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Original Essays | August 18, 2014

Ian Leslie: IMG Empathic Curiosity



Today, we wonder anxiously if digital media is changing our brains. But if there's any time in history when our mental operations changed... Continue »
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The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker
The Anthologist

Cornerhouse, September 28, 2009

This is a love letter to poetry, rhymed or otherwise. Paul Chowder is a poet who has edited an anthology and is now trying to write the introduction to the anthology, but not getting anywhere. Because the anthology is devoted to rhyming verse, the introduction, which we rehearses bits and pieces of for the reader in the fast-moving mostly internal monologue that makes up this entire novel, is about rhyme and meter and his obsessions with the four-beat line + rest that the rest of the world calls the iambic pentameter. He thinks about poets, poetry, rhyme, meter, books of poetry -- while also setting bits and pieces of poetry to music, diagramming the meter of other bits, and generally trying to make his way in the world. In the end, he writes a 230 page introduction and 23 new poems on the plane flying home from a poetry conference in Switzerland, while painting houses to make money.

It's an oddly comforting vision -- and one that would normally be bleak, except for the fact that this entire novel is funny. Very funny. So funny, in fact, that I feel like I should read it again just for the jokes. And the poetry.
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