“Corn Maze” by David Barber

David Barber is the poetry editor at The Atlantic Monthly. His first book The Spirit Level (Northwestern, 1995) was published as a winner of the Terrence Des Pres Prize. Barber’s poems have appeared in literary magazines such as Field, Georgia Review, The New England Review, The New Republic, Paris Review, Poetry, and Virginia Quarterly Review. His reviews and articles have appeared in The Boston Globe, The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, The New Criterion, Parnassus, and elsewhere. He lives in Somerville, MA, outside of Boston.

Full Story

“Over the Hills” by Edward Thomas

Philip Edward Thomas was born in Lambeth, London in 1878, of Welsh descent. He was educated at St Paul’s college and then Lincoln College at Oxford University, where he studied history. A prolific writer of prose (including biographies of Richard Jefferies, Swinburne, and Keats), and a moderately successful journalist, his work concentrated on the image of England and the countryside. Thomas suffered from severe bouts of depression and recurrent psychological breakdowns, feeling creatively repressed by the endless reviews and ill-paid commissions he had to do to support himself and his family. Although happier with his writings on countryside that mixed observation, information, literary criticism, self-reflection and portraiture, Thomas still felt that his style was not original enough to merit recognition and struggled to find a form which suited him. It was only after a meeting with Robert Frost, the American poet, in 1913 that he devoted himself fully to the medium of poetry. From 1914 the First World War became a shifting presence in Thomas’ poetry, acting to concentrate his mind on a vision of England, leading him to write ‘war poetry’ long before he reached the trenches.

Full Story

“Lower Case i and j” by Orlando White

Orlando White’s poetry glimmers with Diné notions of “thought creating thought” while re-configuring saad (language) into floating archipelagos of states which mutate into flashes of images that compel and startle. His work then peels forth a new perception of what language might be if we eliminate our own desires to maintain stasis in a changed world. Bone Light is an occasion marking the illumination of the body’s silence, the blank areas in which our breathing shadows the stains of letters punched onto the surface of a blank page, where the poet pages back a blank sound, filling it with the “open dark” as he “amputates one letter to fix another” so that we too may be changed in the act of the recoding of language. – Sherwin Bitsui

Full Story

Ernest Hilbert and Beth Greenberg in the Valley

Here’s a nice little article about New York-based opera director Beth Greenberg at the Crested Butte Music Festival in Colorado and her work with me, including her visit to my graduate course on the art of the opera libretto at Western State University of Colorado low-residency MFA in poetry this past week.

Full Story

“The Grocery Bouquet” by Isabella Gardner

Born in Newton, Massachusetts, poet and actress Isabella Gardner was the cousin of poet Robert Lowell and the great-niece of art collector Isabella Stewart Gardner. Educated at the Foxcroft School in Virginia, Gardner studied acting at the Leighton Rollins School of Acting and the Embassy School of Acting in London. After a period of professional acting, Gardner moved to Chicago, where she served as an associate editor of Poetry magazine from 1952 to 1956 under Karl Shapiro. She lived in Chicago for 16 years, where she met her fourth husband, poet Allen Tate.

Full Story

“Going to Bed” by Eric Thomas Norris

Eric Norris is the author of 3 books: Terence, Nocturnal Omissions—with Gavin Geoffrey Dillard, and Cock Sucking (On Mars). He is a founding editor of the online poetry journal Kin (wearekin.org). Eric is also a co-host of the Carmine Street Metrics reading series at The Bowery Poetry Club in New York City.

Full Story

“Summer” by John Clare

Full Story

Top Five Interesting Facts Learned from Watching “Tankman”

Bethany says “I just saw Tankman, the Frontline documentary about the Chinese man who stood in front of a long line of tanks on June 4, 1989, during the Tiananmen Square protests. Watching it, I learned I really knew virtually nothing about the circumstances. Since the 25th anniversary of those events just passed, I want to point out the top five most interesting bits of information conveyed in the documentary, and urge you to go watch it.”

Full Story

“cruel, cruel summer” by D.A. Powell

“Born in Albany, Georgia, D.A. Powell received an MA at Sonoma State University and an MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His first three collections of poetry, Tea, (1998), Lunch (2000), and Cocktails (2004), are considered by some to be a trilogy on the AIDS epidemic.” – Poetry Foundation

Full Story

“Lazaretto” by Jack White

Directed by Jonas & Francois.

