Monthly Archives: April 2012

Tough Love from Hemingway to Fitzgerald to Us

by Lee Eunyeol

After the publication of Tender Is The Night, Fitzgerald asked Hemingway what he thought of the novel. Hemingway’s entire letter is a must-read, but if anything, get into this excerpt:

Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt use it—don’t cheat with it. Be as faithful to it as a scientist—but don’t think anything is of any importance because it happens to you or anyone belonging to you.

About this time I wouldn’t blame you if you gave me a burst. Jesus it’s marvellous to tell other people how to write, live, die etc.

“I’ve Got A Language Problem, Too.” – Philip Levine




I’m still taking it all in. Reading at Housing Works Bookstore with Karolina Manko, US Poet Laureate Philip Levine and Pulitzer Prize-winning Tracy K. Smith last night at Tumblr/Knopf’s Celebrate Poetry event was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. By the time I got home, my face hurt from smiling so much.

Karolina is only 21 years old, but brought such a fierce heart to the stage. The poems Tracy read from Life On Mars managed to keep their feet on the ground, but their heads in the stars. When she read the line, “We saw to the edge of all there is,” I literally gasped.

And Mr. Levine! First of all, he’s so incredibly nice. Karolina and I were too shy to go talk to him on our own, but a wonderful friend of Knopf was kind enough to introduce us. Instantly, I felt silly for being so shy. He talks to you like you are a person. That’s obvious and yet increasingly rare among writers as celebrated as he is.

When he got on stage, he said, “I’ve added up the ages of the other three readers and I’m two years younger than them.” Every poem he read was, of course, a knock out. I’m debating getting the last two lines from “Of Love & Other Disasters” tattooed across my face. Toward the end of his reading, Philip said “I’ve got a language problem, too. The poems don’t come out the way I want. I want them immortal, but they come out mortal.”

I hear that, man. I hear that.

Tonight is the night!

The writing life can strange and hard, but when it’s good, you feel like hell never happened.

by Paige Smith

I’ve had a goofy smile on my face all day.

First, I was able to share the insanely good news that on Monday, April 23rd, I will be one of the opening readers along with Karolina Manko for our new Pulitzer winner Tracy K. Smith and Poet Laureate Philip Levine at Housing Works. It’s part of Knopf and Tumblr’s Celebrate Poetry campaign and there’s even going to be an open bar! It doesn’t get much better than that. Here are the details in case you’re in the City and love poetry and open bars.

THEN, I remembered that today is April 18 which means it was time for my poem “Skin Like Brick Dust” to show up on The Rumpus as part of its National Poetry Month Project. What a day!

Here’s a peak of the poem. Go over to The Rumpus to read the rest.

Two blocks beyond gravity,
I pressed into you, into you & away

from all the breaking. I didn’t know
your name, so I kissed one

into your mouth.

The writing life can strange and hard, but when it’s good, you feel like hell never happened. And here is where I repeat Nicherin Daishonin’s advice: “Suffer what there is to suffer. Enjoy what there is to enjoy.”

Getting Out of the Way of Our Stories

by Anna Schuleit

I’ve been reading sections of Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried and when I got to this part of “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong,” I knew I’d have to share it here on the blog:

Whenever he told the story, Rat had a tendency to stop now and then, interrupting the flow, inserting little clarifications or bits or analysis and personal opinion. It was a bad habit, Mitchell Sanders said, because all that matters is the raw material, the stuff itself, and you can’t clutter it up with your own half-baked commentary. What you have to do, Sanders said, is trust your own story. Get the hell out of the way and let it tell itself.

As Adrienne Rich has been on my mind a great deal lately, Sanders’s advice brings  to mind the lines “the thing I came for: / the wreck and not the story of the wreck / the thing itself and not the myth…” 

Of course, getting out of the way of our stories is easier said than done. And truth be told, we never actually get all the way out of the way, do we?

Most Recent Reading Diary Entries

by Guido Mocafico

April 10, 2012 

April 11, 2012 

April 12, 2012

April 13, 2012

  • Sula by Toni Morrison

April 14, 2012

  • Sula by Toni Morrison

April 15, 2012

April 16, 2012

April 17, 2012

Queering National Poetry Month & Remembering Adrienne Rich

by Lizi Reale

  • Tomorrow, at the LGBT Center, I will be MC’ing a reading that features James Allen Hall, Rigoberto Gonzalez and Eduardo C. Corral. Each of these poets is truly amazing and, if you’re in New York tomorrow evening, I’m so happy you’ll have a chance to see them together. The reading begins at 6:30pm. Go here for more information.
  • On Monday, April 16 at 7:00, I’ll be a part of a tribute reading honoring the life and work of Adrienne Rich. The event will feature Rosalind Morris, Julie Crawford, Cathy Park Hong, Yvette Christianse, Cyrus Cassels, Suzane Gardinier and others. The venue for this event is Columbia University’s Deutsches Haus,
    which is located at 430 W.116 Street, between Amsterdam and
    Morningside Avenue.