Morten Høi Jensen

Post image for The Verse That Could Happen: National Poetry Month to the Rescue?

A couple of months back I was sitting in an East Village dive bar enjoying, oh, I don’t know, my third or fourth whiskey (it was Tuesday, after all), when I noticed a very attractive girl next to me committing what appeared to be lines of verse onto a yellow notepad. Hang on, I thought: a fetching young poet sitting next to me in some blighted Manhattan grotto? What movie are you in, buddy? I stole a second glance. True enough, there was her pen scribbling curtly on the paper, and there were the one or two-word stanzas — illegible, from where I sat — filling up the left-hand side of the page in cursive, like the lines of an EKG.

Continue Reading →
Post image for Book Spurning: The People’s Library at OWS

When the NYPD — invasion-clad and riot-tooled — swiftly and forcibly dislodged protestors of the Occupy Wall Street Movement from their stronghold in Zuccotti Park on November 15 last year, they mangled and destroyed, among other things, the so-called “people’s” library, an impressive collection of books generously made available to the public on a barter-basis: take one, leave one. A Gutenbergian species of free trade, if you will.

Continue Reading →
Post image for When I Hear the Word Poetry, I Reach for My Frequent Flyer Miles

AWP, or the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (that’s actually AWWP, but we’ll let that slide), is billed as an annual celebration of authors, teachers, writing programs, literary centers and small press publishers. Every year these bibliophile masses descend on a North American city (Chicago, this year) to promote, mingle, fraternize, frolic, freak out, fight, deal, dole and drink. The book fair is the centerpiece, the polestar of the conference; a nerve-jouncing nerve center of tables and stalls and booths tucked away in the belly of the Chicago Hilton hotel on South Michigan Ave.

Continue Reading →


Poets and Popcorn

by Morten Høi Jensen on February 26, 2012

Post image for Poets and Popcorn

America, says Charlie Citrine in Saul Bellow’s novel Humboldt’s Gift (1975), is proud of its dead poets. Especially the mad ones: the bridge-leapers, the drink-guzzlers, the pill-snackers. Robert Lowell thought everyone was tired of his turmoil, but he obviously wasn’t thinking ahead to the possibilities he and his fellow scribblers presented to the movie business. You can only imagine the film gurus and movie execs surveying the poetscape of the twentieth century with nods of excited approval, foaming about their mouths. Drink, adultery, jealousy, madness, suicide: who knew poets led such cinematic lives!

Continue Reading →


Flying Forward into the Zone

by Morten Høi Jensen on February 5, 2012

Post image for Flying Forward into the Zone

Varamo is only the sixth novel by the Argentinian writer César Aira to be made available in English, but the premise already sounds like an Aira-parody: one night in Panama in 1923, a government employee without a literary bone in his body composes a future masterpiece of Central American poetry and, as often happens, never writes another word again.

Continue Reading →