Image via Wikimedia Commons
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.[...]
In the years after World War II, the CIA made use of jazz musicians, abstract expressionist painters, and experimental writers to promote avant-garde American culture as a Cold War weapon. At the time, downward cultural comparisons with Soviet art were highly credible.[...]
Drawing by Graziano Origa, via Wikimedia Commons
An old man sits alone, ranting in a nasally monotonous drone. He breaks into rueful laughter, threats of violence, mockery, maudlin lament….
On the 750th birthday of Dante Alighieri—composer of the dizzyingly epic medieval poem the Divine Comedy—English professor John Kleiner pointed to one way of helping undergraduate students understand the Italian poet’s importance: an “obvious comparison” with Shakespeare.[...]
Charles Bukowski could really write. Charles Bukowski could really drink. These two facts, surely the best-known ones about the “lowlife laureate” of a poet and author of such novels as Post Office and Ham on Rye (as well as what we might call his lifestyle column, “Notes of a Dirty Old Man”), go together.[...]
The T.S. Eliot of the post-World War I period was a poet who stood Janus-faced on the threshold of old and new worlds. He looked backward to the mountain ranges of European tradition and marveled at their alpine peaks.[...]
Many of us today think of Vincent Price as the face, and an even more so the voice, of modestly budgeted midcentury horror movies. But over his long and prolific career, he showed just what multitudes he could contain.[...]
April 23 is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, an event so far in the past that it can be celebrated as a second birthday of sorts.
The New York Public Library’s contribution to the festivities has an endearingly homemade quality.