Gregory Corso
b. March 26, 1930

What simple profundities
What profound simplicities
To sit down among the trees
and breathe with them
in murmur brool and breeze

And how can I trust them
who pollute the sky
with heavens
the below with hells

Well, humankind,
Im part of you
and so my son

but neither of us
will believe
your big sad lie

[via wood s lot]

Why Auden Matters…

The Secret Auden

Edward Mendelson in New York Review of Books


W.H. Auden had a secret life that his closest friends knew little or nothing about. Everything about it was generous and honorable. He kept it secret because he would have been ashamed to have been praised for it.

mendelson_1-032014.jpg Jerry Cooke/Pix Inc./Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
W. H. Auden, Fire Island, 1946

I learned about it mostly by chance, so it may have been far more extensive than I or anyone ever knew. Once at a party I met a woman who belonged to the same Episcopal church that Auden attended in the 1950s, St. Marks in-the-Bowery in New York. She told me that Auden heard that an old woman in the congregation was suffering night terrors, so he took a blanket and slept in the hallway outside her apartment until she felt safe again.

Someone else recalled that Auden had once been told that a friend needed a medical operation that he couldnt afford. Auden invited the friend to dinner, never mentioned the operation, but as the friend was leaving said, I want you to have this, and handed him a large notebook containing the manuscript of The Age of Anxiety. The University of Texas bought the notebook and the friend had the operation.

From some letters I found in Audens papers, I learned that a few years after World War II he had arranged through a European relief agency to pay the college costs for two war orphans chosen by the agency, an arrangement that continued, with a new set of orphans every few years, until his death at sixty-six in 1973.

At times, he went out of his way to seem selfish while doing something selfless. When NBC Television was producing a broadcast of The Magic Flute for which Auden, together with Chester Kallman, had translated the libretto, he stormed into the producers office demanding to be paid immediately, instead of on the date specified in his contract. He waited there, making himself unpleasant, until a check finally arrived. A few weeks later, when the canceled check came back to NBC, someone noticed that he had endorsed it, Pay to the order of Dorothy Day. The New York City Fire Department had recently ordered Day to make costly repairs to the homeless shelter she managed for the Catholic Worker Movement, and the shelter would have been shut down had she failed to come up with the money.

At literary gatherings he made a practice of slipping away from the gaunt and great, the famed for conversation (as he called them in a poem) to find the least important person in the room. A letter-writer in the Times of London last year recalled one such incident:

Sixty years ago my English teacher brought me to London from my provincial grammar school for a literary conference. Understandably, she abandoned me for her friends when we arrived, and I was left to flounder. I was gauche and inept and had no idea what to do with myself. Auden must have sensed this because he approached me and said, Everyone here is just as nervous as you are, but they are bluffing, and you must learn to bluff too.

Late in life Auden wrote self- revealing poems and essays that portrayed him as insular and nostalgic, still living imaginatively in the Edwardian world of his childhood. His Doggerel by a Senior Citizen began, Our earth in 1969/Is not the planet I call mine, and continued with disgruntled complaints against the modern age: I cannot settle which is worse,/The Anti-Novel or Free Verse. A year after he wrote this, I chanced on a first book by a young poet, N.J. Loftis, Exiles and Voyages. Some of the book was in free verse; much of it alluded to Harlem and Africa; the authors ethnic loyalties were signaled by the name of the publisher, the Black Market Press. The book was dedicated To my first friend, W.H. Auden.

A few years later I got a phone call from a Canadian burglar who told me he had come across Audens poems in a prison library and had begun a long correspondence in which Auden gave him an informal course in literature. Auden was especially pleased to get him started on Kafka. He was equally helpful to unknown young poets who sent him their poems, offering detailed help on such technical matters as adjectives and enjambment.