Full Story

“Pilgrim’s Progress” by David Barber

David Barber is the author of two collections of poems published by Northwestern University Press: Wonder Cabinet (2006) and The Spirit Level (1995), the winner of the Terrence Des Pres Prize. He is poetry editor of The Atlantic, where he has been a staff editor since 1994.

Full Story

“Seen From Space” April Lindner

April Lindner is the author of two poetry collections, This Bed Our Bodies Shaped (Able Muse) and Skin, winner of the Walt MacDonald First Book Prize from Texas Tech University Press. She is also the author of three young adult novels, all published by Poppy: Jane, Catherine, and Love, Lucy (forthcoming in January 2015). A professor of English at Saint Joseph’s University, April lives in Havertown, Pennsylvania.

Full Story

“Sugar Dada” by J. Allyn Rosser

J. Allyn Rosser teaches at Ohio University and is the author of Foiled Again. She teaches at Ohio University, where she edits New Ohio Review.

Full Story

“Psalm” by Joshua Mehigan

“Joshua Mehigan’s Accepting the Disaster is the rare new book of poetry that is entirely alive, entirely aloft. No allowances have to be made for these darkly lucid, sad, and humane poems; they are the thing itself. Robert Frost spoke of ‘the figure a poem makes,’ and Mehigan’s poems do what the best poems of the past do: They make utterly individual “figures” out of sentence rhythm, metaphor, tone of voice, and point of view. Yet Mehigan’s individuality does not take the form of eccentricity or egotism. Instead, he achieves a kind of limpid, epigrammatic speech that, while retaining the inflections of his voice, creates the illusion—common to the best poetry—of a poem speaking itself.” – The New Republic

Full Story

“Carrion Birds Wheeling Overhead”: New E-Verse Drink for the Summer: Introducing, the Black Sabbath

On my recent trek through Scotland I found myself seated in the back room of a small pub in the northeastern village of Huntly, in Aberdeenshire. I learned of the latest drink to emerge from the long dark nights of the highland winter. It’s called the Black Sabbath, and it’s very easy to concoct. In fact, it’s so elementary as to almost escape the category of “drink” altogether.

Full Story

“Something Whispered in the Shakuhachi” by Garrett Hongo

Garrett Hongo was born in Volcano, Hawai‘i, lived as a child in Kahuku on O‘ahu, and grew up thereafter in Los Angeles. He is the author of two previous collections of poetry, three anthologies, and Volcano: A Memoir of Hawai‘i. His poems and essays have appeared in The Kenyon Review, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, Ploughshares, and Virginia Quarterly Review, among others. He has been the recipient of several awards, including fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation. He lives in Eugene, Oregon, and teaches at the University of Oregon, where he is Distinguished Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Full Story

Top Five Movies in which the Good Guys are Trying to Stop a Nuclear Bomb from Detonating, Usually One Sent by Other Good Guys

This trope has been around for awhile, but I’ve recently noticed it in three big summer blockbusters. There are probably more—can you think of any? Basically, it involves some nominally good guys (usually the US government) nuking someone, while Our Hero tries to stop them.

Full Story

“Summer” by Lucien Stryk

A translator and influential practitioner of Zen poetics, Lucien Stryk was born in Kolo, Poland, in 1924. He moved to Chicago with his family in 1927 and studied at Indiana University; the University of Maryland, College Park; the Sorbonne; and the University of Iowa. A lifelong poet, he began writing in elementary school, even taking a copy of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass with him when he served in World War II. – Poetry Foundation

Full Story

“In The Summertime” by Mungo Jerry

A genuine, bona fide summer classic. Enjoy!

Full Story

“Barrier Island” by J.S. Renau

J. S. Renau is a native of Charleston, S.C. For 15 years, Mr. Renau lived in New York and worked as a marketing consultant and speechwriter. In 2012, he relocated to rural South Carolina. His poems and reviews have appeared in American Book Review, Contemporary Poetry Review, Paris Review, and Wallace Stevens Journal, among other publications.

