri Lynn Carrington, and James Wideman....).

Zankel’s ten years of intensive study of tonality with the legendary master teacher, Dennis
Sandole (students include John Coltrane, Pat Martino, and James Moody among others) have
been a big part in his development into one of the most brilliant and original composers of our
time. Zankel’s compositions are characterized by a stunning blend of rhythmic layers, a highly
personal complex chromatic harmonic language, and a hauntingly beautiful melodic lyricism His
alto playing has been called “a unique amalgam of the rhythm and intricacy of bebop, with the
soul and drive of hardbop, and the spirituality, creativity and intensity of the avant garde.”
Zankel’s tenure in Philadelphia has been marked by a series of acclaimed collaborations with
choreographers, visual artists, writers, He has received commissions from Network for New
Music, Relache , Meet the Composer, the Kimmel Center, Jazz Bridge , and 2 Pew supported
dance projects . In 1995 he was awarded the prestigious PEW FELLOWSHIP. In 2001 he
organized Warriors of the Wonderful Sound Inc an organization dedicated to promoting new jazz
and the big band with the same name. The Warrior big band has developed a world wide
reputations for its collaborations with Muhal Richard Abams, Steve Coleman, Rudresh
Mahaanthaapa, Dave Liebman Don Byron, Oliver Lake, Steve Lehman, and Marty Ehrlich.The
seven CDs he has recorded as a leader have received outstanding reviews and featured such
magnificent musicians as Johnny Coles, Odean Pope, Uri Caine, Ralph Peterrson Jr., Marilyn
Crispell, Dave Burrell, John Blake, Sumi Tonooka, and William Parker

Sekai’afua Zankel, (s’az) 

Actor, writer and poet,
a Buddhist, born on the first day of spring, Sekai was destined to be an artist-activist, a
force for good. She began acting at Philadelphia’s Freedom Theater in 1972, mentored by
the late John E Allen Jr. Sekai started writing and performing poetry and what she calls, a
human revolution for the stage using music and dance. One reviewer called her an
“Extraordinary performance poet,” Sekai defines “Performance Poetry“ as poetry that is
“visceral and active”.

Her first book “Behind These Eyes /Optical Poems” was published in Philadelphia in 2007.
Sekai won the Frank Moore Poetry Prize 2008. She received a Leeway Foundation Art and
Change Grant in 2010 to present her poetry play, “Miss Pearl’s Spirit: In the Mysteries of
Mirrors" presented at the Hawthorne Cultural Center and the CEC. She performed as poet
and writer, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, in “A Brighter Coming Day” for Harper’s 100th
anniversary celebration at Moonstone Arts Center and several other presentations and
performances at, The African American Historical Museum and Mother Bethel AME
Church. In addition, Sekai has performed in Winston- Salem North Carolina at The Black
Theatre Festival Poetry Slam where she won as second place winner. She was a visiting poet
at Virginia State University Poet Artist program. Her poems have been published In the
CAP literary magazine, “Poetry Ink” Anthologies, and in “Apiary”, 7 Power Issue. Sekai
lives with her husband, musician Bobby Zankel in University City.

Leonard Gontarek

Leonard Gontarek is the author of six books of poems, 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. His poems have appeared 
in American Poetry Review, Poet Lore, Verse, Blackbird, The Awl, Spinning Jenny,
Verse Daily, Exquisite Corpse, The Best American Poetry, among others. 

He has presented 1000 poetry readings, political readings, and events in the
Philadelphia area, featuring Patti Smith, Pink, Nas and Busta Rhymes, among others.
Since 2006 he has conducted 1000 poetry workshops in venues including,
The Moonstone Arts Center, Musehouse, The Kelly Writers House,
University City Arts League, Free Library of Philadelphia, Philadelphia
Arts in Education Partnership, and a weekly Saturday workshop from his
home in West Philadelphia. He has been Mad Poet-in-Residence since 2008.

He coordinates Poetry In Common, Peace/Works, Philly Poetry Day,
The Philadelphia Poetry Festival, and hosts The Green Line 
Reading & Interview Series. Gontarek has received Poetry fellowships from the
Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Philadelphia Writers Conference Community Service Award, and was a Literary Death Match Champion. 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 sponsored by the 
Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis:
He is Poetry Consultant for the Whitman at 200: Art And Democracy project.

Dick Lourie

Dick Lourie’s poems have been published widely for 50 years. Denise Levertov wrote that his poetry “ . . . has never failed to give me a keen sense of his integrity and individuality. [H]is voice . . . speaks with a unique nd convincing eloquence.”
Since 1997, as both poet and blues saxophone player, he has been visiting the Mississippi Delta city of Clarksdale. His most recent collection, If the Delta Was the Sea, explores the city’s blues music, history, and diversity of cultures. National Book Award winner Ha Jin calls it “a rich and spacious book” and “a genuine delight.” Poet Martín Espada notes the work’s “irony, humor, and honest insight.  . . . [Lourie] fully understands the burdens and blessings of history, and knows that there is much to celebrate in the spirit of the survivors.” In an accompanying CD, he transforms the spoken word into conversations between the poet, his sax, and a blues band .
As a musician, he performed for fifteen years with internationally known bluesman Big Jack Johnson, who observed that “his sax playing adds a complete and satisfying taste to the band . . . ”
A veteran of small press publishing, he is a co-founder and still co-editor of Hanging Loose Press—with over 200 titles to its credit, mostly individual collections of poems—and Hanging Loose magazine, now celebrating, with issue #109, fifty-one years of continuous publication.

