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Updike, John


At night–the light turned off, the filament
Unburdened of its atom-eating charge,
His wife asleep, her breathing dipping low
To touch a swampy source–he thought of death.

– John Updike, “Burning Trash”

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Read this interview with John Updike from the Paris Review:

The Paris Review

In 1966, when John Updike was first asked to do a Paris Review interview, he refused: “Perhaps I have written fiction because everything unambiguously expressed seems somehow crass to me; and when the subject is myself, I want to jeer and weep.

How long will our bewildered heirs
marooned in possessions not theirs
puzzle at disposing of these three
cunning feignings of hard candy in glass–
the striped little pillowlike mock-sweets,
the flared end-twists as of transparent paper?

– John Updike, “Venetian Candy”

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Watch John Updike in conversation with the New York Times:

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Rich, Adrienne


Spirit like water
moulded by unseen stone
and sandbar, pleats and funnels
according to its own
submerged necessity –

– Adrienne Rich, “At Willard Brook”

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Read this interview with Adrienne Rich on her poetry collection, “Tonight No Poetry Will Serve,” from the Paris Review:

Adrienne Rich on ‘Tonight No Poetry Will Serve’

Photograph by Robert Giard. Adrienne Rich needs no introduction. One of the twentieth century’s most exhaustively celebrated poets and essayists, she counts among her many honors a National Book Award, a Book Critics Circle Award, and the Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award. Robert Hass has ascribed to her work the qualities of salt and darkness, praising…

Saw you walking barefoot
taking a long look
at the new moon’s eyelid
later spread
sleep-fallen, naked in your dark hair
asleep but not oblivious
of the unslept unsleeping

– Adrienne Rich, “Tonight No Poetry Will Serve”

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Watch Adrienne Rich read her poem, “What Kind of Times Are These,” from Poetry Everywhere:

Poetry Everywhere: “What Kind of Times Are These” by Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich reads her poem “What Kind of Times Are These.” Part of the Poetry Everywhere project airing on public television. Produced by David Grubin Productions and WGBH Boston, in association with the Poetry Foundation. Filmed at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival. For more information, visit http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/poetryeverywhere/.

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Pollitt, Katha

katha p

On every page a hero shakes his fist
while women on tractors chant deliriously “Take me!”,
hydroelectric dams, of their own free will,
produce a cascade of roses and bicycles

– Katha Pollitt, “An Anthology of Socialist Verse”

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Read this interview with Katha Pollitt from Katonah Poetry:

Interview with Katha Pollitt – Katonah Poetry Series

Andy Kuhn: You have written so well and so much in such an array of genres that there’s a temptation to take up your poetry in relation to your work in prose, possibly at the risk of not fully engaging the poems themselves, which are extraordinary.

Everything happens at once: court ladies pick iris,
nobles hunt pheasant, poets walk in the snow.
In a dragon-prowed boat, under a canopy of flowers,
Prince Genji, the great lover,
sails in triumph from bedroom to bedroom: in each
a woman flutters like a tiny jewelled fan.

– Katha Pollit, “A Screen Depicting the Fifty-Four Episodes of the Tale of Genji on a Background of Gold Leaf”

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Watch Katha Pollitt discuss writing at the NYS Writing Institute:

Katha Pollitt at The NYS Writers Institute in 2015

Katha Pollitt, influential voice of American feminism and long-time columnist for The Nation, is the author of the much-talked-about book, Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights (2014). Publishers Weekly described it as “an impassioned, persuasive case for understanding abortion in its proper context.”

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Percy, Walker


There is a great deal of difference between an alienated commuter riding a train and this same commuter reading a book about an alienated commuter riding a train… the nonreading commuter exists in true alienation, which is unspeakable; the reading commuter rejoices in the speakability of his alienation and in the new triple alliance of himself, the alienated character, and the author. His mood is affirmatory and glad: Yes! That is how it is!

– Walker Percy, “Man on Train”

Read this interview with Walker Percy from the Paris Review:

The Paris Review

This interview was conducted by mail, from May to October, 1986, at an enormous geographical distance; but the interviewer does cherish the memory of a personal meeting. It was on May 4, 1973, a warm Louisiana evening, at Percy’s home in Covington, a small town at the northern end of the causeway running above Lake Pontchartrain (New Orleans is at the southern end).

Watch Walker Percy give his Notre Dame commencement speech in 1989:

Walker Percy begins speaking at 4:00 minutes.