When he felt obliged to stand on principle on some literary or moral issue, he did so without calling attention to himself, and he was impatient with writers like Robert Lowell whose political protests seemed to him more egocentric than effective. When he won the National Medal for Literature in 1967, he was unwilling either to accept it in Lyndon Johnsons White House during the Vietnam War or to make a Cal Lowell gesture by a public refusal, so he arranged for the ceremony to be held at the Smithsonian, where he gave an acceptance speech about the corruption of language by politics and propaganda.

He was always professional in his dealings with editors and publishers, uncomplainingly rewriting whole essays when askedexcept on at least two occasions when he quietly sacrificed money and fame rather than falsify his beliefs. In 1964, for his translation (with Leif Sjöberg) of Dag Hammarskjölds posthumous Markings, he wrote a foreword that mentioned Hammarskjölds narcissistic fascination with himself and alluded almost invisibly to Hammarskjölds homosexuality, which Auden perceived as something entirely inward to Hammarskjöld and never acted upon:

A thorn in the flesh which convinces him that he can never hope to experience what, for most people, are the two greatest joys earthly life has to offer, either a passionate devotion returned, or a lifelong happy marriage.

He also alluded to Hammarskjölds inner sense of a messianic, sacrificial missionsomething he seems to have recognized as a version of the messianic fantasy to which he had himself been tempted by his youthful fame as a revolutionary left-wing poet. Continue reading

Jacob Bacharach: An Angel of the Lord Appears to a Newspaper Columnist

Essentially agnostic, he believes
the moral universe is of a kind
with the bureaucratic and efficient mind.
His is all incentives and reprieves.
He likes the rich. The poor are mostly thieves.
His paradise is just a well-designed
forced savings scheme, a contract signed,
less what the soul deserves than what it achieves.
If, alone, an angel of God most high
appeared to him beside a shallow stream
while on his way, a man in form, but bright
and terrible, he wouldnt strive; hed try
to reason the miracle down to just a dream,
the honor modest, the pleasure real, but slight.


Poem Tomas Tranströmer

After a Death
Tomas Tranströmer

Once there was a shock
that left behind a long, shimmering comet tail.
It keeps us inside. It makes the TV pictures snowy.
It settles in cold drops on the telephone wires.
One can still go slowly on skis in the winter sun
through brush where a few leaves hang on.
They resemble pages torn from old telephone directories.
Names swallowed by the cold.
It is still beautiful to hear the heart beat
but often the shadow seems more real than the body.
The samurai looks insignificant
beside his armor of black dragon scales.

Ten poems by Tomas Tranströmer
translated by Robert Bly

Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk 20140218

BY: Public Art Saint Paul – Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk presents

Saint Paul Poet Laureate Carol Connolly curates

WHAT:Reading by Writers Series – Free and Open to the Public

WHERE:Historic University Club Saint Paul, 420 Summit Avenue

Bar is open and serves throughout the evening

WHEN: 5:00 dinner Reservations 651-222-1751. No need to be a member.

MAIN PROGRAM:7:00 P.M. Prelude by violinist Mary Scallen. flutist Jim Miller. 7:30p.m. February 18, 2014


Featured Readers:

ANNA GEORGE MEEK, poet, widely published in dozens of fine national journals, The Yale Review, and more, is also the recipient of many prestigious awards: National Endowment for the Arts; Minnesota State Arts Board, Academy of American Poetry Prize, Minnesota Book Award, and more. Her first book ACTS OF CONTORTION won the Brittingham Prize in Poetry. Her chapbook ENGRAVED won the Snowbound Chapbook Competition. Meek, a Twin Cities professor of English, sings professionally with the VOCALESSENCE ENSEMBLE SINGERS.

LESLIE ADRIENNE MILLER, poet, whose collections include Y; THE RESURRECTION TRADE; EAT QUITE EVERYTHING YOU SEE; all from Graywolf Press, as well as YESTERDAY HAD A MAN IN IT; UNGODLINESS; and STAYING UP FOR LOVE, from CMU. Leslie’s poems have appeared in a wide variety of prestigious publications including BEST AMERICAN POETRY, AMERICAN POETRY REVIEW, ANTIOCH REVIEW, HARVARD REVIEW, and many many more. Leslie holds degrees too numerous to list, and is a revered Professor of English at the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul.

