Seeking Submissions: Wiyoĥpeyata, a New Journal of Native American Literature

September 3, 2013

Our friends at Alternating Current press, who are behind so many fine projects and publications, have yet one more, Wiyoĥpeyata: a Literary Journal for the Pine Ridge Reservation. The title, in Lakota, means Westward, and the journal is open to Oglala Lakota Sioux of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota as well as members of neighboring Great Plains […]

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The Spectacular Arrogance & Ignorance of Steven Pinker’s Scientism

August 8, 2013

What is one to make of an essay seeking to bridge a purported divide of understanding between science and the humanities – in which the humanities are said to fear and mistrust the sciences – that opens with the sentence, “The great thinkers of the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment were scientists”? The essay […]

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Some of the Words Are Theirs

February 22, 2012

. My column from the spring 2012 issue of West:  Norman Maclean’s A River Runs Through It and an exercise in the craft of poetry. The close of The Great Gatsby is probably the most famous and referenced ending of any American novel. Lyricized in a lushly romantic invocation of American promise, somehow gone wrong in the […]

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New Work

August 23, 2011

As of this Fall 2011 issue, I am (along with William Wallis) poetry and contributing editor for West magazine. West, housed at West Los Angeles College, is the online literary and arts magazine representing all of the nine Los Angeles Community Colleges, with a still expanding roster of contributing editors drawn from the talent at […]

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Philip Roth: Fictio cedit veritati

July 7, 2011

“Fiction yields to truth.” This is a dictum of ancient Roman law, specific in its application to Roman law, yet it yields a sentiment appropriate to the discussion. This is what Phillip Roth seems to have conveyed in his recent interview with Financial Times arts editor Jan Dalley that has set the literary world abuzz. […]

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Making it Modern

December 31, 2010

“Art is a private thing, the artist makes it for himself; a comprehensible work is the product of a journalist.” Tristan Tzara, “Dada Manifesto,” March 23, 1918 “Literature is news that stays news.” Ezra Pound, ABC of Reading (1934) Serge Diaghilev, at the composer’s studio, on hearing the first few minutes of Igor Stravinsky’s The […]

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Eating Poetry (XXVI) – “A Contribution to Statistics”

November 13, 2010

A Contribution to Statistics Out of a hundred people those who always know better -fifty-two doubting every step -nearly all the rest, glad to lend a hand if it doesn’t take too long -as high as forty-nine, always good because they can’t be otherwise -four, well maybe five, able to admire without envy -eighteen, suffering […]

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Eating Poetry (XXIII) – The “Ode To Man” from Sophocles’ Antigone

September 25, 2010

The famous line of Alfred North Whitehead is “The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.” I am increasingly persuaded that over two thousand years of contemplating and expressing the human condition is a series of footnotes to the Greeks. Here, from The […]

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Eating Poetry (XXII) – my cold mad feary father

September 11, 2010

The conclusion of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, as Anna Livia Plurabelle, the lady of the river, returns in her flow to the sea… I am passing out. O bitter ending! I’ll slip away before they’re up. They’ll never see. Nor know. Nor miss me. And it’s old and old it’s sad and old it’s sad […]

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How We Lived on It (21) – Kerouac “On the Road”

July 3, 2010

Jack Kerouac in a public reading of the the last page of On the Road, with pictures of Keourac and Neal Cassady (Dean Moriarity). Video: mojo4mojo the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all […]

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More Updike

March 21, 2009

Apropos Kerouac’s Sal Paradise feeling like “a speck on the surface of the sad red earth,” the following from John Updike on the influence of science on our sense of our place in the universe: The non-scientist’s relation to modern science is basically craven: we look to its discoveries and technology to save us from […]

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A Late Homage to John Updike

March 21, 2009

If you missed it, the February 9 & 16 issue of The New Yorker offered representative samples of Updike’s over fifty years as a contributor of short stories, poetry, essays and criticism. This excerpt is from his memoir A Soft Spring Night in Shillington, in which he ruminates on the pleasure of finding close shelter […]

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Artful Humanity

January 11, 2009

Denis Dutton’s new book, The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure and Human Evolution, argues that art is not a social construct, but hardwired through evolutionary development into human being. Which  is what I’ve always argued. He just wrote the book. AJA

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Harold Pinter

January 4, 2009

It is one of the characteristics of art – the greater the art, the greater the characteristic – that it points to (“captures” would precisely misstate the idea) the complexity of nature, of situation, of emotion, of expression, of judgment: the entire human calculus. It is so much so that rarely may the creator be […]

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This Time, Shop with Meaning

December 22, 2008

Books Blog tells us how shopping, for Emma Bovary and others, not only busts bank accounts, but expands horizons. It is a dream of the cosmopolis. Now it’s true that Madame Bovary’s racking up of credit and her consequent response when the bailiffs come knocking should be a dire lesson for us all. But for […]

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The Open Road

December 2, 2008

In the summer of 2006, the year of its eightieth anniversary, Julia and I flew to Chicago to drive the length of old Route 66 from its starting point at Michigan Avenue to its end at the Pacific Ocean in Los Angeles. Our article on the history of the route, and on westward travel in […]

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How We Named Our Blog…

December 2, 2008

In 1993, I spent five months in India working on a children’s book and other photographic projects. I remember some pretty lonely moments. One of those times was during a nine-hour bus ride of heavy thoughts from Mangalore to Bangalore, alone in a third world country without another living soul aware of my whereabouts. This […]

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