Friday, June 30, 2006

I'm signing off ...

... but don't forget BAFAB's FIRST ANNIVERSARY CONTEST

Bon voyage, Sarah ...

... who is heading to ThrillerFest: By the time you read this.

Way to go, Mick ...

... Honors for Mickey Spillane.

Words and images ...

... Museum Pieces.

Speaking of Bonnie ...

... she's had a bit of a week herself: Check out her Flood pictures and stories. Hope all is well, Bonnie.

More product placement creep ...

... Polluting The Blogosphere . (Hat tip, Bonnie Calhoun.)

Well, here's a poem ...

... a lot of people ought to be able to identify with: River

I should mentioned this earlier ...

... C.E. Chaffin is back - and has been for a bit. Lots of interesting stuff there.

Peter Garner recommends ...

... an Interesting lecture by Katherine Barber.

Love this post heading ...

... Guess who isn't coming to dinner? I suppose I should vote for John Banville, because I did have dinner with him recently and he was great.

Maxine reports ...

... on Debi Alper's reading. Sounds very pleasant indeed.

Cut-ups ...

John Vick has some new audio: Andrew Demcack at The Adroitly Placed Word .

Sian Lewis discovers ...

... Mark Twain: Sold down the river. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke. Welcome back, Maxine!)

Finally ...

... A scientific approach to atheism. It's about time.

This should come as no surprise ...

... to anyone who lived during the '60s: It's often too easy to exploit our willingness to believe. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.) But this piece is true only as far as it goes. That many people are gullible does not discredit all belief, anymore than errors in computation discredit arithmetic. Moreover, belief and faith are not identical. Finally, it is not so much that we are "pattern-seeking primates" as that, as Abraham Maslow pointed out, meaning is intentional: We tend to find what we're looking for. I myself have great faith in the power of imagination. I think it is, of all our faculties, the one most likely to guide us to the truth.

Another review ...

... the Oregon Literary Review. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Let us all be grateful ...

... that our dear friend Maxine was only inconvenienced by this: Off kilter.

Lights, action, camera ...

... the movie adaptation of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials is set to shoot: Dark Materials film gets green light.

The Gaurdian's poetry workshop ...

... has posted its shortlist: Ut pictura poesis. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Thursday, June 29, 2006

On this date ...

... in 1798, one of Italy's greatest poets, Giacomo Leopardi, was born. Here is link to The Canti.

A poetry review ...

A couple of weeks ago I led a workshop at the West Chester University Poetry Conference. The was reviewing poetry. I brought several books from my office, and asked each of the participants to pick one, take it home, and review it. I told them I’d post their reviews here. The first one has arrived.

Circumstances Beyond Our Control
Poems
By Robert Phillips
Johns Hopkins. 80 pp. $35.00 (hardcover) $16.95 (paperback)

Reviewed by Suzanne Blair

As a member of the “transition generation” (those born in late 1930s or early 1940s), Robert Phillips is old enough to have learned that most of what happens “beyond our control” is unwelcome. Nevertheless, he intends to keep his sense of humor.
But Phillips is no self deceiver. The discomfort and dwindling powers of aging are frequent themes in this his seventh volume of poetry.
At times Phillips is guilty of taking the easy road. In “Memory” after recalling the names of his elementary school teachers and reciting “all the stars of Republic Pictures / Westerns (Lash Larue!),” he concludes with the predictable “Now if only I could remember / where I parked my car...”
Fortunately, other poems are fresher. In the unsettling dramatic monologue “Life and Limb,” the speaker, a former slave reputed to be 137 years old, laments the amputation of his second leg and voices his fears in a mix of trite jokes and wordplay. But here Phillips uses clichés to good effect by reminding us what the words actually mean. “...I don’t have / a leg to stand on. They took / both away...” Rustic language and naïve voice are appropriate to this poem and add to the poignancy that lies under the irreverent humor.
The ex-slave’s predicament epitomizes that of many elderly patients who may have no control over their own medical treatment.
...They took
both away, they said,
to give me life—me
who already lived six score
and seventeen. What riles
me is, my left hand feels
numb. If I tell, they’ll
prune the whole arm off
while I’m asleep some night.
The collection contains other dramatic monologues, all different in tone.
In “Variation on Vallejo’s ‘Black Stone on a White Stone’“ the bemused poet predicts his own death “in Houston in the jungle heat, / in air-conditioned air.”
The speaker in the very funny “Texas Cheerleader Murder Plot” explains why she is compelled to eliminate the mother of her daughter’s rival for a place on the cheerleading squad. The success of this poem rests in the finely tuned Texas voice that can proclaim superiority succinctly: “My hair’s bigger.”
Phillips grows serious with “Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire.” He includes a number of facts from the 1911 disaster but haunting images make this monologue a poem. Rose Rosenfeld, a seamstress who survived the fire, tells of factory doors locked “to keep us from stealing scraps of cloth.” As she and others climb to the roof of the burning building:
I saw girls in shirtwaists flying by,
Catherine wheels projected like Zeppelins
out open window, then plunging downward,
sighing skirts open parasols on fire.
Most of the poems in this collection are in free verse, but even those in form are accessible. A comic villanelle composed of unintentionally funny headlines includes such lines as “Prostitutes Appeal to Pope,” and “Miners Refuse to Work After Death.”
“An Empty Suit” is set in a thrift shop where the poet plays detective, conjuring a man from clues of “smoky dove gray” fabric, “the frayed bottoms of the trousers,” and “two red pills / in the right-hand jacket pocket—.” The repetition of the words “You can tell” at the beginning of all but the final two quatrains lends a hint of litany to the poem, echoing the ritual of the man’s imagined funeral.
In “Grandfather’s Cars,” death, the circumstance most beyond our control, intrudes in an unexpected way. When Grandfather attempts to break out of his black sedan rut with a tomato-red Lincoln convertible, his wife rebukes him in words “that cut like a band saw”:
All our friends are dying like flies—all!
You can’t drive that thang in a funeral procession.
Reluctantly (“All my life I’ve wanted something sporty.”), Grandfather exchanges the convertible for “a four-door Dodge, black, practical as nails.”
Grandfather may have backed down, but after reading this collection, one can easily imagine Robert Phillips at the wheel of something sporty—even in a funeral procession.

Suzanne Blair is a writer in Arkansas.

So you want to review books ...

... Critcal Mass is there to help: The NBCC's Tips for Successful Book Reviewing.

Something I missed ...

