Wallace Stevens, motivational speaker

A web site called PinoyBusiness.ORG, for "Global Filipino Business and Investing Community," has a daily feature that provides motivational sayings, a link to "free motivational quotes," another link to "Harness Your Own Power," and finally a link to "Depression Quotes" (presumably meaning an emotional rather than financial crisis). Today's motivational saying is from Wallace Stevens: "The summer night is like a perfection of thought." I suppose in January this does motivate daydream of a better moment.

The line is from "The House is Quiet and the World is Calm," a late poem that actually celebrates, if anything, the final rest of the old reader-poet. No blazing artifice there.

A little further googling and I realize that the line has been passed around from web hand to web hand, obviously further and further from its context, until it is simply axiomatic that it's a "motivational saying." It is, for instance, "Quotation #31277 from Laura Moncur's Motivational Quotations." This is one of those rare moments when I wish Stevens was still around to respond to such "use" of his poetry. He would surely fire off a quip that would be memorable in itself. The world is not calm.

Doctorow on Whitman and other topics

E. L. Doctorow was here visiting in March of 2005, and I moderated a discussion with him for about an hour one Tuesday morning late that month. Now I've edited a 20-minute excerpt of that longer interview - as the 20th episode in the Kelly Writers House podcast series. You can subscribe to these through iTunes and you can download the Doctorow podcast now just by clicking here.

fast becoming

Gosh, thank you Alex Davies at Openned! (Here's the entry to which he refers.)


Dial now: 215 746-7636, or: 215 746-POEM.

Happy '09 from all of us at 3805 Locust Walk in Philadelphia. With the new year we launch another new project. Call the phone number above any day, at any time, and hear

1) what's happening tonight or very soon at the Writers House
2) highlights of upcoming events
3) a featured poem read at the Writers House, from our archives
4) a featured recording of Writers House-affiliated students

We urge all friends and fans of the Writers House to add this number - which we call "6-POEM" - to their contacts list, speed dial, and address book.

"What's happening" will be updated almost every day. The other features will be updated frequently.

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The responses I've received so far typically say: "Geez, this is so retro it's cool," and "Everything seems to be converging on the phone," and "Telephony rocks."