Barry Schwabsky

Post image for A Superior Notebook: Richard Hell’s ‘Massive Pissed Love’

When Richard Hell’s I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp was published two years ago, it got a lot of favorable notice, but I never really thought the book — an account of the writer’s life up to about 1984 — was properly understood.

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Post image for “We Need a New Skin Color”: The Racial Imagination of Dada

The centenary of Dada is almost upon us. If the movement had an identifiable beginning, it was certainly at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich in 1916, where Richard Huelsenbeck, Hugo Ball, Emmy Hennings, Tristan Tzara, Marcel Janco, Hans Arp and others gathered for events that have come down to us in detached bits of information and cloudy rumors more than anything else.

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Post image for “Quirky Things That Happen to Me”: More Notes on Recent Poetry Publications

I never set out to be a critic of poetry, and still refuse the label. Actually writing poems is already thankless enough.

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Language as Maternal

by Barry Schwabsky on January 18, 2015

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George Oppen published his first book, Discrete Series, in 1934; his second, The Materials, emerged 28 years later, in 1962. But even Oppen and Bunting were raring to go in comparison to Wong May, whose third collection of poems, Superstitions, came out in 1978.

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Glow-in-the-Dark Jigsaw Pieces

by Barry Schwabsky on August 2, 2014

Arthur Sze,

I have a habit, when reading a good book of poetry, of looking for the places where the poet seems to be reflecting on his or her own sense of what poetry is. Arthur Sze, one of my favorite poets, writes, “If I sprinkle iron filings onto a sheet / / of paper, I make visible the magnetic lines / of the moment.”

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Post image for “Reckless sympathy, scorn”: Paul Violi’s Last Poems

Paul Violi’s poetry has rarely been taken as seriously as it should be. Probably that’s because he never took the spirit of seriousness as seriously as many people do, especially when it comes to poetry. His erudition never wears an academic gown.

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Post image for A Story of Sentences: Nanni Balestrini’s Ever-Changing Novel

Tristano, the most recently translated book by the Italian poet and novelist Nanni Balestrini may come as a surprise to those who know him through his two previously translated works of fiction, The Unseen and Sandokan.

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Post image for “Eye-Voices, a Choir”: New Translations of Paul Celan

The Romanian-born, German-speaking Paul Celan is one of the most translated poets in recent decades, and we’re still not through with him.

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Why I’m Not Reading Louise Glück

by Barry Schwabsky on October 12, 2013

Post image for Why I’m Not Reading Louise Glück

Do you pick a destination in order to have a reason to take a walk, or do you take a walk in order to get to a place you have in mind? Sometimes one, sometimes the other. Are the words a poet uses essentially a means to convey a thought or feeling he or she has in mind, or is the poem’s subject chosen mainly as a way of helping generate the poem’s language? Sometimes one, sometimes the other. But I confess to being more attracted to the second kind of poetry — or maybe it’s fairer to say I prefer reading poetry as if it were written that way.

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Post image for Scrambled Sonnets, Prosthetic Limbs, and Little Bitter Teeth: Notes on Some Recent Poetry Publications

Ezra Pound said poetry was news that stays news. I thought that in gathering some notes on poetry I’ve read this year I’d bring a bit of news and only after doing so realized to what extent those notes would indicate how today’s poetry can be entwined with medieval Moorish Spain or fourteenth century Tuscany or Elizabethan London or sixteenth century Japan. Sometimes, apparently, poetry can also be ancientries made new again.

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