Barry Schwabsky

Post image for Reader’s Diary: ‘In the Empire of the Air: The Poems of Donald Britton’

When I wandered ingenuously onto the scene, Donald Britton was a young star, or so I considered him, just a few years older than me (actually a bit more than a few, it turns out — he always looked so boyish) yet somehow wiser.

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Post image for Reader’s Diary: Man Ray’s ‘Writings on Art’

Jennifer Mundy acknowledges in her Preface to Man Ray’s Writings on Art that, compared to his friends Duchamp and Picabia, he has come to be seen as something of a lightweight.

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Post image for Reader’s Diary: ‘Supplication: Selected Poems of John Wieners’

What happens when you cross the perfervid emotionalism of Edna St. Vincent Millay, she of the candle burning at both ends, with Charles Olson’s idea, distilled out of William Carlos Williams, of a projective verse imbued with “the breathing of the man who writes” (and I suppose it is very emphatically a man who writes the poetry that Olson had in mind)?

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Post image for Reader’s Diary: Catherine Texier’s ‘Russian Lessons’

It’s so hard to read a friend’s book without prejudice.

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Post image for Reader’s Diary: ‘Women of Abstract Expressionism’

We think the canon of American art of the 1940s and ‘50s is set in stone, but we’ve got a lot of looking still to do.

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Post image for Reader’s Diary: Lorraine Lupo’s ‘By Way Of’

Cards on the table: I prefer short poems to long ones, slender bodies of work to massive ones. So naturally, I consider the best way to read poetry is not in a book, but in a chapbook.

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Post image for Reader’s Diary: Kristin Ross’s ‘May ’68 and Its Afterlives’

Some thought the Arab Spring could not have happened without social media. But the necessity makes the means and not vice versa. May ’68 didn’t need Facebook. They had transistor radios.

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Post image for Reader’s Diary: ‘Between Friends: The Correspondence of Hannah Arendt and Mary McCarthy’

No one writes letters anymore, but I still like reading them — especially when both sides of a correspondence are collected between two covers. No narrative, no argument — just the mercurial yet implicit unity of a relationship. Still, I’m not sure why I picked up this book.

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Post image for Reader’s Diary: Edward St. Aubyn’s ‘The Patrick Melrose Novels’ (Continued)

When I left off last week I was halfway through this quartet of low-life-in-the-midst-of-high-life novels, dissatisfied with the series’ prelude, Never Mind, but encouraged by the relative superiority of book two, Bad News.

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Post image for Reader’s Diary: Edward St. Aubyn’s ‘The Patrick Melrose Novels’

To begin reading a contemporary novel isn’t easy, if you’re not in the habit.

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