Ron Slate's blog

on Why Poetry Matters, by Jay Parini (Yale University Press)

“I would say it is not our business to defend poetry,” wrote Robert Francis, “but the business of poetry to defend us.” He had been referring to a poet who “defended poetry as he would have defended womanhood on the highway at night … I would say that a poem worth defending needs no defense and a poem needing defense is not worth defending.” I think of Francis’ remarks, quoted here

on Woman of Rome, a life of Elsa Morante, by Lily Tuck (HarperCollins)

The novels of Elsa Morante and Alberto Moravia rest side by side on the shelf of my local library. Moravia’s books are more numerous (he wrote more than 30 novels); Morante’s are thicker (she wrote four). Neither author is seeing much action. Moravia regarded his wife Elsa as the greatest novelist of their generation, and many Italian readers still agree with him.

on Theories of Falling, poems by Sandra Beasley (New Issues Poetry & Prose)

“What we call Life is the scattered attempt to get even with those who ‘misunderstood’ us in childhood,” scribbled Ned Rorem in his diary, published as An Absolute Gift.

on Posthumous Keats, a “personal biography” by Stanley Plumly (Norton)

“Every modern poet is obliged to have a view of Keats, as if he were part of the competition,” Clive James proclaims. Although he doesn't give us a clear reason why this is so, the assessment sticks.

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