Al Filreis

Ashbery: Demotic grace

It is surprisingly difficult to find a very good brief summary and introduction to the writing of John Ashbery.Harold Bloom once described a single poem ("The Instruction Manual" — not typica

Neither us nor them

I've re-read an essay John Yau published in American Poetry Review back in 1994 (vol. 23, no. 2, p. 45).

Instead of implying, the poem ranted

In an essay on modernism and postmodernism in American poetry, David Antin quoted a passage from Allen Ginsberg's "America" and then pondered the contemporary response among "'establishment' critics" of the 1950s. How did Ginsberg's antic style strike them? From the later vantage (Antin was writing in the late 1970s) it is hard for us to remember that Ginsberg's writing seemed unliterary. The fact is that when we read Ginsberg today we assume that, whatever else his language is, it is at least literary.

Belsen Hatikva

Here is a rare recording: the Hatikva sung by Jewish inmates of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp on April 20, 1945. The recording, originally made by the BBC, had been lost until around 2000. It was aired in 2007 by NPR.

Thanks to Charles Bernstein for sending me this link.

Privacies behind the mask

When Tom Devaney interviewed Carl Rakosi, he asked this question: "I wanted to ask about the effect Stevens had upon your writing. In your poem 'Homage to Wallace Stevens' (later renamed in the Collected as the 'Domination of Wallace Stevens'), there is both a music of the language and direct use of musical terms and language. You write:

These are privacies behind the mask
but they are not the manners of a boy
who blows his French horn, smiles at twelve o’clock
and sips the old port from the hostess’s shoe."