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Naylor, Gloria


Language is the subject. It is the written form with which I’ve managed to keep the wolf away from the door and, in diaries, to keep my sanity. In spite of this, I consider the written word inferior to the spoken, and much of the frustration experienced by novelists is the awareness that whatever we manage to capture in even the most transcendent passages falls far short of the richness of life. Dialogue achieves its power in the dynamics of a fleeting moment of sight, sound, smell, and touch.

– Gloria Naylor, “The Meanings of a Word”

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Listen to an interview with Gloria Naylor on NPR:

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Hughes, Ted


Bloody Mary’s venomous flames can curl;
They can shrivel sinew and char bone
Of foot, ankle, knee, thigh, and boil
Bowels, and drop his heart a cinder down;
And her soldiers can cry, as they hurl
Logs in the red rush: “This is her sermon.”

– Ted Hughes, “The Martyrdom of Bishop Ferrar”

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Read this interview with Ted Hughes from the Paris Review:

Paris Review – The Art of Poetry No. 71, Ted Hughes

The Paris Review is a literary magazine featuring original writing, art, and in-depth interviews with famous writers.

Farmers in the fields, housewives behind steamed windows,
Watch the burning aircraft across the blue sky float,
As if a firefly and a spider fought,
Far above the trees, between the washing hung out.
They wait with interest for the evening news.

– Ted Hughes, “The Casualty”

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Watch Ted Hughes discuss and read his work:

Ted Hughes interview and a reading from The Iron Man

Ted Hughes speaking about putting his stories to music and he reads an extract from The Iron Man.

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Hughes, Frieda


The holes that filtered you before,
Like swamp dogs, open mouthed, are sleeping.
Their mud has sunk between your fault lines
And their bed
Rocks at the end of your corridor.

– Frieda Hughes, “The Smile”

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Read this interview with Frieda Hughes from TIME:

Breaking News, Analysis, Politics, Blogs, News Photos, Video, Tech Reviews – TIME.com

If the world of poetry were a monarchy, Frieda Hughes would certainly be a princess. A poet, children’s book author and artist in her own right, Hughes, 46, is the daughter of poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.

They are killing her again.
She said she did it
One year in every ten,
But they do it annually, or weekly,
Some even do it daily,
Carrying her death around in their heads
And practicing it. She saves them
The trouble of their own;
They can die without ever making
The decision. My buried mother
Is up-dug for repeat performances.

– Frieda Hughes, “My Mother”

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Watch Frieda Hughes read her work at the Ted Hughes Festival 2008:

Ted Hughes Festival – Frieda Hughes reads her poems

24/10/2008 – Ted Hughes Theatre, Mytholmroyd. Frieda Hughes reads some poems from her published collections “Wooroloo”, “Stonepicker” & “Waxworks” and from her upcoming “The Book of Mirrors”. This video is only an excerpt of her reading, I apologise for the quality of both image and sound.

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Howard, Jean


Here fuchsia is not sun.
It is the skin of your forehead
Tightening like pomegranate.
And these seeds spilling out
Are not your thoughts,
Your life,
But the undoing of your life
As you wander
The corridors of this
Ship, trying to find

– Jean Howard, “The Cruise”

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Listen to Jean Howard discuss her poetic inspirations from Image Union:

Under lemons
the size of swollen fists,
Joseph speaks of Limoncello,
the first dream of the blossom
before its bud reseals.

– Jean Howard, “Tourist in Amalfi”

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Watch Jean Howard read her poetry at City Art:

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Heinemann, Larry

WIP Larry Heinemann

Let’s begin with the first clean fact, James: This ain’t no war story. War stories are out–one, two, three, and a heave-ho, into the lake you go with all the other alewife scum and foamy harbor scum. But isn’t it a pity. All those crinkly, soggy sorts of laid-by tellings crowded together as thick and pitiful as street cobbles, floating mushy bellies up, like so much moldy shag rug…

– Larry Heinemann, “Paco’s Story”

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Read this interview with Larry Heinemann from Logos Journal:

Larry Heinemann in Conversation with Kurt Jacobsen–Logos Winter 2003

arry Heinemann is a stocky 5’10” with graying beard and twinkling eyes. He is a lifelong and steadfast Chicagoan (four generations in the same Northside neighborhood; five, he points out, if you count his son) who was drafted into the Army in 1966.

Listen to Larry Heinemann speak and read from his work at Writers in Performance:

Larry Heinemann WIP 02 19 09

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