“It’s not clear whether he really went mad or not, but he was admitted to St. Luke’s Hospital for Lunatics—an admirably blunt name, no?”— Frank Key writes about Christopher Smart, “an intimate of Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, and Henry Fielding” and an excellent cat poet, for the Public Domain Review.
Paul Muldoon raised this season’s commencement bar with his address to Bennington College’s Writing Seminar graduates. At The Russian Samovar a few months ago, before reading from Maggot, he explained the phrase “cock a snook.”
“I was also deeply protective of my father, who at the time of my reading was struggling with illness and other demons. Yet I saw painfully how he could also be a figure of fun. It dawned on me that Cal, supposedly a great friend, might be mocking him—even just by writing about his mockery by others. I registered the first stirrings of an uncertain dislike.” Diantha Parker considers her father’s long friendship with Robert Lowell, immortalized in Lowell’s poem “To Frank Parker.”
Sarah Pitre reviews Meg Wolitzer‘s first YA novel, Belzhar, for Kirkus Reviews, and while we were already looking forward to the novel, now we’re doubly interested.
Although Jon Fosse is not well known in America, his work is revered in his native Norway, where he stands on a par with his onetime student and American celebrity, Karl Ove Knausgaard. In a piece for The Paris Review Daily, Damion Searls argues for Fosse’s relevance, claiming that Fosse is the only writer whose work made him weep as he translated it. You could also read Jonathan Callahan on Knausgaard’s My Struggle.
You don’t need to visit Houghton Library in Cambridge, MA to check out Emily Dickinson’s family artifacts. You can catch a glimpse from the comfort of your own home.