The Poetry of Tomas Transtromer










The old cliché “write what you know” is something of a misnomer. The obvious question to me is “How can you write something you don’t know?” Even the most fantastical, absurd stories about aliens or ancient battles of thrones come from some common pool of one’s humanity and taps into the deep, unconscious myths of existence.

That being said, there are writers who seem to take “write what you know” to the extreme in that their writing is very much seeped in the time and place of their existence. One of these writers is the great Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer, the 2011 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Read the rest of this entry »

The Prodigal Son by Ranier Maria Rilke

In recent days I have had less time to write longer posts, so I have decided that I would try to do more and more smaller posts about things I have read recently or found interesting.

The other day I rediscovered Rilke’s reinterpretation of “The Prodigal Son” story from the bible. This passage ends Rilke’s only work of fiction called “The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge,” which I highly recommend as well if you have time to read it.

Rilke does not tell the story of the prodigal son as someone who lapses into sin and debauchery but is welcomed back to his family with open arms. Instead Rilke tells the story of “the legend of a man who didn’t want to be loved.”

There are some beautiful pieces of writing such as:

For he had loved again and again in his solitude, each time squandering his whole nature and in unspeakable fear for the freedom of the other person. Slowly he learned to let the rays of his emotion shine through into the beloved object, instead of consuming the emotion in her. And he was pampered by the joy of recognizing, through the more and more transparent form of the beloved, the expanses that she opened to his infinite desire for possession.”

Anyway, I encourage you to read the rest.

Trappist Monks and The Vow of Silence

Fellow DUFL Press blogger, Anthony K, emailed me this article the other day. It is an email interview with 4 Trappist Monks and how they deal with their orders vow of silence.  It is a fascinating interview, and I suggest you read the whole thing, but I thought I would focus on one particular quote:

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Sobriety Blows: Quitting Smoking and Drinking

“What’s that? You want me to drink you?  But I’m in the middle of a trial!”

Withdrawal is a bitch. I live in a constant miasmic haze.  I can’t seem to concentrate on anything as if my brain was surrounded by storm clouds. Strange phlegm emerges from the recesses from my body. My throat constantly itches. I want to punch my neighbor in the face. A cigarette and a drink would solve all at this moment. Except that it won’t.

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The Marlins Home Run Sculpture

This Mother’s Day I am sitting at home watching the Mets-Marlins game. In the 7th inning John Buck hit a 2-run home run to tie the game at 2-2. And then this happened:


Rewatching “Ikiru”

Every few years or so, I rewatch the Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 film Ikiru. There is no obvious reason I submit to this biyearly penance. It’s a movie with no violence or nudity. It contains no great love story and says little about liberals or conservatives or the validity of this or that gun law. I rewatch it simply because it is one of the few movies that forces me like a reflecting mirror to face the unavoidability of my death.  As Stanley Elkin once said, “I would never write about someone who is not at the end of his rope.” Similarly, I find it hard to rewatch anything unless it is about people at the end of their rope.
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The Kids

The Kids

These kids
with beards
and tight jeans
drink whiskey
till 4 a.m.
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On Influence: Starting and Stopping Cracks

Since it is shameless plug week at DUFL press, I thought I’d shamelessly plug an essay by my good friend, Greg Gerke,  on the Kenyon Review’s website. It’s a luminous, thoughtful essay about influences in art and what it means to create. Plus, Mr. Gerke discusses Rilke, William Gass, Wallace Stevens and Elizabeth Bishop, and God knows I love them all dearly. There are numerous passages I adore in the essay, but since I don’t want to ruin it for you, here are three: Read the rest of this entry »


We’re inside now, and I am drunk, drunker than I can remember being. 12 drinks will do that. But I don’t feel drunk, I feel euphoric, and the dark bar is glowing and spinning like some broke-down merry-go around.

The music is blasting, and the people are dancing, the group of guys in the corner are yelling at the top of their lungs to Madonna, and the beautiful bartender with tattoos covering her body like spreading, wayward ivy is shuffling her feet behind the bar, and I pretend she’s looking me and desiring me with her eyes, but of course she’s not, she doesn’t even notice me.
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There’s No Such Thing as a Pitching Prospect: The Story of Generation K

They were supposed to be stars, to save the Mets from the doldrums of the post-Strawberry-Gooden-years. Three pitching prospects all in Baseball America’s top 35 prospects. Paul Wilson, the first pick in the 1994 major league draft. Bill Pulsipher, in Triple AAA Norfolk by age 21. Jason Isringhausen, the man with the power fastball and killer curve. And they had a good nickname too: Generation K. 
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