... the inaugural issue of The Picolata Review.

What good are reviews?

Not much, when it comes to sales. But they do have their uses: The art of the irrelevant. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Who knew?

Leonard Cohen, funnyman. (Hat tip, Vikram Johri.)

Amen, brother ...

Glenn Reynolds today linked to a piece he wrote a couple of years ago that I am largely in agreement with: Loose definitions .
People forget that maybe the first attemto to separate church and state was made by Jesus: "Render to caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's." For me religion has more to do with prayer and repentence than with campaigns for laws or censorhip, and more to do with ritual and symbol than with precepts and prohibitions.

A couple of complementary lists ...

Nick Brooks' top ten literary murderers
(Hat tip, Vikram Johri, who also sends along this item: Harper Lee breaks her silence in letter to Oprah.)

Matthew Pearl's top 10 books inspired by Edgar Allan Poe (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I note that Daniel Hoffman's Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe tops the list.

So much good stuff ...

... over at About Last Night best to just visit and keep scrolling. One thing I found especially interesting: Terry and I both live in large cities and both of us walk all the time all over, whereas in small towns people drive everywhere. What does Bill Kauffman make of that, I wonder.

Update: Dave Lull sends along this link, which is pertinent to my Bill Kauffman query. He also sends along this: Big City in Little Pieces. But I could take issue with a lot of the latter, not least this reference to "the famed New York incivility," which I have found to be more legendary than real - I think of the guy on the subway a couple of years ago who was so solicitous that my wife and I precisely follow his directions when we got off so as not to get lost. Or this: "The outsider is still overwhelmed by the din and anomie of New York: the jackhammers and honking cabs and people who won't look you in the eye." Some of us outsiders are thrilled by the din and I have yet to discern the anomie myself. Haven't noticed the people who won't look you in the eye, either.
And this: "Life on an inhuman scale ... does not make one any less human. " What exactly is inhuman about the scale of Manhattan, which was built by humans, not bears or doplhins? "Man's reach should exceed his grasp," as Browning put it. "Else what's a heaven for?"

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

On this date ...

... in 1867, Italian playwright Luigi Pirandello was born.

"A fact is like a sack - it won't stand up if it's empty. To make it stand up, first you have to put in it all the reasons and feelings that caused it in the first place. "

Yesterday ...

... The Inquirer ceased being owned by Knight-Ridder. This is good. Knight-Ridder was the corporate equivalent of the Soviet Union - completely incapable of adapting to changing circumstances. It was what happens to a company when it ceases to have any entrepreneurial spirit and is run by people who have risen to the top the way scum rises to the top of a simmering stock pot. Good ridderance, I say.
Wired, in the meatine, profiles its opposite: His Space.
Oh, I know all the complaints about Rupert Murdoch. But he's not hampered by locked-in-the-box thinking, that's for sure.

Free books ...

... full-time educators and students: Free O'Hara books.

La gloire ...

Amy Nelson-Mile links to an Online Exhibition Of Historical French Literature .

Come along kiddies ...

Helen Simpson considers the incomparable Angela Carter: Femme fatale.

Literary geography ...

At CultureVulture: A place on the mythical map.

Some graphic novels ...

... are more graphic than others, apparently. See Bill Peschel's Girls On Paper.

Eric Hoffer lives ...

... on Blogspot: Eric Hoffer Quotes. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.) Also check out the Eric Hoffer Resource.
Dave also sends a link to Patrick Kurp's Hoffer and Hoffman.

Getting to know ...

... some Good Friends.

Sounds reasonable to me ...

Queen costs each taxpayer 62p a year. Mencken once noted that President Harding cost him about 50 cents a year. "Can you think of better sport for the money?" the Sage of Baltimore asked.

A major philosophical discovery...

... Friedrich Nietzsche's diet book: Thus Ate Zarathustra.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I have just finished ...

... my review for Sunday. It is probably too long and I am, as is usual upon finishing a review , not in the best of moods. So I'm calling it quits for tonight.

One of my favorites ...

... both as writer and person - A.S. Byatt - talks about her art: A.S. Byatt and story-telling .

Mo' better blogs ...

Dave Lull sends along a link to Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox: Web Usability.

A chat with an editor ...

Matthew Cheney has A Conversation with Tina Pohlman, editorial director of Harvest Books (the paperback imprint of Harcourt).

Nice thoughts ...

... about Frank O'Hara and Vladimir Mayakovsky: More stuff on Frank.

Calling all Proustians ...

Stefanie Hollmichel is readying the Proust group blog. Read about it toward the end of The First Time. (Had I but world enough and time ...)

This is great ...

... Vangisa, the Venerable Master of Words . And so is this: Therigatha: Verses of the Elder Nuns .

And the next time you think about immigration, consider this: Angel Island Poetry .

Wondering what to read next?

Try Reading Challenges. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Together at last ...

... Mr. and Mrs Hawthorne: American literary couple reunited after 150 years . (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)
As a big Hawthorne fan, I am naturally happy for both of them.

The future of libraries ...

The Wall Street Journal looks at LibraryThing: Social Networking for Bookworms. (Hat tip, Gwen Hendry.)

More on Harry Potter ...

... nearing the end of the trail: Chronicle of a death foretold ... Harry Potter author's grim hints . (Hat tip, Vikram Johri.)

The Dutch do right ...

... by Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Ayaan Hirsi Ali Stays Dutch.

Great minds at work again ...

I called Glenn Reynolds's An Army of Davids "a must-read if you want to have some idea of the direction things are taking." The U.S. Chamber of Commerce apparently agrees: “Books that Drive the Debate.” (Via - not surprisingly - InstaPundit.)

Speaking of omnipresent ...

... it seems McDonalds makes its own peculiar contribution to the spirit of place: Slumming the Golden Arches.

Great men think alike ...

... or so the saying goes. This must explain why Dave Lull, Patrick Kurp and I are fans of Eric Hoffer: Thinking Man. (I like Patrick's characterization of Dave: "omnipresent Wisconsin librarian.")

Maverick publisher ...

... Lyle Stuart has died at 83. (Hat tip, Bonnie Calhoun.)

Monday, June 26, 2006

Jonathan Wordsworth (1932-2006)

The great-great-great nephew of the poet Wordsworth - and a noted scholar of his work - has died. Here is the Telegraph's obit.

I had never heard ...

... of George Hook until I read this post, which I found very moving: George Hook Made Me Cry Today. I certainly know what it is to cry while watching Shadowlands.

