“A Christmas Sonnet (For One In Doubt)” by Edwin Arlington Robinson

From the publisher: Edwin Arlington Robinson’s finely crafted, formal rhythms mirror the tension the poet sees between life’s immutable circumstances and humanity’s often tragic attempts to exert control. At once dramatic and witty, his poems lay bare the loneliness and despair of life in genteel small towns (“Tilbury Down” and “The Mill”), the tyranny of love (“Eros Turrannos” and “The Unforgiven”), and unspoken, unnoticed suffering (“The Wandering Jew”, and “Isaac and Archibald”). In addition, the fictional characters he created in “Reuben Bright”, “Miniver Cheevy”, “Richard Cory”, and the historical figures he brought to life—Lincoln in “The Master” and the great painter in “Rembrandt to Rembrandt”—harbor demons and passions the world treats with indifference or cruelty.

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Bethany’s Top Five World War Two Leaders Back When They Were Young and Cute

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Can you guess who’s who?

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Number 14, from the Sonnets to Orpheus by Rainer Maria Rilke, Translated by Robert Temple

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We make our way midst flowers, vine leaves, fruit . . .

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“Coming to This” by Mark Strand

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“On practically every page, one can be dazzled by Strand’s language.” – Village Voice

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“Early Elegy: Headmistress” by Claudia Emerson

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“Like the estranged lover in one of her poems who pitches horseshoes in the dark with preternatural precision, so Emerson sends her words into a different kind of darkness with steely exactness, their arc of perception over and over striking true.” – Deborah Pope

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Top Five Wealthy Scions Who Were Kidnapped

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You know how the super-rich have bodyguards? Well, do they really need them? Here are five kids of the rich and famous who say yes, body guards are needed pretty much all the time.

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“Wanderers”: A Short Film About Deep Space Exploration by Erik Wernquist, Narrated by Carl Sagan

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“Wanderers is a vision of humanity’s expansion into the Solar System, based on scientific ideas and concepts of what our future in space might look like, if it ever happens. The locations depicted in the film are digital recreations of actual places in the Solar System, built from real photos and map data where available.”

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“Urania” By Ruth Pitter

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Ruth Pitter (1897-1992) lived a life of quiet dedication to her art not unlike that of her more famous contemporary, Elizabeth Jennings, who wrote the introduction to a Selected edition of Pitter’s work. Highly regarded critically at the time, Pitter’s reputation deserves to be rescued from the comparative obscurity into which it has fallen.” – PoetryArchive.org

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Top Five Props Used by Sociopaths to Gain Trust

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Sociopaths, also called psychopaths, have a diminished ability to feel empathy or guilt. They also lack fear. A key trait of the sociopath is a superficial charm used to manipulate and get his way. Many try to blend in and appear normal, study people so they can learn how to fit in or get what they want. One technique some of the most sinister have adopted is to incorporate props into their routine to gain sympathy, so they seem disarmingly unthreatening or even sweet. Here are a few of the props psychopaths have used to make themselves appear normal and safe.

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“Minnesota Thanksgiving” by John Berryman

“The frankness of Berryman’s work influenced his friend Robert Lowell and other Confessional poets like Anne Sexton. The poet’s lifelong struggles with alcoholism and depression ended in 1972, when he jumped off a Minneapolis bridge in the dead of winter.” – Poetry Foundation

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“Thanksgiving” by Kenneth Koch

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“The funniest serious poet we have.” – David Lehman

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Top Five Least PC Things in Disneyland

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Bethany explains: “Recently, I went to Disneyland, having not been there in years. In some ways the place is a time capsule—there are rides that are unchanged from 50 years ago, though they do update some other things. Some things just are jaw-droppingly offensive. Such as . . .”

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Top Five Interesting Facts Learned from the Graphic Novel My Friend Dahmer

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Graphic novelist Derf Backderf was a friend of Jeffrey Dahmer’s in high school. He wrote a graphic novel called My Friend Dahmer about the boy he knew in junior high and high school, growing up outside Akron, Ohio in the 1970s. Dahmer wasn’t a serial killer in high school—he was an outcast, odd, troubled kid. Here are the top five anecdotes from the book.

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“387” by Edward Clarke

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Edward Clarke tutors visiting students in English literature at St Catherine’s College, Oxford University, UK. He has published work in the Wallace Stevens Journal and contributed to Essays and Reflections on John Berryman (2006). His most recent book of literary criticism is The Vagabond Spirit of Poetry (2014).

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Ernest Hilbert Reads with Daniel Tobin at the Cambridge Public Library

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Ernest Hilbert Reads with Daniel Tobin, Thursday, November 13th at 6:30PM, Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, Hosted by Daniel Wuenschel, introductions by Bill Coyle

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Top Five Falling Whales

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You know what I hate about whales? It’s that they’re always falling from the sky. Am I right? Don’t believe me? Here are the top five.

