W.H. Auden

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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Enter Winter: 10 Poems for the End of Autumn

Thanksgiving’s coming up and there’s a definite chill in the air — so we thought we might warm ourselves by sharing ten of our favorite poems to accompany frosty mornings and leaf-shaking nights. Some of these poets’ speakers delight in snow and cold, and some get thoroughly depressed. A wintry mix, as it were. Curl up and read this near your favorite fire! … Read More

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The Spontaneous Overflow of Powerful Feelings: Poetry as a Political Response

After listening to failed prosecutor Bob McCulloch debase the English language for 15 minutes on Monday night, repeatedly exculpating himself in favor of blaming social media, I felt ready to turn to the language of poetry. But I have to admit that I wasn’t (emotionally) ready for Tuesday’s post-Ferguson outpouring of what I’ll just call, for the sake of shorthand, response poems. Thankfully, as yesterday proved, response or reaction poems don’t have to be politically reactionary. … Read More

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Learn from the Best: 10 Course Syllabi by Famous Authors

Every once in a while, one of eminent professor and author David Foster Wallace’s syllabi emerges on the Internet, and countless devotees head to their local bookstores. In case you’ve already read through DFW’s favorites (or want another look), we’ve taken this opportunity to pull together a series of famous authors’ syllabi and reading lists for your convenience. Hey, who needs to go to college when you’ve got a list of texts from the best and a public library (you should still go to college)? After the jump, read through ten syllabi from famous writers — who knows, you might just learn something. … Read More

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Deliciously Ugly Portraits of Famous Authors

Polish painted Feliks Topolski saw things in a very particular light — and not always a very flattering one. In 1960, after the Harry Ransom Center acquired a selection of his work that included an enormous portrait of George Bernard Shaw, Topolski was commissioned to paint portraits of 20 of the 20th century’s greatest British authors. The resultant series, Twenty Greats, was (quite understandably) not particularly well-liked by most of the authors in question, but we think the paintings are so devilishly ugly that they become beautiful again, drenched in sloppy expressive glory.  Click through to see some of our favorite portraits from Topolski’s series, and then be sure to head over to The Daily Beast to see the entire set — and find out what their subjects had to say about them. … Read More

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Two-Typewriter Homes: Famous Literary Roommates

Recently, The Rumpus dug up a great article from a 1998 edition of the LA Times, wherein Saul Bellow describes living with Ralph Ellison in a grand old house in upstate New York. Inspired by this pairing, we decided to poke around to try and find out which other famous writers have lived together, whether before they became famous, while scribbling away, or as established authors living the high life. Just to be clear — we’re not counting famous literary couples (or at least not constant ones, anyway). That’d just be too easy. Click through to read about a few literary greats who split the rent, and you might start looking at that aspiring novelist roommate of yours in a whole new light. … Read More

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