This makes me happy ...

... for myself, of course, but even more for Dan Hoffman: Audacious. (Thanks to Dave Lull for sending it along.)

Two thumbs down ...

.. for John Updike's Terrorist. The thumbs are James Wood's. Mark Sarvas quotes and links: Wood on Terrorist.

For quite a different take, I link to the review Glenn Altschuler wrote for The Inquirer: Updike's painfully human terrorist. The passage Glenn quotes from at the end is certainly an impressive piece of writing.

Quite a nice ...

... Shameless painting: Beneath.

Yankee ingenuity ...

... hits Carl Bryant: Poetry in the Bathroom. (I wonder, though, does "Yankee ingenuity" apply in Georgia?)

Terry Teachout makes a very good point ...

... about regional theater (note there is a free link there to his WSJ piece).

Check out his Almanac, too.

RIP Bruno the Bear

Bavarian hunters kill Bruno the bear I believe he had said he would never be taken alive.

As promised ...

... here is Carlin Romano's review of Elaine Feinstein's Anna of All the Russias: A poet who gave voice to Russia's suffering.

Not to be outdone ...

... by Royalist Geoffrey Chaucer, the Founding Fathers have started blogging: Founder Blogs.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Blog syndication ...

... it's already here: Nightcap syndication.

Just for laughs ...

John Cleese is retiring to teach and write a history of comedy.

Bye bye Harry ...

... JK Rowling says she is feeling sad that her days penning the Harry Potter books are almost over.

Well, this might surprise ...

... some people, especially book publishers: Favorite books among evangelicals. (These are the same people that book after book that comes into my office declare to be a far greater threat than Islamic jihadists.)

Given that later this week ...

... The Inquirer will change ownership, this piece seems appropriate: How the back page took over the front page. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A couple of roundups ...

... at Critical Mass: John Freeman's Sunday Round Up and Jane Ciabattari's for Saturday Roundup. Useful to compare Luc Sante's Times review with Louis Menand's in the New Yorker: Acid Redux. Sante isn't responsible for the headline - "The Nutty Professor" - though he does not make it clear, as Menand does, that Leary was never a professor, at Harvard or anywhere else. At Harvard he held a lectureship. And while it may be true that Leary's indictments were "mostly on penny ante marijuana charges," as Sante puts it, the bust that landed him in the slammer was for possession while driving under the influence along with his wife and kids who were also under the influence. Doesn't seem exactly tyrannical to get a guy like that off the street.
Nothing is revealed in Robert Greenfield's book that couldn't have been known when Leary was in his heyday. It was surely in the public interest to let everyone know that the man was a dirt bag. Only now - so long after he did so much harm - does the media that created him feel the need to be sanctimonious about him.

Words large and small ...

Brenda Coulter discovers A big, bad word.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

It must be David Yezzi Day ...

Patrick Kurp mentions David in this excellent post about Philip Larkin: `A Serious House on Serious Earth'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
This probably is closed off to all but subscribers, but here is David's piece in the WSJ: A Journey From Irony to Mystery

The idea has merit, I think ...

Carl Bryant has been pondering the problem of having a Poet Laureate. He has just declared the Problem Solved.

Like Donne?

Or Robert Herrick (a special favorite of mine)? Amy Nelson-Mile links to a Resource for 17th Century English Literature . (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

The latest issue ...

... of Junto is up.

Say hi to Minx ...

... who's had a rough week, what with spam and hostile emails and - yes! - being struck by a unicyclist: The Inner Minx

A nice summery poem ...

... Bean Week.

We always have Parys ...

Geoffrey Chaucer chats with a young lady named Parys who is "the daughter of an riche stewarde and hosteler." Sound familiar? She's yonge, she's sexie, she's riche: Interviewe wyth Parys

A blog ...

... for creative writing MFAs, called - not surprisingly - the MFA Weblog. (Hat tip, B.Tsao.)

Caveat scriptor ...

Bill Lengeman takes note of some Scams & Hoaxes .

Someone worth getting to know ...

... is David Yezzi, interviewed by Ernest Hilbert for The Cortland Review, whic also provides a sampler of his work. (Hat tip again to Dave Lull.)

The future of authors ...

... maybe they have no future, though John Updike thinks news of their passing may be premature: The End of Authorship. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
One passage intrigues me: "This is, as I read it, a pretty grisly scenario. 'Performances, access to the creator, personalization,' whatever that is — does this not throw us back to the pre-literate societies, where only the present, live person can make an impression and offer, as it were, value? Have not writers, since the onset of the Gutenberg revolution, imagined that they already were, in their written and printed texts, giving an "access to the creator" more pointed, more shapely, more loaded with aesthetic and informational value than an unmediated, unpolished personal conversation?"
What about before the Gutenberg revolution? Authorship pre-dates Gutenberg by quite a few centuries. Printing may have changed authorship, but it hardly caused it. The electronic revolution is also going to change it - probably already has. I wouldn't worry about it. Chaucer did pretty well without Gutenberg. I suspect he would have done just as well had he access to a printing press. And I suspect he would have done well with a computer and an online connection. In fact, we know he already has: Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

Gaiutra Bahadur likes Monica Ali's Alentejo Blue: Silence speaks volumes in a Portuguese village

David Cohen finds Anthony Arthur's biography of Upton Sinclair admirable and concise: 'Jungle' was part of stormy career

Roger Miller takes a look at the novel that made Sinclair famous - and made America's food more wholesome: Revolting disclosures caused radical change

Mike Schaffer (my illustrious predecessor as Inquirer book editor) has reservations about Walter Mosley's latest: "Fortunate Son" isn't among his best

Katie Haegele finds a beautifully drawn portrait in Julie Ann Peters's Between Mom and Jo: Young Adult Reader Nick has two moms, and they're not perfect

I am afraid we'll have to wait until tomorrow before I can link to Carlin Romano's excellent review Elaine Feinstein's biography of Anna Akhmatova. For some reason it isn't posted online yet.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Brandywine Books ...

... has moved. Here's the new address.

A thoughtful piece ...

... about blogs by Alan Jacobs: The friend of information but the enemy of thought. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
I think this makes a number of very good points (and mentions several blogs I shall have to look into). But I think the upshot is that there is still much room for improvement and much area for creative innovation in the blogosphere. It is a work in progress, and has only just begun.

No more blogging ...

... until later on. Debbie and I have to attend a funeral.

The results are in ...

