This book is a scream. Pure scream made out of love and pain. And it will sound until the end of time. That is all I can say. Maybe because of this bo...moreThis book is a scream. Pure scream made out of love and pain. And it will sound until the end of time. That is all I can say. Maybe because of this book Nikos Kazantzakis is buried on the wall surrounding the city of Heraklion near the Chania Gate, because the Orthodox Church ruled out his being buried in a cemetery.
His epitaph reads "I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free."(less)
When in 1941 the Nazis started bombing Moscow, Marina Tsvetaeva and her son were evacuated to Yelabuga, a town in the Tatar Soviet Socialist Republic...more When in 1941 the Nazis started bombing Moscow, Marina Tsvetaeva and her son were evacuated to Yelabuga, a town in the Tatar Soviet Socialist Republic (now Tatarstan). She desperately sought work and even applied for a dishwashing position but was refused. On 31 August 1941, Tsvetaeva hanged herself. Marina Tsvetaeva’s exact burial place was never found. Her husband, Sergey Efron, was executed in August 1941 – the same month that she committed suicide. Her 19-year-old son Mur was killed in World War II, in 1944. Critics and translators of Tsvetaeva’s work often comment on the passion in her poems, their swift shifts and unusual syntax, and the influence of folk songs. She is also known for her portrayal of a woman’s experiences during the “terrible years” (as the period in Russian history was described by Aleksandr Blok). Tsvetaeva's great body of work, that broke new ground for women poets, has increasingly attracted attention in the English-speaking world. This is what the great poet Joseph Brodsky says about her: "Represented on a graph, Tsvetaeva's work would exhibit a curve--or rather, a straight line--rising at almost a right angle because of her constant effort to raise the pitch a note higher, an idea higher (or, more precisely, an octave and a faith higher.) She always carried everything she has to say to its conceivable and expressible end. In both her poetry and her prose, nothing remains hanging or leaves a feeling of ambivalence. Tsvetaeva is the unique case in which the paramount spiritual experience of an epoch (for us, the sense of ambivalence, of contradictoriness in the nature of human existence) served not as the object of expression but as its means, by which it was transformed into the material of art." As a lyrical poet, her passion and daring linguistic experimentation mark her striking chronicler of her times and the depths of the human condition. (less)
Well, I read this book and the only thing I can say about Margaret Atwood is this: she has a long way to go before she can write like the masters of t...moreWell, I read this book and the only thing I can say about Margaret Atwood is this: she has a long way to go before she can write like the masters of this genre like Orwell, Huxley, Zamyatin, Thomas More, etc. It is good enough for the long September afternoons but that is all. For me.(less)
Doty’s status as detached observer to his own work was significantly complicated by this volume, Fire to Fire, his most successful yet. Mark Doty is o...moreDoty’s status as detached observer to his own work was significantly complicated by this volume, Fire to Fire, his most successful yet. Mark Doty is one of the finest poets in America today and knows his way with words, with phrases that illuminate his stances, with defining emotions inaudible to most of us. He led me gently somewhere I can make meaning in a much more personal context. One way he does this, I believe, is by giving the reader emotional distance by using metaphors so deftly and so subtly. The reader finds beauty even in the darkest places.So, this is not university workshop stuff. It comes from the outside world of a variety of cities, towns and life itself. In an interview with poet Mark Wunderlich published in the Cortland Review, Doty was asked why he thought poetry endured as an art form. He answered: “My guess is that somehow poetry is a vessel for the expression of subjectivity unlike any other; a good poem bears the stamp of individual character in a way that seems to usher us into the unmistakably idiosyncratic perceptual style of the writer. I think we’re hungry for singularity, for those aspects of self that aren’t commodifiable, can’t be marketed. In an age marked by homogenization, by the manipulation of desire on a global level…poetry may represent the resolutely specific experience. The dominant art forms of our day—film, video, architecture—are collaborative arts; they require a team of makers. Poems are always made alone, somewhere out on the edge of things, and if they succeed they are saturated with the texture of the uniquely felt life.” (less)
