“What is missing from Testimony is the customary idealistic hero, the one last encountered in Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass who doesn’t avert his eyes from suffering and sordidness, but who nevertheless is full of hope for a better future. Testimony is a corrective, an anti-epic.” Charles Simić recounts Charles Reznikoff’s long poem Testimony: The United States (1885-1915): Recitative in the NYRB.
The recent opening of the Jeff Koons retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art has occasioned a number of rave reviews. They’re so good, in fact, that they’ve inspired Los Angeles Times writer Carolina A. Miranda to comb the write-ups for “evocative turn[s] of phrase, political metaphor[s], and references to lady parts” in order to assemble a standalone poem. Or, rather, it was standalone until artist William Powhida made a drawing out of it. (Full size drawing here.)
Norman Rockwell was an unhappy and enervated man who became iconic by painting scenes of happy, energetic people. He developed a style that became synonymous with idyllic visions of America. At Page-Turner, Lee Siegel reads Deborah Solmon’s American Mirror, a new biography of Rockwell that acknowledges the painter’s contradictions without “mocking or scolding” him for the gulf between his life and his art.
Nancy Jo Sales, author of The Bling Ring, talks about her latest book, American Girls, at NPR. “In the 2 1/2 years she spent researching her book, Sales interviewed more than 200 teenage girls around the country about their social media and Internet usage. She says girls face enormous pressures to post ‘hot’ or sexualized photos of themselves online, and she adds that this pressure can make the Internet an unwelcoming environment.” You could also read Sarah Labrie’s essay on social (media) anxiety.
The weird and fascinating history of books used in swearing-in ceremonies gets its latest entry: the new Ambassador to Switzerland just took the oath on her personal Kindle.