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Our Winter issue features a poem by Fanny Howe, whose latest book, The Needle’s Eye, came out in October. At seventy-six, Howe has published sixteen books of poetry, fourteen works of fiction, and three collections of essays. On top of that, she’s a filmmaker—earlier this year, she debuted two new short films at a lecture called Acts of Mercy at the CUNY Graduate Center. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in an apartment she’s dubbed “the brick womb.” Her longtime friend William Corbett went to Boston to interview her about her life and work; an excerpt of this interview appears below. —The Editors
Samuel Beckett was your mother’s childhood friend. What were your encounters with him like?
My senior year in high school, my father sent me to France, my great dream. I was signed up for a French-immersion course just outside of Paris in Sèvres. I felt trapped and so, on the second night, I went out with my bag and the gardener helped me climb over the wall. I got to the train station and in to Paris. I had one name, Mr. Beckett and a phone number. I called him and he came right away and helped me find a cheap hotel. He looked after me and walked me around the city until a friend arrived, as planned, from America. Read More
On the “Mrs Thrale” bit in Frank O’Hara’s “Meditations in an Emergency.”
Frank O’Hara composed the piece that he later called “Meditations in an Emergency” on or around June 25, 1954—anyhow, that is the date on the manuscript. At that time, the title was “Meditations on Re-emergent Occasions,” which makes O’Hara’s debt to John Donne’s 1624 text Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions much more obvious.
O’Hara’s piece, retitled at the suggestion of Kenneth Koch, was published in Poetry about four months later, which is an excellent turn-around time. This was during the five years when Karl Shapiro was editor. You can have a look at the original page layout of “Meditations in an Emergency” here. Clickers who know the text will find no surprises. Read More
This month, Blue Rider Press will publish Forever Words: The Unknown Poems of Johnny Cash. Compiled from a mountain of Cash’s handwritten poetry (all unpublished), the work in Forever Words spans the many stages of Cash’s career. “Don’t Make a Movie About Me” is one of many pieces within that reflect Cash’s “humorous strand,” poet Paul Muldoon writes in his introduction. It reflects “Cash’s own ambivalence about celebrity and the associated tabloid slobbering.”
If anybody made a movie out of my life
I wouldn’t like it, but I’d watch it twice
If they halfway tried to do it right
There’d be forty screen writers workin’ day and nite
They’d need a research team from Uncle Sam
And go from David Allen Coe to Billy Graham
It would run ten days in the final cut
And that would mean leaving out the gossip smut
And I do request for my children’s sake
Don’t ever let ’em do a new re-make
The thing I’m sayin’ is, don’t you see,
Don’t make a movie ’bout me
Even for T.V.
Don’t make a movie ’bout me Read More