Book Review: Alan Farrell, Expended Casings

In his foreword (whimsically rendered “Deployed Forward”), Alan Farrell ridicules pretension, incomprehensibility, poetry as therapy, literary critical jargon, posturing, the cult of free verse, swingebuckling, and shallow war poetry cliches. Nevertheless you sense that he is trying to be restrained and polite, and barely succeeding. Farrell’s reader might then expect carefully crafted and elegantly ironic … Read more

Book Review: William Logan, The Undiscovered Country

Poetry is the only art form in America that I can think of that no longer has a bracing tradition of real criticism. Novels, plays, films, operas . . . we expect critics to note honestly whatever flaws and failures they see in specific works. Critical reviews often hurt sales and egos, but without them … Read more

Book Review: Stephen Burt, Close Calls with Nonsense

A few years ago nearly everyone thought that poetry was finally dead, that the few remaining poets were living solitary lives as poetry presses shut down and poetry readers diminished. Then along comes  technology to the rescue: new printing technologies, vast social networking sites, poetry blogs, online publishers, and inexpensive personal web sites. Now new … Read more

Theatre: David Ives on Self-Knowledge

The playwright David Ives appeared Feb. 24, 2010 at a Barnes & Noble in New York City, on a panel (promoting the new book The Play That Changed My Life) and made an interesting observation. Ives said that he had thought a lot about what David Mamet wrote in an article in The New York … Read more

Film Review: The White Ribbon

The White Ribbon reminds us of the enormous power of black and white films. This film is visually wonderful, with its painterly compositions, interesting faces, and occasional frames in which the subject is partially obscured. B&W adds a subtle layer of artifice and historic distance to our experience as viewers. The story and characters are … Read more