“14-Year-Old with Two Friends on Bikes Outside the Wawa on Germantown Ave” by Mark Danowsky

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Mark Danowsky’s poetry has appeared in About Place, Beechwood Review, Cordite, Elohi Gadugi, Grey Sparrow, Mobius, Right Hand Pointing, Shot Glass Journal, Third Wednesday and elsewhere. Originally from the Philadelphia area, Mark currently resides in North-Central West Virginia. He works for a private detective agency and is Managing Editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal.

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Top Five Anti-Trump Spoofs You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

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So: Donald Trump, presidential candidate. It’s here, it’s real. And it’s inspiring a lot of anger toward Trump. Some of you may not be aware of how long this distaste for the man has been around. He’s been inspiring ridicule and criticism almost from the moment he reached the public consciousness. A living, breathing, bloviating embodiment of ’80s greed and excess. Here are a variety of sources that ridicule or expose Trump long before he decided he wanted to be leader of the free world.

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“Evening Landscape” by Leonard Gontarek

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Leonard Gontarek is the author of six books of poems, including He Looked Beyond My Faults and Saw My Needs and Déjà vu Diner. His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Poet Lore, Verse, Blackbird, The Awl, Spinning Jenny, and The Best American Poetry, among others. He coordinates Peace/Works, Philly Poetry Day, The Philadelphia Poetry Festival, and hosts The Green Line Reading & Interview Series. Gontarek has received Poetry fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Philadelphia Writers Conference Community Service Award, and was a Literary Death Match Champion. His poem, 37 Photos From The Bridge, was a Poetry winner for the Big Bridges MotionPoems project and the basis for the award-winning film by Lori Ersolmaz sponsored by the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis.

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“Fathers and Sons” by David Mason

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“David Mason’s poems are about moments of realisation. Something is otherwise. Something has been learned with pain and still it won’t settle. There are families moving through houses and institutions, ageing, losing grip, and there are the young and rising and memories of youth. The language is humane, unfussy, firm, moving but not calculated to move. And beyond the personal there is the country as it spreads through its inhabitants and leaves its mark on nature.” – George Szirtes

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Top Trump and Hillary Clinton Google Autocomplete Suggestions

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are tightening their grips on the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations.

Here are some of the top autocomplete results for various Trump and Hillary searches. What do these say about the candidates? For that matter, what does it say about the American electorate?

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“From the Balcony on Heavy Metal Tribute Night at the Trocadero” by Ernest Hilbert

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“Per Contra began publication as an online quarterly in the fall of 2005. Our name indicates our intention to offer more than one way of looking at the world. You can find contrast in our range of content: literary fiction, poetry (both free verse and formalist), original and in translation,* interviews with authors and with artists, creative non-fiction, essays, and book reviews. Additionally we include articles about art and literature that one might expect to find only in scholarly journals because we believe that by publishing them in this context they will be available to a wide audience. While we are open to many points of view, we are unwavering in our devotion to individual Liberty, freedom of expression, freedom of independent inquiry, and the preservation of the ideals that found their basis. The editors of Per Contra are grateful to our readers and to the authors who trust us to bring their work to an audience. We hope our journal will continue to delight and inspire.”

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“dirty martini” by Ryan Eckes

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“Ryan Eckes’ VALU-PLUS continues his incisive, wry, sincere, & gorgeous examination of the city- landscape. In Eckes’ work, the city—Philadelphia, specifically—cannot be contained, but is well lived in & observed & explored. There is ‘a box to be gutted / between dollar tree and footlocker’ & ‘a worry of rowhomes the body / aches out of.’ Place in Eckes’ poems can shift its shape between the gutted box & the infinitely expansive—’a box / spraypainted / on the wall / in red / for stickball.’ A box of air—it both is & is not there. & the city is something we are in & we carry with us in these wonderful poems. Their stubborn, brilliant sound will return to you as you walk down the street. VALU-PLUS is an archive, a love-letter, a political sharp edge, a report from the adjunct-field, a wondering over ‘how we / live this country’ & ‘how to live in a fucked / world.’” – Pattie McCarthy

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Top Five Things You May Not Know about Donald Trump that are Absolutely True

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With all the media coverage Trump enjoys in the age of the 24-hour news cycle and personal branding, you probably think you know all you need to know about him. But then again maybe not. Did you know . . .

