Insights From a Man Booker Judge

October 16th. You know what that means. It's Man Booker Day, the day five judges will meet at a secret location in a not-so-secret city called London to pluck a winner from the shortlist (it should take eight hours or so). What's in it for the authors? Most excellent sales, for one thing. Not that …

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Larkin in the Dark

By definition, an aubade is "a dawn song expressing the regret of parting lovers at daybreak" (Edward Hirsch, A Poet's Glossary). Today, for the first time, I read Philip Larkin's "Aubade" thanks to a tip within the New York Times Book Review. No lovers for Larkin. And I learned this was his final poem. Fitting, …

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What’s in a Name? More Than You’d Think.

Lead-off batters. In baseball, they're the table setters. The speed. The possibility and the hope facing a first pitch. In a poetry collection, the first poem is no small matter, either. St. Billy of Collins says it is damn near everything when it comes to the Department of Importance (a branch of the Department of …

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Random Thoughts for October: Scary Times

These days, there is nothing United about the States of America. No surprise, given ours is a god of irony. It is dangerous reading the newspapers, indeed. If you believe in freedom of the press (the First and Foremost Amendment), you put your money where your mouth is and subscribe to a newspaper or two. …

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