MARTIN KIHN is a writer, digital marketer, dog lover, balletomane and spiritual athlete. His articles have appeared in NEW YORK magazine, the NEW YORK TIMES, GQ, DETAILS, COSMOPOLITAN, and FORBES, among many others, and he was on the staff of SPY, FORBES, NEW YORK, and VIBE. His books include BAD DOG, A LOVE STORY and HOUSE OF LIES, upon which the SHOWTIME series is based, starring Don Cheadle. Marty holds the distinction of being the only living author upon whom a character is based whose actor was nominated for an Emmy. Twice.

MARY MOORE EASTER,Pushcart Prize-nominated poet is a Cave Canem Fellow and Rae Schupack Nathan Professor of Dance emerita at Carleton College. Her nationally presented work gained national notice during her 40-year Carleton tenure. Her chapbook is WALKING FROM ORIGINS, Heywood Press. Widely published in a variety of venues:POETRY, Calyx, Seattle Review, Water Stone, more, she is the recipient of many fellowships and residencies, Bush, McKnight, Ragdale, more. Her memoir, THE WAY SHE WANTS TO GET THERE, One Dancer’s Journey, is forthcoming from North Star Press in 2014.

PHYLLIS GOLDIN is a singer-songwriter, composer, writer, visual and recording artist, with several publications and CDs. She has enjoyed a number of artist residencies and performs widely.

WANDA BROWN, poet, is a recipient of several writers’ residencies, her poems appear in anthologies, including WAITING FOR THE DOUGH, WRITINGS, DRAWINGS & NON-PRIZE-WINNING RECIPES, in collaboration with Phyllis Goldin.

As GOLDINBROWN, this duo presents collaborative performances of music and spoken word.

LYNETTE REINI-GRANDELL, poet, whose first collection APPROACHING THE GATE, Holy Cow! Press, will be released in October 2014. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, appeared in IT’S ANIMAL BUT MERCIFUL; MN; POETRY MOTEL; REVOLVER; EVERGREEN CHRONICLES, more. Her poetry is part of an art installation in room 5D of the Carlton Arms Hotel in Manhattan. In Minneapolis, she performs regularly at Dusty’s Bar with the Bosso Poetry Company, a subsidiary of Bosso Enterprises, theoretically based in Big Lever, Wyoming. Lynette, with musician Kari Tauring, will perform in WALKING THE BEAR at Bryant-Lake Bowl on Sunday, March 9, 2014.

DARA SYRKIN, poet, who when asked to deliver a short bio, does just that. Dara earns a living helping writers create their best work. She believes writing is a team sport and credits her writing group comrades, and a keen partner, for keeping her on track so she can create her best work.

Readings last just about an hour. Books will be available at the books sales table; writers will autograph.

Jacob Bacharach Has A Poem

A Spate of Unions

That which wasnt is becoming by
best estimations something well achieve
within what Im assureds a reasonable time
as soon as now, if I can be believed.
The past is past. The future is to come.
Mistakes, if they were made, and let me say,
I can conceive that they were made by some
impatient staffer, unpaid junior aide,
although of course I cant with certainty
identify what they might be, because,
let me be clear, they were not made by me,
will nonetheless . . . where was I? Let me pause.
To those whod make us choose between what may
and might never be done, I say, I say.

Gene McCarthy Talks To Marc Chagall

When I met Marc Chagall
I asked him first of all
whether he had ever seen
in life or in a dream
a cow just sitting down
He said that he had seen
cows both blue and green
and also that he knew
cows that danced and cows that flew
but that he had never seen
in life of in a dream
a cow just sitting down

(Gene McCarthy, at his 1780’s farmhouse Rappahannock Co. Virginia)

Gene McCarthy, Selected Poems p.20
Lone Oak Press, 1997