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“The Lion for Real” by Allen Ginsberg

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“Ginsberg is both tragic & dynamic, a lyrical genius, con man extraordinaire and probably the single greatest influence on American poetical voice since Whitman.” – Bob Dylan

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“piano after war” by Gwendolyn Brooks

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“She is a very good poet, the only superlative I dare use in our time of misusage: compared to the best of modern poets, she ranks high.” – Harvey Curtis Webster

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“Dummy, 51, to Go to a Museum, Ventriloquist Dead at 75” by May Swenson

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“Swenson was a visionary poet, a prodigious observer of the fragile and miraculous natural world.” – Priscilla Long

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Sir Alec Guinness Reads T.S. Eliot’s Poetry

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“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” The Waste Land, and Four Quartets were recorded in association with The Arts Council of Great Britain and the British Broadcasting Corporation. “Journey of the Magi” was recorded by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

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“Black Ice and Rain” by Michael Donaghy

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“A linguistic musician, a literary musician. Every poem is a marvel.” – Simon Armitage

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“New Order of the Ages” by Rick Mullin

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Rick Mullin’s latest Collection, Stignatz & the User of Vicenza is published by Dos Madres Press, Loveland Ohio. His other books published by Dos Madres are the booklength poem Soutine (2012), the collection Coelacanth (2013), and Sonnets from the Voyage of the Beagle (2014). His long poem, Huncke, was published by Seven Towers, Dublin, Ireland (2010). He has two chapbooks, Aquinas Flinched (Exot Books, New York, 2008), and The Stones Jones Canzones (Finishing Line Press, Georgetown, KY, 2013). His work has appeared in various journals and anthologies including The New Criterion, American Arts Quarterly, and Rabbit Ears: TV Poems.

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Ernest Hilbert and Stella Sung’s New Opera, The Book Collector, to Premiere Friday, May 20th

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My second opera with composer Stella Sung, The Book Collector, will be performed by the Dayton Opera on Friday, May 20th, with a matinee on Sunday May 22nd. The opera incorporates physical stage settings with virtual 3D digital backdrops, a ballet sequence, and full orchestra with choir.

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“To My Mother” by George Barker

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“His work was passionate, intellectually challenging and highly original, his language incantatory and often hypnotic. There are echoes of Blake, Housman, Verlaine and Barker’s contemporary, Dylan Thomas. ” – Peter Wilby

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“Hit, Run” by Dawn Manning

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Dawn Manning is a writer, photographer, and rogue anthropologist living in the Greater Philadelphia area. Her awards include the Beullah Rose Poetry Prize, the Edith Garlow Poetry Prize, and the San Miguel Writer’s Conference Writing Award, among others. Her poems have been published through Crab Orchard Review, Fairy Tale Review, Silk Road Review, Smartish Pace, Unsplendid, and other literary journals. You can find her online at dawnmanning.com. When the stars align, she travels.

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Making a Modern Opera: Behind the Scenes of the Adaptation of The Scarlet Letter by Composer Lori Laitman and Librettist Dave Mason

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“Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is America’s first great tragic novel. Published in 1850, the work immediately caught the country’s attention and has never lost its grip. The story could easily be played out today: how individuals react to and survive severely repressive communities saturated with religious dogma. The Scarlet Letter looks at individuals who hold fast to their personal beliefs and secrets, to protect themselves and others; how their mistaken actions result from fears of being judged and disliked; and how people either make peace with their decisions, or live out lives of tortured conflict because of them. We invite you to join us for this world premiere in celebration of new American Opera.” – Opera Colorado

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Top Five New Ben and Jerry’s Flavors Now that They’ve Been Arrested

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Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, founders of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, were arrested on Monday at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., as part of a protest to support voting rights and oppose big money in politics (read more here). Incidentally, they’ve also created a Bernie Sanders-flavored ice cream: Bernie’s Yearning. It’s mint chocolate chip, except that it’s 99% mint, while all of the chocolate chips, instead of being mixed throughout the ice cream, are at the top 1% of the container in a clump. I am not making this up. But now, I bet we’ll get some new ice cream flavors out of this experience. What will they be? Here are my top five suggestions.

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“Blustery” by Neil Shepard

Neil Shepard’s sixth and seventh books of poetry were published in 2015: Hominid Up, by Salmon Poetry (Ireland), and Vermont Exit Ramps II (poems and photos) by Green Writers Press (Vermont). His five previous books include a chapbook, Vermont Exit Ramps (Big Table Publishing, 2012), and four full collections of poetry: (T)ravel/Un(t)ravel (2011), This Far from the Source (2006), I’m Here Because I Lost My Way (1998), and Scavenging the Country for a Heartbeat (First Book Award, 1993), all from Mid-List Press. His poems appear in several hundred literary magazines, among them Antioch Review, Boulevard, Harvard Review, New American Writing, New England Review, North American Review, Paris Review, Ploughshares, Shenandoah, Southern Review, Sewanee Review, and TriQuarterly. His poems have been nominated numerous times for the Pushcart Prize, and they have been featured online at Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and Poem-A-Day (from the Academy of American Poets). Shepard has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland, and he has been a visiting writer at the Chautauqua Writers Institute, The Frost Place, and Ossabaw Island Writers Retreat. He founded and directed for eight years the Writing Program at the Vermont […]

