All those years ago, I was invited to teach at the Writers’ Workshop in the University of Iowa. Mark Strand was on the faculty. He looked the way poets are supposed to look, a conspicuously handsome man with humour and intelligence in his face and elegance in his dress. Clarissa and I lived round the corner from Mark and Antonia, then his wife, who was teaching Italian at the university. Playing cards and ordering pizza, the four of us would while away the severe winter nights of Iowa. The son of a literary father, I have been privileged to encounter many gifted people, but none so gifted as Mark. His poems are brilliant acts of imagination, projections of his ceaseless fantasizing about the world and himself. A genuine aesthete, he valued beauty for its own sake and was able to express it. I find his poems have a beauty that is unique. The friendship begun in Iowa lasted. We’d speak on the telephone, we exchanged our books, we discussed the merits of French wine, and one afternoon ransacked the shops of Florence in search of just the right leather jacket for a dandy. Mark was the American poet laureate; he won a Pulitzer and a Macarthur so-called “genius” award that makes a winner independent. In his view the New York Times was so biased and partisan that he refused to allow his publishers to send them review copies of any new book of his. He surely didn’t need praise or blame from such a quarter. A real great poet. Alas, R.I.P.
The current progressive effort to demonize attorney general William Barr is creepy, but then again not so strange. He came into the office with singular experience and an excellent reputation from past service. As attorney general, he has followed the law to the letter in handling the release, redactions, and ... Read More
The release of the Mueller report this week was a revelatory moment for me. I realized that, some time ago apparently, I crossed a political Mendoza line, where I am now more disgusted by Donald Trump’s opponents than I am by Trump himself. This is no insignificant development for me. Regular readers of mine ... Read More
The U.S. Attorney General is ending asylum seekers’ opportunity to ask for bond in front of an immigration judge. Read More
The Mueller report is of course about Russian interference in the 2016 election and about the White House's interference in the resulting investigation. But I couldn’t help also reading the report as a window into the manner of administration that characterizes the Trump era, and therefore as another warning ... Read More
Washington -- The oral arguments the Supreme Court will hear on Tuesday will be more decorous than the gusts of judicial testiness that blew the case up to the nation’s highest tribunal. The case, which raises arcane questions of administrative law but could have widely radiating political and policy ... Read More
Every year, the William F. Buckley Jr. Society at Yale, founded by Lauren Noble, honors a public figure who was “disinvited” from a college campus. The speaker might have been shouted down at the podium, or his invitation might have been rescinded before carnage could ensue. Past honorees include George ... Read More
Warning. SPOILERS are ahead. If you don’t want to know anything about episode two of the final season of Game of Thrones, stop reading. Now. One of my favorite moments in Peter Jackson's outstanding adaptation of Lord of the Rings happened in the final movie, The Return of the King. On the eve of Mordor's ... Read More