The last Americans in Palmyra

In 2010, before the civil war and the rise of the Islamic State, Matthew Stevenson and his son took a trip to ancient Palmyra, deep in the Syrian desert.

For whom the trumpet sounds

Aisha Bhoori reviews Laura Kasischke’s poetry collection, The Infinitesimals

A heap of unidentifiable shards

“When Vivian Gornick isn’t skewering West Side artist-pretenders,” Lindsey Gilbert writes, “she is building out a theory of friendship that is at once richer than Emerson’s and more unsparing.”

The independent seat

Cindy Stewart-Rinier review Judith Barrington’s poetry collection, The Conversation

Truth and Beauty share a tomb

Mary Meriam reflects on 6 classic poems by women writers: Bradstreet, Philips, Wheatley, Browning, Rosetti, and Dickinson.

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For whom the trumpet sounds: on Laura Kasischke’s The Infinitesimals

“They are neither finite quantities nor quantities infinitely small, nor yet nothing. May we not call them the ghosts of departed quantities?” This epigraph from George Berkeley’s The Analyst primes…

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A heap of unidentifiable shards: on Vivian Gornick’s The Odd Woman and the City

It used to be that we offered one another the best versions of ourselves. Now we do our best to give the worst. I’m supremely flawed, we all recite in…

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Truth and Beauty share a tomb: reflecting on 6 classic poems by women

1. “The Author To Her Book” by Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672) Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain, Who after birth didst by my side remain, Till snatched from thence by…

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The independent seat: on Judith Barrington’s The Conversation

An “independent seat” is a rarely achieved height of equestrian skill, in which mechanical command and response are transformed into a fluid conversation between the bodies of horse and rider. It is…

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The last Americans in Palmyra

The ruins of Palmyra. “All the sacred Mysteries of Asia, with their strident music, served now to add to this voluptuous unrest … I felt only disgust and abhorrence for all…

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You Run, Darling: Mark Doty’s Deep Lane

Mark Doty is tenacious in his in his examination of life and endlessly fussy about his use of words. He makes sure to convey his meaning, whether in the criticism…

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Family; or, What It Means to Be a Freak

In Tod Browning’s 1932 film, Freaks, Hans, a sideshow dwarf, falls in love with the beautiful trapeze artist Cleopatra, who marries him for his money and plots to poison him…

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Blood on the Jumbotron: Martial’s Arena Poems

Cum traheret Priscus, traheret certamina Verus,    esset et aequalis Mars utriusque diu, missio saepe viris magno clamore petita est;    sed Caesar legi parvit ipsae suae (lex erat ad…

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A Mother’s Jealousy, A Mother’s Love

Laura van Prooyen’s new collection Our House Was on Fire reads like a fairy tale. Like so many fairy tales, the poems relate a difficult mother-daughter relationship, in which the…

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“Wherein past, present, and future he beholds”: Comics and the Eternal Present

“What, then, is time?” Christian philosopher St. Augustine asked. “If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do…

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