Posts Tagged ‘Frederick Seidel’
June 7, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
- Our editor Lorin Stein talks to Frederick Seidel about his poems, his persona, and the kind of seedy back-alley porn shops you just can’t find in London anymore: “I think it’s too bad, but unsurprising, that this myth of the beautifully outfitted, elegant, elegantly sinister, Baudelaire sort of fellow striding and sliding down the streets of New York has become a way of not talking about the poems. Some reviewers over the years have liked that figure, liked summoning him up. He doesn’t exist, and isn’t really in the poems. Baudelaire is a hero of mine. Baudelaire and how he did it is of great interest. But this persona does get in the way, I think … Personally, I enjoy someone saying to me: I very much enjoyed that poem, I was moved by that poem, that poem really surprised me. I like the simplicity of statements of that sort. I understand they do not a review make, however large their meaning may be, or however much they may contain.”
- Because even hell must have a sound track, there is music playing at Penn Station, and someone is responsible for managing the playlist. Bizarrely enough, that unenviable task falls to three women in a windowless office in Austin, Texas: “Amy Frishkey, one of the programmers, understands the otherness of picking the music that people hear between the train-boarding announcements … The puny-sounding speakers at Penn Station play a stream of classical pieces along with ‘easy instrumentals’ that sound like dentist-office arrangements, mostly contemporary piano and guitar solos—and, one afternoon last month as the evening rush was approaching, a Sinatra hit that seemed to have been arranged for French horn. The result is a Beethoven quartet one minute, something vaguely New Age the next … ‘It’s almost as if you’re trying to D.J. the world’s largest wedding reception,’ Danny Turner, Ms. Frishkey’s boss, said. But it is a reception without a bride or groom, and the 650,000 people who pass through Penn Station every day do not dance to the music.”
- In 1947, a small magazine asked Ralph Ellison if he’d want to do a photo essay on Harlem’s Lafargue Psychiatric Clinic, which had made a name for itself by standing against segregation. Ellison and the photographer Gordon Parks took the assignment, but the magazine soon folded—and so their work is only now coming to light. Vinson Cunningham writes: “In a conceptual note, outlining what he called the project’s ‘pictorial problem,’ Ellison wrote that Parks’s prints ‘must present scenes that are at once both document and symbol; both reality and (for the reader) psychologically disturbing “image.” ’ Parks’s ingenious solution to this ‘problem’—which, essentially, is a re-articulation of what we mean by photographic art—can be seen in an image of a shadow-shrouded man walking in an alley. Before him sit huge, indiscriminate mounds of rubble. Lines of white laundry hang far above his head, between tenement fire escapes. Light travels from the upper corner of the composition, softly through the drying clothes, then slantingly toward the camera’s eye, making the man little more than a silhouette while—somewhat paradoxically—throwing every detail of a nearby wall into sharp, sculpted relief.”
- Today is Prince’s birthday—the Minnesota governor has declared it Prince Day, and I’m wearing my Purple Rain T-shirt. “The Morning Papers,” a collection at Media Diversified, invites writers of color and Prince devotees to reflect on his legacy. Tanuja Desai Hidier, who was many moons ago an intern at the Review, remembers him in the poem “Zindagi bhar nahin bhoolegi woh Purple barsaat ki raat”: “Pulsing purple Om. / Love symbol. Id. / Strumming us home: / A compass. The Kid.” And in “Camille Ain’t Dead, Honey,” Gemma Weekes mulls on his death: “We remembered all his talk about the Spooky Electric. Some of us thought The Kid was irresponsible and that the Spooky Electric was a train he’d jumped on in the middle of the night, taking him off to some traitorous adventure elsewhere. He’d not read section 3, passage 33 of the Town Rules that stipulated he choose a successor before quitting city limits … A growing percentage theorized that The Spooky Electric was a It wanted his light. It wanted to stop his light from spreading, so The Kid was kidnapped, or scrubbed free of glitter and buried under a thousand layers of darkness.”
- In which Diana Hamilton embarks on a journey to define “fictional poetry”: “I realized I had never been writing about ‘postconceptual poetry’ at all, but about something I started to call ‘Fictional Poetry’—i.e., poetry that uses the style, plot, characterization, or forms of fiction … Key to this sense of the ‘fictional’ is a quality of aboutness that prevents overemphasis on form—and on the repetition of the forms that often characterizes the appearance of schools—and especially resists the belief that the shape a poem takes, rather than its ‘topic,’ is always the source of its politics / interestingness / literariness / purpose. Instead, the books I want to write about don’t mind being about things … A lot of contemporary poetry does not deal very directly with its ‘content’; or rather, it seems contentless. Most things that pass for poems today are list poems without knowing it: by trying to focus on the lyrical image’s mediation of reference, they become mere collections of images that pride themselves on their irrelevance.”
