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Posts Tagged ‘Philip Levine’

Helpless: On the Poetry of Neil Young

October 23, 2012 | by

There was a fascinating if incomplete musing on the New Yorker website this week regarding Neil Young’s insularity and on the incomprehensible idea that he never reads. It seemed strange that someone who doesn't read would decide to write a book, though it’s often true that writing and reading aren’t necessarily two sides of the same coin. They are often very different coins, operating in very different currencies. When you go to a bank to make change, the exchange rate is never in your favor.

I forwarded the piece to my friend Bill Flicker, out in Los Angeles, who wrote back that he never listens to Neil Young’s words, that they are simply placeholders or crumbs that are scattered on a walk through a musical forest. Actually, I do listen to his words. Not always. But when I listen, they’re remarkably visual and evocative:

Blue blue windows behind the stars.
Yellow moon on the rise.
Purple words on a grey background
To be a woman and to be turned down

How did those windows get behind the stars? I don’t know, but I can see them clearly. Sometimes as a child's drawing. Sometimes as a reflection on an airplane window. There may not be logic involved, but there is something deeper than that. Read More »

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On the Shelf

August 10, 2011 | by

A cultural news roundup.

  • Philip Levine is America’s new poet laureate.
  • Save the Words is dedicated to bringing underutilized vocabulary back into circulation. A locupletative goal!
  • The Popeye Cookbook is, not shockingly, heavy on the spinach.
  • Bienvenue en France, Google Books!
  • An unlikely hit: The Waste Land app earns back its costs in a mere six weeks.
  • “I think it’s one of those things where you’re standing in a room, and you’re like, ‘Let’s make a new food magazine.’ And that’s a terrible idea. The world does not need a new food magazine ... But if it’s such a bad idea that you can do a good version of it, then that’s a cool challenge.”
  • An Edinburgh marathon reading of Theresa Breslin’s Prisoner in Alcatraz attempts to break the world reading record.
  • Signs of a publishing rebound?
  • John Burnside on researching a book: “I went for a walk in the Arctic Circle without map or compass. Fortunately, I was only lost for hours, not days.”
  • Watch Britten’s Turn of the Screw, live.
  • There was something a bit Wellsian about photographs of riots and looting across London this weekend. Pictures of burning shops and broken windows and young men confronting uniformed police included crowdsourced images snatched by witnesses in the rapid, unexpected diffusion of trouble. The most dramatic, of Tottenham on fire and the blackened aftermath, are positively apocalyptic. To me, it all seems uncanny and reminiscent of late Victorian science fiction. Even the place names have that quality of ordinariness that Wells exploits in his fantasy of a London apocalypse: Tottenham in flames, insurrection in Enfield, anarchy in Leyton and Islington ...”
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