I met him a few years ago when he was visiting his friend, one of the best Bulgarian poets Lyubomir Levchev. We talked a little, I mean I talked, he w...more I met him a few years ago when he was visiting his friend, one of the best Bulgarian poets Lyubomir Levchev. We talked a little, I mean I talked, he was just listening. (Tranströmer suffered a stroke in 1990 that left him partially paralyzed and unable to speak.) Then he wrote on a napkin something that I will keep only for myself. I still consider him one of the great poets I ever read. With Tomas Transtromer, there is no real comparison. He has been by far the most original, the most satisfying, and the most complete modern poet I have encountered. Read this book, feel it. Read all his books and then you will feel something that only the great poets can give you – The Poetry of Silence! (less)
Simply beautiful. Dustin Holland's Duckwalking Is The Only Way Out Of Armageddon is an enjoyable collection of poems. The poems approach everyday topi...moreSimply beautiful. Dustin Holland's Duckwalking Is The Only Way Out Of Armageddon is an enjoyable collection of poems. The poems approach everyday topics, and pushes past the ordinary. Mocking, fearful of desire, faintly tinged with old-fashioned romanticism, these dark meditations investigate archetypes animated by sensuality. While Holland achieves very enduring poems that are short and sweet, but he also provides brilliantly accessible content that has universal qualities while remaining pointed, like an ancient sword, in the name of poetry. The poems in this book are profoundly simple yet so complex. They offer so many ways of interpretations, and I don't think even Dustin Holland can say that there is one absolute way to interpret his poems. It is hard to pick favorite poems; each is a polished gem. This is poetry that is thoughtful and compelling, appealing to both intellect and intuition. Haunting, ethereal, sparse, Holland is, for me, just great with the metaphors, and in some ways suspense. A wonderful selection, a desert island choice ... for the deserted. Thoughtful gift for your poetry-loving friends.
Dustin Holland’s Duckwalking is the Only Way out of Armageddon is a set of concrete poetry at par with avant-garde western poetic standards. The poet has painted vivid details of daily phenomenon with a tint of American thoughts and way of life compounded by a philosophical muse pulling his poems in a straightforward tone. However the poet frequently uses a slant narrative style much like telling a story in his long poems. What is most notable in this book is subtle yet profound stories versified with a wonderful flow of simple words. Dustin’s poem Paranoia Shadowdreams Or My Frantic, Feverish Adventures is a wonderful combination of ambiguity, simplicity and flow of language. The poet has also pointed out satire and irony we often face in the society in a tricky way more particularly in the title poem. He often places himself in several situations appealing to a broader audience through lyricism. The collection will be much coveted by any fan of forward-thinking poetics.
Sonnet Mondal Editor in Chief, The Enchanting Verses Literary Review(less)
Ms. Szymborska has that wonderful eastern European ability to show us that everything matters -- our words, our thoughts, our ancestors, our own morta...moreMs. Szymborska has that wonderful eastern European ability to show us that everything matters -- our words, our thoughts, our ancestors, our own mortality make us who we are, and who we are exists in an eternal Now. Reading Szymborska proves an entirely new way of looking at poetry. Szymborska is a very conscious and aware poet and she brings the outside political world inside and the inside personal world out. The microcosm and macrocosm of humanity is continually balanced and the poems will undoubtedly be read in the centuries to come. Szymborska knows that there are not only unimaginable horrors in the world, but also "miracles," small truths that are awesome and often wonderful - not because of any religious or magical event, but because they remind us, once again, of our humanity and of what good things might be possible. She treasures ordinary life, love, physicality - and communion. Her poems on love (and lovers) are beautiful, and beautifully simple. At her most luminous, Szymborska strikes me as firmly in the great tradition of poet-prophets exemplified by Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, and other great voices.(less)
"The book is like the spoon: once invented, it cannot be bettered". (Eco)
Contrary to the title, this is not a book in the conventional sense but a con...more"The book is like the spoon: once invented, it cannot be bettered". (Eco)
