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Criticism and interpretation

The Minds of Others

Progress is impossible without change,” George Bernard Shaw wrote in 1944, “and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” But progress through persuasion has never seemed harder to…

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American Expansion

Archie Randolph Ammons, one of the great American poets of the twentieth century, never became as widely known as his contemporaries. He avoided reading his poems in public (“I get…

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The Notes of Patrick Modiano

“We’ve had a bit of a crisis,” Hughes de Courson told me on a raw Parisian morning last February. I’d found him slumped at a table overlooking the cobblestones of…

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Four in Verse

Many of John Ashbery’s recent poems are full of sayings and parables and clichés — but from what culture, what country? The world of these poems resembles ours: there are…

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Cut With the Kitchen Knife

We conventionally use the period to punctuate a finished thought. But Rosmarie Waldrop, one of the most innovative poets in English, deploys the period as a rest, often musical, in…

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The Drums of Marrakesh

A Jamaican-born poet chain-smokes as he listens to a circle of drummers in the old market of Marrakesh, circa 2015. The drums sound in the present, but they also sound…

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New Art

Dear Miss Maier (for who would dare address you as Vivian, let alone Viv?),   Inevitable that I should get crushed out on you, I guess. You seem to be…

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New Books

There were dozens of hippie acts in Haight-Ashbury in the late 1960s, but most people have only heard of a few: Jefferson Airplane, Santana, Janis Joplin, and the Grateful Dead.…

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The Tale of the Tape

This is an essay about an autobiography (Laurie Pepper’s ART: Why I Stuck With a Junkie Jazz Man) that is in large part about the creation of another autobiography (Art…

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September 2014