... for Locus Online's poll for the best SF/fantasy/horror poems of 2005 and of all-time. (Hat tip, Laurie Mason.)
I am surprised that Keats didn't make the list. There is La Belle Dame Sans Merci and Isabella; or, The Pot of Basil.

Anniversary suite ...

The New York Review of Books does a Beckett roundup: Beckett: Still Stirring. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Friday, June 23, 2006

Another move ...

... Debra Hamel has moved. Here's the new link: deblog.

It's time I joined ...

... this debate.
The other day GlennReynolds posted this item about Christine Rosen's TNR review of An Army of Davids. I was interested because I reviewed the book myself: How technology allows little guy to beat Big Media. I also interviewed the author. I found Rosen's review way off the mark. I can't decide whether to attribute her put-downs of such Glennisms as "heh" and "indeed' to humorlessness or cluelessness. But two passages struck me as central to the problem with her review.
The first is this: "The little guy can be a poet or a pop star; with technology as his handmaiden, anything is possible. But this follow-your-bliss vision of individual fulfillment has little patience for the standards necessary for judging genuine talent, which is why Reynolds's book reads more like a middle-aged hobbyist's utopian manifesto than a blueprint for cultural renaissance."
And here's the second: "But the old institutions--the academy, publishing, the press--are essentially arbiters that vetted writing and thought before broadcasting to the world. They provide editors and peer review, valuing opinion formulated by sustained research over opinion produced by a Google search. They are the superego checking the authorial id. But the techno-utopianism that haunts the blogosphere doesn't account for the importance of any of this."
Rosen doesn't seem to grasp - or else willfully ignores - that it is precisely "the old institutions," those"arbiters that vetted writing and thought" whose judgment is being called into question. As Glenn writes: "Millions of Americans who were once in awe of the punditocracy now realize that anyone can do this stuff--and that many unknowns can do it better than the lords of the profession." Rosen quotes this, but doesn't seem to get the point. The institutional superego has been found to filter out viewpoints, not because those viewpoints are ill-informed or poorly reasoned, but because they run counter to said superego's favored viewpoint. It is just possible that people will discern quality of thought and art when it is presented to them. It is just possible that when people regard something as true or beautiful they may be correct - even if the self-designated arbiters of thought and expression think otherwise.

Maxine at Petrona also has some thoughts on this that I thoroughly agree with: Now where was I? As Maxine points out, the relation between the new and the old media is already symbiotic and likely to stay that way - indeed, it is better that it stay that way and develop accordingly. But Maxine also nicely summarizes the value of blogging, which "enables voices to be heard and news to be broadcast that otherwise might not be, as evidenced most clearly in oppressive regimes and war zones. It enables individual people and groups to make connections which is beneficial in so many ways -- to mental health, to social support, to feedback for business enterprises (see The Publishing Contrarian and Skint Writer, for example), for creative feedback on writing , art and other activities. It empowers individuals in ways never conceived by the creators of Google, Yahoo et al., although these and other corporations are busy jumping on the business bandwaggons (opportunities) ..."

I rather like these ...

... Eleven Poems About Distance.

Over at The Pedestal ...

... there's a review of Two Books by Mike Allen. Lots of interesting stuff there: The Pedestal. (Hat tip, Laurie Mason.)

Pynchon alert ...

... It's official.

Speaking of Alice Munro ...

... in the Summer issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review, the VQR Symposium is about her. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A rant and a poem ...

... from Jessica Schneider: Am I boring you?

Poetry alert ...

Tom Disch is posting his poetry at LiveJournal. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

No more words ...

... from Alice Munro, apparently. TEV links to the story: Munro to retire.

Peter Handke talks ...

... about the Balkans and Milosovic: A long farewell to Yugoslavia.

Delicious!

... Lynn Viehl has Ten Tips for New Celebrity Authors. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Another book tour ...

... the latest stop on CultureVulture's world literature tour is An Italian job . (Hat tip, Vikram Johri, who observes: "Am reading Orhan Pamuk's My Name is Red at the moment, and it's more than a stylistic dedication to Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. While the setting is Turkey, the thrilling mystery related to the passions of artists and literary lyricism bring them quite close on the scales. So Eco is a good stop on an Italian tour."

My heart belongs ...

... to Gandalf - or something like that. (I know, Maxine. Your heart belongs to Aragorn!) Anyway, Tolkien the musical heads for London . (Hat tip, Vikram Johri.)

Today's poem ...

... is by Clare Dudman: Helios. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Things to look forward to ...

... The Most Anticipated Books of 2006 - Part 2. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Encountering "War and Peace" ...

... Like A Child In A Toyshop...

James McClure (1939-2006)

Maxine sends a link alerting me that crime novelist James McClure has died: The Passsing of James McClure.

Wicked Witch hangs out shingle ...

... attracts brainless brickbat: Lynne W. Scanlon Offers Book Proposal Critique Service.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Something I missed ...

... Bud Parr's Bloomsday Roundup.

Check out the blurbing ...

... Skint Writer.

Some more poems ...

... by my colleague John Timpane (these are also in the Wild River Review):

October

With a Gift of Earrings

Dusty and Bugs

I.M. Birtwistle (1918-2006)

Iris Birtwistle has died: Inspiring poet and gallery owner who nurtured young artists despite losing her sight. That's quite a nice poem of hers at the end of the obit.

James Bond takes on ...

...his most dangerous villian yet - reality: Shaking, and slurred. (Hat tip, Vikram Johri, who says he liked this part: "In the real world, however, James Bond would now be in his eighties. How odd to think of him sitting beneath a wobbly toupée in some Parker Knoll (perhaps Her Majesty's Secret Service provides a posher retirement armchair, winged, leather, button-backed?). " Me too. Maybe somebody wite a story centered on Bond in his dotage.

"I sometimes wonder ...

... if that is what Krishna meant ..." wrote T.S. Eliot in "The Dry Salvages." And maybe you have, too. Wonder no more. My colleague John Timpane has translated Canto 11 of The Bhagavad Gita: Vision of the Universal Form.
Here also is an interview with John: This Has Never Felt Like a Job (Carlin Romano and I are helping John with this).

Some Inquirer book reviews ...

Roger Miller looks at 'Peyton Place': Still a good yarn .

Desmond Ryan likes Max Hastings's Warriers: Portraits of wartime valor examine the befores and afters .

Marc Schogol warns readers about Richard Montanari's The Skin Gods: A Philadelphia psycho, splicing gore into film classics .