Sound advice …

 Stop Trying to Sell the Humanities - The Chronicle of Higher Education. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Justification is always a mug’s game, for it involves a surrender to some measure or criterion external to the humanities. The person or persons who ask us as academic humanists to justify what we do is asking us to justify what we do in his terms, not ours. Once we pick up that challenge, we have lost the game, because we are playing on the other guy’s court, where all the advantage and all of the relevant arguments and standards of evidence are his. The justification of the humanities is not only an impossible task but an unworthy one, because to engage in it is to acknowledge, if only implicitly, that the humanities cannot stand on their own and do not on their own have an independent value. Of course the assertion of an independent value and the refusal to attach that value to any external good bring us back to the public-relations question: How are we going to sell this? The answer is. again, that we can’t.
In The Theory of Education in the United States, written in the 1930s, Albert Jay Nock had already noted that colleges and universities were being changed from educational institutions to training schools. Education, he noted, has to do with the formation of character, not with the making of a living. He also noted that you can train just about anybody to do something. 

A dog's love

A dog loves a person the way people love each other only while in the grip of new love: with intense, unwavering focus, attentive to every move the beloved makes, unaware of imperfections, desiring little more than to be close, to be entwined, to touch and touch and touch. 

Interesting …

Yup, I gotta confess, that now-famous picture of a U.S. marshal in Miami pointing an automatic weapon toward Donato Dalrymple and ordering him in the name of the U.S. government to turn over Elian Gonzalez warmed my heart. They should put that picture up in every visa line in every U.S. consulate around the world, with a caption that reads: ''America is a country where the rule of law rules. This picture illustrates what happens to those who defy the rule of law and how far our government and people will go to preserve it. Come all ye who understand that.''
— Thomas Friedman, writing in the New York Times, April 25, 2000 
I wonder if he still feels that way.

Hmm …

… Why you’ll love having Gen Zers in the workplace.
When I entered the job market, employees were expected to adapt to the workplace. Employers in those days were certainly not looking to adapt the workplace to the preferences and predilections of the newly hired. It’s called a job. You’re hired to do something. That’s why you get paid. Learning to adapt can actually prove quite useful. So can learning something besides what you already think you know.

Unsettled science …

… One of Psychology's Most Famous Experiments Was Deeply Flawed.

Accepting an offer …

… Poem of the week: Poem for Professor Frye by Nausheen Eusuf | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Here is my review of Not Elegy, But Eros.

Something to think on …

Public toilets have a duty to be accessible, poetry does not.
— Geoffrey Hill, born on this date in 1932

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Happy Father's Day!

Cartoons from The New Yorker

The poet and her garden …

 Jane Kenyon’s Peonies | Commonweal Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Kenyon emphasizes her love for her peonies here, but the imagery also intensifies their poignant brevity. Their loss becomes the loss of a loved one. As night descends in the poem, we are reminded of the brevity of all of this world’s beauties and loves. As Kenyon put it in another of her newspaper columns, “We are in fact like the grass that flourishes and withers, just as the psalmist says. Gardening teaches this lesson over and over, but some of us are slow to learn. We can only acknowledge the mystery, and go on planting burgundy lilies.”

Trio …

… Weekend Poetry: Three Poems. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Provocateur …

… Essayist Richard Rodriguez on Latinx: ‘the problem is in the liberation’. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

“I don’t even think Latinos can justify affirmative action on the basis of race discrimination, because we’re not race,” Rodriguez said. “So, giving affirmative action to a white Latina from Miami and not giving it to a white Appalachian kid from Kentucky is ludicrous to me.”


...Jordan Peterson and Conservatism’s Rebirth
In short, modern political discourse is noteworthy for the gaping hollow where there ought to be conservatives—institutions and public figures with something important to teach about political order and how to build it up for everyone’s benefit. Into this opening Mr. Peterson has ventured.

Something to think on …

Normal science does not aim at novelties of fact or theory and, when successful, finds none.
— Thomas Kuhn, born on this date in 1922

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Hmm …

… Love Anecdote by Joyce Carol Oates | Poetry Magazine. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Tracking the decline …

 ‘New York Times’ Gets Rid of Copy Editors; Mistakes Ensue – Lingua Franca - Blogs - The Chronicle of Higher Education. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Thinking out loud …

… Freeman Dyson: "I kept quiet for 30 years, maybe it’s time to speak." (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The real mystery is what is going on in the head of a six-month-old baby that enables the baby to make sense of all the things that are going on around it. So if we can somehow study the brains of babies in real detail, we might get a feeling for how consciousness begins. But of course, we are very far away from being able to do that.

Read all about it …

… A hit in the making | About Last Night.

“The Royal Family of Broadway” is based on the 1927 backstage comedy in which George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber spoofed the eccentricities of Ethel, John and Lionel Barrymore, who once were America’s first theatrical family but are now mostly remembered only by golden-age movie buffs….

Taking a look around …

… Tracy K. Smith's 'Wade in the Water' Grapples With America - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

… Smith captures the triumph and burden of forgiveness so embedded in black spirituals. As both speaker and writer, in this and a majority of the poems in the collection, Smith reflects on how her art form can and should unify people.