Full Story

“Sonnet XXXVI” by Ted Berrigan

“The Sonnets are an enduring benchmark in mid-20th-century American poetics. Intimate, endlessly inventive, they make an extraordinary manifest of that time and all its habits of person and place. They are without question a great literary artifact but they are also the unique presence of our human world—just yesterday, as one says, and now forever and ever.” — Robert Creeley

Full Story

Top Five Creepy and Evil Blue Eyes

Why is it that when writers go for inhuman eyes they so often select blue as the go-to color of evil? Is it because the blue reminds us of the distance of the sky? The coldness of ice or water? Surely the Nazi obsession with blue eyes didn’t help their reputation much. Who knows? But here are five examples.

Full Story

“Going Upstairs to Bed” by Stephen Berg

Stephen Berg was the founder of The American Poetry Review and the author of many collections of poetry and translations, including Halo, Rimbaud: Versions and Inventions, The Elegy on Hats, and 58 Poems, published by Sheep Meadow. He passed away in June, 2014.

Full Story

“Summer Holiday” by Wild Nothing

Wild Nothing performs “Summer Holiday” live in the KEXP studio. Recorded 3/11/11.

Full Story

“My Life as One of King Charles II’s Mistresses” by Anna Evans

“Historical poetry often makes me shudder, being either narrowly polemical or a means of piggybacking on someone else’s life when one’s own creativity is wanting. Anna M. Evans’s Sisters and Courtesans, in its sweep from the well-documented to the at least semi-mythical, from the (relatively) privileged to the humble, anonymous camp followers and drawers-of-water, is, by contrast, a work of generous and expansive imagination. It neither denies suffering nor wallows in it, and Evans is far too clever to let the demands of a unified sequence of sonnets obscure the specificity of the individuals she portrays. This is a poet who should have had a first book years ago. It’s good to see White Violet Press remedy that deficiency.” – Quincy R. Lehr

Full Story

Nate Kostar with Justin “J-Boogie” Hatchter

Last Friday I had the pleasure to read at the Philadelphia’s storied Sketch Club, the oldest continually operating arts club in the country, for Kelly McQuain and Dawn Manning’s PoetDelphia series. After my half-hour reading, the talented young poet Nate Kostar took the stage with his one-man backing band, Justin “J-Boogie” Hatcher, both up from New Orleans for the event. Here are some videos of them performing in Asbury Park. Check them out.

Full Story

“The Turtle” by Nathaniel Kostar

Nathaniel Kostar is a graduate of Rutgers University and currently pursuing his MFA at The University of New Orleans Low-Residency program. He will read with Ernest Hilbert tonight at the Sketch Club in Philadelphia.

Full Story

Top Five Songs that Extol the Virtues of Rock ‘n’ Roll

No musical genre has expended as much energy declaring its own importance and describing its many worthwhile facets as rock ‘n’ roll (with the possible exception of hip hop, and let us set aside for the moment songs that extol the virtues of “rock,” a matter for another day). Have these anthems historically been an indication of the genre’s health or its perennial decline? The word is wielded as a magic spell. The music itself has talismanic properties (some say Satanic ones as well) that can bring about renewal of youth and spark frenzied feelings of love. Bands with albums titled simply Rock ‘n’ Roll include Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Motorhead, New York Dolls, Vanilla Fudge, and Ryan Adams, among others. It’s a badge of honor to “get back to the roots” of rock ‘n’ roll, 3-minute, 3-chord, high-energy, youthful, ecstatic songs that used to inspire audiences to dance in the aisles. The number of songs about rock ‘n’ roll is beyond reckoning, but a few capture the essence of rock and wave the flag for us all. Let’s have a listen to a few.

Full Story

Top Five Movies in which Samuel L. Jackson is Not a Badass

Samuel L. Jackson: A mean motherfucker, right? He’s Shaft, he’s on the Jedi council, he’s Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction, he’s Nick Fury, and in his spare time, he gets motherfucking snakes off motherfucking planes.

Well, in this top five expose, I’m going to show the top five times he just frankly sucked. Let it not be said he’s been typecast, because in these situations he plays basically the guy he’d be too cool to talk to in any other movie.

Full Story