Every period of literary history has its share of bawdy, satirical poetry, from Mesopotamia, to Rome, to the age of Jonathan Swift. Every period, it often seems, but one: The late Victorian era in England and America often appears to us like a dry, humorless time for English poetry.[...]
Opportunities to meet one’s heroes can go any number of ways. They can be underwhelming and disappointing, embarrassing and awkward, or—as Tom Waits found out in meeting Keith Richards and Charles Bukowski—completely overwhelming.[...]
Everyone’s favorite mystical poet, Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī, probably could not have predicted how much global influence his work would have eight centuries after his death. Nor could he have appreciated the irony of his 13th century Islamic Persian verse making him the best-selling poet in the U.S.[...]
Very few people can offer us a satisfying definition of poetry. Enumerating the technical qualities of literary verse, as English teachers do each day, seems like a paltry explanation of what poetry is and does.[...]
Jorge Luis Borges, as any reader of his stories knows, had a lot of ideas. Some of his ideas must have seemed pretty fantastical when he wrote stories around them from the 1920s to the 1950s.[...]
Image by Michiel Hendryckx.
Although the boundaries of what should pass for free speech in high school English classrooms will be forever in debate, most everyone would agree some boundaries must exist.
“On April 24th,” writes The New Yorker‘s John Kleiner, “Samantha Cristoforetti, Italy’s first female astronaut, took time off from her regular duties in the International Space Station to read from the Divine Comedy.” You can watch a clip of that reading of the first canto of the Paradiso above.[...]
Can a computer game teach writing and free up the creative mind? Elegy for a Dead World, a Kickstarter-funded game for Steam PC, Mac and Linux systems, hopes to do so. The creators Ichiro Lambe and Ziba Scott brought the game to E3 last year and debuted it with a brief introductory walkthrough.[...]
Are we to look at cherry blossoms only in full bloom, the moon only when it is cloudless? To long for the moon while looking on the rain, to lower the blinds and be unaware of the passing of spring—these are even more deeply moving. Branches about to blossom or gardens strewn with faded flowers are worthier of our admiration.[...]
Hôtel de Lauzun, the meeting place of the Club des Hachichins
It may be cliché to say so, but there does seem to be a strong correlation between experiments with mind-altering chemicals and some of the most intriguing experiments in literary style. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Arthur Rimbaud, William S. Burroughs, Hunter S. Thompson….