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“Irish Bar, Philadelphia” by Justin Quinn

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Justin Quinn has lived in Prague since 1992. His most recent collection is Close Quarters (Gallery, 2011) and he has translated the work of Czech poets, including Ivan Blatny, Petr Borkovec and Bohuslav Reynek.

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E-Verse DJ Keith Sends in “Skull a Day”

A classic from the vault: The site gives you a new skull every day.

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“Why Regret?” by Galway Kinnell

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“To me, poetry is somebody standing up, so to speak, and saying, with as little concealment as possible, what it is for him or her to be on earth at this moment.” – Galway Kinnell

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“Childlessness” by Karl Kirchwey

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“Art is the medium by which Kirchwey’s art most often reifies the past—an undertaking of moral gravity, since so much of what he finds is perennial cruelty and violence. Yet what time and again emerges . . . is the poet’s own tenderheartedness.” – Mary Jo Salter, New York Times

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“HELL NO, The Sensible Horror Film” by Joe Nicolosi

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“Imagine a realm where the most horrifying terrors of the underworld emerge to wreak bloody vengeance upon any who . . . hey, let’s get out of here. “

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Top Five Recent Movies Featuring the “1%” Vs “the Masses”

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Hollywood has always loved playing the populist card, the cool rock ‘n’ rollers fighting the tuxedo-clad opera goers. Just watch the Three Stooges or movies like John Goodman’s King Ralph. These days, producers have been able to cash in more than ever by ratcheting up resentment toward any kind of elitism, as evidenced by this raft of recent movies.

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“Monster Party,” a Short Film Written and Directed by Louis Mansfield

Written & Directed by Louis Mansfield. A Federal Film Reserve Production. Music by Dan Dilemma Thomas. Produced by Christine McDermott

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“His Eyes Blazed with a Sort of Demonaic Fury, and He Suddenly Made a Grab at My Throat”: Top Five Vampires

Thanks to everyone who helped with this list. “Children of the night. What music they make.”

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“The Jetty” by Daniel Tobin

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“So refreshingly original and so much needed . . . Tobin opens new ground as he strikes inwards and downwards, unearthing interpretive treasures and, best of all, new kinds of questions.” – South Atlantic Review

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Mosh Pit at a Poetry Reading: Iron Reagan’s “Miserable Failure”

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It’s funny how poetry readings are used in movies, music videos, and televisions shows to establish a hushed, sanctimonious, precious atmosphere. Perhaps there’s still something to that, which may explain why so many poets pack their work with expletives and lurid accounts of sexual encounters. Épater la bourgeoisie! In any case, here’s a video by a DRI-style punk-metal outfit called Iron Reagan in which the metalheads (dressed circa 1987) attend a sedate poetry reading and are inspired to break into a mosh. Now, I’ve always wished a mosh pit would erupt in the middle of a poetry reading. Now we have it! Thank you, Iron Reagan.

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“The Death of a Cat” by Louis MacNeice

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Born in Belfast Frederick Louis MacNeice was an outsider almost from the beginning. His family moved to Carrickfergus, County Antrim, soon after his birth. His father, John Frederick MacNeice, although a minister and eventually a bishop of the Anglo-Irish Church of Ireland, favored Home Rule, believed in ecumenical cooperation, and spoke out against the Protestant bigotry and violence in Northern Ireland. When MacNeice was six, his mother, Elizabeth Margaret MacNeice, who was suffering from severe depression, entered a nursing home in Dublin; he did not see her again, and she died in December 1914 of tuberculosis. His father remarried when young MacNeice was ten, and thereafter MacNeice was educated at English schools. At Sherborne Preparatory School in Dorset and later at Marlborough College, he found the promise of a wider and more colorful world than the puritan rectory of his father and stepmother. He lost his Irish accent and abandoned his baptismal first name of Frederick and his father’s faith. He could never again feel entirely at home in his father’s house or in Ireland, but he never lost a sense of himself as an Irishman in England, and his imagination returned again and again to childhood fears and memories.

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Dream Song 370 (“Henry Saw with Tolstoyan Clarity”) by John Berryman

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“You should always be trying to write a poem you are unable to write, a poem you lack the technique, the language, the courage to achieve. Otherwise you’re merely imitating yourself, going nowhere, because that’s always easiest.” – John Berryman

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“Searingly bright with the clarity of madness”: Introducing Lovecraftian Perfumes . . . from Beyond (and Other Fun Cthulhu Things)

H.P. Lovecraft’s mythos, the product of a fertile imagination, profound depression, and mounting paranoia, have taken many forms in popular American culture since the 1920s, most notably since the 1980s, when an entirely new audience emerged for the reprinted Arkham House titles. Lovecraft’s wildly overwritten but intoxicating tales are ideal for the Goth mindset, and they kept me up reading through the night when I was a teenager, listening for the rats in the walls.

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“Parent’s Pantoum” by Carolyn Kizer

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“Her poetry is intensely, splendidly oral, wanting to be read aloud, best of all to be read or roared by the lion herself.” – Ursula K. Le Guin

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