June 1, 2016 | by The Paris Review
We’re not big on themes here at the Review, but our new Summer issue was designed with the poolside in mind—we did everything short of printing it on sunscreen-proof paper. At its center you’ll find a portfolio curated by Charlotte Strick, an essay by Leanne Shapton, and a short story by Rafil Kroll-Zaidi all on the subject of swimmers, lifeguards, and lane etiquette. Read More »
March 1, 2016 | by The Paris Review
Behold: our new Spring issue, with a cover by Adrian Tomine and a shade of yellow bright enough to bring the thaw. It includes an Art of Nonfiction interview with Luc Sante, who talks about growing up in the New York of the seventies and eighties and his fascination with “the intersection of specific time and place”:
This goes back to my teenage years. I would think, Jeez, 1972 feels so different from 1971 ... I meant the feeling on the street, the feeling emanated by people, songs, the contents of the songs, what people were wearing. Trying to reproduce that elusive factor—it’s something I’ve tried to write about many, many times, and it’s impossible. I can only do it, kind of, by indirection. But my spelunking in that direction has nourished a lot of my work.
Sante contributed our portfolio, too: an annotated collection of the magazine covers, collages, flyers, and ephemera of his youth.
And Robert Caro, who has devoted himself to a five-volume life of Lyndon Johnson since 1976, discusses the Art of Biography:
Rhythm matters. Mood matters. Sense of place matters. All these things we talk about with novels, yet I feel that for history and biography to accomplish what they should accomplish, they have to pay as much attention to these devices as novels do.
You’ll also find James Tate’s final poem, discovered in his typewriter after his death; a story by Witold Gombrowicz never before published in English; the fourth and final installment of Chris Bachelder’s comic masterpiece The Throwback Special; new fiction from Jensen Beach, Benjamin Hale, Dana Johnson, Craig Morgan Teicher, and Anne-Laure Zevi; and poems by John Ashbery, Mary Jo Bang, Erica Ehrenberg, Amit Majmudar, J. D. McClatchy, Morgan Parker, Mary Ruefle, Frederick Seidel, and Cynthia Zarin.
February 19, 2016 | by Sadie Stein
In 1912, the poet Guillaume Apollinaire published “Le Pont Mirabeau” in the journal Les Soirées de Paris; a year later the poem appeared in his collection Alcools. Even in Apollinaire’s lifetime, the melancholy piece—which uses the image of the ornate bridge spanning the flowing Seine to explore love and the passage of time—was one of his best known. In the years since, its fame has only grown: it was set to music in a much-covered 1953 song by Léo Ferré, made into a choral arrangement by Lionel Daunais, and later interpreted by the Pogues. A plaque bearing the last lines can be found on the bridge’s foot.
In a rare recording, you can hear Apollinaire himself read “Le Pont Mirabeau”:
In issue 202, the Paris Review staff contributed unsigned translations of ten Apollinaire poems. The following translation of “Le Pont Mirabeau” is by Frederick Seidel.
Le Pont Mirabeau
Under Eads Bridge over the Mississippi at Saint Louis
Flows the Seine
And our past loves.
Do I really have to remember all that again
Joy came only after so much pain?
Hand in hand, face to face,
Let the belfry softly bong the late hour.
Nights go by. Days go by.
I’m alive. I’m here. I’m in flower.
The days go by. But I’m still here. In full flower.
Let night come. Let the hour chime on the mantel.
Love goes away the way this river flows away.
How violently flowers fade. How awfully slow life is.
How violently a flower fades. How violent our hopes are.
The days pass and the weeks pass.
The past does not return, nor do past loves.
Under the Pont Mirabeau flows the Seine.
Hand in hand, standing face to face,
Under the arch of the bridge our outstretched arms make
Flows our appetite for life away from us downstream,
And our dream
Of getting back our love of life again.
Under the Pont Mirabeau flows the Seine.
February 3, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
- Sarah Manguso holds up the many sources of writers’ envy—“of money, of accolades, of publication in this or that place … of profligacy and of well-managed scarcity … of accomplishment and of potential”—to remind us of how easy it is to mess things up: “The purpose of being a serious writer is not to express oneself, and it is not to make something beautiful, though one might do those things anyway. Those things are beside the point. The purpose of being a serious writer is to keep people from despair. If you keep that in mind always, the wish to make something beautiful or smart looks slight and vain in comparison. If people read your work and, as a result, choose life, then you are doing your job.”
