The Slender Sadness and Other Truths

In 1907 the psychoanalyst Georg Groddeck wrote an essay called "Charakter and Typus" where he said, "Goethe's short poems have a strange ring to them. They are entirely impersonal; in fact, you could say of them that they are not created by a person, but by nature. In them a person is not seen as …

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Why Death Is Literature’s Wingman

If you've ever taught literature, whether in college or in secondary school, you've surely come up against a common complaint from students: "Why is everything we read so depressing?" or, "Is every book, story, and poem about death, or is it just my imagination?" Tongue in cheek, I always replied, "You'll be happy to know …

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How Voice Escorts Us into the “Interior of the World”

It seems fitting that Tony Hoagland's farewell book to the world would tackle the concept of voice. If any poet knew of what he spoke, Hoagland was the man. Whether you read his poems or his sage essays about poems or writing poetry, you "heard" Hoagland and felt as if you were lucky to have …

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“The Charm of Voice Is More Important Than Economy.”

In his new, posthumous book, The Art of Voice, the gist of Tony Hoagland's message can be found at the opening of Chapter 3, "The Sound of Intimacy: The Poem's Connection with Its Audience." If you've been browbeaten by writing teachers and mentors who insist on economy at all costs, you might by surprised by …

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Tony Hoagland Gives His Blessing

Yesterday I picked up Tony Hoagland's posthumous book and, I assume, the last, The Art of Voice: Poetic Principles and Practice. The purpose of this 168-pager is to promote ways writers can add "voice" to their poetry, and it doesn't hurt that the essays enclosed have plenty of voice themselves. "Voice" is one of those literary …

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