I read poetry. I am the people, too.

“Nobody reads poetry, we are told at every inopportune moment. I read poetry. I am somebody. I am the people, too.

It can be allowed that an industrious quantity of contemporary American poetry is consciously written for a hermetic constituency; the bulk is written for the bourgeoisie, leaving a lean cut for labor. Only the hermetically aimed has a snowball’s chance in hell of reaching its intended ears. One proceeds from this realization. A staggering figure of vibrant, intelligent people can and do live without poetry, especially without the poetry of their time. This figure includes the unemployed, the rank and file, the union brass, banker, scientist, lawyer, doctor, architect, pilot, and priest. It also includes most academics, most of the faculty of the humanities, most allegedly literary editors and most allegedly literary critics.

They do so — go forward in their lives, toward their great reward, in an engulfing absence of poetry — without being perceived or perceiving themselves as hobbled or deficient in any significant way. It is nearly true, though I am often reminded of a Tranströmer broadside I saw in a crummy office building in San Francisco:

We got dressed and showed the house

You live well the visitor said

The slum must be inside you.

If I wanted to understand a culture, my own for instance, and if I thought such an understanding were the basis for a lifelong inquiry, I would turn to poetry first. For it is my confirmed bias that the poets remain the most ‘stunned by existence,’ the most determined to redeem the world in words…”

— C.D. Wright, Cooling Time


the importance of being Iceland

It feels like everyone’s been (quietly) going to Iceland. Maybe we’re tired of the rage and confusion and polemics. All the heartbreak and controversy.

of course there are rainbows and waterfalls in iceland

Maybe we just want a place that feels neutral, a place that turns off the street lamps so that you can see the northern lights, a place that looks like we’ve arrived on another planet and yet in some ways we know exactly what to expect.

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Might books have some use, after all?

Define happiness, someone asked me recently. Absorption, I said instantly (it was an e-mail interview), and anything that gives me an inner life and a sense of spaciousness, intimacy and silence. The world is much better for many of us now than it was 10 years ago, and I never could have dreamed so many of us would have so many kinds of diversion, excitement and information at our fingertips.

But information cannot teach the use of information. And diversion doesn’t teach us concentration. Imagine a seven-hour-long heart-to-heart with someone who’s been saving up all her life for what she’s about to whisper in your ear. The medium that has been dying the whole century may be one way we can rebel against the hidden dictatorship of Right Now.

— Pico Iyer, on the tyranny of the moment (and why books may still be useful after all)

give me a break, Monday.

Okay, world. I get it, can we move on now from this lesson?

So when my friends and I started having a conversation about the nature of monogamy, I thought I knew something about monogamy. Because, despite the fleeting nature of most of my encounters, and despite my own role in their short duration, I think what I have been seeking in some form from all of these men is permanence.

Sometimes I don’t like them, or am scared of them, and a lot of times I’m just bored by them. But my fear or dislike or boredom never seems to diminish my underlying desire for a guy to stay, or at least to say he is going to stay, for a very long time.

And even when I don’t want him to stay — even when he and I find each other as strangers and remain strangers until we stop doing whatever it is we are doing — I still want to believe that two people can meet and like each other well enough to stay together exclusively, without the introduction of some 1960s rhetoric about free love or other noncommittal slogans.