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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Tuesday, August 22, 2017


After someone has died we see his life in a conciliatory light. His life appears to us with outlines softened by a haze. There is no softening for him, though. his life was jagged and incomplete. For him there was no reconciliation; his life is naked and wretched. (Culture and Value, 46)

The 1st 25 books

The Collected Works of Billy the Kid

The Year as Catches

80 Poems

Times Alone

There is no road

Selected Poems of Machado

A Preface to Translation

El movimiento de las flores

The Torches

Una poética para Antonio Machado

Solitudes, Galleries

The Best of It

Some Spanish Ballads

Some Trees

Areas lights heights

The Fighting Spirit of the Walnut

La recepción literaria de San Juan de la Cruz

The Poems of St. John of the Cross

Acercamientos a Juan Gelman

The Poems of Saint John of the Cross

The Poet and the Mystic

100 Poems

Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror

Counting on Planet Zero

Short poems

--There's nothing to do

--So do it


"Western Civilization?

It would be a good idea"

But what if Gandhi never said it?


Monday, August 21, 2017


It turned out I had books by Schuyler everywhere. His art criticism, letters, novels, diaries, and books of poems. So for this reading project I am becoming an accidental expert on him.  I guess I already was.  Re-reading A Nest of Ninnies now.

Sunday, August 13, 2017


I read my first Racine, an early work reputed to be be weak called Thébaïde.  (I've read Phedre before too, but I mean with my new Racine project.) My idea is to be a silent expert on Racine. In other words, just do everything an expert would do except write about it (except on this blog).

I guess I'll have to read other neoclassical dramas, since a Racine specialist would have done this. The logical first step though would be to read the primary texts in chronological order, then figure out what Racine scholars think about it.

The characters just sit there and talk. They argue their positions. Everyone dies in the end, ignoring the incidents in Sophocles's Antigone. The women pursue peace (Jocasta, Antigone); the men war.  Creon is in love with Antigone and kills himself after she kills herself, so all the major characters are gone.  Not an elegant solution, since then you can't write another play in which Antigone tries to bury Polynices.

The vocabulary is easy. Everything is pretty clear and self-evident.

Friday, August 11, 2017


In a long interview DeBoer uses "sort of" as conversational hedge / filler more times that I can count. He is otherwise articulate, never at a loss for words, confident of his opinions. The hedge doesn't really hedge anything, since its distribution seems random; it doesn't fill time, since it is spoken very rapidly and if taken out would not reduce the duration of the utterance in any significant way. He doesn't seem nervous, so that's not the explanation. He has a few more "uh..." "right?" but they aren't intrusive like the omnipresent "sortofs."

It must be very hard to get rid of a verbal tic like that. My students, when speaking Spanish, put in the word like (in English!) constantly, without even any awareness that they are doing it.


I will read hundreds of books while writing one. Most will not not even relevant to the one I am writing. I am not complaining about this ratio: it seems correct to me.

Writing is time-consuming and intensive. I only expect to write two more books after turning in Lorca II. Seven books is a respectable career, but someone writing those will have read thousands of other books.  

Today I came across a quote by James Schuyler about Lorca's "tedious lament for a dead bullfighter, whose every second line is 'a las cinco de la tarde.'" This is hilarious to me. At least one American poet could find Lorca tedious.  What a relief!  Of course I wish I had come across the quote earlier, since it was in a book I owned the whole time I was working on Lorca's impact on American poets.  I think I'll have to worm it in somewhere in another book.