Category Archives: Books

“[Poetry is] a way of trying to come to peace with the world.” — poet Lucille Clifton

It’s her birthday today. Rita Dove said of Lucille Clifton’s body of work: In contrast to much of the poetry being written today—-intellectualized lyricism characterized by an application of inductive thought to unusual images—-Lucille Clifton’s poems are compact and self-sufficient…Her … Continue reading

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“I knew that I had a facility with words and a power of facing unpleasant facts.” — George Orwell

Orwell was born on this day. When Animal Farm was released in a new edition, Christopher Hitchens (one of THE people you need to read if you want to understand Orwell, besides Orwell himself), wrote specifically about the quote from … Continue reading

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“And the role of the fatal chorus / I agree to take on” — Anna Akhmatova

“This I pray at your liturgy After so many tormented days, So that the stormcloud over darkened Russia Might become a cloud of glorious rays.” — Anna Akhmatova, “Prayer” Anna Akhmatova – born Anna Andreyevna Gorenko on this day – … Continue reading

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“I like variety in poetry. I love how it comes in so many guises. As rock lyric, as rap, as note on a fridge.” — Irish poet Paul Muldoon

“I’m very much against expressing a categorical view of the world. I hope I can continue to discover something, and not to underline or bolster up what I already know.” – Paul Muldoon It’s his birthday today. A giant in … Continue reading

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“There are a great many colored people who are ashamed of the cake-walk, but I think they ought to be proud of it.” — James Weldon Johnson

“Nothing will do more to change that mental attitude and raise his status than a demonstration of intellectual parity by the Negro through the production of literature and art.” – James Weldon Johnson, preface to The Book of American Negro … Continue reading

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“You should approach Joyce’s Ulysses as the illiterate Baptist preacher approaches the Old Testament: with faith.” — William Faulkner

Happy Bloomsday to those who celebrate. I’ve been celebrating Bloomsday for 20 years, in the real world, and here on my site. If you’ve been visiting here for any length of time, you know this. There are too many posts … Continue reading

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“That is no country for old men.” — William Butler Yeats

“I thought we might bring the halves together if we had a national literature that made Ireland beautiful in the memory, and yet had been freed of provincialism by an exacting criticism, a European pose.” — W.B. Yeats William Butler … Continue reading

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“I am the most famous unknown of the century.” — Djuna Barnes

When Barnes called herself a “famous unknown” she may have been being elliptical or ironic. Her writing was not known for its literal through-line. But she was also very well-known for her love affairs with women, and immortalized in print … Continue reading

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For Liberties: Interview with Sean Abley, co-editor of Queer Horror: A Film Guide

For the next essay in my “Movies Before Breakfast” column at Liberties magazine, I interviewed Sean Abley about his upcoming book Queer Horror: A Film Guide (a book which he co-edited). 8 writers are on the marquee, all of whom … Continue reading

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“Language most shows a man. Speak that I may see thee.” — Ben Jonson

“O rare Benn Johnson.” — Jonson’s incorrectly-spelled epitaph in Westminster Abbey It’s his birthday today. Ben Jonson did everything. Plays, poems, satires, elegies, epigrams. His talent was wide and flexible. Everything he wrote feels inevitable. However, as Michael Schmidt writes … Continue reading

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