T.S. Eliot: 1 great magazine editor. Plus! Check out this animation of Eliot’s “The Hollow Men”

What makes a great magazine editor?Seven theses on editorial plurality – Matthew Philpotts – Eurozine – May 4, 2018

“Eliot was very much a singular editor, both as the sole individual formally responsible for all aspects of editorship and also as the only individual to hold that role through the entire publication run of his journal. Indeed, at the outset of The Criterion, Eliot famously took no salary, continuing to work full-time at Lloyds Bank and squeezing his editorial responsibilities into evenings, weekends and holidays. In this respect, he also represents the highly personal, non-professional style of editorship that intrudes into the private sphere, and not without cost to his health.”

Jeremy Irons: the new “great reader” of T.S. Eliot

Jeremy Irons Breathes New Life Into ‘The Poems of T.S. Eliot’ – Lyndall Gordon – New York Times – May 17, 2018 

There is no definitive voice for reading T. S. Eliot. His own manner, with its proper enunciations, can’t be placed. He was always from somewhere else. In his native St. Louis, his family looked to ancestral New England; at Harvard, he came from a “border state.” As a newcomer to London, teaching schoolboys in Highgate, he was “the American master.” He discarded his American accent without ever coming to sound unquestionably English. I wish it were possible to consult Professor Higgins: Can there be a neutral delivery, devoid of geographical cadence? The recordings of Eliot’s poems try for transparency; lasting content takes precedence over any one reader at a single point in time.

“’luckless lads’ who came to Housman prepared to open their hearts were shocked by the wary, acerbic, pedantic man they encountered.”

“Great poets fall into two categories: those whose public personas are of a piece with their work, and those whose personalities seem to contradict their work. If you met, say, Lord Byron, you would have no doubt that this was the man who wrote ‘Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.’ Byron was as dramatic, world-weary, and scandalous in a drawing room as he was on the page. By contrast, if you were introduced to T. S. Eliot, you might have trouble making the connection between this buttoned-up bank clerk and the nightmare enchantment of ‘The Waste Land.’ The patron saint of this latter type—the poet whose poetry is conspicuously at odds with his or her person—would have to be Alfred Edward Housman, the author of A Shropshire Lad and a writer who became, over the course of the 20th century, a kind of tutelary genius of Englishness.”

A Poet for the Age of Brexit: Revisiting the work of A. E. Housman – Adam Kirsch- 10/17 – The Atlantic

Dailies 8/19/17: in this version: a mug’s game. Against images, mid-August, sea lilies, poetry as camera.


Daily Quote: 

“As things are, and as fundamentally they must always be, poetry is not a career, but a mug’s game. No honest poet can ever feel quite sure of the permanent value of what he has written: He may have wasted his time and messed up his life for nothing.”     -T.S. Eliot


Adam Tavel – Against Images

Mother told me when the snoozing drunk

sledge-hammered her sister Barbara

two weeks after graduation they lost

Read rest of poem 


Wesley McNair – This Poem

Before the age of doing
and photographing and filming
and texting what you did,
back when people simply did,
a girl got married at seventeen,

Read rest of poem 


Sandra Simonds – In This Version

there’s an impulse for privacy though I realize
that testimony streams from every delightful

Read rest of poem 


H.D. – Sea Iris


Weed, moss-weed,
root tangled in sand,
sea-iris, brittle flower,
one petal like a shell

Read rest of poem


Poetry Diary: because it is Mid-August

Gary Snyder – Mid-August at Sourdough Mountain Lookout

Down valley a smoke haze
Three days heat, after five days rain

Dailies 8/17/17: ordinary sex, late summer, trying to sleep, the difficulty of water, a Dictionary of Angels


Daily Quote

“Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.” – T.S. Eliot


Susanna Lang – Welcome

Now that you are here, I want you to know

The difficulty of water.

Read rest of poem 


Ellen Bass – Ordinary Sex

If no swan descends

in a blinding glare of plumage,

Read rest of poem 


James Brasfield – Late Summer

Now cosmos in bloom and snow-in-summer
opening along the garden’s stone borders,

Read rest of poem 



Joyce Schmid – Trying to Sleep

Brooklyn, 1944

As I was watching strips of light that moved
across the ceiling in the night,

Read rest of poem 


Poetry Diary: have you called your local library yet to ask whether they have solar eclipse glasses? Seems like everyone else in the world has….That was the number one question we got at the circulation desks of the university library I work at today, and according to librarian & library assistant friends on Facebook other libraries were inundated as well.  One public librarian friend said they have about 150 that they will give out on Saturday…and that people are already planning on camping out to get them. (Camping out?!?!?!?!) While camping out for your solar eclipse glasses, read 

In the Library

Charle Simic

for Octavio

There’s a book called
“A Dictionary of Angels.”
No one has opened it in fifty years,
I know, because when I did,
The covers creaked, the pages
Crumbled. There I discovered
Read rest of poem 



Dailies 6/25/17: fathers, Dorothy after Oz, & the passing of time



Avid Romtvedt – Sunday Morning Early

My daughter and I paddle red kayaks
across the lake. Pulling hard,
we slip easily through the water.

