For almost two hundred years, English gentlemen could not consider their education complete until they had taken the “Grand Tour” of Europe, usually culminating in Naples, “ragamuffin capital of the Italian south,” writes Ian Thomson at The Spectator.[...]
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Ah, the dog days of summer…
Is your family hot and cranky? Crammed together in a car for the long ride home? Has boredom set in, despite the thousands of Pokémon still at large?
The perfect antidote, dear readers, is this six-hour playlist of poet and musician Shel Silverstein’s best loved work.
It’s always demoralizing when a favorite song—Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” or the Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar” come to mind—is co-opted to sell soda or Caribbean cruises.
Poetry, however? I’m not ungrateful to have some smuggled into my day by a commercial carrier whose agenda is somehow less suspect.
Image via Elisa Dorman, Wikimedia Commons
Whatever other criteria we use to lump them together—shared aims of psychedelic consciousness-expanding through drugs and Eastern religion, frank explorations of alternative sexualities, anti-establishment cred—the Beats were each in their own way true to the name in one very simple way: they all colla
Remember Donny and Marie Osmond, the toothy, teenage Mormon siblings whose eponymous television variety show was a wholesome 70’s mix of skits, songs, and ice skating?
Their surprisingly enduring theme song reduced their popularity to an easily graspable binary formula:
She was a little bit country. He was a little bit rock and roll.
Everyone’s favorite alcoholic poet and dirty old man Charles Bukowski was hardly what you’d call a romantic, though he had a softer side: a vulnerability and compassion for the lonely, poor, and suffering. But we don’t love Bukowski because he prettied up the nasty business of being human.[...]
Some of the best, most succinct writing advice I ever received came from the great John McPhee, via one of his former students: “Writing is paying attention.” What do you see, hear, taste, etc.? Questions of style, syntax, and punctuation come later.[...]
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Is it possible to fully separate a word’s sound from its meaning—to value words solely for their music? Some poets come close: Wallace Stevens, Sylvia Plath, John Ashbery. Rare phonetic metaphysicians. Surely we all do this when we hear words in a language we do not know.
“To choose what I should read tonight, I looked through seventy odd poems of mine, and found that many are odd indeed and that some may be poems,” said Dylan Thomas in a 1949 BBC broadcast.[...]
Robert Frost has the dubious honor of being known the world over as the poet of a seize-the-day cliché.[...]