“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


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


“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


“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


“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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Ernest Hilbert’s Poem “Kite” Set to Music by Composer Christopher LaRosa


Ernest Hilbert’s poem “Kite” was set to music by Christopher LaRosa for a commission by cellist Sara Wilkins. The result is a beautifully unsettling short work scored for soprano and cello. It received its first performance on March 22nd, 2016 at the Jacobs School of Music at the University of Indiana by cellist Will Rowe and soprano Rachel Mikol, and will be performed again in April 2016 at Boston University’s College of Fine Arts School of Music.

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The Audubon Dream, a Short Opera by Karen E. Peace with Libretto by Ernest Hilbert’s Student Laura Stuckey


One of my former Art of the Opera Libretto students, Laura Stuckey, developed the one act libretto written for my course into a short opera with composer Karen Peace called The Audubon Dream. The libretto is a moving account of Lucy Audubon’s struggles after the death of her husband, John James Audubon, the naturalist famous for his Birds of America. Stuckey drew from Lucy Audubon’s letters as well as historical accounts of the marriage to craft a touching, intelligent, and compelling libretto for the opera. I am enormously pleased by her accomplishment. Hers is the first in an ongoing series of opera workshops based on libretti written in my Art of the Opera Libretto course. This summer, I am proud to introduce another. Susan Spear’s libretto for The Price of Pomegranates, set among the Afghan immigrant community in Los Angeles, is a modern retelling of the biblical story of Ruth. More will follow!

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Excerpt from “Wiped Out” by James Matthew Wilson

Neon sign in front of strip club

James Matthew Wilson is the author of Four Verse Letters (Steubenville UP, 2010), a chapbook of poems, and Timothy Steele: A Critical Introduction (Story Line Press, 2012). His poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in many journals and magazines, including Modern Age, First Things, The Dark Horse, Chronicles, Measure, The American Conservative, Front Porch Republic, and The Raintown Review. An award-winning scholar of philosophical-theology and literature, he teaches as Assistant Professor of Humanities and Augustine Traditions at Villanova University and lives in the village of Berwyn, Pennsylvania, with his wife and children.

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“Time is a Horse” by Christine Gelineau


Christine Gelineau is the author of three full-length collections of poetry, most recently Crave (NYQ Books, 2016), which has just been released. Her poetic sequence Appetite for the Divine was the Editor’s Choice for the Robert McGovern Prize and was published by Ashland Poetry Press in 2010. Her first full-length collection Remorseless Loyalty won the Richard Snyder Prize, also from Ashland Poetry Press (2006). She is also the author of two chapbooks from FootHills Publishing: North American Song Line (2001) and In the Greenwood World (2006).

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Even More Top 25 interesting Wikipedia Pages


Ready to disappear into WikiWorld?

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“Once by the Pacific” by Robert Frost


“I have to say that my Frost is not the Frost I seem to perceive existing in the minds of so many of his admirers. He is not the Frost who confounds the characteristically modern practice of poetry by his notable democratic simplicity of utterance: on the contrary. He is not the Frost who controverts the bitter modern astonishment at the nature of human life: the opposite is so. He is not the Frost who reassures us by his affirmation of old virtues, simplicities, and ways of feeling: anything but….I think of Robert Frost as a terrifying poet. Call him, if it makes things any easier, a tragic poet, but it might be useful every now and then to come out from under the shelter of that literary word. The universe that he conceives of is a terrifying universe.” – Lionel Trilling

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“Visible Spectrum” by Ernest Hilbert


“There are books of poetry that, if only readers could be induced to pick them up, might change their minds for good about the supposed incomprehensibility, preciousness, and irrelevance of modern poetry. Ernest Hilbert’s new collection, Caligulan, belongs to that rare class. After his beautifully rendered Sixty Sonnets and the eloquent All of You on the Good Earth comes this richly wrought new collection. Hilbert is a classicist in the finest sense of the term: he has a firm grip on the formal orders that have dominated the great tradition of Anglophone verse from the skalds of Beowulf and the Pearl Poet to the tight gems of darkness of Thomas Hardy, and he uses them to write poems that ring with very contemporary truths. A skillful artificer of forms of verse that have sometimes gone wanting or are unjustifiably neglected or despised after the earthquakes of modernism, he is afraid of neither tight meter nor demanding rhymes: he proves there is nothing whatsoever anachronistic about well-tooled verse; the rage of authenticity can speak as sharply in a sonnet as in a calligramme.” – Christopher Bernard

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“Neil deGrasse Tyson” by Christopher Bullard


Chris Bullard is a native of Jacksonville, FL. He lives in Collingswood, NJ. He received his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and his M.F.A. from Wilkes University. Kattywompus Press published his third chapbook, Dear Leatherface, in January of 2014. WordTech Editions published his second full-length book, Grand Canyon, in 2015. His work has appeared in Rattle, River Styx, Pleiades, Green Mountains Review and other literary reviews.

