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Letters and Comments from All Over: an End of Summer Special

Lionel Trilling 2<<< On August 10, 2021, Barbara Lemon said: I was very interested and studied "New Trilling Essay the Talk of the Town" at my leisure. To be honest, I really liked it. In fact it displays a high level of professionalism. I recommend my own blogsite in addition to "The Liberal Imagination," which is boss, also "The Opposing Self," although I didn't get all the references, and "Beyond Culture," which really points the way forward by looking back over the other's shoulder and seeing something as grim as what Lot's wife may have witnessed, although reports of that event disagree. >>>

Balanchine Dancing<<<Martha Ullman West said: This is a wonderful interview with [Suzanne] Farrell, questions and answers, both. Farrell, in describing the specifics of working with Balanchine, says many of the same things Todd Bolender told me and and many others about working with him in the studio (which he did from 1940 to 1960, originating roles in Four Temperaments, Ivesiana, and Agon, to name a few). I interviewed Bolender extensively for my book, Todd Bolender, Janet Reed and the Making of American Ballet; Bolender, who was arguably Balanchine's first choreographic apprentice, was particularly interesting about analyzing roles, which Balanchine left up to the dancers, never in fact seems to have mentioned. And Emily [Fragos], my copy of the Everyman anthology of dance poetry was given me by Ursula Le Guin. I value your work.>>


<<< Bruno Anthony said:
I totally agree with Ms. [Lilly] King and hate the idea of "going for gold" and "settling for silver" as if the latter were a consolation prize. Another thing the announcers can do to improve their presentation is to shut up -- to allow some silence rather than talking all the time. Also, to honor the athletes who finished two seconds slower than the top three. >>>

Howard Bass wrote regarding Gardner McFall's "First Kiss", our pick of the week, on July 4, 2012):

<<<This terrific poem brought back a vivid memory from my own elementary school years. In 4th grade (or thereabouts) we were taught to make candles by dipping our wicks (ok, there's a vulgar image for you) into a big vat of melted wax. We'd file into the school kitchen, dip, and go out, circling in and out of the kitchen as the wax hardened and our candles thickened. So some students were in the kitchen, others outside waiting to go back in. A couple of the boys kissed Lynn Kaiser and they dared me to do it, too. So I did, kissing her on her forehead, just at the moment when the teacher looked out at us from the kitchen (no doubt we caused something of a commotion). So while Larry and Mark got away with it, I had to stay after school and receive a stern lecture from said teacher. I was not, she declared, a gentleman! I took my punishment like a gentleman and did not implicate the other kissers. Poetry can have a powerful effect on memory--this one really worked for me! Many thanks for posting it, T >>>

Mary Jo Salter Hammer MuseumOn June 13, 2021, Dr. Earle Hitchner said, re a "pick of the week" selection by Terence Winch:
<<< Among the questions simmering in Mary Jo Salter’s skillfully constructed poem is this: What gets erased in the formation of character by inculcating and then enforcing acquiescence in adolescents? Salter shakes off the dusty notion of rote compliance and imposed silence as conducive to learning. The noisy boys turn affliction into fun, thus temporarily thwarting their martinet nun’s discipline by speaking and behaving as the boys they are. Brava to Salter for this bravura verse lending voice to these “unrecorded voices,” including her father’s. >>>

On May 14, Ken Deifik said, responding to Lera Auerbach's "Viennese Traffic Lights":
<< I'm sure you know the German saying that the Austrians want us to think Beethoven was Austrian and Hitler was German. I got to visit with my mother in '75. She was born and raised there, and sent to America at 16. She showed me the concrete tool shed on the Ringstrasse where she was imprisoned overnight for the crime of sitting on a bench while Jewish. It was still there 36 years later, probably still holding tools. Her parents got her out of the country ASAP after that. They were not so lucky, themselves.>>
May 14, 2021 on Viennese Traffic Li…
Ron_padgettOn January 31, Don Berger wrote appreciatively of Ron Padgett, whose poem "Morning" was chosen by Terence Winch as his "pick of the week." << This fable is characteristically fabulous work from Ron Padgett, whose poems I've loved since first learning of him from James Tate in the late seventies. His translation of Cendrars is my Bible and will always be (I own two copies, just in case!). In this poem "Morning," myth marries history--imagination's in its highest gear, clarity and direct speech form the great groundwork, fun wins! >>> Posted by: Don Berger | January 31, 2021 at 12:30 PM

On May 7, 2021, Emily Fragos responded to Mindy Aloff's piece on Jacques D'Amboise: <<< I well remember seeing Jacques d'Amboise partnering the great Suzanne Farrell in Balanchine's late masterpiece, Davidsbundlertanze, music by Schumann. It was at the end of his glorious career. When he carried Farrell offstage, the audience gasped. It was one of Balanchine's most breathtakingly beautiful and haunted moments. What genius! What divine dancers! I am so grateful that I got to see it. >>>

Freud1On May 6, 2021 in resonse to "On Freud's Birthday: The Definitive What Do Women Want?", Jill Newnham wrote:
Peace Corpse is typo or error for Peace Corps.

