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I wanted to write. One line as good as yours. My mountain. My inspiration.Lou Reed

Dazzling—a new kind of telling, with urgent bluntness of its own. John Ashbery on Delmore Schwartz in The New Yorker

Grammar blossoms into, extraordinary jagged memoriesDan Chiasson on Rosmarie Waldrop in The New Yorker

Waldrop’s universe begins where Einstein’s ends. Nearly fifty years of lyric riffs, meditations, and collages—using as source material the works of physicists, philosophers, explorers, historians, and critics, from Columbus to Wittgenstein—seek to simultaneously define, deconstruct, and, finally, re-construct a mind in motion.
Eric Dean Wilson, Music & Literature

I have often, in the past decade or so, wanted to write something about “women writers,” whatever that means (and whatever “about” means), but the words “women writers” seemed already to carry their own derogation, and I found the words slightly nauseating, in a way that reminded me of that fancy, innocent copy of “Little Women that I had received as a gift as a child but could bear neither to look at nor throw out.An excerpt from Rivka Galchen's Little Labors in The New Yorker

"I am told, also, that a major problem through the centuries for artists depicting the baby Jesus has been the question of what to do about the Lord's penis."

Rivka Galchen on babies in art in The Paris Review.

She is a great poet because almost half a century after her death, her poems are more startling and bizarre than those of many poets who deliberately set out, as one suspects Smith never did, to be startling and bizarre.David Orr on Stevie Smith in The New York Times Book Review

Where am I
It's supposed to be hot and sunny
But it's cool and threatening
Read a poem from Bernadette Mayer's forthcoming "Works & Days" in The New York Times Magazine

Strange now to find ourselves
in these later, lateral days,
to lose ourselves in this slowing time
of a late, lateral night,
a slant, abbreviated light
knowing that we all, each one,
once thought to become
waves beating, waves retreating,
wheeling, oval eyes of storm,
swallow-tales, atoms of thought,
as if there were such things
as if such things could be
could have beenfrom "Strange Now" by Michael Palmer

Bill Clinton (left) and Bohumil Hrabal (center) sinking beers in Prague.

"I have come to talk to you about the future." Enrique Vila-Matas looks into his crystal ball forMusic & Literature.

I love her, I am crazy about her, she is innocent and smashing like a Blake only new, and a lot of pathos under the deadpan sad funny stuff, a lot of true religion. 

Thomas Merton on Stevie Smith's All the Poems

The Yellow Sofa

Fiction by José Maria de Eça de Queirós

translated by

José Maria Eça de Queirós, the first great modern Portuguese novelist, wrote The Yellow Sofa with, as he said, "no digressions, no rhetoric," where "everything is interesting and dramatic and quickly narrated." The story, a terse and seamless spoof of Victorian bourgeois morals, concerns Godofredo Alves, a successful, buoyant businessman who returns home to find his wife "on the yellow damask sofa... leaning in abandon on the shoulder of a man..." The man is none other than Machado, his best friend and business partner. Godofredo struggles with the public need to defend his honor, and a stronger inner desire for forgiveness and domestic tranquillity. The Babel Guide to Portuguese Fiction notes, "The genius of this book is how Eça captures all the emotional fluctuations... and with such accuracy. The result is an enjoyable humorous novella that is simultaneously breathtakingly ironic." The Yellow Sofa firmly establishes Eça de Queirós in the literary pantheon that includes Dickens, Flaubert, Balzac and Tolstoy.

A Barbarian in Asia

Fiction by Henri Michaux

translated by Sylvia Beach

Henri Michaux (1889-1984), the great French poet and painter, set out as a young man to see the Far East. Traveling from India to the Himalayas, and on to China and Japan, Michaux voices his vivid impressions, cutting opinions, and curious insights: he has no trouble speaking his mind. Part fanciful travelogue and part exploration of culture, A Barbarian in Asia is presented here in its original translation by Sylvia Beach, the famous American-born bookseller in Paris.

Available: May 31 2016


Fiction by John Hawkes

Travesty is John Hawkes’s most extreme vision of eroticism and comic terror. In the south of France, an elegant sportscar is speeding through the night, bearing a man, his daughter, and his best friend toward a fatal crash. As he drives, the "privileged man" justifies, in sustained monologue, his firm persuasion that willed destruction is the ultimate act of the poetic imagination. "What I have in mind is an ’accident’ so perfectly contrived that it will be unique, spectacular and instantaneous, a physical counterpart to that vision in which it was in fact conceived." This is the final work in a triad of novels concerned with sex, myth, the imagination, and the absurd. The Blood Oranges (1971) is the acting out of a lyric dream; Death, Sleep & The Traveler (1974) a descent into the depths of psychic darkness to the edge of death; and Travesty (1976) an icily comic portrait of the poet as suicide and murderer. It is one of the most cruelly and brilliantly ironic works to be found in contemporary literature.

Voyage Around My Room

Nonfiction by Xavier de Maistre

translated by

In 1790, while serving in the Piedmontese army, the French aristocrat Xavier de Maistre (1763-1852) was punished for dueling and placed under house arrest for forty-two days. The result was a discursive, mischievous memoir, his classic Voyage Around My Room and its sequel, Nocturnal Expedition Around My Room. Admired by Nietzsche and Machado de Assis, Ossian and Susan Sontag, this classic book proves that sitting on the living-room sofa can be as fascinating as crossing the Alps or paddling up the Amazon.

In addition to the Voyage and Expedition, this edition also includes the dialogue "The Leper of the City of Aosta," a preface by Xavier's better-known older brother (the royalist philosopher Joseph de Maistre), and an introduction by Richard Howard.

Extracting the Stone of Madness

Poetry by Alejandra Pizarnik

translated by Yvette Siegert

Revered by Octavio Paz and Roberto Bolaño, Alejandra Pizarnik is still a hidden treasure in the U.S. Extracting the Stone of Madness comprises all of her middle to late work, as well as a selection of posthumously published verse. Obsessed with themes of solitude, childhood, madness, and death, Pizarnik explored the shifting valences of the self and the border between speech and silence. In her own words, she was drawn to “the suffering of Baudelaire, the suicide of Nerval, the premature silence of Rimbaud, the mysterious and fleet- ing presence of Lautréamont,” and to the “unparalleled intensity” of Artaud’s “physical and moral suffering.”

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May 23, 2016
ND 80 Party
February 26, 2016
All the Poems: Stevie Smith