Brother Edward Sheehy finds Tom Chaffin's Sea of Gray interesting: The Rebel ship that put a postscript to the Civil War.

Also, Dawn Fallik talks to graphic novelist Alison Bechdel: A graphic artist draws on bruising memories of family

As good a reason ...

... for buying the June issue of The New Criterion as I can think of: After the Concert. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.) I share Patrick's fondness for Theodore Dalrymple. As for the thugs, Patrick, take a tip from me: Carry a walking stick, a good sturdy one - and be prepared to use it.

Edward Champion ...

... serves up a nice roundup (this includes the item linked to in my previous post - hat tip again to Dave Lull).

You saw it here first ...

... well, maybe not first, but you did see it here: Professors say knowledge of Bible is essential. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Tom Stoppard ...

... and Rock 'n' Roll. Dave Lull sends along Jason Brantley's Critic's notebook piece: On London Stages, It's Only Passion 'n' Politics (but They Like It) .

I like this quote (maybe because I wrote something similar here a while back): “I am not your amazing biological machine. I am not my body. My body is nothing without me.”

Beach reading ...

... gets a boost at Bookreporter.com.

Tody is the 40th anniversary ...

... of the death of Georges Lemaitre, priest and scientist. Dave Lull sends along this TCS Daily piece by John Farrell: The Creation Myth. Of course, had he not been hampered by his faith Father Lemaitre might have made many more discoveries, perhaps even as many as, say, Richard Dawkins.

This morning's poem ...

... is Rob Mackenzie's Psalm.

Congratulations to Minx ...

... on her anniversary: Litha. (The painting is quite nice.) Also, check out Minx's Lightbulb theory, which I think is sound.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Macavity nominees ...

... are posted at Sand Storm.

Marley crosses the pond ...

... my colleague John Grogan's Marley and Me gets reviewed in the Times of London: The dog with two tales. Bravo, John!

If you don't know ...

... Michael Schmidt (and I don't mean Michael Jack, the Phillies great third baseman), you should. Norm Geras offers an introduction: Writer's choice 55: Michael Schmidt. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Shameless ...

... reviews Brian Martin's North and pauses for a poem: a baby’s blessing.

Watch your step ...

... because, as Mark Long observes, even virtue can prove a stumbling block.

New Tammany College ...

... has moved. Here's the new link.

And look at these ...

... Elevated Verse Posters. (Via Golden Rule Jones.)

Some poetry blog links ...

... at Carl's Tiny Brain: Surfing the Po-blogs.

Putting down pedants ...

... Thoreau on Hypercritical Grammarians. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Recall Churchill''s response to the functionary who chided him for ending a sentence with a preposition: "Yours, sir, is the kind of pedantry up with which I shall not put."

Why, we have a list ...

... of Summer reading for kids. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Look out ...

... here come the female chauvinist pigs. (Hat tip again to Vikram Johri, who notes that a "sexual revolution that glamourizes pornography and raunch, in fact, belittles the ideals of feminism since it celebrates what is ultimately an exhibitionist view of women." As Glenn Reynolds might say: Indeed.

Richard and Judy ...

... I gather, are Britain's answer to Oprah Winfrey. Here is their Summer Read 2006. (Hat tip, Vikram Johri.)

A new approach ...

... to academic travail: French philosophy student fails, therefore he sues. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A couple a choice posts ...

... at Petrona: Bibliophonics and Useless advice.

David Montgomery ...

... has a link to ThrillerFest and sound tips on getting the most out of Writers Conferences.

In a comment ...

... appended to an earlier post, I remarked that primitive religion could be quite sophisticated. (I did not want to call the crude religious notions religious skeptics often display "primitive," which I do not think of as a pejorative - in large measure because it is so often so subtle.) Case in point: The White Buffalo Calf Woman.

This is actually ...

... a very interesting interview with Billy Collins. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Quite a poem ...

... John Ahearn's Pebbles. (Hat tip again to Maxine Clarke.)

Shakespeare's blog ...

... gets the usual kind of comments: Me and William Shakespeare. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

The poetry of everyday life ...

... specifically: Life as a Bryant.

A poet I never heard of ...

... over at The Jackdaw's Nest: Nijole Miliauskaite.

Another podcast ...

... worth listening to: Cloudy Day Art #53 - Interview with poet Judy Kronenfeld . (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Speaking of bookmen ...

... even if not especially grumpy, Dave Lull sends along this link to A Conversation With James Wood.

Ah, a wonderfully tangy post ...

... by the Grumpy Old Bookman: Sam Bourne finally makes it.

Sunday was the feast ...

... of Corpus Christi. After Mass I listened to Manuel de Falla's harpsichord concerto, the second movement of which is a gripping musical depiction of how the feast has been celebrated in Spain - with processions of flagellants. Michael Gilleland posted this passage from George Santayana, Persons and Places. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

J.B Priestley - whose daughter, Barbara Wykeham, just died - said of Santayana that he often seemed like someone who would go to church just to smell the incense. And some wit once remarked that "Santayana belives there is no God and that Mary is His mother." To which I respond that it's too bad his profound appreciation of religion's aesthetic component is not shared by more clerics.

Want to hear what I have to say?

If so, you can listen to this podcast at Belinda Subraman Presents. There's lots of interest there besides me (presuming I am at all interesting) and I would suggest keeping your eye on this site.

In his Almanac ...

... Terry Teachout has been quoting from Maurice Baring's novel C. Today's is about "The point of life ... " It expresses a sentiment with which I thoroughly agree - one at odds, I think, with the sentiments (if such they may be said to possess) of those I like to think of as evangelical rationalists. But who was Maurice Baring? Joseph Epstein's Maurice Baring & the good high-brow will fill you in.

Monday, June 19, 2006

More on Barbara Epstein ...

... Epstein edited Anne Frank's `Diary'. (Hat tip, Bonnie Calhoun.)

A comprehensive look ...

... at Poetry Northwest at Bud Bloom Poetry: Diving Back in with David Biespiel.

Skint Writer wonders ...

... about The Creative Sludge. Doesn't sound like writer's block to me. Sounds like writing. Just press on. I think the problem comes from thinking that one will write something down the way it will be read. Now I do tend to write my way through in order from start to finish - but I've been at it for decades. And I don't work on it without interruption. Quite the contrary. I interrupt myself a lot and keep thinking about it and running it through my mind until a little bit more comes to me ... until finally it's done.

I am about to depart the office ...

