Al Filreis

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

teach the conflicts

When I reviewed Gerald Graff's book on "teaching the conflicts," I had as much space as I needed (I was writing for Review and its editor Jay Hoge gave me no limit). In part because Graff's idea had already received a great deal of attention, I decided to set his argument in the context of the Cold War-era political correctness debates. It was an odd gesture, because nowhere in the book does Graff refer to anticommunism or to pedagogy in the 1950s.

Here are the first two paragraphs of my piece:

confusing justice & vengeance

"We cannot bear to face our knowledge that the satisfaction of our desire for justice, which we confuse with our desire for vengeance, is impossible.

mining, memory & Microsoft

Yes, that's Bill Gates at right, tossing a floppy disk into the air.

ideas elude one in a poem

My interview/conversation with John Ashbery, which took place on March 26, 2002, is avai