Emily Dickinson

Poetry Is a Virus That Can Save the World: On Jorie Graham’s ‘From the New World’

The poet Jorie Graham was born in New York in 1950 to a sculptor and a journalist. She was raised in Italy and, later, France, where she studied at the Sorbonne before being expelled during the protests of the late 1960s. She then left Europe for the United States, where, back in New York, she studied filmmaking at NYU. After receiving her MFA from the University of Iowa, she went on to produce several volumes of the best poetry in the English language, including The Dream of the Unified Field, which won the Pulitzer in 1996. … Read More

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The 50 Greatest Poems About Sex

It would be unwise, unfair, and impossible to list the sexiest poems in the Western tradition. Sex, you don’t need me to tell you, is variable, personal, and subjective. “Greatness is, too,” you might add. Maybe it is. But there is something about the poetry on this list that transcends the merely “good.” These poems, which span from antiquity to today, are great poems. There is something egalitarian, too, about this selection, which more or less chose itself. Sex as a poetic subject has a way of equalizing discourse by way of its… Read More

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25 Culturally Relevant Valentine’s Day Gifts

Chocolate! Flowers! Little beady-eyed bears holding plush hearts! No, put down your sugarcoated wallets: these are no gifts for the culture connoisseur you so ardently adore. Instead, why not earn your kisses with something a little more creative, a little more interesting, and (probably) a little more useful? Here’s a selection of romantic and culturally relevant V-Day gifts for your plugged-in sweetie. You’re… Read More

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Girl Canon: 50 Essential Books About the Female Experience

Everyone knows that, statistically at least, girls read more than boys. But the classic, canonical growing-up books, at least in American culture, tend to represent the male experience — I’m thinking On the Road, The Catcher in the Rye, everything ever written by Bret Easton Ellis or Michael Chabon — and while these are great books, suitable for boys or girls, the question remains: where are the books for girls to grow up on? Well, they’re definitely out there, if perhaps assigned less often in schools to readers of both genders. And so I propose a Girl Canon, populated by books not necessarily for girls but which investigate, address, or represent the female experience in some essential… Read More

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30 Best Pop Culture Spinsters

The word “spinster” refers to an unmarried woman, and is most often synonymous with the stereotype of the past-her-prime old maid, a woman who hasn’t made a good match and who’s doomed to live an unfulfilling life. Well, that’s just stereotypes talking, because… hey, what’s wrong with that, exactly? The answer is absolutely nothing. Pop culture has given us some pretty great spinsters (although on average they do fall within a specific, homogenous, moneyed, and white demographic). So here are our 30 favorite writers, artists, and fictional characters who show the freedom that comes from living an unmarried life — female characters who are defined by their wants and desires, and not characterized through the simple scrim of their relationships. … Read More

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50 Essential Literary Biographies

Literary biography is a hugely significant, if often overlooked, enterprise. Today, much of what we know about the authors we admire is filtered through an ocean of online mini-biographies, nearly all of which are copies of copies. The original source of an enormous amount of this information is the literary biography, and in the case of most authors, there are precious few examples of such books. Even exceedingly famous authors are gifted only a handful of quality biographies. With this in mind, I’ve come up with a list of 50 essential literary… Read More

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6 Things You Didn’t Know About Emily Dickinson’s Writing Process

When Emily Dickinson (born on this day in 1830) wrote her thousands of famous poems, she largely intentionally eschewed publication. That means there’s a treasure trove of fascinating information to be gleaned from both her manuscripts and the interpretations and publication of her poem in the ensuing years.

And then there are those dashes. Dickinson’s frequent use of the dash has been interpreted on dozens of symbolic and practical levels. They were musical notes! Pause indicators! Signifiers of female negativity punctuating the male space of the page! … Read More

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10 Famous Poems That Appeared in Film

For decades, Hollywood has looked to the annals of literature for inspiration. Literary adaptations are more popular than ever, but poetry is still largely untapped. Films like Ken Russell’s Gothic and Jane Campion’s Bright Star center on famous poets, and there are some great movies based on poems, but we’re looking at the appearance of poetry in films — instances where characters and narratives are reflected in poetic works, recited in the movies themselves. Here’s a video scrapbook of poetry in movies. Feel free to continue adding to the list with your own video examples, below. … Read More

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10 Creepy and Haunting Poems About Ghosts, Madness, and Fairy Abductions

With Halloween coming up and spookiness in the air, it seemed like a good time to share ten of the most haunting, uncanny, and unsettling poems — that are also the most beautiful. … Read More

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10 Poetic Tributes to Cats

Esteemed American poet T. S. Eliot had a deep love of cats, evidenced in his 1939 collection of humorous poems, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. The whimsical work was originally composed to amuse his godchildren and friends, but earned the admiration of feline fanciers the world over (and inspired Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats). And Eliot isn’t the only poet with a fondness for four-legged furballs. We’ve collected ten other poems for pussycats — tributes to their mystique and reflections on their place in our (lesser) human… Read More

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