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Posts Tagged ‘Paul Muldoon’

Ireland: Picturesque and Romantic

March 17, 2014 | by

On St. Patrick’s Day, nineteenth-century illustrations of the Irish countryside.

Donegal Castle

Donegal Castle

McGillicuddy's Reeks and the Upper Lake of Killarney

McGillicuddy’s Reeks and the Upper Lake of Killarney

Killaloe on the Shannon

Killaloe on the Shannon

The Gap of Dunloe

The Gap of Dunloe

Lower Lake of Killarney

Lower Lake of Killarney

Turk Mountain

Turk Mountain

The Irish Jig

The Irish Jig

Carrickfergus Castle

Carrickfergus Castle

Fairhead

Fairhead

Lower Lough Erne

Lower Lough Erne

Irish Market Girl

Irish Market Girl

Ballyshannon

Ballyshannon

Waterloo Bridge, Cork

Waterloo Bridge, Cork

Bantry Bay

Bantry Bay

Dunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle

Londonderry

Londonderry

These remarkable illustrations are from Ireland: Picturesque and Romantic, an 1838 travelogue by Leitch Ritchie, Esq. But don’t be fooled: despite his book’s encouraging title and the meticulousness of these drawings, Ritchie was pretty hard on Ireland. His account, stuffy and imperial, presents a portrait of the Irish psyche scarcely more enlightened than a box of Lucky Charms, shot through with a kind of paternalistic shame:

The Irish are not lazy because they are Irish, but because, in the first place, they are only half civilized … their spirit is broken by ages of tyranny. They have crouched so long under the lash that they can hardly stand upright. They are brave from instinct, but cowards from habit; and the peasantry every day of their lives are guilty of as despicable acts of poltroonery, in their intercourse with the quality, as the serfs of the middle ages exhibited in their encounters with the knights.

Not, as you can see, ideal reading for St. Paddy’s Day—better to take the pictures and put someone else’s words with them. Here, then, is a more fittingly romantic tribute to Ireland: Patrick Kavanagh’s “Canal Bank Walk,” a sonnet written in 1958. Read More »

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Fifty Shades of Rage, and Other News

September 4, 2013 | by

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  • Joey Ramone sings John Cage adapting Finnegans Wake. Got that?
  • Paul Muldoon’s eulogy for Seamus Heaney.
  • Fans of the Fifty Shades series are outraged at the casting for the upcoming film adaptations; a petition is circulating and already boasts 7,300 signatures. The producer has taken to Twitter to defend himself.
  • The Agatha Christie estate has granted permission to author Sophie Hannah to write a new Poirot mystery.
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    Meet Your Literary Hero, and Other News

    February 20, 2013 | by

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  • #IWishICouldMeet, the popular Twitter hash tag, gets a literary twist as readers tell the LA Times which characters and authors they would love to meet #IRL. (And for the record, #ReuvenMalter.)
  • Paul Muldoon—poet, professor, Poetry Society macher, New Yorker editor, librettist, and Rackett guitarist—lists his favorite rock books.
  • This list of best sellers from around the world is fascinating and shaming.
  • In fact, next, the blogger reading one hundred years of best sellers might want to tackle the Indonesian list.
  • “The second half of the nineteenth century saw the rise of amateur press associations (ASAs)—small groups of writers, often without professional training, who would produce individual articles, pamphlets, or magazines mailed to all other members of the association; in other words, a progenitor of subscription-based blogging, and yet another example of primitive versions of modern social media.”
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    Things We Love: Vallejo, Factory Records, and ‘The Lonely Doll’

    April 27, 2012 | by

    Trilce, by the Peruvian modernist César Vallejo, is a book of poems I’ve read (the verb is probably too strong) with much enjoyment and little comprehension. Vallejo’s Spanish has almost nothing in common with the language I learned at school, but its obscurity is addictive: I keep going back to the poems. So far as we know, Vallejo gave only one interview; it has now been translated, for the first time, into English by Kent Johnson. Vallejo’s repartee isn’t as baffling as his poems, but it’s almost as enjoyable. —Robyn Creswell

    The lost César Vallejo interview should be paired with Paul Muldoon’s translation of “Piedra negra sobre una Piedra blanca,” which is probably the best English version of Vallejo’s most famous poem. Muldoon calls it “Testimony”:

    I will die in Paris, on a day the rain’s been coming down hard,
    a day I can even now recall.
    I will die in Paris—I try not to take this too much to heart—
    on a Thursday, probably, in the Fall.
    It’ll be like today, a Thursday: a Thursday on which, as I make
    and remake this poem, the very bones
    in my forearms ache.
    Never before, along the road, have I felt more alone.
    César Vallejo is dead: everyone used to knock him about,
    they’ll say, though he’d done no harm;
    they hit him hard with a rod
    and, also, a length of rope; this will be borne out
    by Thursdays, by the bones in his forearms,
    by loneliness, by heavy rain, by the aforementioned roads.

