A lovely bunch of musings on the world that poetry encompasses:
"Here’s a beautiful meditation on poetry and total transformation by way of “stored magic” from Edward Hirsch’s modern classic How to Read a Poem (public library), the first chapter of which has been made available online by Poetry Foundation:
The lyric poem seeks to mesmerize time. It crosses frontiers and outwits the temporal. It seeks to defy death, coming to disturb and console you. (‘These Songs are not meant to be understood, you understand,’ John Berryman wrote in one of his last Dream Songs: ‘They are only meant to terrify & comfort.’) The poet is incited to create a work that can outdistance time and surmount distance, that can bridge the gulf — the chasm — between people otherwise unknown to each other. It can survive changes of language and in language, changes in social norms and customs, the ravages of history. Here is Robert Graves in The White Goddess:
True poetic practice implies a mind so miraculously attuned and illuminated that it can form words, by a chain of more-than coincidences, into a living entity — a poem that goes about on its own (for centuries after the author’s death, perhaps) affecting readers with its stored magic.
I believe such stored magic can author in the reader an equivalent capacity for creative wonder, creative response to a living entity. (Graves means his statement literally.) The reader completes the poem, in the process bringing to it his or her own past experiences. You are reading poetry — I mean really reading it—when you feel encountered and changed by a poem, when you feel its seismic vibrations, the sounding of your depths. ‘There is no place that does not see you,’ Rainer Maria Rilke writes at the earth-shattering conclusion of his poem ‘Archaic Torso of Apollo’: ‘You must change your life.’”
(Source: Brainpickings and How To Read A Poem)
There’s something melancholy at the thought of the great author auctioning off his enormous book collection, all for reasons of age. A bittersweet occasion. One wonders how he will feel when the dust settles. After all, it seems his book-selling was simply an afterthought, a way of making his ravenous consumption of books reasonable.
"The time comes when a novelist must cease creating new worlds. In his jeans and suspenders, Larry McMurty looks tired–and not just because he is in the middle of an intense and emotional weekend. He says that his memory is failing, much like that of his fellow author Gabriel Garcia Márquez, the Colombian whose works of magical realism include The Autumn of the Patriarch and One Hundred Years of Solitude. “I don’t know if it is as serious as his case,” says the American novelist who wrote the Lonesome Dove series, the first volume of which won him a Pulitzer. “But sometimes I can’t remember things from the day before, or earlier the same day…”
Even so, McMurtry is curtailing his career as a bibliophile as well. Over a period of 55 years, he has collected 450,000 books and housed them in four bookstores in Archer City, Texas, each one called Booked Up and numbered accordingly. It will take just one weekend for most of that library to be taken away. The entire collection, he says “is a potential liability for my heirs”–his son James, a singer-songwriter, and grandson Curtis. “They don’t know the book world. I do. They have their got their own concerns.” They are readers but not bookmen, he says. But, he adds, “I am very proud of them.” By Sunday, he will have offloaded 300,000 books. He will retain 28,000 in his home library while consolidating the rest in a single Booked Up.”
—Alan Feldman, Poetry, November 2001
On August 9, 1945, U.S. forces dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan. Hiroshima was hit three days earlier. Pulitzer prize-winning author Richard Rhodes discusses his book, The Making of the Atomic Bomb.