Culture & Conversation

Posts by Brian Campbell

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Suffering fools badly

Poet Zachariah Wells isn’t one to shy away from an argument. His collection of critical writing Career Limiting Moves is at once pugnacious, hilarious, and illuminating.

Secular Feast

All Soul’s Day is a day of prayer to help the dead trapped in purgatory on their journey to heaven. It is celebrated in both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches; the latter observes several All Souls’ Days throughout the year. In some parts, most notably Mexico, it is celebrated as the Day of the Dead.

Freakish Travails

When you read a dramatic poem like Kenneth Sherman’s Words for Elephant Man, it’s great to have Google by your side. On Wikipedia you can find…

Waving not Drowning

What to do when there are so many poets? Hundreds of poetry books come out every year; the constant rumble of publishing in literary magazines, in print and on line, amounts to a kind of white noise. Hence, of course, the usefulness—and pleasure and delight—of anthologies. A number of anthologies purport to publish “The Best”: a ruse both obvious and overused, but nevertheless, appealing. Others seek to define a grouping: poets of a generation, poets of a movement or school. Still others bring together exemplary work illustrating a theme or following a certain poetic form.

Ready for his Close Up

The reading gets heavy and, frankly, heavy-handed at times as one is taken through scenes from the Viet Nam war, a lynching in the deep South, sexual abuse of choir boys, a deer turned into roadkill, a corpse-strewn battlefield from the Norman invasion of 1066.  At certain points, this reader wanted to say, Lighten up, friend. At others, though, he said, Go on, probe these depths.

Grappling with God

Anyone out there who’s read the whole Bible from cover to cover, raise your hands.  What, no one? Is this any surprise? David Plotz, a self-described…

Duelling with America

Tariq Ali is an Oxford-educated East Asian expatriate who has nevertheless maintained deep ties with his nation of origin. Famed for his silver-tongued oratorical skills, he…