    —John Jeremiah Sullivan

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    Michael Robbins on ‘Alien vs. Predator’

    March 27, 2012 | by

    Michael Robbins.

    Reading the poetry of Michael Robbins is kind of like driving around the parkways and frontage roads of America’s suburbs. His poems have a Best Buy, a Red Lobster, a Kinko’s, a Pizza Hut, and a Guitar Center; they reference the slogans of Christian billboards and the bumper stickers of hippies; they offer the choice between Safeway and Whole Foods and between the corporate classic-rock station, the corporate urban-music station, and All Things Considered. The poems are heavy with concern for the elephants, the whales, and the freedom of Tibet. They have a Rhianna song stuck in their heads.

    Among poets, Robbins follows in the footsteps of Frederick Seidel and Paul Muldoon in writing about contemporary life using more traditional poetic forms and rhyme. He also references and sometimes even quotes Philip Larkin, John Berryman, Theodore Roethke, Wordsworth, and others. But Robbins is more playful and less grandiloquent than his sometimes-grim forefathers: after reading his first book, Alien vs. Predator, the two things I kept thinking of were not poetry at all, but rather the short stories of George Saunders and the video art of Ryan Trecartin. As Saunders did with marketing jargon and Trecartin with reality television, Robbins congeals his suburban idyll, transforming its vacant vernacular into unsettling poignancy. And sometimes it’s even funny.

    I reached Robbins by phone in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. We spoke the day after Rick Santorum’s victory in that state’s Republican primary.

    Where are you working right now?

    I’m a visiting poet at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, which is where I’m staying and just waiting until I get out of this city.

    You don’t like it?

    The people are great at the university, my students are great, but Hattiesburg is … it’s just like if you opened a university in a Taco Bell, basically. It’s just the ugliest place I’ve ever seen in my life. Read More »

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    Talking Dirty with Our Fall Issue

    September 6, 2011 | by

    It avails not, neither earthquake nor hurricane nor suspended subway service— The Paris Review comes out on time. It’s a doozy, if we say so ourselves, and not to be missed. Subscribe now, or renew, and receive a limited-edition Paris Review café au lait cup. You can sip in style while you enjoy a full year of fiction, poetry, and prose.

    In the fall issue:

    Nicholson Baker discusses the pleasures of writing smut:

    Sexual arousal itself is a kind of drug. It has also turned out to be one of the few plots I can actually handle. If I imagine a man and a woman talking, and I know that later on they’re going to be taking some of their clothes off, that pulls me merrily along ... The basic boy-meets-girl plot in which they talk a little bit and then they have some kind of slightly bizarre sex—that plot I can do. Other plots are harder.

     

    Terry Castle collects strangers’ children:

    So many children—most of them obnoxious-looking. It’s a fact: 99 percent of all photographs ever taken have little brats in them. Mugging, leering, pushing one another. Wielding fearsome Betsy Wetsy 147 dolls. Pouting in pajamas on the floor over unsatisfactory Christmas presents. Prancing egotistically. The sort of kids that Wittgenstein, back when he was a mean, half-demented schoolmaster in the Austrian Alps or wherever it was—long before Cambridge and the Tractatus—would have walloped upside the head and thrown in the snow. How is it, indeed, that I have so many of them? More, even, than Joyce Carol Oates has written novels. And not one, needless to say, did I get for free.

    Plus …

    Geoff Dyer on Tarkovsky. Lydia Davis on translating Flaubert. The Dennis Cooper interview. Fiction by Roberto Bolaño and newcomer Kerry Howley. Poems by Sharon Olds, Brenda Shaughnessy, Constantine P. Cavafy, Paul Muldoon, Jeff Dolven, Meghan O’Rourke, and Forrest Gander.

    Subscribe now!

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