The Lavish Land

“April is the cruelest month,” Eliot told Pound all about it, Easter tide out, but why brood on our days unless we are made of dry wood and worry, each ring a memory of rain? Does any month feel pity? You called her a primrose, your spiral spring shell. The land tired of playing possum…

Notes on the Difficulty of Reading a New Poem

What happens when we encounter a new poem? New poems can seem impenetrable. But maybe the idea is not to penetrate. If the poem is new, the reading experience is also new, unfamiliar, foreign to our eyes and ears, to our sensibilities. What happens when we read a poem? In the darkroom, the developer slides…

Prufrock’s Cat

In the failing fog the Prufrocked cat froms and froes, lurking catatonically, catcher of mice and men, leaving not a trace of trance or dance with which we were once familiar, catabolic feline with contractible claws. A hiss as from a match declares this driven cat with drawn claws. This hideous hipstress wears no frown….

Leslie Fiedler and the Either/Or Fallacy of Poetic Criticism

Perhaps there are only two kinds of poetry, still only two kinds of poems. Dichotomy makes for easy argument by eliminating all other possible alternatives. We often hear there are two schools of thought, and any ambiguity is quickly brushed away. The one poetry might be represented by T. S. Eliot, and is characterized by…