Sylvia Plath needs no introduction. “Tulips” is a rather understated poem out of Ariel; it exhibits a kind of quiet control that Plath may not typically be remembered for, somewhat subdued as the narrator sits in a hospital bed—but it’s an amazing poem....more
Posts by: Kyle Williams
Donika Kelly’s debut collection, Bestiary, was an extremely notable release from 2016; longlisted for the National Book Award, the collection operates as a collection of creatures, refusing clear definition in favor of fluid identification that reaches out with stretched hands to pull everything in and let everything flow out, be it in blood or song....more
Dark day, today. And a frustratingly relevant poem, visceral and bursting with rage. Audre Lorde is a hero to anyone who has felt similar rage towards injustice. She taught us so much and we’re still here, trying to decipher the difference between poetry and rhetoric....more
Claudia Rankine is an oracle. Her poetry is beautiful, interrogative, and inventive, as seen in Don’t Let Me Be Lonely and Citizen (the American lyric we need for a path forward). Her consideration and public consciousness is nothing less than illuminating, and necessary in these dire times mercilessly lacking in empathy....more
Srikanth Reddy’s Facts for Visitors, from which this poem is from, came out in 2004; it has beautiful and inventive poems which Reddy has continued to produce since then in books like Voyager (which is a book of erasure made from Kurt Waldheim’s memoir, In the Eye of the Storm)....more
Eileen Myles has been a badass writer for a while now; she tears down what needs be torn down, unapologetically, and fosters a communal feeling, inspiring others to do the same. During the time this poem was published in Not Me, Myles famously ran for president in a write-in campaign—and for many, Maggie Nelson among them, Myles is absolutely our president....more
“At Night the States” is a famous poem that, whether you have or haven’t heard it before, strikes you over the head repeatedly. Formally inventive without any loss in the depth of its feeling, Notley transcends the genre of elegy to an expression of grief that might register unmediated: it is a present poem, an immediate poem, an inconsolable poem....more
Solmaz Sharif’s poems show an extremely agile and adept blending of the personal and the political such that they cannot be pulled apart. Because they cannot be pulled apart. Her first book, Look, published by Graywolf, is one of this year’s most exciting new collections: it bleeds language for what it’s done to us and what we’ve done to it, to each other....more
I’ll Be Here
There is a lake of clear water.
There are forms of things despite us.
Pope said, “A little learning,”
and, and, and, and—the same.
Why don’t you go home and sleep
and come back and talk some more.
At Harper’s Bazaar, Jason Diamond revisits the literary brat pack in the harsh morning light of thirty years later, examining their histories (real and really sensationalized) in hope of moving towards a new understanding of Jay McInerney, Bret Easton Ellis, Tama Janowitz, Donna Tartt, and Jill Eisenstadt—a more balanced understanding, of adults who are ready to settle down....more
For Slate, Shon Arieh-Lerer and Daniel Hubbard provide a video rundown of pop culture’s use of Nietzsche, starting with contemporaneous forces made his philosophy be mangled by Nazi power and ending with True Detective and Kanye....more
And it’s funny—people bring up the fact that Black Wave starts out as memoir and turns into fiction, but… isn’t that what fiction is?
Over at BOMB, Sara Jaffe sat down with Michelle Tea, author of Black Wave, to talk about her work as a memoirist and a fiction writer, the forces of the real and productive ambivalence, and the magic of parenthood....more
…one has no idea, no idea at all, what it’s about. What’s the point of all this? What does it all mean?
At Lit Hub, Claude Arnaud shares an excerpt from his biography, Jean Cocteau: A Life, focusing on the strained friendship between Cocteau and Marcel Proust....more
Our personal pasts aren’t factual records. They’re made up on the spot, synthesized from disjointed details to answer questions we have in the present.
For KROnline, Natalie Mesnard and Patrick D. Watson work towards an excavation of memory from the points of view of poetry and neuroscience....more
Like, your life is falling apart and shit is pretty fucked up and you come to the conclusion that if you just split town you could chill out and be normal again.
At BuzzFeed, Michelle Tea, author of Black Wave, gives us a walking tour of LA in accordance with the places she hit rock bottom most spectacularly—a strip club, a highway ramp, etc.—and what they look like to her now that she is sober, forty-five, and no longer codependent with her ex-boyfriend....more
Isn’t the crowd itself a kind of anti-literature, an intensely physical impediment to the inwardness required of poetry and prose?
At Lit Hub, Dustin Illingworth writes about literature that theorizes “the crowd,” from Don DeLillo to Ezra Pound and Walter Benjamin, with horror and fascination....more
At the New York Review of Books, Joyce Carol Oates writes about Shirley Jackson through her seminal story “The Lottery,” her contemporaneous public perception via hate mail, the figure of her presented in literary biographies, the self she expressed in essays and works of memoir, her marriage made in hell, her abuse of powerful psychotropic drugs—amounting to a wonderfully haunting literary presence in the American Canon....more
For better or worse, poetry is now the only thing he likes to do. Even with the crying and the hopeless odds.
Over at The Point, O.T. Marod writes about the crippling existential despair inherent in the question, “How should a poet make money?”—and a certain poet’s journey in a 2002 Toyota Camry inching along in Chicago traffic (towards?/away?/in the general vicinity of?/not even close to?) an answer....more
Evil is not one man, but rather the process of normalization via which exclusion, deportation, and finally extermination are all rendered morally justifiable.
At Lit Hub, Rafia Zakaria writes an essay about Donald Trump’s rampant Islamophobia and how it can be read as emblematic of the evil Hannah Arendt theorized about in Eichmann in Jerusalum....more
At the Times Literary Supplement, Edmund Gordon shares an excerpt of The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography, about Angela Carter’s time in Japan: the vertigo-inducing flight, what she loved and loathed in Tokyo, her affair with Sozo Araki, her creative process and anxiety towards the composition of The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman....more
When people call other people crazy I don’t get mad, I get bored. When people tell me ghosts don’t exist, I just get bored.
Over at JSTOR Daily, poet Dorothea Lasky writes about The Imagination, “a physical space that one shares with other people in and through poetry,” the palpable materiality of alternative existences (like the spiritual realm of ghosts), and the will to believe....more
You may see life all over the place. You may guess at things that are dying so fast…
Lit Hub shares some really lovely aphorisms written by the great surrealist René Magritte, from the new volume Selected Writings out from University of Minnesota Press, including thoughts on poetry, the workings of representations and objects, revolt, and painting....more
If you can grope your way through late James, you’ll find you have moved out of the Victorian era into the modern and, beyond that, into what we have come to refer to as the postmodern.
Over at the Smart Set, Paula Marantz Cohen makes the argument that the difficult, late-period Henry James was “too modern to be a modernist,” that the stylized difficulty, themes, and indeterminacy make James’s late period one of proto-postmodernism....more
If the very rich were to admit that the society in which they live such lush lives is not only immoral but unnatural, it might demand, say, a massive redistribution of their wealth!
Over at Lit Hub, Colette Shade writes about Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth as an indictment of income inequality in Gilded Age America—distressingly relevant to our own age, despite the book sitting at 116 years old....more