Contrary to the title, this is not a book in the conventional sense but a conversation on books between polymath and screenwriter that was "curated" by a third party. Eco and Carriere exchange insider information about book collecting. You can find the occasional bargain, Eco says. “In America, a book in Latin won’t interest the collectors even if it’s terribly rare, because they don’t read foreign languages, and definitely not Latin.” A Mark Twain first edition is what excites them. De Tonnac asks each man about his dream find. Eco’s response is conventional: “I’d like to dig up and keep, selfishly, a copy of the Gutenberg Bible, the first book ever printed,” he says. Carriere opts for the discovery of “an unknown Mayan codex.” Throughout, the text is peppered with entertaining anecdotes about their personal libraries, books they have loved and sold and the future for their vast treasure troves. Eco had a distinguished 30-year career in the academic world, with sidelines making cultural TV programmes and working as an editor in Milan, before The Name of the Rose. Why did he feel the need to add fiction to an already overloaded CV? In part, he says, it was accident. A friend asked him to write a short detective novel for a new series she was preparing. He told her that if he did, it would be set in the middle ages and would have to be 500 pages. That was too big for the proposed series, but the idea had been planted in his mind (or, as he prefers, his belly), and a publishing phenomenon was born. Even without her intervention, however, he implies that he would eventually have written novels. The notion of poisoning a monk appealed to him, and he already had a list of monkish names filed away in his drawer for possible use. In the end I would like to quote Eco again: “There is actually very little to say on the subject. The internet has returned us to the alphabet. If we thought we had become a purely visual civilization, the computer returns us to Gutenberg's galaxy; from now on, everyone has to read. In order to read, you need a medium. This medium cannot simply be a computer screen. Spend two hours reading a novel on your computer and your eyes turn into tennis balls. At home, I use a pair of Polaroid glasses to protect my eyes from the ill effects of unbroken onscreen reading. And in any case, the computer depends on electricity and cannot be read in a bath, or even lying on your side in bed. One of two things will happen: either the book will continue to be the medium for reading, or its replacement will resemble what the book has always been, even before the invention of the printing press. Alterations to the book-as-object have modified neither its function nor its grammar for more than 500 years. The book is like the spoon, scissors, the hammer, the wheel. Once invented, it cannot be improved. You cannot make a spoon that is better than a spoon. When designers try to improve on something like the corkscrew, their success is very limited; most of their `improvements' don't even work. Philippe Starck attempted an innovative lemon-squeezer; his version may be very handsome, but it lets the pips through. The book has been thoroughly tested, and it's very hard to see how it could be improved on for its current purposes. Perhaps it will evolve in terms of components; perhaps the pages will no longer be made of paper. But it will still be the same thing.”
This is Not the End of the Book is heartening exploration of the nature of the book and it the importance of books to society and posterity. (less)
The poems of R. L. Swihart are beautiful and good. They are also talky, which means that they might sometimes seem close to prose. They are witty, pro...more The poems of R. L. Swihart are beautiful and good. They are also talky, which means that they might sometimes seem close to prose. They are witty, profound, insightful, original, inspiring, and always unsettling the reader with his unusual observations about life. Swihart rockets your senses with transcendent images from our everyday world. For me, The Last Man is a book that needs more than one reading, it is a book that sits on the night stand offering itself frequently, it is a book that shades itself with the reader's mood, it is a book that is easy to reject yet begs of acceptance, it is a book for easy reading until a meter is inflicted, it is a book with ripples on the surface running deep. There is not enough red wine in the world to make one strong enough to withstand these confessions. I couldn't shake this book for three weeks, and I read and read each of them poems three and four times before moving on to the next. Mr. Swihart paints words with a myriad of color... Visceral, stark, full of meaning- Swihart's poetry provokes, enchants, tugs, and sings. His insight into true nature of poetry is superb. I want to read more and more....
