Columbia College’s Film Row Cinema, Chicago
April 9, 2009
Robert Polito speaks with poet Susan Wheeler as her Ledger and Record Palace were about to be published.
From “Song of Myself” and Moby Dick to Gravity’s Rainbow and “The Changing Light at Sandover,” scale haunts American literature—the universe (of course), but also the grain of sand.
Peter Carey interviewed by Robert Polito at The New School in the winter of 2001.
Only a few years ago Fernando Pessoa was all but invisible in English. Now this outsider’s outsider looms as the latest icon of modern poetry.
From Moby Dick to Gravity’s Rainbow America has glimpsed the rare encyclopedic novel. But Luc Sante’s The Factory of Facts may be the first encyclopedic memoir, at once comprehensive and personal, erudite and intuitive.
“We fill pre-existing forms, and when/ we fill them, change them and are changed,” Frank Bidart writes in the mysterious, revelatory Desire—writes twice, as it happens, as if to shadow the recurrent and intractable figure (“we are the wheel to which we are bound”) of his totemic subject.
When D.H. Lawrence wrote in Studies in Classic American Literature, “The furthest frenzies of French modernism or futurism have not yet reached the pitch of extreme consciousness that Poe, Melville, Hawthorne, Whitman reached,” he could also have been invoking the maverick American artists…
From his earliest spare fictions, Hear the Wind Sing and Norwegian Wood, through his recent, steadily more baroque and textured novels, A Wild Sheep Chase, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, and Dance Dance Dance, Haruki Murakami nudged contemporary realism into fable…
In “The Choice,” a sly, characteristically disconcerting poem in his latest collection, Valentine Place, David Lehman quotes a coolly conflicted lover: “‘War and peace may be great themes,‘ He said, ’but adultery is greater’.”
Chester Himes’s The End of the Primitive, Robert Dean Pharr’s Giveadamn Brown, Henry van Dyke’s The Dead Piano, and Clarence Cooper’s Black! are the latest releases from Old School Books, the ambitious black fiction rediscovery series W.W. Norton launched this past fall.
For over the 15 years since I first encountered them, Ralph Hamilton’s paintings have served as a sort of secret paradigm, at once private touchstone and untouchable ideal, for the framing and insinuation of personality in any art.
Robert Polito, author of Savage Art, a biography on Jim Thompson, talks to Peter Carey, author of The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith, about the push and pull of home, politics and alienation.