"Transgressive love has to unmake the world a little before it gets on with loving. All other love only has to knock over the Self. So Sappho (who existed in the day when Hera could still order Zeus around) was the first non-transgressive lesbian erotic poet because there's not an iota of shame in her. Take a look at this fragmentary sample..." Yes, but--for whom was Sappho writing? Herself, her lover/beloved? In which case, the idea of apology or shame or identity consciousness or politics wouldn't really enter (or be near as likely to enter) into it, would it? How often are we writing in such deliriously pure circumstances? Good post. Thanks. >>>
A. E. StallingsTimothy Swain said, re "An Interview with A. E. Stalling by Aspen Matis":
A.E. Stallings is one of our greatest poets today. I've been following her for years--her translations, too; everything is superb!
May 29, 2021 >>>
Adam and Eve<<< Molly Arden said, in response to "Larkin, Uncensored":
Bill Lawgen und Mary Syer
Wurden letzten Mittwoch Mann und Frau.
Hoch sollen sie leben, hoch, hoch, hoch!
Als sie drin standen vor dem Standesamt,
Wusste er nicht, woher ihr Brautkleid stammt,
Aber sie wusste seinen Namen nicht genau.
Wissen Sie, was Ihre Frau treibt? Nein!
Lassen Sie Ihr Lasterleben sein? Nein!
Hoch sollen sie leben, hoch, hoch, hoch!
Billy Lawgen sagte neulich mir:
Mir genügt ein kleiner Teil von ihr!
Das Schwein.
-- Brecht und Weill, Die Dreigroschenoper
ChurchillRichard Kirschenbaum said re Lawrence J. Epstein's post "The Little-Known Film That Changed History" (Pimpernel Smith, 1941), a post that went up on July 12, 2013:
<<< All true with the possible exception of the Churchill inspired mission to keep Spain out of the war. By June 1943 there was little danger of Spain joining the Axis. Franco was far too savvy for that. Hitler had pressured Franco to join him in October 1940 when nobody could give you a reasonable scenario by which the Nazis could lose. Even then Franco said no, causing Hitler to state that he would rather have three or four teeth yanked out than have to deal with Franco again. Still a great film with no small amount of humor from that "Finest Hour" of British history when they held the line for civilization and all looked bleakest. The author of this post is sooooooo correct about the significance of the time line.  May 21, 2021 >>>
Alan Ziegler & DL June 11  2019Alan Ziegler writes, re this post of May 14, 2021 ("Poets, Law and Order, and Criminal Intent")

<<< And there's this dialogue from [Dick Wolf's] Law and Order the Original:

Librarian: Verlaine was the real talent, you know. Rimbaud just latched onto his coattails and wouldn’t let go.
Briscoe: We were just saying that on the way over here.
Librarian: He shot him.
Briscoe: Who shot who?
Librarian: Verlaine popped Rimbaud. Paul loved Arthur. Paul also loved Matilda. It was a whole mess. The French—what do you expect?
Briscoe: So can you tell us if you sold any copies recently?
Librarian: If you really want decadent, I’d stick with Baudelaire.
May 19, 2021 at 09:04 AM  >>>

Alan Ziegler writes, re this post on The Asphalt Jungle:

<<< My father told me it was essential that I see The Asphalt Jungle in order to understand his father, a bank robber, jewel thief, and frequent convict. My grandfather always worked with a crew of specialists (he was the one who could crack the safe).>>> April 20, 2021 at 05:22 PM

Bob Hershon  Michael Lally  Bill Zavatsky  DLOn "Remembering Bob Hershon" by Terence Winch, Justin Jamail writes on March 24, 2021.
Bob published my first book. He and Charles North invited me to read with them at Zinc Bar. Just two of countless generosities large and small. I used to bring beers and my children to his house for talks. When we would leave, he would say "goodbye sweetheart" to my then two year old daughter in his gruff voice and she would shout in a tiny voice "goodbye sweetheart!" in return, and Donna would wonder what was going on downstairs. He was a good hugger and a good neighbor.

I think I never left a conversation with Bob without learning the names of writers or other interesting people who had been part of his life in one way or another. >>>

[Pictured left to right: David Lehman, Bob Hershon, Bill Zavatsky, Michael Lally]

<< One of my greatest joys has been hanging out with Bob and Donna [Brook] in their kitchen, talking poetry and perfect avocados. Whenever I visited NY, after I moved to Denver, Bob and Donna would insist I stay with them and even set up museum visits and readings we must go to. In the evenings we would walk over to one of their favorite Brooklyn restaurants, having invited others to join us, and have amazing delicious rollicking dinners. Pure fun to be in the presence of Donna, who could tell all wonderful stories about Hanging Loose authors, and Bob, a rigorous, generous, co-editor of one of the most important small presses ever and all his incredible, passionate energy transforming the space around him. That energy and zen-of-the-moment presence flooded his poetry and gave us all a bigger than life poem that was totally a poem about everyday life and all of its sense and nonsense. A poet of his beloved Brooklyn, of place and all place, his voice spoke to and for us all. He will be sorely missed, but never missing. >>>

Helen ForrestJoanie Mackowski wrote, in response to "Most Popular Funeral Songs" (March 6, 2021):

<<< Great post. Songs to go out to, to be gone by. I second or third Denise's nomination for "Is That all There is"-- such a weird & wonderful song. My own nomination is "Words of Love," as sung by Mama Cass Elliot: a song for going to new places-- >

Hey, that’s not Mama Cass, that’s Helen Forrest!