Jenny Catlin reviews The Last Man by R.L. Swihart
The Last Man R.L. Swihart Kanev Books; March 20, 2012
I am in the habit of agreeing to time consuming tasks that I don’t really have time to complete. The Last Man is one of my recent over extensions but it is also a reminder of why I say yes to most anything written, because if I say no, I might just miss a writer like this. The Last Man is an instinctively, compulsively collection of works. What R L Swihart presents readers is stark raving madness; it is also a bit brilliant. The poems in this collection are at once nonsense and prophesy. Swihart’s poems bounce and sway between free verse, prose, and a few things in between. This collection is refreshing; nothing in The Last Man comes across as a poet’s poem. Without being simplistic or lacking structure, Swihart’s poems bounce and sway between free verse, prose, and a few things in between. His words give the reader the impression that Swihart is saying ‘These are my poems; this is how I wrote them. Maybe you will read them and maybe even like them’ they don’t pander to the reader or seek to find a high plane, rather they seem to have found their own Zen like place of simply being. Though he addresses redundant daily events, he weaves them together in a perfectly surreal manner that creates an unusual kind of envy in me.: I was between planes and had few options. I’m supposed to watch the sugar, But after three passes I decided a sweet roll would go great with coffee. “Just a Cinnabon Classic please-extra icing.” Against my usual: unraveling from the outside in, I went strait for the gooey center. The plastic fork lost a tooth and the gooey eye popped out. That’s when the fleshy pinna dropped on my plate. (from Rouge Ear) When a poet convinces me that their eyes see the world with the same fever that his/her words create I am mystified. These poems easily relay that message: I say mountain but really it’s a mountain in conjunction with a cloud and three consecutive mornings (from Mountain) Of course logic prevails; a writer is like any writer. They must revise and rewrite and muck through the rejection letters and writers circle feedback. The real joy in Swihart’s poetry it that it doesn’t feel the least bit reached for. I have a tremendous amount of respect for writers that are able to create images and snapshots for us that are at once practical and fantastic. When poetry can invoke the kind of child-like wonder that Swihart’s does, I am in: Sometimes I find it helps. I applied the algorithm to last April and got impossible results. I placed all the pieces in two ziplock bags and labeled them accordingly: Gaps and Dust. Ignoring the gaps, I was able to save a young girl, who’s still learning perspective, a few sleepless nights. (from ALGORITHM) The Last Man is a book worth owning. Its unique ability to be exactly what is and asks for nothing more is refreshing.
The Four Quartets by TS Eliot is a classic. The Four Quartets are regarded by many to be the greatest philosophical poem of this century. The titles o...moreThe Four Quartets by TS Eliot is a classic. The Four Quartets are regarded by many to be the greatest philosophical poem of this century. The titles of the four sections which make up the Quartets are place names, each corresponding to a phase of spiritual development. What particularly satisfies about the Four Quartets is that they complete Eliot's broad spiritual landscape begun with "Prufrock," "Gerontion," and The Wasteland, poems about failure in a bankrupt universe, but with the words from the Upanishads, "Datta . . . Dayadhvam . . . Damyata1" spoken by the thunder at The Wasteland's conclusion, Eliot anticipates a revitalized world that he fully conceives in the Four Quartets. In this later poem, Eliot once again includes the world of desire, fear, and death that haunted The Wasteland and other earlier efforts; but in the Quartets the importance of this darker world has been diminished, relegated to the sphere of time to form a mere backdrop to Eliot's expanded vision of life as unblemished eternity. The greatest achieve of Eliot in Four Quartets, is the way he manages to reach out to the greatest poet in history, who lived a number of centuries ago, and have the language speak with his tongue, simultaneously admitting that Dante's world view cannot be copied in today's world - but that does not mean that his form of structure and vivid allusions should not be employed: in this poem, the Trecento and the century of the atomic bomb have found common ground to behold each other as not quite congenial, yet deeply related brothers. The past is not dead - it's not even past yet.(less)
The poet Robert Hass calls him “one of the most influential European poets of the last half-century, … an ironist and a minimalist who writes as if it...moreThe poet Robert Hass calls him “one of the most influential European poets of the last half-century, … an ironist and a minimalist who writes as if it were the task of the poet, in a world full of loud lies, to say what is irreducibly true in a level voice.” Stephen Stepanchev describes Herbert as “a witness to his time,” and Stephen Miller calls him a political poet whose “subdued and casual” poems “shun both hysteria and apocalyptic intensity.” Zbigniew Herbert is an avant-garde poet whose experiments and precise, restrained rhythms have sent Polish prosody off in a new direction. Trained in law, he is a man with a passion for classical literature and for history, and with all the intellectual tautness associated with a poet like T. S. Eliot. For Herbert, objects never represented an escape from the human; he continues to be intrigued by them and to study them, finding unexpected new qualities and aspects of reality. He humanizes them and at the same time respects their fundamental opacity. Herbert argues for the acceptance of suffering without big words and dramatic gestures, for a deflation of attitudes. Herbert's poetry is based on permanent confrontation--the confrontation of Western tradition with the experience of a "barbarian" from Eastern Europe, of the classical past with the modern era, of cultural myth with a practical, empirical point of view. Zbigniew Herbert, a poet who, at least for me, transcends the Polish culture and even European intellectualism and speaks to all of humanity. (less)