... and I am still behind schedule in getting my review done. So I may not be back until tomorrow.

Shameless finds ...

... A Writer's Retreat. He says that the tower "overlooking the village had my name written all over it." I would have sworn that was my name.

We're late linking to this ...

... but check out Poetry & Poets in Rags' June13 News at 11. Lots of interesting stuff.

Ties that bind ...

Jeff McDonald tells of A Virtual Acquaintance ... an Actual Friend ... And yes, Jeff, when you return to Philly, we must get together.

The Elegant Variation introduces ...

... The Lesser Blog.

Thoughts on Bloomsday ...

... and more from Bud Parr: Musings on Bloomsday and the Future of the Book.

The poem of the day ...

... is one for the ages. Dan Hoffman just sent me a copy of the poem I mentioned in my post last night. Here it is:


PLUMS

We went to gather beach plums while the moon rose
Tremulous, large, impatient from the sea,
Turning our pails to canisters of silver,
Making a fable of the fruit-thick tree.

The sea in glimmering cowl paced back and forth
Chanting a watery "Anguish" or "Rejoice!"
We had come to gather purple plums by moonlight
And we made our choice.

Sand holds warmth of sun when day is over,
Rabbitgrass leans to the path the wind went through.
When we left there was moonlight paling over the water
And in our buckets, a plum or two.

- Elizabeth McFarland

Talk about a round up ...

... look at Maxine's Book blog tour at Petrona.

Miss Snark gets poetic ...

... and posts Robert Hayden's Those Winter Sundays. More characteristically, she wonders, Can I call John Updike the Nitwit of the Day? (Via Edward Champion.)

Time for ...

... John Freeman's Daily Round Up at Critical Mass.

An American writer ...

... by way of London by way of Delhi: Daniel Woodrell: The Ozark daredevil . (Hat tip, Vikram Johri.)

The proliferation of prizes ...

... is remarked upon by Terry Teachout: Take the money and run. Also check out his Almanac entry - now that's a response to poetry.

The charm of the bookstore ...

... as Maxine says, a lovely piece by Clare Dudman: Lingham's Bookshop.

A God-intoxicated man (cont'd.) ...

... Defending Spinoza, Part 3. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

This always happens ...

... I sign off, then discover something I want to link to, like this: A fish hook, an open eye.

I am woefully behind ...

... in reading my review book. So that will be it for blogging tonight.

A living book ...

In The Books in My Life, Henry Miller devoted a chapter to those he called "living books" - people who were flesh-and-blood manifestations of what we seek and find in great literature: humanism incarnate.
Debbie and I spent yesterday afternoon with just such a person, the poet Daniel Hoffman. I think Dan is the greatest living American poet. I was leafing through his collection The Center of Attention yesterday morning. I pulled it off the shelf, because I've had it for decades and figured, since I was going to be seeing him, I'd ask him to sign it. Anyway, you look through it and you realize how wide his range is - and this is just a gathering of short pieces - how he can bring an authentic poetic sensibility and astonishing technique to so many different subjects. This is a guy who can attend a literary soiree and get a poem out of it, who looks around and about at the world and finds poems - then shows them to us.
Dan lives in a house that dates to the 19th century, built of fieldstone and surrounded by trees, with a big porch, and rooms with high ceilings, filled with literary memorabilia. His conversation is filled with casual, unselfconscious references to his friend Cal - Robert Lowell to you and me - Marianne Moore, Richard Eberhart, Auden (who in 1954 chose Dan's An Armada of Thirty Whales for the Yale Series of Younger Poets), Elizabeth Bishop, Muriel Rukeyser. The list is endless. He has a room with a wall of shelves filled with volumes of poetry by poets he knew. Probably all of them are inscribed by the authors. While we were having lunch, he recited to us a beautiful, beautiful poem about picking wild plums written by his late wife Elizabeth McFarland - who, as poetry editor of the Ladies Home Journal, published work by just about every major poet around. Few people have done more for poetry in this country than she did. (I'm going to write to Dan tomorrow and ask if I could post her poem here, because it deserves a much wider audience than just Debbie and me.)
If this were a really civilized country, Dan's house would be a place of pilgrimage. Lots of people, I have discovered, are writing poetry these days. They should take some time to read as much of his as they can. The Academy of American Poets has some of them here: Daniel Hoffman.

A fascinating dialogue ...

... between Laura Miller and Finn Harvor: When Books Don't Sell - 1. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

More on product placement ...

... and books from Jane Smiley: Best-sellouts list. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Don't miss ...

... the GOB's Ragbag (especially you, John Freeman - and welcome to blogging!).

A God-intoxicated man (cont'd) ...

Patrick Kurp's Defending Spinoza, Part 2. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Aoem in trouble ...

... Rob MacKenzie's Deportation. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I should have linked to Rob's blog before this: Surroundings.

Debra Hamel ..

... gets featured in Bookmarks for her list of the 10 best books she read in 2005. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

At last, a list ...

... (sort of) that is genuinely interesting: Writers and critics recommend the best holiday reads. (A special tip of the hat to Vikram Johri.)

Noteworthy picks include Simon Callow's: "Dedalus have been steadily printing the novels of the astonishing 19th-century French novelist Joris-Karl Huysmans (notorious for the masterpiece of decadence, Against the Grain) and as a bonus have reissued Robert Baldick's classic biography, one of the most elegant, stimulating and moving of all literary biographies ..."

And John Gray's: "John Cowper Powys's Wolf Solent (Penguin Modern Classics) is one of the great 20th-century novels, and despite having read it many times I'll read it again. Powys renders the flow of human consciousness with a subtlety some have compared with Proust; but this is Proust out of doors in a magically transformed English landscape." Right on, John!

More reviews ...

... in John Freeman's Sunday Round Up at Critical Mass, where I have weighed in on Politics and Reviewing.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

Carlin Romano talks with Henning Mankell, creator of Kurt Wallander.

I wanted to like Bill Kauffman's Look Homeward, America, but found I couldn't: Alternative history's big helping of scorn.

Karl Kirchwey brings some perspective to Elizabeth Bishop's "Uncollected Poems, Drafts and Fragments": History will be judge of poet Bishop's status.

Desmond Ryan follows Nicholas Shakespeare to an unlikely locale: A settler taps his roots in Tasmania .

Katie Haegele likes Gary Amdahl's Visigoth, winner of the Milkweed National Fiction Prize: Tales in which the ancient urges are quite current .