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“I-89 STOWE/WATERBURY (Exit 10: Route 100)” by Neil Shepard

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Neil Shepard’s sixth book of poetry, Hominid Up, was published by Salmon Poetry (Ireland) in January 2015. His seventh book, Vermont Exit Ramps II, a full collection of poems and photographs, was published by Green Writers Press (Vermont) in October 2015. His five previous books include a chapbook and four full collections of poetry: (T)ravel/Un(t)ravel (Mid-List Press, 2011), This Far from the Source (Mid-List, 2006), I’m Here Because I Lost My Way (Mid-List, 1998), and Scavenging the Country for a Heartbeat (First Book Award, Mid-List Press, 1993). His poems appear online at Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and Poem-A-Day (from the Academy of American Poets), as well as in several hundred literary magazines. He teaches in the low-residency MFA Writing Program at Wilkes University (PA) and is the Founding Editor of the literary magazine Green Mountains Review.

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Favorite Movies of the Top Five Presidential Candidates


Enjoy this one now. Someone’s bound to drop out soon!

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“Verses upon the Burning of our House” by Anne Bradstreet


“She is a holy seductress, our grandmother of American literature. She is our reluctant revolutionary, passionate pilgrim, tenth muse; and above all–our first published poet.” – Annabelle Moseley

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“Spenser’s Ireland” by Marianne Moore


“The Irish-American response to its Irish heritage has long been an intense, and at times bellicose, pride in Ireland’s capacity not only to endure but to impose significant aspects of its highly sophisticated culture on America’s eclectic society, mixed, paradoxically, with a quiet bewilderment at the unwillingness of the Irish to accept the kinds of pragmatic compromises that have characterized American history. Complicating most attempts at defining the ambivalence in this attitude is the recognition that, in America, much of the Irish mystique arises from a popular identification of the race with a trait that is variously praised as perseverance and damned as intransigence. Perhaps the most subtle and articulate statement of Irish-America’s perception of itself and its ambivalence occurs in Marianne Moore’s ‘Spenser’s Ireland,’ a meditation on Ireland and the Irish and on their influence upon a person who shares with them only the most tenuous of cultural and biological bonds.” – Maurice J. O’Sullivan, Jr.

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“Dick’s Island” by David Sanders

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David Sanders is the general editor of the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize and the founding editor of Poetry News in Review. His poems and translation have appeared in numerous journals and magazine. “Dick’s Island” is from his 2016 volume of poems, Compass & Clock.

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“Phil Kills the Neighbor’s Dog on Easter Sunday” by Kevin Cutrer

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Kevin Cutrer was born in the American South, has lived in South America, and now resides in the southernmost neighborhood of Boston. His first poetry collection, Lord’s Own Anointed, was published in 2015 by Dos Madres Press. His run-ins with higher education have occurred at Southeastern Louisiana University and Emerson College. The Hudson Review, The Dark Horse, The Raintown Review, and many other journals have published his poems, and he has been a featured reader for the reading series Mr. Hip Presents, U35, and Carmine Street Metrics. He shares news about his work, and work that interests him, at kevincutrer.com

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Top Five Remasculinization Movies

Bryan (Liam Neeson) prepares to take extreme measures during his interrogation of a man he suspects of being a key player in the kidnapping of Bryan¡¯s daughter.

By coincidence, I saw five movies over a short time recently, and, yes, you may not be surprised to know that I noticed a trend. The movies on today’s list feature a male protagonist who has suffered some kind of injury to aspects of his traditional, masculine roles—as breadwinner, husband, head of the family, defender of the home, and/or father. The movies also usually have a significant class issue, with the disempowered man unable to afford to take care of a child, or he’s lost his child’s love or romantic partner’s love due to not having enough money to compete with Mr. Moneybags 1% who can buy anything he wants to please women and children. But then what these films also share in common is that they’re action flicks that subsume these socio-economic, political, and gender tensions under a roundhouse kick mixed with a semi-automatic, because nothing is a match for our hero, provided the battle is with terrorists or natural phenomena.

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Excerpt from “Wiped Out” by James Matthew Wilson

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James Matthew Wilson is the author of Four Verse Letters (Steubenville UP, 2010), a chapbook of poems, and Timothy Steele: A Critical Introduction (Story Line Press, 2012). His poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in many journals and magazines, including Modern Age, First Things, The Dark Horse, Chronicles, Measure, The American Conservative, Front Porch Republic, and The Raintown Review. An award-winning scholar of philosophical-theology and literature, he teaches as Assistant Professor of Humanities and Augustine Traditions at Villanova University and lives in the village of Berwyn, Pennsylvania, with his wife and children.

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Desk Copies of Ernest Hilbert’s Caligulan are Available for University Professors and Instructors

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If you teach a course in contemporary American poetry and you’d like to try something new, consider requesting a desk copy of my latest book, Caligulan, from Measure Press.

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“Red Wand” by Sandra Simonds


Sandra Simonds is the author of Mother Was a Tragic Girl (Cleveland State University Press, 2012). She teaches at Thomas University and lives in Tallahassee, Florida.

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Bethany’s Top Five Donald Trump Epithets

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An epithet is an adjective or descriptive phrase expressing a quality characteristic of the person or thing mentioned. It is usually a term of abuse, as in “dirty” old man. Here are some of the more biting epithets given to the current Republican front-runner, Donald Trump.

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