Viral Avant la Lettre
January 19, 2011

This book can be read in two ways. Historians will likely delight in the details and the diagrams provided by Robert Darnton, who tips his hat to the

January 13, 2011

I love the past tense, but you can’t live there. I love the stories you believe add up to you, Though they never do. I love the way The rhythms and the tenses and the words Add up to nothing, or to a diversion, or to this: I know this place, and even think it’s true If places can be true), but what does it say? That if I wake I’ll wake up into it, and then go on? Or is it just a state of mind, a place to linger in Or stay, whose seeming is the whole of its reality? I was born to indecision: I follow thoughts Wherever they lead, and dreams until it’s clear They won’t come true.

January 13, 2011

Under the cliff walls of apartment blocks, on a narrow patch of grass as tough and discolored as old carpet, they have parked their motorbikes and distributed themselves, a tribe, a colony, girls and boys, some lounged on the sward, some on cement paving in a strip of shade, some on two facing wrought-iron benches planted in concrete. Out of range of grownups, they play cards, they scuffle, a girl places her head on a boy’s lap to practice kissing, they smoke, they pass lit cigarettes back and forth, a smaller boy pops a soccer ball against the wall with slow, heat-drugged, sidewise kicks. Hou

Editors' Picks: Best Books of 2010
December 22, 2010

The Bars of Atlantis: Selected Essays by Durs Grünbein Reviewing this collection of essays by Germany's pre-eminent contemporary poet, Helen Vendler wrote that "If Yeats’s aim was to hold in a single thought reality and justice, then Grünbein’s is to hold in a single thought poetry and philosophy." This book contains my favorite quote of the year.

Against Rage
December 08, 2010

He had not been denied the world. Terrible scenes that he clung to because they taught him the world will at last be buried with him. As well as the exhilarations. Now, he thinks each new one will be the last one. The last new page. The last sex. Each human being’s story, he tells nobody, is a boat cutting through the night. As starless blackness approaches, the soul reverses itself, in the eerie acceptance of finitude. Frank Bidart is an American poet.

Robert, Cat
December 08, 2010

He has been my sole companion, sometimes, for days and weeks on end. Prisoner No. 1 and Prisoner No. 2, making do. Yet this solitude cannot compare with his. At any time I can walk out the door—I am not about to do any such thing; theoretically, however, it is within my power. All at once I am ashamed to think that if anyone is anybody’s sole companion, I am his.

The Joy That Snuck Up
December 07, 2010

Silver Roses is Rachel Wetzsteon’s last book of poems in several senses: it is both her most recent, and, sadly, her final collection, as she died by

Body and Mask
November 10, 2010

In the Villa Doria Pamphilj,         I saw a carved plaque set into a wall,         quite unremarkable, just the usual lotto di putti, the contest between cherubs, but then I         saw that one of the two         had wriggled his way somehow inside the mask of tragedy,   the way a dog might flail blindly,         its forequarters stuck in a paper sack,         but more cunning than that, and not stuck, having crawled in deliberately   (in the same way an apprentice of Cellini         hid his lover inside a bronze head of Mars,         her nude flank like the whites of its eyes), the cherub’s

From “Nocturnes”
November 10, 2010

Beautiful moon     the murderer begins to sing     The thief takes off his mask     to smell     the heliotrope A junkie steals asters from a rich man’s grave     And spreads them     on the modest mound of his mother A lone girl walks with moonlit haste     in the shadow of     the maquiladoras * Pol Pot sleeps     counting heaven’s lambs     His ex-wife is learning ikebana * A pretty boy dances naked in a cage Twelve or thirteen     he is brown and slender He sings     My father sold me to the hillside wolves For a snort of the white dragon * The sky does not judge     it’s black and starle

Seen by a Ghost
October 20, 2010

If he had seen her seen her mortal form tonight open the fridge door wide almost bundle her body into it into that nave of brightness dumbly drinking milk as spirits drink blood ghostlike even to herself athirst for white and dazzled by the glare of steel and iron her fingers burnt by ice he would have said it wasn’t her. Not the one whom dying I left so she could live on in my place. —Translated by Jamie McKendrick  For more TNR, become a fan on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.