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The Old Man in the Nursery School

Nathan Alterman (1910–1970) was the most important Hebrew poet of his generation. He was popular with readers of poetry and continues to be much-studied. Side by side with the major modernist works that established his reputation, Alterman was also a prolific producer of occasional verse on . . . . Continue Reading »

Thumbing an Issue of Forbes

In the obits, ballplayers still finish first,their August exploits no one quite remembersrestored to life: the diving stop unrehearsedamid the routine plays of life’s surrender. But beneath our unnamed pastoral hero,I’ll find her, too, Ms. Forbes-Under-Thirtywho built a company up from zero,ran . . . . Continue Reading »

Private Faces in Public Places

If the stature of a poet is measured by how well his words stick in the reader’s mind and refurbish our language, then W. H. Auden is one of the dominant English voices of the twentieth century. It is ironic that he came to “loathe” (his word) some of his best-remembered work. The most . . . . Continue Reading »

Geoffrey Hill, Prodigal

Among poets writing in English during the last forty years, Geoffrey Hill was sometimes named the greatest one alive, but he was always named the most difficult one to read. He had come to live and teach in America in the 1980s, along with a brilliant group which included Paul Muldoon at . . . . Continue Reading »

Poet in History

Miłosz: A Biographyby andrzej franaszektranslated by aleksandra parker and michael parkerbelknap, 544 pages, $35 The impression left in the mind of an American reader, after he finishes Andrzej Franaszek’s exhaustive new biography of Czesław Miłosz, is the absurdity that this man was ever . . . . Continue Reading »

Hating Poetry

Ben Lerner’s elegant, amusing essay turns on a distinction between Poetry and poems. Poetry is Caedmon’s dream, a virtual ideal that actual poems can’t live up to. “The fatal problem with poetry,” Lerner writes, is “poems.” Every poet is, inevitably, “a tragic figure.” Continue Reading »

Failed Poets

Roberto Bolaño neatly captures the spirit of The Savage Detectives in an establishing scene early in the book. Seventeen-year-old Juan García Madero is the beneficiary of an unexpected sexual favor in the back room of a restaurant. When he is close to experiencing la petite mort, a waitress pokes . . . . Continue Reading »

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