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Top Five Recent Movies Featuring Allegories of the Class System

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Hollywood, a world defined by high-finance ventures, vulgarly luxurious lifestyles, ferocious competition, and cynical demographic pandering, is also the source of much fuss about social injustice. Wealthy producers pat themselves on the back for exposing the unfairness of class divisions in outlandishly expensive, highly-stylized movies. Here are a few to get you started.

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“Zeug-o-Matic” by Kate Light

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Kate Light, who died unexpectedly in April 2016, was a librettist, lyricist and poet in New York City. She was an alumna of the Eastman School of Music, Hunter College, and the BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, and she was also a professional violinist and a member of the orchestra of the New York City Opera. Her works include the libretto of The Life and Love of Joe Coogan, an opera adapted from an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show (composer: Paul Salerni); Once Upon the Wind, a one-act opera based upon the Russian folktale “The Soldier Who Captured Death” (composer: Theo Popov);Metamorphoses, a musical-in-progress based on Ovid’s life and work (composer, Masatora Goya); the texts of Oceanophony and Einstein’s Mozart: Two Geniuses, for narrator and musicians; and four volumes of poetry, Einstein’s Mozart: Two Geniuses, Gravity’s Dream (Donald Justice Award), Open Slowly, and The Laws of Falling Bodies (Nicholas Roerich Prize, Story Line Press). Her lyrics for the song “Here Beside Me” are heard in Disney’s Mulan II.

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“Dream Song 105” by John Berryman

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“A major achievement . . . [Berryman] has written an elegy on his brilliant generation and, in the process, he has also written an elegy on himself.” – A. Alvarez, The Observer

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John Betjeman Interviews Philip Larkin in a 1964 Episode of the British Television Program Monitor

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John Betjeman interviewing Philip Larkin in a 1964 episode of Monitor, which was a flagship arts program on British TV during the 1950s and 1960s. Larkin reads “Church Going,” “Toads Revisited,” and other poems.

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“Mirror” by Mark Strand

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“He is not a religious poet on the face of it, but he fits into a long tradition of meditation and contemplation. He makes you see how trivial the things of this world are, and how expansive the self is, once you unhook it from flat-screen TVs and iPhones . . . Reading Mr. Strand, we learn what a big party solitude is.” – David Kirby

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Top Five Performances of “The Star-Spangled Banner”

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“The Star-Spangled Banner” is a really hard song to sing. Francis Scott Key, a lawyer and amateur poet, wrote the poem “Defence of Fort M’Henry” in September 1814 after watching a British fleet bombard the Maryland fort (this was during the War of 1812 if the date confuses you). The flag that inspired the poem flew above the fort. The poem, which alternates iambic pentameter lines with unwieldy alexandrines (which, unlike fouteeners, cannot break naturally into matching lines of ballad meter), is no joy to read or even to hear recited. After it was set to the music of John Stafford Smith’s song “To Anacreon in Heaven” (written for an amateur gentleman’s acting club in 18th-century London), with its greater than octave-and-a-half range, it became even more unwieldy (we typically only hear the first stanza of the lyrics, though there are four). It’s all over the place, and the lyrics don’t have a natural flow, filled with all manner of poeticisms and purple patches, which result in a lot of mumbling and forgetting the “whose broad stripes . . .” section or the “ramparts” section. And then there are those who decide to sing it really, really slowly, in a […]

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“Lines Written in Early Spring” by William Wordsworth

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“Wordsworth’s poetry is great because of the extraordinary power with which he feels the joy offered to us in nature, the joy offered to us in the simple elementary affections and duties.” – Matthew Arnold

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“That Old Black Hole” by Philadelphia’s Dr. Dog

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From the album Feel the Void.

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“Calmly We Walk through this April’s Day” by Delmore Schwartz

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“[Delmore Schwartz] was the prisoner of his superb intellectual training, a victim of the logic he respected beyond anything else. He was of the generation that does not come easily to concepts of the absurd.” – Alfred Kazin

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“Pills” by Eliza Callard

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Eliza Callard spends most of her time reading, writing, and trying to keep pace with her cystic fibrosis. She lives in the house she was born into with her wife and family and can’t get enough of her hometown, Philly. Her website is elizacallard.com.

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