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on Modernist Archaist: Selected Poems by Osip Mandelstam, ed. by Kevin Platt (Whale and Star)

The arrival of new Mandelstam translations is an occasion to celebrate the solidity of the poem over the impermanence of the state. American professors who teach this lesson typically load up on theory and philosophy. But in Mandelstam’s world, the theorists – in both government and the arts – pose the lethal threat.

on Writing in the Dark, essays by David Grossman (Farrar Straus Giroux)

Forty-one per cent of the world’s Jews, or 5.5 million people, live in Israel. There are also 1.5 million Arab Israelis. In a country so small, prime ministers actually become acquainted with novelists and poets. Most of the writers have served in the military.

on The Journal of Jules Renard, edited/translated by Louise Bogan and Elizabeth Roget (Tin House Books)

For thirty years Louise Bogan worked intermittently on a “long prose piece,” a series of memoirs turned out into stories that “she hoped to publish one day as fiction,” as Elizabeth Frank writes in her biography of Bogan.

on Radical Vernacular: Lorine Niedecker and the Poetics of Place, essays edited by Elizabeth Willis (Univ. of Iowa Press)

The great jazz pianist Hank Jones said the following about maintaining artistic control: “There is an extremely important prelude to improvising. Every tune you play has its correct tempo, and you have to find it. When you do, it practically plays itself.

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