Poetry

RECENT REVIEWS

All About You

All About You

ANY POET WILL TELL YOU that it’s often the smallest words that pack the greatest whispers and punch. The word “you” contains volumes of nuance. It hangs commanding, accusative, or adoring. It’...

The Letters of Gary Snyder and Wendell Berry

The Letters of Gary Snyder and Wendell Berry

IT WOULD BE HARD to pick up a book of letters exchanged between Gary Snyder and Wendell Berry across some 40 years, without feeling considerable anticipation. Now in their 80s, both writers have manag...

Music and Lyric: On Poe’s Poetry

Music and Lyric: On Poe’s Poetry

I thank you as another reader would thank you for this vivid writing, this power which is felt! Your “Raven” has produced a sensation, a “fit horror,” here in England. Some of my friends are t...

A Child Unkennelled

A Child Unkennelled

IT SOUNDS LIKE THE SETUP for a joke: the time that John Berryman organized a foot race at a garden party. On a summer evening in Salt Lake City, in 1959, the poet was in his cups after lecturing at ...

Death and Revelations

Death and Revelations

IF YOU FOLLOW contemporary poetry closely — and maybe even if you don’t — it can get all too easy to mistake the poetry for the debates about it: should it get populist, or turn digital, or spe...

The Work of Mourning

The Work of Mourning

THE FIRST POEM that sprang to mind when I tried to recall a modern elegy was “Bells for John Whiteside’s Daughter” by John Crowe Ransom. Ransom (1888–1974) is not a poet whose work I know well...

The Curse of Byron

The Curse of Byron

ONE OF THE MOST famous incidents in the course of the Romantic movement is the ghost-story challenge issued by George Gordon, Lord Byron, in the course of a summer evening in 1816 at the Villa Diodati...

And if the man with the choke-hold

And if the man with the choke-hold

— Ezekiel saw the wheel …   And if the man with the choke-hold pulls the standing man down Why does he live and if the dead man is gone why does he rise and Why is there a clicking so...

On Convention

On Convention

An earlier, shorter version of Part 1 appeared on npr.org. 1. In 1965, in a bookstore in my hometown of Brookline, Massachusetts, in the late afternoon of an ordinary school day, in the middle of wi...