David Montgomery is enthusiastic indeed about Barry Eisler's The Last Assassin: A thriller for brain and heart .

John Freeman is deeply affected by Andrew Holleran's Grief: A survivor of the AIDS age grapples with grief and intimacy

Sandy Bauers listens to a lot of Hemingway: Project to record Hemingway's works

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Give the guy a break ...

... if they display them in public, maybe he'll learn to remember them: Ten Commandments Congressman can't name them.

The place of poetry ...

... in modern life as seen in the work of Adrienne Rich and Margaret Atwood: The role of language. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Not everyone can ...

... Wikipedia now: Growing Wikipedia Revises Its 'Anyone Can Edit' Policy. (Hat tip yet again to Dave Lull.)

A God-intoxicated man ...

... Patrick Kurp on Defending Spinoza . (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

One writer's view ...

... of book reviewing. Robert Stone thinks they are "a necessary function." (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The economics of attention ...

Rebecca Skloot has More on Product Placement in Books and Creative Publicity . (Hat tip again to Maxine Clarke.)

In the meantime, here is an excerpt from The Economics of Attention.

When words are not enough ...

... the time is ripe for Reinventing the reading. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

I still think the solution is to have actors - specialists in a performing art - do the reading. Unless the writer has a good voice and knows how to use it. But to keep the focus on the text and not distract with music or tap dancing.

Common language ...

... continues to divide: The Yawning Pond.

I spent an entire evening once chatting with A.S. Byatt. I've chatted with William Hague and Geoffrey Hill. And I went to college with a guy from Britain. I published an interview with Byatt, and another with John Polkinghorne. Their locutions never struck me as odd enough to take note of. And if I were going to write them into a novel, I'd just have them talk - which in fact is what they did when I met them.

Barbara Epstein (1928-2006) ...

The founder and co-editor of the New York Review of Books died yesterday morning.

But before we go ...

... I feel I have to link to this, at Protein Wisdom: Hysterical. Nelson Shanks, probably the pre-eminent contemporary classical realist, once submitted one of his paintings to a competition and, when it was rejected, submitted another piece - just some toilet paper attached to a board with spray paint and titled "Interrupted Movement No. 1." He came in second.

No blogging ...

... until later. Debbie and I are heading out to Swarthmore for lunch with Dan Hoffman, whose The Poem is the poem of the day.

Garden blogging ...

... The garden is coming along. The impatiens and petunias and the sunflower need no introduction, I suspect. The peach-colored flower is a Virgin Islands hibiscus and the cluster of purple blooms is heliotrope.



Friday, June 16, 2006

C.E. Chaffin's taking off for a while ...

... but in the meantime, this is nice (and, I believe, true): Integration.

Otherworldly topics ...

... and some interesting poems, at Bud Bloom Poetry: Ghosts Came Up Tonight . I, of course, subscribe to Hamlet's view, that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophies.

Life imitates art ...

... Why Southern men love the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. If you haven't made the acquaintance of Mma Ramotswe, byt the way, you should.

Great minds ....

... still think alike. Mystery writer Roger Simon are on the same page once again: Al - still boring after all these years.

This post of his is interesting, too: Why didn't somebody tell my mother? Luckily for me my crusty grandmother used to say that we all had eat a bushel of dirt before we died.

I should have linked to this sooner ...

... Toibin's Master takes Impac award . Congratulations, Colm! I spent a very pleasant evening with him and John Banville and Sebastian Barry a while back. I'm very happy for him.

Let's put book publishing ...

... in perspective: Values and fluctuations. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Further confessions ...

... of The Inner Minx: I quite like pink though! (Rated PG-13)

Bloom in Manhattan ...

... Playwright of 'Dead City' Substitutes Manhattan for Dublin . (Hat tip, Gene' D'Alessandro.)

And a hearty drum roll, please ....

... for the IBPC's Poem of the Year. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Time to give credit ...

... where credit is due. Someone wondered recently in a comment on a post here about how I could do so much blogging and do my job. Well, there are a number of factors, not the least of which is knowing how to discipline my time. I like to do some blogging while having my coffee shortly after arriving in the office around 8:30. I also find that it's a nice change of pace during the day - a kind of mental palate cleanser. Also years and years of scanning the wires has left me adept at spotting interesting items.
That said, though, the really decisive factor is a lot of help from my online friends, whom I have referred to from time to time as my Broad Street Irregulars (a la Sherlock Holmes's Baker Street Irregulars). There is, of course, the indefatigable Dave Lull, and the astounding Maxine Clarke of Petrona, and Vikram Johri of patrakaar2b (who has been posting some very interesting stories that I recommend you look at), and Rus Bowden of Poetry & Poets in Rags, and the irrepressible Bonnie Calhoun at Bonnie Writes. I am sure I have missed some. But to all I extend a sincere thank you.
I would add, by the way, that this is an aspect of blogging - often taken for granted by those who blog and altogether oerlooked by the MSM - that accounts for much of its power.

The commercial potential of blogging ...

... is tapped into further by Amazon: BloggerKit Advances Social Commerce. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

The knowledge cooperative ...

... Scott McLemee ponders whether To wiki or not. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

From screen to print ...

... and a big prize: Book inspired by Shakespeare film wins prize . (Hat tip, Vikram Johri.)

Happy Bloomsday ....

... and the easiest way for me to remember it is to link to the special report Eric Mencher and I did for the centenary two years ago: 100 Years of Bloomsday: A Multimedia Report. People in the Philadelphia area should head to the Rosenbach Museum & Library, where the celebration will continue all day.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I think Edward Champion is on to something ...

... Reading for Fun: An Unfulfilled Potential?

"... if the chief problem here is that kids aren’t finding books they “like to read,” perhaps there is something within the current system that is not only preventing kids from “liking” literature, but prohibiting a sense of self-discovery. "

Schools assign kids books because those books are "great," important," etc. - and usually they are. That doesn't mean the kid is ready to read them. The first step is get the kid to like the act of reading - and the best way to do that is to let them find for themselves whatever it is they can't put down until they finish it. If you're 13 or 14, it's unlikely to be Moby Dick.

What's in a name ...

... David Montgomery considers The Name Game.

I can't take this anymore ...

In Ann Marlowe's review of Robert Greenfield's biography of Tiimothy Leary, linked to in my previous post, occurs this sentence:

"More importantly for those who believed psychedelics could have great potential in psychotherapy, the Leary circus created a hysteria around LSD that lead to Congress making it illegal and effectively shutting down further research."