- In which Dan Chiasson attempts to peer through Frederick Seidel’s voluptuary persona in search of the man himself: “Whenever Seidel publishes a book, a portion of his readers recoil in offense, while others celebrate his courage and cunning … The louche vampire who sniffs his fingers and spurns the poor isn’t Frederick Seidel—even though, as we learn elsewhere, this ‘character’ who has so little to do with Seidel lives in Seidel’s apartment, socializes with his friends, and shares his tastes in wine, shoes, and motorcycles. In photo shoots, Seidel stands in his Upper West Side living room, dressed up like ‘Frederick Seidel,’ surrounded by décor whose provenance we have come to know from his poems. The troubling power of this work isn’t its distance from its author but its stifling proximity … His style favors successive tremors of bile and animus, often crudely rhymed so as to suggest doggerel or ad copy.”
- How Chris Jackson, executive editor of Spiegel & Grau, is building a list of writers from the margins: “ ‘I want to protect the writer, of any race, from the dishonesty of racism, and how it can inflect any kind of work,’ he said. ‘And, for writers who are trying to challenge the pandering of the white gaze, if you have to go through a series of gatekeepers who are uniformly white, you’re going to end up with something that’s’— here came a considered pause—‘it’s going to be tough to preserve the integrity in the end.’ ”
- Reading Primo Levi in translation, Tim Parks stumbled on the word ankylosed, prompting some thoughts on diction between languages: “A certain credit or self-esteem now attaches itself to reading translations; it is something that intelligent, broad-minded people do. Above all, it is understood that the books will be literary and challenging, perhaps with something of their exotic origins still clinging to them … The American reader of translated novels is predisposed to read a rather different, non-standard English. No one need be anxious that quintals or ankylosed might force themselves into standard vocabulary; rather, they will remain pleasant curiosities, or perhaps even pretentious markers, catering to a self-consciously ‘informed’ reader of foreign novels … We know what it sounds like when an Italian speaks English with an Italian accent. But how can we possibly recognize the flavor of written Italian in written English, if we can’t read in Italian? How can we distinguish it—in English—from the flavor of Spanish or French or Russian or Czech? What can we experience beyond a muddled exoticism?”
- Book trailers: Those are funny, right? Watch as writers who’d normally object to crass consumerism sit down in the front of the camera to sell some hardcovers. It’s a uniquely self-loathing spectacle, as Katy Waldman writes: “Perhaps everyone is embarrassed by the apparent fact that a soft-shoeing writer gets people’s wallets out faster than flashes of plot and craft. Perhaps authors resent that it’s so hard to sell their actual books, or phone it in because the clips feel tangential to this tower of words they’ve made. Perhaps hustling your person is just grosser than hustling an object. Or perhaps writers appreciate not having to ‘pimp’ their novels, retreating, instead, inside their winning personalities, if applicable, and the self-mockery represents a kind of nervous laughter.”
December 1, 2014 | by The Paris Review
That photo on the cover comes from Marc Yankus, whose subject is New York buildings: “I can feel the brick, I can feel the hardness and the corners of the building ... the structure, the monolith, the sculpture, the abstract.”
In the Art of Memoir No. 2, Vivian Gornick talks about feminism, bad reviews, love versus work, and coming to terms with failure:
I knew I had to stay with it as long as it took to write a sentence I could respect. That’s the hardest thing in the world to do—to stay with a sentence until it has said what it should say, and then to know when that has been accomplished.
And in the Art of Screenwriting No. 5, Michael Haneke reveals the imaginative process behind movies like The White Ribbon and Amour—and why there are no “right” readings of his films:
I would never set out to make a political film. I hope that my films provoke reflection and have an illuminating quality—that, of course, may have a political effect. Still, I despise films that have a political agenda. Their intent is always to manipulate, to convince the viewer of their respective ideologies. Ideologies, however, are artistically uninteresting. I always say that if something can be reduced to one clear concept, it is artistically dead.
There’s also a special triple feature on Karl Ove Knausgaard, with an exclusive excerpt from My Struggle, Book 4; an essay on depression and Dante’s hell; and an exchange with The New Yorker’s James Wood on masculinity and good reasons for writing badly.
Plus new fiction by Joe Dunthorne, Ottessa Moshfegh, Sam Savage, and Saïd Sayrafiezadeh; poems from Sylvie Baumgartel, Jeff Dolven, Cathy Park Hong, Phillis Levin, Jana Prikryl, Frederick Seidel, and Brenda Shaughnessy; and a series of aphorisms by Sarah Manguso.
Get your copy now. And may we add that a subscription to The Paris Review makes a great present? The recipient will receive a postcard announcing your gift with your personal message. Just select the “gift” option when you check out.