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One of the Guardian Unlimited Books' top 10 literary blogs: "A home-grown treasure ... smart, serious analysis"

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Blog entries on '22 December 2005'

Thursday 22 December 2005

Leora on Word by Word

RSB contributor Leora Skolkin-Smith (and author of Edges: O Israel, O Palestine) appeared on Word by Word: Literary Radio yesterday (the essay is also up on Jordan Rosenfeld's blog), talking about how "linear narrative and more tradition[al] methods" of story-telling do not work for her:

My mother was born in the ancient city of Jerusalem in a Palestine not yet damaged irrevocably by war and terror. Her first language was Hebrew but she knew at least seven European languages as well as English. Later, my mother was required to identify herself only as an "Israeli", despite her more innocent moments as a young Jewish girl in a wildly sensual and exciting early, multicultural Jerusalem. The world of her childhood was presented to me in unusual, variegated impressions and allusions, a cacophony of language sounds, and a series of stories about interrupted, dislocated lives.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Thursday 22 December 2005

Jorge Semprun

Brendan Wolfe has set up his own blog The Beiderbecke Affair. Yesterday, he mentioned Jorge Semprun (echoing thoughts expressed earlier by Steve):

Semprun was a Rotspanier, the label applied to him as a Spanish political prisoner at Buchenwald. He had been arrested as a resistance fighter in occupied France and deported. Before the arrest, he had also been a student at the Sorbonne, reading philosophy. He says he went without meals to buy Heidegger’s Being & Time after being inspired by Levinas’ essays. A good deal of the book [Literature or Life] is informed by such thinkers. He is much taken with the lines in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus: ‘Death is not an event in life. Death cannot be lived.’ He is taken because, after Buchenwald, he felt that he had in fact lived through death.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Thursday 22 December 2005

Poetry magazine

According to Adam Kirsch (in an article I found via the ever-useful The Page), "[u]nder its new editor, Christian Wiman, Poetry has done what long seemed impossible: It has reclaimed its place at the center of American poetry." Poetry has a fairly decent website too (currently offering a "holiday special" of half-price subscriptions). And, come the New Year, we'll be interviewing Christian Wiman and finding out how he managed to turn Poetry around.

Surely, the magazine at the centre of British poetry is PN Review? Well, it is my favourite anyway! The latest issue of PN Review is just out ... and it's a corker! As is now a regular feature on RSB we'll be publishing Michael Schmidt's editorial to PN Review no.167 here in a day or two. In the meantime, why not read his editorial to no.166?

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Thursday 22 December 2005


I just came across PennSound (via a note in the NB column in the TLS would you believe), which is a web-based archive for "noncommercial distribution of the largest collection of poetry sound files on the Internet". Worth comparing and contrasting with Andrew Motion's recently launched Poetry Archive.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

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Omens, after Alexander Pushkin

I rode to meet you: dreams
like living beings swarmed around me
and the moon on my right side
followed me, burning.

I rode back: everything changed.
My soul in love was sad
and the moon on my left side
trailed me without hope.

To such endless impressions
we poets give ourselves absolutely,
making, in silence, omen of mere event,
until the world reflects the deepest needs of the soul.

-- Louise Gluck
Averno (Carcanet Press)

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Word of the Day

The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or two

Pre-order Anu Garg's new book: The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or Two: The Hidden Lives and Strange Origins of Common and Not-So-Common Words (ISBN 9780452288614), published by Penguin more …

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October's Books of the Month

The New Spirit of Capitalism The New Spirit of Capitalism
Luc Boltanski; Eve Chiapello
Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM
Steve Lake, Paul Griffiths

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