Translated by Robin Fulton Two Cities Each on its side of a strait, two cities the one blacked out, occupied by the enemy. In the other the lamps are burning. The bright shore hypnotizes the dark one. I swim out in a trance on the glittering dark waters. A dull tuba-blast penetrates. It’s a friend’s voice, take up your grave and walk. The Light Streams In Outside the window, the long beast of spring the transparent dragon of sunlight rushes past like an endless suburban train—we
Pay attention to the poetry world, and you’ll notice a kind of false advertising: most of published criticism is positive even though so much of published poetry is bad. (This is probably why a lot of people don’t pay attention to the poetry world.) One reason for the dearth of critical comeuppances is that even bad poems are often hard to understand and harder to understand conclusively, so negative critics risk missing something and looking like fools. They misinterpret what they malign, they
On a brief visit to Jerusalem I walked the streets of Mea Shearim, one of the city’s more colorful neighborhoods, and home to Haredi Jews. The ingenuous tourist could be forgiven for thinking that he or she has strayed onto a film set depicting the life of a nineteenth-century Jewish shtetl. But life in Mea Shearim is for real, preserved the way it was a hundred years ago. My eye caught a trio of skinny, pallid-looking men in tall black hats and draped in black frock coats. They stood there in
According to Kinsley’s Law, first promulgated by New Republic editor and columnist Michael Kinsley: “The real scandal is what’s legal.” The Watergate scandal – a bungled espionage attempt against the Democratic Party – unseated an otherwise popular President whose bombing of Indochinese civilians was one of the 20th century’s great barbarities. The Iran-Contra scandal, in which a not-yet-impotent Congress’s prerogatives were flouted, embarrassed an even more popular President whose foreign policy
I am always afraid I am about to become one of those bitter New Yorkers. Someone with a constantly sour expression on his face and wrinkled, yellowy skin like an old front page. That person you see in the deli who screams: “Eight dollars for grapes? This city is for yuppies!” Not long ago, in 2009, I went on a trip that sort of put me on the fast track to becoming a bitter New Yorker and I need to tell you about it before you find me raving on the street corner and nervously pass me by. This
On a rainy Monday afternoon in Burlington, Vermont, I wander past the whole-grain sandwich shops and slick ethnic bistros of the Church Street pedestrian mall, drawn by invisible magnets towards the retail zone’s centerpiece—Borders bookstore, a substantial brick building as set against time as the Parthenon. A couple of guys stand around the entrance holding up black and yellow cardboard signs: Up to 40% off all stock! Everything must go! I’ve come to pay my last respects to the dying giant.
Charles Willeford’s Cockfighter was first obscurely released in 1962, later revised in ’72 for hardcover and excerpted in Sports Illustrated, prompting incensed reader mail about its SPCA-baiting subject matter. Now, thanks to the Brooklyn-based PictureBox, Willeford’s unsentimental and funny bloodsport drama is in print again. Cockfighter strains to bust out of the pulp-fiction ghetto it was born into, as has Willeford’s body of work as a whole; since his death in 1988, his readership has gone
Dear Bob Dylan, I hope this finds you well. You don't know me. My name is Rhett Miller. I make albums as a solo artist and as the front man for a band called Old 97's. I am like you, at least in that I've dedicated my postadolescent life to writing songs and singing them for folks. I write you now to pay my respects (much as you did to one of your heroes all those years ago in "Song to Woody"), to thank you for giving so much of yourself, and to ask you: What are we to do now? Here, at this late
The Curfew, Jesse Ball’s third and slimmest novel for Vintage, contains within its pages the best sentence the young novelist and poet has yet written: “Is it not on the ground over that very grave that my life proceeds?” It’s a rhetorical question, and the contrast it presents (life and grave) is no accident. Ball is a strange paradox of a writer—his prose is as simple as stage directions but at the same time impenetrable, often because he whittles his sentences to nonsense. At his best, Ball
“They say that carrying bags is good exercise,” said the poet Jon Cotner to a young woman on the subway, a large shopping bag slung over her shoulder. She looked back at him curiously, then smiled. “Oh yeah?” she said. Five others, including this reporter, had joined Cotner on his expedition, pretending not to watch but taking mental notes on his vocalization, demeanor, bodily gestures, delivery, and success at creating “good vibes.” This was no New Age happening. It was a Spontaneous Society
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