Literature

Emily Dickinson – ‘I Can Wade Grief’ (1862)

Emily Dickinson was born on 10 December 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts, the town where she would live the duration of her life. She attended Amherst Academy, newly opened to female students, for seven years, punctuated briefly by spells of illness and a stay in Boston in the aftermath of the death of her cousin, Sophia Holland. In her teens she…

Themes and References in Joanna Newsom’s Sapokanikan

Yesterday Joanna Newsom announced Divers, her fourth studio album and her first since 2010’s beautiful and generous Have One on Me. Divers is due out on 23 October on Drag City. Accompanying this revelation, she also unveiled the video for the album’s first single. Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, ‘Sapokanikan’ shows Newsom strolling, striding, and sashaying through the streets of New York City. ‘Sapokanikan’ is…

The Early Poetry of Mina Loy

When the first issue of Others: A Magazine of the New Verse appeared in July 1915 – a new venture out of New Jersey headed by the poet and editor Alfred Kreymborg – it featured four short ‘Love Songs’ by Mina Loy. Loy at the time was lingering in Florence. Born as Mina Löwy on 27 December 1882 in London, her…

Tommaso Landolfi and ‘Gogol’s Wife’

The issue of Nikolai Gogol’s romantic life has long vexed biographers and critics. With significant gaps in his biography, especially during his travels and years spent abroad, and with Gogol elusive on the subject in his letters to friends, interest has often centred upon his fiction, which has been navigated and interpreted for all manner of clues. All we know is…

Daily Visual 16.06.15: Bloomsday 2015

Bloomsday today in Dublin marks the culmination of a week-long series of events organised by The James Joyce Centre: from walking tours to pub crawls and high teas, readings, lectures, and interviews with celebrity admirers. As Joyce’s literature continues to flourish worldwide, Bloomsday is celebrated in ever more ways across a growing number of locations. Among other happenings in New…

Crimea in the Russian Empire: A Cultural History

Kievan Rus flourished from about 882 – when Prince Oleg moved the capital of the Rus from Novgorod to Kiev – until the 13th century, when the Mongol Empire invaded and destroyed their major cities. While Russia gradually threw off the ‘Mongol-Tatar Yoke’, and began to emerge round the city of Moscow as a powerful independent state, Kiev and much…

On the Fugitive and French and Russian Poetry

When we hear or read the word ‘fugitive’ today, we perhaps tend to think of someone fleeing from something: most often in a legal frame, from justice; but also potentially from persecution, or simply from the uncomfortable circumstances of their lives. Supporting the first relation is the FBI’s list of the ‘Ten Most Wanted Fugitives’. This was conceived by J. Edgar Hoover,…

William Burroughs, Brion Gysin, and the Beat Hotel

In a piece I wrote last month on William Burroughs, and the composition and publication of his 1959 novel Naked Lunch, I noted his defining relationship with the artist Brion Gysin. Burroughs and Gysin met while staying at the ‘Beat Hotel’ in Paris – which had become a hub for the Beats upon Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky joining Gregory…

Saint Patrick in Context: Dates, Legends, and The Confessio

Saint Patrick in Context: Dates, Legends, and The Confessio

He is Ireland’s outstanding patron saint, conventionally held to have brought Christianity to the country in 432, and his feast day every 17 March is the cause for commemoration and revelry throughout the world – but remarkably little can be stated with any degree of certainty about the life of Saint Patrick. Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated on the traditional date of…