Criticism & Theory

The Aesthetics of Nostalgia: Ashbery’s Cornell-like Poems

The Aesthetics of Nostalgia: Ashbery's Cornell-like Poems
by Andrew Michael Field

Joseph Cornell and John Ashbery are united by an aesthetics of nostalgia. Each artist is enchanted and disturbed by the past, and they consequently invest their poems with a longing which can only be called nostalgic. They are nostalgic because time is passing, like a ribbon one is chasing that constantly eludes one’s grip or grasp; and because time is […]

Close Read: Yehuda Amichai’s “Huleikat—The Third Poem about Dicky”

Close Read: Yehuda Amichai's “Huleikat—The Third Poem about Dicky”

In these hills even the oil rigs are already a memory. Here Dicky fell who was four years older than I and like a father to me in times of anguish. Now that I’m older than him by forty years, I remember him like a young son, and I an old grieving father. And you who remember only a face, […]

Belle Lettre on the Postmodern

Belle Lettre on the Postmodern

The Digital Age invites a toggling between the universal and the relative, in part due to the seemingly global access to experience; today, the subjective experience is beginning to unravel.   When we invited poet Ruben Quesada, author of Next Extinct Mammal, to contribute an essay on postmodernism, we looked forward to an insightful exploration. We weren’t disappointed—we were, however, surprised. […]

Harvard Review on Anne Carson & Catullus

Harvard Review on Anne Carson & Catullus

As we pointed out in our review of Anne Carson’s Nox, the backbone of the book is a translation of an elegy written by Roman poet Catullus in the first century BC.  Over at Harvard Review Online we found an excellent discussion of that translation by J. Kates. Among other insights, Kates points out that “in Nox, Carson turns the reader […]

Understanding Jorie Graham

Understanding Jorie Graham

An understanding of Graham’s body of work begins with the Modernists.  A deep understanding requires knowledge of the work of major twentieth century philosophers . . . . This article is intended to provide readers with a basic, accessible understanding of the context in which Jorie Graham writes.  It describes her major influences, focusing on the most prominent philosophy, theory, […]

Paul Celan Revisited: Moving from Silence to Speech

Paul Celan Revisited: Moving from Silence to Speech

In his famous “Meridian” speech Celan confessed that poetry is ultimately “an eternalization of nothing but mortality, and in vain.” The contradictions between silence and speech, between human consciousness and death are present in his poem “Chanson of a Lady in the Shade.”   One of Celan’s earlier poems, “Chanson of a Lady in the Shade” (Mohn und Gedächtnis, 1952), […]