Wednesday, February 21, 2018



Strong, personal, deep-seated essays on
Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Blanchot, Freud,
Derrida, Poe, Woolf, Hemingway,
David Foster Wallace, Melville,
Thoreau —
with now and then odd quibbles:
the author describes Melville's Pittsfield home "Arrowhead"
which "lay at the base of Mount Greylock."
Far from it, miles away. Greylock actually 
overwhelms the small old mill town of Adams
which lays at the base of Mount Greylock.
Quibbles. Stones in a spring stream rushing
down the Thunderbolt Trail.
An important book.

Yale 2018

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


The essays in this handsome collection are so toothsome, so vital, so nourishing I begin to feel while holding the book and reading, say about Niedecker, or immersing into Emerson or George Bradley's cosmos (so few have since heard of this poet) and then the author spotting Ursa Major "standing on her tail" over Times Square, as if I am holding a picnic basket, and the gingham cloth for over the spring grass, and I'm with the girl, or the boy, however you prefer, and we are tempting our meal to never end. There is the slope of the hill, the splendid view, and since when has a book of essays on poetry and poets felt this good to you? Or think of it as toolbox, and I can in my combined life of feasting and working hard, as you grab in the slot for hammer, cat's paw, nail-set, 12 point handsaw, just as exact and precise each tool for the job are these essays. You'd be a fool not to own this book for your poetry library. It could very well be the first book for your poetry library.

[ BA ]

375 Parkside Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11226

Monday, February 19, 2018


Small Difference

We bought

a jackknife

for our son

his first

I thought the

blade was sharp

you liked the

pretty handle


I stopped thinking

About my name today

When in the truck

Returning home with

My son after working

Together at a farm

Splitting wood

Picking kindling

Around the chopping

Stump, slinging manure

Onto the winter garden

And later hiking

High into the heather

Pasture, now in the

Truck with his gloves

Still on he sized it

Up by saying he didn’t 

Like the name Bob — it

Was too short, only three

Letters — and it sounded

Like a name half-city


Suddenly Mississippi

he lost his

lucky rabbit’s

foot, green with

a key-chain in

Greenwood, MS

so returning to

find it wait-

ress brought

it to us on

a tray


I kid him

& he argues

with me which 

turns me to

argue with

him as he

begins to

kid me

I'm In Love With You
Who Is In Love With Me
Longhouse 2012

Sunday, February 18, 2018



I have followed this musician's career from the start and on the bright-side: this is the father of Rufus and Martha and equally sweet singer Lucy; also Loudon Wainwright and Leonard Cohen were related (Rufus had a daughter, Viva, with Lorca Cohen) and LW can still play, from time to time, a fine, nimble talkin' folk-blues of his own mode. 
Otherwise, the book's storyteller is a wiggler on the edge of irksome.

Saturday, February 17, 2018


Denis Johnson (1983)

Everything Denis Johnson wrote and published was well written. Everything.
None of it was as strong and original and potent as his short and vivid Jesus' Son, but it was still very good, and you weren't going to do wrong, or waste your time. That includes his new book of stories
(and last book) The Largesse of the Sea Maiden. Again, don't go expecting Jesus' Son, it isn't there, try as he might. Every writer wants to top his best book. Denis Johnson is now dead. He left us a small library to read — nine novels, one novella, two books of short stories, five collections of poetry, two collections of plays, and one book of reportage, Seek: Reports from the edges of America & Beyond that should be really hunted down and read. I happen to like, and I read each of his books as they appeared over time, his poetry, Jesus' Son (naturally), his little crime caper Nobody Move and Train Dreams. The other books were fine books but the ones I mention were Denis Johnson as played by John Garfield.
I always think of John Garfield when I read Denis Johnson.

[ BA ]

Random House 2018

Friday, February 16, 2018



sorry, another dud — not every apple on the tree. . .


Bland title, one great photograph (the cover), handy size volume,
and all written by a senior professor of Latin at Harvard University
where ages ago Dylan curled up in the grass with guitars and Eric Von Schmidt.
The reading won't hurt you.
In fact, it will help you grow!

Dey St. / Morrow

Thursday, February 15, 2018



“There was still a unity in the world and there were complete poets."
And Heine was one of them in more ways than one.

Archipelago Books