Aug 17, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 46 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
One can’t do justice in a short space to the late Robert Conquest’s gifts as a poet. But The Scrapbook can offer Nobel laureate Czeslaw Milosz’s assessment, which was no exaggeration:
“In the history of modern poetry, Conquest occupies a permanent place.” Readers unfamiliar with his verse will have to haunt the few remaining used bookstores, as far too many of his seven published volumes of poetry are out of print. Elsewhere in this issue, Joseph Bottum refers as well to his astonishing gift for comic verse. Of that, we can offer a sample, The Scrapbook’s favorite stanza from Conquest’s “Grouchy Good Night to the Academic Year.”
‘Those teach who can’t do’ runs the dictum,
But for some even that’s out of reach:
They can’t even teach—so they’ve picked ’em
To teach other people to teach.
Then alas for the next generation,
For the pots fairly crackle with thorn.
Where psychology meets education
A terrible bull—t is born.
The life and work of a ‘fastidious perfectionist.’ Jun 22, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 39 • By HEATHER TRESELER
‘I envy the mind hiding in her words,” Mary McCarthy opined of Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979), a poet admired for her air of secrecy during the heyday of confessionalism, when poets regularly hauled their Freudian couches into the amphitheater. Bishop’s poems, in contrast, invoke textured scenes and piquant characters—a marketplace in Marrakesh, Robinson Crusoe glumly restored to England, a child in a dentist’s waiting room—charging them with psychological tension, intrigue, and widening gyres of feeling.
Feb 23, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 23 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
In malls today it is inhuman
Not to talk of Taft or Truman,
Nor should a shopper crack a joke
Evoking faults of Ford or Polk.
Make Roosevelts a Facebook “like”
And generally embrace our Ike.
No matter what you may have heard,
Toast Silent Cal—without a word.
May Andrew Johnson now receive
Our pity and a brief reprieve.
Until tomorrow pardon Nixon
As well as every Clinton vixen.
Let food courts ring with Taylor’s praise!
Remember Rutherford B. Hayes,
Those Millard Fillmore glory days,
Jan 19, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 18 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
"Poetry is a window into the soul. And one lesson to me from the reaction to my ‘When Whites Just Don’t Get It’ series is that we need soul-searching about race in America. So I invited readers this month to submit poems about race. Thanks to everyone for sending in more than 300 poems, and I’m happy to turn this column over to you readers and . . . ” (Nicholas Kristof, New York Times, December 28).
8:01 PM, Nov 29, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
Mark Strand died today at the age of 80. The Montreal-born writer, who served as U.S. Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1990-1991, was also a brilliant translator. When I was a junior editor at Ecco Press in the late 80s, Strand used to visit the editor in chief, also an excellent poet, Daniel Halpern, to work on a number of projects translating and promoting international poets, especially from Latin America and Central Europe.
David Ferry, poet of inquiry and doubt.Apr 29, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 31 • By DIANE SCHARPER
David Ferry’s latest poems look at the tantalizing possibility of life after death and the existence of God. But it’s a God that the poet doesn’t know and whose name escapes him. What he does know is that he feels a presence, and poems both hide and connect him to that presence. Or, as the 88-year-old Ferry so plaintively puts it:
From the darkness of her existence, Elizabeth Jennings comes to light.Feb 18, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 22 • By EDWARD SHORT
When John Betjeman was charged with helping find a proper recipient for the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 1977, he contacted Philip Larkin and suggested Elizabeth Jennings (1926-2001), who had befriended Larkin and Kingsley Amis when they were undergraduates together at Oxford.
T. S. Eliot on the threshold of eminence. Dec 31, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 16 • By WILLIAM H. PRITCHARD
'I don’t like reading other people’s private correspondence in print, and I do not want other people to read mine,” wrote T. S. Eliot to his mother in April 1927.
America’s coming-of-age in poetic form.
Dec 10, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 13 • By WYATT PRUNTY
The Open Door begins with Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro” and zooms from there, highlighting 100 years of modern poetry, including that of Louise Bogan, Hart Crane, e. e. cummings, H. D., T. S. Eliot, Marianne Moore, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, and William Butler Yeats.
Earthly delights in the shade of Robert Frost.
Nov 26, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 11 • By ANN STAPLETON
Lover he was, unlonely, yet alone—
Esteemed, belittled, nicknamed, and
The genius of the poet laureate of nonsense. Nov 19, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 10 • By SARA LODGE
Just as American children grow up with Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat, British children grow up with Edward Lear’s fantastical but touching poem “The Owl and the Pussycat.”
A brave new bard for the Internet age. May 7, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 32 • By ELI LEHRER
A complete understanding of Michael Robbins’s poetry requires, in roughly equal measures, knowledge of modern academic poetry, its Romantic-era predecessors, seventies and eighties pop music, recent death metal, and au courant literary criticism. Knowing more than a little about hip-hop and Star Wars helps, too. So does having an analytic mind that loves to puzzle over some of the most interesting, engaging, and rigorous poetry being written today. And access to Google.
Feb 27, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 23 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Barack Obama is a careful politician and a disciplined man. But when he’s on the West Coast, perhaps a little tired because of the jet lag, at a fancy fundraiser with his most glamorous and credulous supporters, he tends to let his guard down. The mask slips.
8:44 AM, Feb 16, 2012 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Here’s President Obama, at a fundraiser last night in Los Angeles: “[T]he American people, beneath all the pain and hurt and frustration … still want to believe that that change is possible, and there's still that hope there. … Mario Cuomo once said that campaigning is poetry and governance is prose. … [W]e’ve been slogging through ‘prose’ for the last three years, and sometimes that gets people discouraged. Because people, they like the poetry.”