Paul Wilner

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Why Poetry
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Absalom, Absalom!
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Magical Negro
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Chances Are... by Richard Russo
Chances Are...
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"1. Many of the stories in Turf are what I'd call satire with a heart - there's a sympathetic sensibility behind the critique of our culture that is seen in stories such as "Star Babies," "Notes for an Important American Story," and "The Genius Mee..." Read more of this blog post »
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The Missing of the Somme by Geoff Dyer
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many more departed in the spirit of Dick himself who ‘picked up a retaliatory handful of stones and then put them down. ‘ “I couldn’t kid here,” he said rather apologetically.’ Understandably as well as apologetically, for few novels are as saturated with the memory of the Great War as Tender is the Night. Dick himself sums up this central concern of the book with the ‘half-ironic phrase, “Non-Combatant’s shell-shock” ’.
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George Macaulay Trevelyan
“Education...has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading.”
George Macaulay Trevelyan

Franz Kafka
“Many complain that the words of the wise are always merely parables and of no use in daily life, which is the only life we have. When the sage says: "Go over," he does not mean that we should cross over to some actual place, which we could do anyhow if the labor were worth it; he means some fabulous yonder, something unknown to us, something too that he cannot designate more precisely, and therefore cannot help us here in the very least. All these parables really set out to say merely that the incomprehensible is incomprehensible, and we know that already. But the cares we have to struggle with every day: that is a different matter.

Concerning this a man once said: Why such reluctance? If you only followed the parables you yourselves would become parables and with that rid yourself of all your daily cares.

Another said: I bet that is also a parable.

The first said: You have won.

The second said: But unfortunately only in parable.

The first said: No, in reality: in parable you have lost.”
Franz Kafka

Henry David Thoreau
“Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life so. Aim above morality. Be not simply good, be good for something.”
Henry David Thoreau

Iris Murdoch
“I think being a woman is like being Irish... Everyone says you're important and nice, but you take second place all the time.”
Iris Murdoch

C.D. Wright
“Nobody reads poetry, we are told at every inopportune moment. I read poetry. I am somebody. I am the people, too. It can be allowed that an industrious quantity of contemporary American poetry is consciously written for a hermetic constituency; the bulk is written for the bourgeoisie, leaving a lean cut for labor. Only the hermetically aimed has a snowball's chance in hell of reaching its intended ears. One proceeds from this realization. A staggering figure of vibrant, intelligent people can and do live without poetry, especially without the poetry of their time. This figure includes the unemployed, the rank and file, the union brass, banker, scientist, lawyer, doctor, architect, pilot, and priest. It also includes most academics, most of the faculty of the humanities, most allegedly literary editors and most allegedly literary critics. They do so--go forward in their lives, toward their great reward, in an engulfing absence of poetry--without being perceived or perceiving themselves as hobbled or deficient in any significant way. It is nearly true, though I am often reminded of a Transtromer broadside I saw in a crummy office building in San Francisco:

We got dressed and showed the house

You live well the visitor said

The slum must be inside you.

If I wanted to understand a culture, my own for instance, and if I thought such an understanding were the basis for a lifelong inquiry, I would turn to poetry first. For it is my confirmed bias that the poets remain the most 'stunned by existence,' the most determined to redeem the world in words..”
C.D. Wright, Cooling Time: An American Poetry Vigil

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