Poetry

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How Much Does "Does Poetry Matter" Matter?

How Much Does "Does Poetry Matter" Matter?

Image: Man Ray: "Poem, Paris, mai (may)," 1924   THIS WEEKEND, The New York Times went all in for poetry. In addition to six — count ‘em — articles about poetry in the Revi...

The Squid Variations

The Squid Variations

THE AUTHOR of a book-length lyric essay needs a steady hand and a deep reservoir of confidence to make the project coalesce, through digression after digression, into a lively, natural work of art. Bu...

When First Books Are Not First Books

When First Books Are Not First Books

SOME LITERARY CRITICS assume that first books of poetry will necessarily display a certain level of immaturity, even if revealing quite a bit of promise, or perhaps even prodigy. There is an expectati...

The Trauma of Beauty

The Trauma of Beauty

SOMETIMES what is most surprising arrives at your doorstep quietly, damp from a rainstorm, wrapped in brown string.  The erotic is all about postponement. Mark Strand told me this once. In an interv...

The Poems (We Think) We Know: Emily Dickinson

The Poems (We Think) We Know: Emily Dickinson

LAST SPRING, I decided to sell my house. Thus began the endless months of walking strangers through my kitchen, of explaining how one could turn the downstairs office into a bedroom, of saying nice t...

The Tenderness in Looking

The Tenderness in Looking

WHILE A PRISON hides away those whom we fear, a dollhouse is a stage on which our hidden desires and impulses are rendered visible. We don’t exchange glances with prisoners; we watch them, constantl...

The Eye of the Mind

The Eye of the Mind

IN HIS BOOK Poets on Painters, J. D. McClatchy makes the argument that modern poetry was invented by painters. He offers the example of Ezra Pound, who in 1913 spurned the mannered form of Victorian v...

Reinvention in the Work of Ellen Bryant Voigt

Reinvention in the Work of Ellen Bryant Voigt

 Why did you have to go backto that awful time, upstream, scavengingthe human wreckage, what happened or what we didor failed to do? Why drag us back to the ditch?Have you no regard for oblivion?  ...