Unlike democracy, rhyme’s mode of expectation invites a belief in inevitable and rapid fulfillment. Rhyme unfulfilled precipitates apocalyptic feeling, as in Cohen’s “The Future,” where fratricide hangs in the balance of a half-rhyme: "I’ve seen the future brother: / It is murder." 


The empty occasions of calendrical time impose their false coherence on us.


In Roland Emmerich’s schlocky disaster film The Day After Tomorrow (2004), a tsunami swamps the New York Public Library and enables some ham-handed scenarios about the fate of books after an environmental apocalypse.


In Gawker's wry estimation, most of the U.S. simply didn't "get" Richard Blanco's inaugural poem "One Today." In the Washington Post's absurd trollgazing account, Blanco's poem merely signals the "death of poetry."


Whenever a new anthology of modern U.S. poetry comes along, it seems that some distinguished critic or other is fated to take up arms, defending his or her vision of canonical distinction against the treachery of "inclusiveness." The latest eminence to cast herself as such a centurion is Helen Vendler, who reproaches Rita Dove's Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry (2011) in a review that has garnered no shortage of sensational, morbid attention ("Are These the Poems to Remember?," NYRB, November, 2011).


Are you on the record anywhere about Carlos Ramírez Hoffman or Carlos Weider?

That was the indelicate question I kept mulling over—and ultimately kept to myself—during the Q and A session after Raúl Zurita's Sept. 26 poetry reading here at Northwestern University, where Zurita was accompanied by his latest translator, Anna Deeny.

Harris Feinsod's picture
Harris Feinsod
Harris Feinsod is Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Northwestern University. His work focuses on 20th and 21st century literature of the hemispheric Americas, modern poetry and poetics, and maritime cultural history, especially in the age of the steamship. His first book is The Poetry of the Americas: From Good Neighbors to Countercultures (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2017).