After a Boston attorney banned the publication of Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman set out to defend the book, arguing that the sex that earned the book censorship was an integral part of the experience he wanted to convey. In an essay for Salon, John Marsh examines Whitman’s defense in light of the content of his work, exploring the ways in which he upset Puritan mores. You could also read our own Michael Bourne on how Walt Whitman saved his life.
Willard Spiegelman’s provocative essay in the VQR’s recent State of American Poetry issue, “Has Poetry Changed?” incited quite a few responses. One of the better rejoinders came from William Childress, whose response, “Is Free Verse Killing Poetry,” raises some excellent points. “Poetry needs readers, not writers,” writes Childress. “But how many poets read any poetry but their own?”
It’s fitting in a strange way that the author of Being There is now the subject of an oddball novel-turned-biography. In the Times, Benjamin Markovits reads Jerome Charyn’s book Jerzy, which gives the life of Jerzy Kosinski a treatment he’d likely appreciate.