Bookish Links — December 2017

Image by Aaron Burden.
  • “We believed that poetry, the opposite of propaganda, should encourage people to think and feel for themselves: it should appeal to their ‘generous instinct,’ as MacNeice said in the violent 1930s”: the New Statesman recently published this lecture by Northern Irish poet Michael Longley on the Troubles and the poetry that came out of it.


Happy New Year!


Bookish Links — November 2017

Photo by Kelli Tungay
  • “When a poem comes, I feel it physically. I feel a burning in my temples and I feel a tightening in my throat. I know it’s very weird. Something is coming that can be a poem and I have to see if I can get it into words”: The BBC interviews Dana Gioia about his work space and how he goes about composing a poem.

Bookish Links — October 2017

Image by Daniela Cuevas via Unsplash.
  • By now, you’ve probably heard about Jill Bialosky’s memoir Poetry Will Save Your Life, for which she “borrowed” paragraphs from several other sources. By far, the best take on this whole debacle has come from Talya Zax at Forward. (HT: A. M. Juster)


Bookish Links — September 2017

Image by Florian Klauer.

Bookish Links — August 2017

Image by Asgeir Pall Juliusson.

Out of the starless night of the Uncreated, that was before the stars, a soul begins to grope back to light. It gropes its way through strange, half-lighted chambers of Dreams, where in a brown and gold twilight, it sees many things that are dimly significant, true stories twisted into new and amazing shapes, human beings whom it knew long ago, sitting at the windows by dark sunsets, or talking in dim meadows. But the awful invading Light grows stronger in the dreams, till the soul in one last struggle, plunges into a body, as into a house and wakes up within it. Then he rises and finds himself in a wonderful vast world of white light and clear, frankly coloured shapes, an inheritor of a million stars. On enquiry he is informed that his name is Gilbert Keith Chesterton.

This amuses him.

  • And finally, readers are rediscovering what our great-great-grandparents knew years ago—memorizing poetry is awesome: “You can’t express your ineffable yearnings for a world that is not quite what you thought it was going to be until you’ve memorized three or four poems that give you the words to begin.”

Bookish Links — July 2017

Image by Sticker Mule.
  • This month, Philip Yancey’s Washington Post op-ed on “the death of reading” caused a lot of buzz. You can read that here.
  • It also inspired some interesting responses, including this one by Cynthia Haven tying Yancey’s ideas into Czesław Miłosz’s idea that we are living in a time of “the complete undoing of essences, of eternal truths.”

Bookish Links — June 2017

Image by Melissa Askew.
  • Rain Taxi magazine has one of the last interviews Derek Walcott gave before he died. He and interviewer Michael Swingen talked about Hart Crane for most of it, so there’s some fascinating analysis there.
  • This month, there was a ton of articles about Gwendolyn Brooks, for the occasion of her 100th birthday (I wrote one too!), but one of my favorites was this post from the Poetry Foundation about the archive of Brooks’s papers and photographs at the University of Illinois, with pictures included.
  • “That is what we do as writers. We are constantly fighting our forefathers, the writers who have gone before us, unwriting what they’ve written and trying to do better than they have done”: Image Journal just debuted their new podcast. The first episode features author Richard Rodriguez and it’s terrific.
  • And lastly, Dana Gioia spoke at the Sierra Poetry Festival last month, where he delivered a wonderful speech in defense of the arts and followed it up with a poetry reading. (Only thing is the video cuts out just as he’s starting to read THE BEST POEM IN THE SET.) (HT: Cynthia Haven)

Bookish Links — May 2017

Image by Jan Mellström

Bookish Links — April 2017

The Waterstone’s bookstore housed in the Bradford Wool Exchange building. Image by Michael D. Beckwith

Bookish Links — March 2017

The famous “Sky Road” in Clifden, Co. Galway (Image by Morna, CC BY-SA 3.0.)

It’s the last day of Reading Ireland Month, so this month’s installment of “Bookish Links” is going to include only links about Irish books and writers.

  • First off, there’s the official Reading Ireland Month link-up, which you can check out here.
  • Here, we run the gambit of obscure Irish curses, from the inconvenient (“That you may be badly positioned on a windy day”) to the diabolical (“That the Devil will make a ladder out of your spine”) to the feline (“My cat’s curse upon you”).

Bookish Links — February 2017

Image by Thomas Kelley.
Image by Thomas Kelley.

Bookish Links — January 2017

Image by Clem Onojeghuo.
Image by Clem Onojeghuo.

And last but not least, Tom Hillman from Alas, Not Me found this awesome video of John Hurt (may he rest in peace) reciting Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” for Charlie Rose.