Z e t e o
Reading, Looking, Listening, . . . Questioning

After the poet dies, people like to argue about the relevance of their work. Was it innovative? Did it do something new for form, for formality, for fluency. Does it deserve to be reread in schools or university seminars? Sometimes this discussion is valid. Sometimes the poetry in question is perhaps only marginally relevant. Other times the […]

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I recently came across a remarkable poem by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Philip Levine  thanks to a blog I sometimes read. As remarkable as the poem (below) is, I am even more grateful that it led me to an utterly delicious interview of Levine conducted by Mona Simpson in The Paris Review.  Few interviews of poets can be […]

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Columbia Magazine, The Guardian and various other media outlets published moving articles to commemorate poet John Berryman’s centennial,. For those who don’t know much about the poet, it is a great opportunity to get to know him. For those who do, it is perhaps a chance to learn something new, something more. “Columbia Magazine’s” piece includes several excerpts […]

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A few nights ago I dreamt that a close friend and I were stalking Bertolt Brecht in Paris. Since I rarely have such intellectual dreams, I took it as a sign to read some of the German writer and thinker’s work. Although Brecht is perhaps best remembered for his contributions to theater, he is also considered […]

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Ireland may be known for St. Patrick’s day, and the heavy beer drinking involved. But, it is also known for the many legendary writers that came from its rolling green hills. James Joyce, William Butler Yeats and, most recently, Seamus Heaney all called Ireland their home. This year, RTE, the national broadcaster, hosted a contest […]

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One of my favorite blogs is called “Interesting Literature.” It is just that, a site with interesting, often very random, facts about literature and literary history. A few weeks ago they published a piece called “10 Short Medieval Poems Everyone Should Read.” Fear not. The poems included  are only a few lines long and translation is provided, […]

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I recently visited the main branch of the Miami Public Library System and was strongly impressed by what I found. Although the entire library was elegant, spacious, well-stocked and easy to decipher, the teen’s section was truly remarkable. There were large signs indicating that only 12-19 year-olds were allowed to use the area, which was […]

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Written by Arab-American poet Naomi Shihab Nye , the poem below is launched in a childish tone, but closes in a distinctly mature voice. For me, this combination of child/adult voices is what makes the poem interesting, what makes it work. Otherwise, the piece stands the risk of being another doe-eyed “barrio” poem. But it is not. […]

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    I keep coming back to this poem by British Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy again and again. There is a myth among poetry writers that poets will only ever write a few perfect poems. Well, I think this is part of her (quite ample) list of absolutely perfect poems.  It is from her collection “Rapture,” […]

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This will be my third and last post on Chilean poet Nicanor Parra, a former mathematician who is famous as Latin America’s straight-talking alternative to flowery verse.  Parra recently turned 100 and is still doing well, an impressive feat for any being. After most of his recitals he would say “I take back everything I’ve said.” […]

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parra poetry

This week, I continue to explore the poetry of Chilean writer Nicanor Parra, who could be loosely described as the anti-Neruda anti-poet. The poem below is one of the best I’ve read by Parra. A Man A man’s mother is very sick He goes out to find a doctor He’s crying In the street he […]

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Categories: Essay | Add a Comment
Frank Kermode, August 2000, photo by Charlie MacDonald

This week, I continue to explore the poetry of Chilean writer Nicanor Parra, who could be loosely described as the anti-Neruda anti-poet. The poem below is one of the best I’ve read by Parra. A Man A man’s mother is very sick He goes out to find a doctor He’s crying In the street he […]

Essay

June 14, 2018

The time that takes place in stories compared to the time that we actually live is radically abbreviated. It briskly sweeps aside all the commonplace moments that make up the long stretch of toilsome time and focuses instead on the interesting and compelling. With a mere section break or a simple transitional phrase, days, months, and whole years are disposed of as if they had no significance at all. “Then time passed slowly until the day arrived when….” A lot of important living is hidden in such a phrase. From the moment-to-moment flow of time, the storyteller lifts out only those narr...

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Categories: Essay | Add a Comment
Frank Kermode, August 2000, photo by Charlie MacDonald

This week, I continue to explore the poetry of Chilean writer Nicanor Parra, who could be loosely described as the anti-Neruda anti-poet. The poem below is one of the best I’ve read by Parra. A Man A man’s mother is very sick He goes out to find a doctor He’s crying In the street he […]

Essay

May 11, 2018

Using personal essay, literary reference, and journalistic voice, the article plants itself on our existential doorstep while illuminating Barnes' novel one more time. Very strong. Thanks.

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Categories: Essay | Add a Comment
Frank Kermode, August 2000, photo by Charlie MacDonald

This week, I continue to explore the poetry of Chilean writer Nicanor Parra, who could be loosely described as the anti-Neruda anti-poet. The poem below is one of the best I’ve read by Parra. A Man A man’s mother is very sick He goes out to find a doctor He’s crying In the street he […]

Essay

May 10, 2018

"When these new memories suddenly came upon me … time had been placed in reverse. As if, for that moment, the river ran upstream." Stolen from Barnes's book for my poem "From the Vale for a Soul Making". Great book to write about.

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