Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Curative Activity

My whole intellectual life as I've started to emerge from the misty darkness of autism has been an adventure in beauty housed in form and structure. My most favorite curative activity was listening to my father read Shakespeare and ask me to describe the symbols, poetic devices and structures which make the plays work, so I came to ModPo comfortable with close reading. I get my parents to take me to the Uffizi so I can study Botticelli, my music theory teacher shows me how Mozart is structured, so it is not surprising that until I took your class I thought poetry was words stuffed into forms. 

-from Jacket2


The language of absence, privation, nothingness has scientific, moral and emotional force. As dark is an absence of light energy, not an entity in itself, death too is an absence rather than a force or a being. That conviction underlies the statement that Love's alchemical limbec turned the leaden soul, with its “dull privations and lean emptiness” into the golden sense of being. The theology and science, the terms of nothing and being, absence and presence—it's all a way for the poet to sharpen the understanding of what he lacks, and what he loves. The poem's athletic feats of wit may entertain readers, or disconcert them, but it has a purpose beyond rhetoric: it is an act of mourning ... and, maybe, an act of self-heartening, too.

-Robert Pinsky on John Donne at Slate


Who has not fantasized about the books they would write if only the right conditions could be found! I have carried around just such a dream, sparked by a weekend alone in an austere mountain cabin in the Austrian Alps when I was a boy. Rumination was unstoppable, and poetry just poured out.

-David Wood in the New York Times



Thursday, December 6, 2012

This Is You

Hey, I think I finished my second manuscript. In this context, "I think" means that there are enough pages of poetry for a book, but that aforementioned pages aren't yet good enough. Ya dig?


These “massive open online courses” (MOOCs) have exploded on the American educational scene. The Washington Post dubbed them “elite education for the masses,” with universities like Harvard, Stanford, and Princeton offering free classes. Coursera, the for-profit company that offered Filreis’s poetry class among many others, is less than a year old and counts more than 1.7 million as students. Many of the courses offer certificates of completion, so while a degree from these schools may still cost upward of $100,000, you can theoretically—and that’s a big “theoretically”—get the education for nothing.

--Elliot Holt at The Poetry Foundation


This is you. You want to own something that means something to you. The pleasure of an original thing is that, like anything you truly love, it attaches itself to the original part of you and builds it like a muscle, makes you feel more like you. It also connects you to someone else, the artist—but you don't have to tend that relationship, it's just there, simple, pure. You never have to meet the artist if you don't want to, but if you want to, you can ask the artist all about this thing you now have, and you will find that the artist also wants to hear what you see in it, and eventually you will both agree that neither of you really penetrates what the thing fully is, which is maybe why both of you love it so much. Let's say you have a couple more criteria: Maybe you would prefer art by someone local, someone who does not have a leg up in the 1 percent game of the international art world. And: You do not have money to burn.

-Jen Graves at The Stranger


The people who fret over the Future of the Book talk about the loss of the tactile, of the physical act of holding the book. Me, the only thing I worry about is no longer having used books.

-Michelle Dean at The Rumpus


Marjorie Perloff’s essay “Poetry on the Brink” in the May/June 2012 issue rekindled conversation about innovation and canonization in contemporary poetry. To continue and extend the discussion, we cast a wide net and invited 18 poets to address the following question: what is the most significant, troubling, relevant, recalcitrant, misunderstood, or egregious set of opposing terms in discussions about poetics today, and, by extension, what are the limits of binary thinking about poetry? Their responses range from whimsy to diatribe, with meditation, appraisal, tangent, touchstone, anecdote, drollery, confection, wit, and argument in between.

-Opposing Terms: A Symposium on the Poetic Limits of Binary Thinking at Boston Review (featuring Ange Mlinko, Samuel Amadon, Matthew Zapruder, Annie Finch, Noah Eli Gordon, and many other excellent voices).


Music for a rainy Thursday here in the American Northwest.