on James Wright: A Life in Poetry by Jonathan Blunk (Farrar Straus & Giroux)

Just after the 1959 publication of his second collection of poems, Saint Judas, James Wright said, “What I would like is a poetry in our own language that is not so weighed down by guilt toward the past, which is able to contain images of what is real to us and belongs to us, and which is sometimes happy.” He strove unceasingly for the next twenty years to make poems with these quali

on The Safe House, a novel by Christophe Boltanski, translated by Laura Marris (University of Chicago Press)

In Paris, the term hôtel particulier describes a grand residence with an interior courtyard, often owned by nobility from the countryside who would stay there while visiting the city. Many of these “townhouses” were constructed in the 1600’s.

on Transatlantic Aliens: Modernism, Exile, and Culture in Midcentury America by Will Norman (Johns Hopkins University Press)

In The Impossible Exile, his biography of Stefan Zweig’s final decade, George Prochnik asks, “What makes a good exile? Is there a calculable equation of inner fortitude, openness of mind, and external networks that determines a refugee’s odds of survival?

on Attention Equals Life: The Pursuit of the Everyday in Contemporary Poetry and Culture by Andrew Epstein (Oxford Univ Press)

“I am less interested in talking about the aesthetics of the ordinary than participating in the fight for the ordinary,” proclaims Charles Bernstein in The Attack of the Difficult Poems. Are there any poets today who would not profess a loyalty to the ordinary?

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