Read rest of poem



Lindsey Royce – The Fatherly Season

From a distance, I watch my father raking,
belt bent beneath the weight of his gut,
wingtips he hits me with matting tracks in damp
grass, trip-spring mouth cursing twigs that snare

Read rest of poem 


William Wenthe – Endings

The low waves of Kansas plains
roll to the border of the farmyard
where Dorothy stands. The land arrives
to meet her eyes: timothy and coneflower;

Read rest of poem 


T.S. Eliot – Song

If space and time, as sages say,
Are things which cannot be,
The fly that lives a single day
Has lived as long as we.

Read rest of poem 


Philip Guston’s “death mask” painting of T.S. Eliot


“East Coker-Tse” by Philip Guston

East Coker

T.S. Eliot


In my beginning is my end. In succession
Houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended,
Are removed, destroyed, restored, or in their place
Is an open field, or a factory, or a by-pass.
Old stone to new building, old timber to new fires,
Old fires to ashes, and ashes to the earth

Read rest of poem 

Interesting and odd….I just found out about this painting of T.S. Eliot via a New York Times article on the exhibition “Philip Guston and the Poets” at the Gallerie dell’Accademia di Venezia in Italy: An Iconic American Painter, Re-examined Through Poetry – Kat Herriman – New York Times – May 16, 2017:

“Throughout the show, drawings and paintings are contextualized with stanzas — some are more direct than others. A painting from 1979 called ‘East Coker-Tse’ sits alongside lines from the poem that inspired it, the third installment of Eliot’s ‘Four Quartets.’ ‘It is a death mask of Eliot, but also a kind of self-portrait,’ Mayer explains. ‘He painted it after a heart attack that nearly killed him.’ As if in response, the last line ‘East Coker’ reads: ‘In my end is my beginning.’”

T.S. Eliot/Ian Curtis mashup

(poetry diary  226-4/4/17) Thinking of Eliot’s “The Wasteland” as I usually do at least once each April, due to the line


(I actually think February is the cruelest month, though many of my friends argue for March….) While Googling around for what’s interesting out there re: Eliot’s poem I found the strange video above. It’s a mashup of “The Wasteland” and the 2007 biopic “Control” from Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis.

It’s intriguing to watch how they work together….

Hear Jeremy Irons read lots of poems by T.S. Eliot!


Hear Jeremy Irons read T.S. Eliot on BBC (Radio 4)! 

“Is there a right way to do poetry on the radio? Broadcasts of poems are usually either read by the poet themselves or by an actor. The latter is popular, but I’m not so sure it’s always the right answer. The Waste Land, for instance, was the centrepiece of the day, but the decision to include different voices for the different speakers in the poem left the verse masterpiece sounding more like an average radio drama. The problem comes when actors are tempted to overdramatise poems in which drama isn’t always the point.”

– Charlotte Runcie, Reading poetry on the radio is not as easy to pull off as it may appearThe Telegraph, January 4, 2016




This week in Rattle’s “Poets Respond” feature: Dylan’s Nobel + a young Arab-American poet’s response to the current election


Every week Rattle posts poems written in response to the current news. Here are links to the latest two poems:

  1. The first is about Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize in Literature. Karthik Purushothaman writes,

” For as long as the prize continues to be awarded, there is no doubt it will remain Eurocentric. Therefore, every decision the committee makes outside the list of ‘usual suspects,’ I consider a victory for the many forms in which literature exists and continues to thrive, in the present day.”


Karthik Purushothaman

after the announcement of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature

Last week, a voice won
because it was heard.
Can you have claimed any
other victory to be yours?

2. This next poem was written in response to the current election. Jess Rizkallah notes

“As an Arab-American, sometimes I forget how the rest of the world views the Middle East. And then I am reminded.”


Jess Rizkallah

a white poet once told me that no one cares about my politics or experiences.
we all start writing too early. we should only be roving eyeballs,
our writing stilted on cones & rods. no teeth. all lips to the ass of the canon.

 Rattle’s latest print issue is on Adjuncts. 🙂 

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