Emily Brontë’s Faith Poem: “No Coward Soul is Mine”

I’ve always admired Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights as a supreme literary achievement. In teaching it over the years, its structural complexity, thematic depth, and passionate intensity never failed to astound me. Putting it another way, Wuthering Heights has haunted me, much like Catherine’s ghost at Heathcliff’s window. Years ago, I had the good fortune to visit the parsonage where she lived out her brief life … Continue reading Emily Brontë’s Faith Poem: “No Coward Soul is Mine”

Rupi Kaur: Pop Poetry Phenom

Just read New Republic’s glowing assessment of Canadian Instapoet Rupi Kaur, reflected in its swollen title, “Rupi Kaur is the Writer of the Decade.” (New Republic) Not even thirty, she’s published two poetry volumes, Milk and Honey (2015) and The Sun and Her Flowers (2017). Poet luminary of Instagram, she’s gathered 3.8 million followers. Milk and Honey, translated into 25 languages, has sold 1.4 million … Continue reading Rupi Kaur: Pop Poetry Phenom

William Carlos Williams’ “Willow Poem”: Defying Temporality

“Willow Poem” It is a willow when summer is over, a willow by the river from which no leaf has fallen nor bitten by the sun turned orange or crimson. The leaves cling and grow paler, swing and grow paler over the swirling waters of the river as if loath to let go, they are so cool, so drunk with the swirl of the wind … Continue reading William Carlos Williams’ “Willow Poem”: Defying Temporality

An Upstart Poet I Like a Lot

I’ve had this love affair with poetry since my earliest days, relishing metaphors that translate life from prose to camera, the sheer musicality of it, the crossword deliberation it compels, the tension of its paradoxes capturing life’s myriad, inherent subtleties; above all, its ability to mine deep, probing shafts of sub-subterranean memory and feeling I had thought beyond retrieve. It follows then that I’m always … Continue reading An Upstart Poet I Like a Lot

The Plight of Native Americans in a White America

The White Man’s misdeeds in America towards its indigenous peoples are incalculable in number and cruelty. I was reminded of this last week when Karen and I visited the Grand Canyon and learned from the Visitor Center that Yavapai and Apaches once lived adjacent to the Canyon. That is, until 1874, when the government closed the Camp Verde Reservation and forced its residents to trek … Continue reading The Plight of Native Americans in a White America

Amy Lowell’s “A Fixed Idea”: An Exploration in Paradox

A Fixed Idea What torture lurks within a single thought When grown too constant; and however kind, However welcome still, the weary mind Aches with its presence. Dull remembrance taught Remembers on unceasingly; unsought The old delight is with us but to find That all recurring joy is pain refined, Become a habit, and we struggle, caught. You lie upon my heart as on a … Continue reading Amy Lowell’s “A Fixed Idea”: An Exploration in Paradox

Love for All Seasons

  “I hope that I will be the last victim in China’s long record of treating words as crime.” Liu Xiaobo (1955-2017) China isn’t usually a quotidian staple of the Westerner’s mindset. Let’s face it: our culture operates in Eurocentric mode, which may ultimately hint of a latent bias unrecognized in ourselves, a sense of smugness that they’ve little to offer us, save maybe for … Continue reading Love for All Seasons

Reflections on the 2017 Philip Larkin Exhibition at Hull

The Guardian (July 4, 2017) features a review of a favorite poet of mine, Philip Larkin, in connection with a current exhibit of Larkin artifacts at Hull’s Brynmore Jones Library, where he was a librarian for many years. It notes his tortured sexual life, indulgence in pornography, racist asides, and complex relationships the writer terms “despicable” with several women, whom he allegedly treated unfairly, particularly … Continue reading Reflections on the 2017 Philip Larkin Exhibition at Hull

America’s Unofficial Poet Laureate: Mary Oliver

Judging by her phenomenal sales, Mary Oliver surely rates as America’s unofficial poet laureate, and yet the anomaly that she’s never held the office since its inception in 1937. I have to confess that I hadn’t heard of her, despite teaching modern poetry for some thirty-five years, probably because the Modernists held sway when I was in graduate school and during much of my tenure. … Continue reading America’s Unofficial Poet Laureate: Mary Oliver

On First Looking Into Milford’s Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind; Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave. I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned. –Edna St. Vincent Millay   I recently finished Nancy Milford’s biography of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay (Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay … Continue reading On First Looking Into Milford’s Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay