I’ve really been wondering, and this article in the New Yorker provides at least a partial answer:
“The Trump supporters I spoke with were friendly, generous with their time, flattered to be asked their opinion, willing to give it, even when they knew I was a liberal writer likely to throw them under the bus. They loved their country, seemed genuinely panicked at its perceived demise, felt urgently that we were, right now, in the process of losing something precious. They were, generally, in favor of order and had a propensity toward the broadly normative, a certain squareness. They leaned toward skepticism (they’d believe it when they saw it, “it” being anything feelings-based, gauzy, liberal, or European; i.e., “socialist”). Some (far from all) had been touched by financial hardship—a layoff was common in many stories—and (paradoxically, given their feelings about socialism) felt that, while in that vulnerable state, they’d been let down by their government. They were anti-regulation, pro small business, pro Second Amendment, suspicious of people on welfare, sensitive (in a “Don’t tread on me” way) about any infringement whatsoever on their freedom. Alert to charges of racism, they would pre-counter these by pointing out that they had friends of all colors. They were adamantly for law enforcement and veterans’ rights, in a manner that presupposed that the rest of us were adamantly against these things. It seemed self-evident to them that a businessman could and should lead the country. “You run your family like a business, don’t you?” I was asked more than once, although, of course, I don’t, and none of us do. Continue reading
“It’s true, I’ve been caught in print several times saying, ‘The last thing we need is another Neruda translation.'” This sentence opens Forrest Gander’s introduction to Then Come Back: The Lost Neruda Poems, from Copper Canyon Press. He then goes onto explain how these late poems were discovered, and their quality convinced him to undertake the project of translating them. Here’s one from the book:
“Don’t be vain,” someone had scrawled
on my wall.
I don’t recognize
the script or hand of
whoever left that line
in the kitchen, No one I invited, clearly.
He came in from the roof.
So who am I
Supposed to answer? The wind.
Listen to me, wind.
For many years
have tossed in my face
their own vanities,
that is, they show me the door
I open at night, the book
that waits to receive me,
the house I build, Continue reading
but even though I’ve now lived about two-thirds of my life in California, I still relate to the world through a New Yorker’s lens, always searching for the fastest route, the shortest line, the way to keep moving, even when I’m not in a rush and have plenty of time. I also love malicious commentary (when it’s witty and apposite), black humor, and thoughtful analysis.
So I still read the New Yorker, even though mostly months late. And as I haven’t been writing lately, I especially appreciated this little paragraph by Adam Gopnik, writing about Paul McCartney: Continue reading
The NY Times Book review this Sunday quoted from “Pebble,” a poem by the Polish poet, Zbigniew Herbert. Here is the poem in full:
is a perfect creature
equal to itself
mindful of its limits Continue reading
I was wondering this morning whether if each insane massacre was basically ignored by the media, if it received the most minimal coverage possible on page 18 of the paper, would that remove a big incentive? Isn’t the publicity a huge part of it?
In any case, this poem has nothing to do with anything except those wonderful yellow primroses that bloom at dusk. Rita Dove, its author, was US Poet Laureate some years ago.
Neither rosy nor prim,
not cousin to the cowslip
nor the extravagant fuchsia—
I doubt anyone has ever
picked one for show,
though the woods must be fringed
with their lemony effusions. Continue reading
You may remember I mentioned the Poetry World Series, an annual event at the Mill Valley Library. This event, organized by Becky Foust and Melissa Stein (below), combines poetry with the structure of a baseball game.
There are two teams of three poets each, an emcee, and judges. This is inning eight, the gracious and funny Matthew Siegel and I were pitched the phrase “zoo animals.” For each inning, the audience “pitches” topics, and one poet from each team “bats” their poem at the topic, no prep beforehand. We even each have walk up music.
Dean Rader was the charming emcee, and I was on the red team (note my borrowed red Diablo’s baseball shirt and cap), Continue reading
Posted in Poetry
Tagged becky foust, Brian Murphy, Danusha Lameris, Dean Rader Susan Terris, George Higgins, Matthew Siegel, Melissa Stein, mill valley library, Peter Kline, Poetry World Series, Raina Léon
The other day at the library, the librarian came up to me and said, “I notice you’re a voracious reader, and I want to tell you about a new feature here at the library, called Your Lucky Day.” This is a set of contemporary best sellers, set on a special shelf. Each patron is allowed to take two books from this group out at a time.
It was thoughtful of her, and I immediately checked out and devoured Michael Connelly’s latest thriller. I do read, or at least start, many books a week. But often it feels like a vast wasteland. Which is why it is such a delight to be thoroughly seduced by an unexpected gem of a novel. Innocents and Others, by Dana Spiotta at first seems like a book of disparate rather odd stories. But slowly the stories intermingle, build on each other and change their meaning. Together they weave a meditation on how we communicate or fail to, how we experience visually, audibly. It’s a truly engaging, thoughtful, and intricate tapestry. Continue reading
Having just filled out my absentee ballot for the California Primary, I can’t stop thinking about this poem, especially the first stanza. This was written during the first world war, but seems so relevant today. Certainly the worst are full of passionate intensity. And the feeling of things falling apart is very present.
THE SECOND COMING
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity. Continue reading
Wallace Stevens is hard to miss in the landscape of contemporary American poets. He’s famous for his intricate, fanciful poems, as well as for the fact that he worked throughout his career as an insurance executive. He can seem dry and intellectual–difficult–but worth the trouble to unravel.
Two things about Stevens–apparently the other execs at Hartford Accident and Indemnity didn’t think too much of him. His boss was quoted in a recent bio: “Unless they told me he had a heart attack I never would have known he had a heart.” Berryman was kinder:
…something…something…not there in his
What was it missing, then, at the man’s heart
so that he does not wound? Continue reading