Third Factory/Notes to Poetry

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Posts Tagged ‘Jennifer Homans

Attention Span 2011 | Stephen Burt

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Angela Leighton | On Form: Poetry, Aestheticism and the Legacy of a Word | Oxford | 2007

Art for art’s sake becomes art for form’s sake becomes art for the sake of nothing, or nothing inside: a nihilism not for destructive Russians but for pensive, patient ancients, in a line of descent that starts with Lucretius and keeps on ticking, to (take your pick) Stevens or Ashbery or you or me. Bonus: includes the best case I have ever seen for sustained attention to the thoughtful poetry of W. S. Graham.

Jennifer Finney Boylan | She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders | Broadway | 2003

“I didn’t want to be told I had to be a woman…. People can’t have everything they want, I thought. It is your fate to accept a life being something other than yourself.

“I don’t think this is so crazy, even now. If I could have pulled this off, I would have.”

Christopher Nealon | The Matter of Capital: Poetry and Crisis in the American Century | Harvard | 2011

At least half the people who read Third Factory probably knew this book was on the way: it’s out, and it’s short, and it doesn’t disappoint. Some of its supposedly contrarian claims are going to be commonplaces pretty soon—sort of like the claims in The Well-Wrought Urn. Bonus: includes the best case I have ever seen for sustained attention to the thoughtful poetry of Kevin Davies.

Timothy Donnelly | The Cloud Corporation | Wave | 2010

Another long-awaited book about the deformations that way-too-late capitalism works on the voice and the soul; exhilarating and saddening at the same time. It helps if you, too, love Stevens, disappointments, urbanity and urbanneness (not the same thing, and not in that order). “Right around here is where I start getting lost.”

Jennifer Homans | Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet | Random | 2010

I started reading this book because I had to (it was a candidate for an award): I didn’t think I cared for ballet at all. By the time I finished it I had come to care a great deal, not just for the art form and its history, but for the magisterial way in which Homans takes her imagined reader in hand: it’s a doorstop, but it’s also a masterpiece, and it’s a book you ought to consult if you ever plan to write a large-scale cultural history of anything at all.

Charles Baudelaire, trans. Wallace Fowlie | Flowers of Evil/ Les Fleurs du Mal and other works: a dual language book | Dover | 1992 (1963)

“Through the symbolic bars separating two worlds, the main road and the castle, the poor child was showing his own toy to the rich child who was greedily examining it.”


Stephen Burt is a professor of English at Harvard. His books include The Art of the Sonnet, with David Mikics, and Close Calls with Nonsense.

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Attention Span 2011 | Bill Berkson

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Stephen Sondheim | Finishing the Hat | Knopf | 2010

Frederick Goddard Tuckerman, ed. Ben Mazer | Selected Poems of Frederick Goddard Tuckerman | Belknap Press of Harvard | 2010

Bishop, Janet, Cécile Debray, and Rebecca Rabinow, eds. | The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso and the Parisian Avant-Garde | San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in association with Yale | 2011

Jennifer Homans | Apollo’s Angels: A History of the Ballet | Random | 2010

Alvin Levin | Love Is Like Park Avenue | New Directions | 2009

Ron Padgett | How Long | Coffee House | 2011

Tony Judt | Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 | Penguin | 2005

John Keegan | A History of Warfare | Vintage | 1993

Adam Phillips |The Beast in the Nursery | Vintage | 1999

Edwin G. Burrows & Mike Wallace | Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 | Oxford | 1999

Herbert Muschamp | Hearts of the City | Knopf | 2009


Bill Berkson’s recent books are For the Ordinary Artist: Short Reviews, Occasional Pieces & More (BlazeVOX, 2010); Not an Exit, with drawings by Léonie Guyer (Jungle Garden, 2011); and Darkness and Light (Verna, 2011). Berkson’s Attention Span for 2010, 2009, 2007, 2006, 2004. Back to 2011 directory.