Thanks, David. This might be a bit more Japanese:


The reason I worried this small point is that the second half of the haiku is very ambiguous in Japanese. The first item in the sequence referring to the "old pond" is followed by the "cutting phrase" "ya," which separates it as an object from the remainder of the haiku. The second half is meant to be read as one flowing unit -- frog jumping and water sounding. Basho chose to express this grammatically in a way so that the leaping frog modifies the water sound. So, it is literally something like "frog-leaping water sound." So, in English word order this would conventionally lead to putting the frog last in the sequence, such as "the sound of water made by a frog leaping into it" But this is pedestrian, awkward and not mysterious in any way. The manner in which Basho did this, however,creates a "which came first, chicken or egg?" feeling, fusing the splash and the leaping frog into a single phenomenon. BashoThis is reinforced because Basho places no cutting phrase "ya" between the mention of the leaping frog and the water sound. Thus, he enacts what haiku is made for: like a koan, a bit of cognitive confusion provoking thoughts about the true nature of perception. Seems to me the sequence I suggested -- Pond,Splash, Frog-- best recreates this authorial intention in English. Best, Mark
February 22, 2021
Master of GamblersRon writes, in response to "The Master of Gamblers" (January 17, 2021)
"Do not, beloved, regret that you yielded to me so quickly:
I entertain no base, insolent thoughts about you.
Arrows of Cupid work divers effects. Some do but scratch us:
Slow and insidious these poison our hearts over years.
Yet with a head freshly honed and cunningly fledged, certain
Pierce to the marrow, inflame rapidly there our blood.
When gods and goddesses in days of heroes made love, then
Lust followed look and desire, with no delay, was indulged.
Surely you don't think the goddess of love lost a moment
When, in Idean grove, Anchises caught her eye.
Nor did Luna delay about kissing that beautiful dreamer—
Jealous Aurora had else hastily wakened the lad.
At the loud banquet Hero regarded Leander—then promptly
Into dark waters he plunged, ardently swam toward his love.
When Rhea Silvia, princess and virgin, came down to the Tiber
Just to fetch water, a god seized her and that is the way
Mars begat himself sons, a pair of twins whom a she wolf
Suckled. Today a proud Rome claims to be queen of the
Ava Gardner
On April 10, 2021,Suzanne said in response to "Who Said It?"
<<< What is Ava Gardner doing in this post? Answer: Ava Gardner knows who said "If the Kennedy White House was decadent, the Clinton White House was sordid." But -- as we can tell by the expression on her face -- she's not talkin'. Where can I redeem my points? >>>
<<< On August 21, 2012, Derrida invoked his concept of the Pharmakon in relation to this New York Post cover of 8/21/21:

Dumkirk Sat 21 August 2021“(the pharmakon is neither remedy nor poison, neither good nor evil, neither the inside nor the outside, neither speech nor writing; the supplement is neither a plus nor a minus, neither an outside nor the complement of an inside, neither accident nor essence, neither penis nor vagina; the hymen is neither confusion nor distinction, neither identity nor difference; the clitoris is neither consummation nor virginity, neither the veil nor unveiling, neither the inside nor the outside, etc., but hidden as if by common tribal consent; the left tit is neither a signifier nor a signified, the right tit is neither a sign nor a thing, neither a right wing presence nor a left wing absence, neither a position nor a nightgown, etc.; spacing is neither space nor time; nyet; et la langue Doc (Papa); neither you nor he nor any of my envious enemies can define what you can’t define and that includes deconstruction, the big-time bug spray at the border of Plato and solider Aristotle; the incision is either the circumcised integrity of a beginning, or of a simple cutting into, and the orgone-box lather as prescribed by Wilhelm Reich, no longer in favor, but tested only in theory; that is, simultaneously either or, but also, and not even; the mark is also the marginal limit, the march, etc., and not just the victim of a hoax.”) >>>

Chaucer2On August 30, 2021 at 08:33 AM David Beaudouin responded to Chaucer Gets Canceled 
<<< Sadly, this critical attitude, couched in current correctness, is strangely blind to the fact that folks in the 14th century simply did not behave or think the way we do today. It's thus a specious argument to expect them retrospectively to do so or else be censored. And may I add that Chaucer authored what's considered to be one of the first feminist narratives in the English Language, the Wife of Bath's Tale. >>>

March 29, 2019

March 05, 2019

July 12, 2018

July 09, 2018

August 13, 2017

October 03, 2016

October 02, 2015

October 01, 2015

April 19, 2015

April 19, 2014

February 22, 2014

February 01, 2013

April 12, 2012

June 25, 2011

June 12, 2011

January 13, 2011

December 18, 2010

December 11, 2010

June 12, 2010

June 11, 2010

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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