"... a hysteria around LSD that lead ..." The past tense of the verb to lead is led. People make this mistake, I gather, because the noun desingating the metal lead is spelled the same way the verb is and is pronounced led.

Ann Marlowe is obviously bright and well-educated. Unfortunately, like many bright and well-educated people these days - because I see this particular error over and over - she does not know how to spell the past tense of the verb to lead.

Timothy Leary's dead ...

... so now there's a biography of him. Jenny D links to a review: Tune in, turn on, drop out .

Something we've been looking for ...

... and my colleague Eric Mencher seems to have found: Heaven on Earth.

Today's poem ...

... Stopping My Pole-Dance On A Frosty Evening .

Another poetry site ...

... which I should have linked to yeaterday, when Peter Garner of Far From the Madding Crowd alerted me to it. But I got distracted and forgot. So here is Poems of the Week.

You gotta know when to hold ...

... know when to fold. Lynn Viehl has invented Amazon.com Review Poker.

Pulp literature maybe?

Phil Wade at Brandywine Books poses this question: CS Lewis, a Writer of Pulp Fiction?

My sentiments exactly ...

Bill Peschel notes a spate of books all telling us that doom is just around the corner unless we act now ... and buy and read what these authors have to say and act accordingly: Destroy these books.
Books like that come into my office every day and have been for the nearly six years I've been on this job. Nothing much has changed. Last year's doom date has come and gone and this morning's new one is in the bins outside my office.

Look what's hatched ...

... over at Bud Bloom Poetry: The Poet in the Egg . As an unapologetic eudaemonist I must demur slightly regarding the notion that "the poet goes from suffering or indignation to writing poetry ..." The poet may do that of course, but I think poems are as likely to be derived from joy as from suffering. (Interesting that Assagioli shoul cite Heine. So much of depth psychology is grounded in German Romanticism.) As readers of this blog will know I am largely unimpressed by the "suffering artist" myth.

Lynne Scanlon ...

... has a Damascus moment.

Well it's about time ...

... Geoffrey Chaucer Hath Been Profiled (via Books, Words and Writing.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A useful little roundup ...

... from Maxine at Petrona: Books, bards and gadgets.

One of the more intelligent distinctions ...

... I've come upon recently: should marriage be legislated?

I have been asked ...

... to weigh in on this and shall eventually: Politics and Reviewing: How has your book section changed since 2000?

A chat ...

... with Sarah Waters . (Hat tip again to Vikram Johri.)

We haven't had a list for a while ...

... so here's Sam Mills's top 10 books about the darker side of adolescence. (Hat tip, Vikram Johri.)

Here, surely ...

... is the poem of the day (courtesy of Dave Lull): Road Kill.

But do they really ...

... or does someone do it for them? More senators write books. And if they, I hope they do it on their own time. And even so, maybe they ought to pay a little more attention to their day job.

Speaking of the future of books ...

... Dave also sends along this link to BMW Audio Books. I think this is something to keep an eye on.

The future of books (cont'd.) ...

... New chapter on e-books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I should have posted about this earlier ...

... Perseus Defends 'Cathy's Book' (Hat tip, Roger Miller.)

Just so you know, I got this email from Commercial Alert:

Dear book review editor:You may have heard that Running Press is publishing a new written work for teens titled “Cathy’s Book. ” This “book” is actually part of a marketing campaign for Procter & Gamble’s Cover Girl line. The book contains a prominent mention of a Cover Girl product, and the corporation will market it on this basis. According to the New York Times, a passage in “Cathy’s Book” refers to “a killer coat of Lipslicks,” which is a line of Cover Girl Lip Gloss. In the galley version, the reference was to a “killer coat of Clinique #11 ‘Black Violet’ lipstick.” But the product was changed in accordance with the marketing agreement with P&G. It is not unknown for works of fiction to advance political and other agendas, but this crosses a line. “Cathy’s Book” is in the form of a novel. But in reality it is an adjunct of a corporate marketing campaign aimed at impressionable teenagers. Its contents have been altered to that end.Will you treat this book as a novel to be reviewed, or as an advertisement, which is suitable for discussion in the business pages?We strongly urge you to choose the latter. Something large is at stake here. There is a difference between a novel and an ad; and if you do not uphold that distinction, then who will?Sincerely,Jonathan Rowe, issues director, Commercial Alert Gary Ruskin, executive director, Commercial Alert

Let's hear it now ...

... Hooray for hypocrites! (Hat tip, Dave Lull.) Too bad there isn't a link to Max Beerbohm's "The Happy Hypocrite."

The second issue ...

... of Autumn Sky Poetry is up.

Someone worth knowing ...

... and exactly who is rennie d?

"... poetic in the sense of contemplative cogitation on life's experience." That's what the practice of poetry has always meant for me.

I have been meaning to link to this ...

... about James Joyce's grandson, who apparently inherited some of his grandfather's less attractive traits: The Injustice Collector. (I believe Rus Bowden, Dave Lull and Roger Miller all alerted me to this.)

I knew ...

... that Andrew Carnegie funded the building of many libraries. The Holmesburg library where I spent many a pleasant afternoon as a kid was one of them. I din't know he built them in Britain also (though it makes sense: he was from Scotland). So this is sad: Impoverished shelf life. (Dave Lull, yet again.)

Maybe this is good ...

... Sartre leaves France's young thinkers puzzled. (Another hat tip to Dave.)
I wonder if the Simon Smith is the same one who had the amazing dancing bear (and does anyone know to what I refer?).

Poetic affinities ...

Eliot Weinberger looks at how simpatico Lorine Niedecker and Charles Reznikov are. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

All hail ...

... the new Poet Laureate. (Hat tip, Roger Miller.)

Today's poem ...

... comes by way of Maxine: to a comrade in the way.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

But wait ...

... Bourgeois Nerd links to a quiz about which action hero you would be: Freeeeedooooooooooom! (Via The Inner Minx, God bless her!)

I turned out to be Indiana Jones!

I have been writing all day ...

... and as is usual after I finish a piece, I feel depressed. So that's going to be it for blogging.

I discover an allusion ...

... thanks to this link sent by Dave Lull: Proletarian paperbacks: The little blue books and working-class culture.

The allusion? "Whitman in the Haldeman-Julius edition" figures in Kenneth Patchen's The Orange Bears. Wonderful to hear Patchen read this poem. He was one of those poets who could really read well.