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.

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 »