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Posts Tagged ‘poets’

Meeting Coleridge

April 10, 2014 | by

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Hazlitt’s self-portrait, 1802

William Hazlitt, born in England on April 10, 1778, had a diverse and storied career in the arts: he was an essayist, a philosopher, an art critic, a literary critic, a drama critic, a cultural critic, and—just to even things out—a painter. Despite their age, his essays remain surprisingly readable. They are, in their sense of purpose and their tweedy vastness, distinctly nineteenth-century English; Hazlitt’s subjects are so broad, so plainly monumental, that any undergraduate who dared to write on them today would be flunked immediately. (His essay “On Great and Little Things” begins, “The great and the little have, no doubt, a real existence in the nature of things.”)

Hazlitt also chose his acquaintances wisely, at least insofar as many of them wound up ascending into the canon: Wordsworth, Stendhal, Charles and Mary Lamb. His landlord was Jeremy Bentham. But then there was Coleridge, ah, Coleridge! In his 1823 essay “My First Acquaintance with Poets,” Hazlitt rhapsodizes about his first encounter with the poet, who would become a kind of distant mentor, though later there came the requisite falling-out. It’s a gushing account, endearingly thorough and fanboy-ish, full of deft turns of phrase—and it humanizes both men, reminding us that these two Dead White Guys were once … Living White Guys, with fears and ambitions and impressive heads of hair. Read More »

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Poets Want Their Privacy, and Other News

April 2, 2014 | by

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Smile, you're on CCTV.

 

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All You Do Is Perceive: An Interview with Joy Katz

February 18, 2014 | by

Photo(c)2011 by Star Black4_2

Photo: Star Black

In her third book of poetry, All You Do Is Perceive, Joy Katz moves between narrative, lyrical, and meditative language, making meaning from the switches in register. Her images—a newborn, a lynched man, a woman’s mastectomy scar—are dependably urgent and resonant.

The book begins with a poem about bringing home an adopted baby as ashes from the World Trade Center settle over Brooklyn. “The woundable face of a boy” fills the speaker with terror and awareness. Other poems wrestle with the conventions of the baby as an image—Katz is intent on portraying motherhood without succumbing to sentimentality. To resist preciousness, she invents “endearments” for her baby: “my bus, my tarmac.” In Katz’s work, beauty and glamour twine with danger. An “ambulance dazzles like a cocktail ring”; a speaker befriends a holocaust and takes it to a movie; the sounds of a newborn “run over her like mice.”

A former Wallace Stegner and National Endowment for the Arts fellow, Katz lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she teaches in the graduate writing program at Chatham University.

Tell me a little bit about the origins of All You Do Is Perceive.

The title of the book is a little accusatory. OMG, all Joy does is perceive. Meaning—ask my husband—no one got to the grocery store again. On my kitchen counter, there’s a cooking magazine opened to a self-help article, “How to Savor a Moment.” I needed help figuring out how not to savor a moment—how to move through time, seeing in an ordinary, not-intense way.

From my son, I learned a deep, meditative seeing. I watched him looking at his own hands or at a little car or something. For hours. Maybe it was ten minutes? Or days at a time. I was trapped with a small baby, but I was in a trance state, like a heroin high. It was addictive. My book’s epigram comes from Bishop George Berkeley, who says, roughly, I exist because I perceive. You exist because I perceive you. Writing the poems, I came to think that regarding is a form of love, but the regarding is not necessarily accurate. In the poems, people are always misperceiving one another. But misperceptions are a part of being alive to others. You don’t need truth or beauty. All you do is perceive. That’s all you need to have loved and lived fully. Read More »

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We’re Olfactory Failures, and Other News

January 29, 2014 | by

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Crepe de Chine perfume ad, 1937

 

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Poets in the Workplace

July 17, 2013 | by

Remember: today is Take Your Poet to Work Day. Full instructions for toting your preferred wordsmith can be found here; an excerpt is below. (Since a poster-size version of this picture glowers over the Paris Review kitchen, I think we’ve got it covered.) 

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Live Like William Blake, and Other News

July 16, 2013 | by

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  • The picturesque West Sussex cottage where William Blake lived, sometimes nude, from 1800–1803 (the period during which he wrote “Jerusalem”) is on the market for £650,000. The agent says, “The original part of the cottage has been altered little in its essential features. The rooms in which William Blake lived retain enormous character and the dining room was at this time the site of his printing press.”
  • Reading (along with writing and doing puzzles) improves cognitive function in old age, a study shows.
  • In which writers such as Emma Straub and Matthew Specktor discourse on their favorite literary streets.
  • Google’s Kafka doodle was not remotely Kafkaesque, Twitter feels.
  • July 17, obviously, is Take Your Poet to Work Day. Herewith, handy cutouts of several bards. Blake not included (but that’s probably a good thing).
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