The Blogora: The Rhetoric Society of America
rhetoric and poetic


Philip Levine named Poet Laureate of the US

Submitted by Jim Aune on August 10, 2011 - 1:37pm

*The* poet of American working life gets the honor. Here's the conclusion to my favorite Levine poem, "One for the Rose:

I drank whatever I could find and made
my solitary way back to the terminal
and dozed among the drunks and widows
toward dawn and the first thing north.
What was I doing in Akron, Ohio
waiting for a bus that groaned slowly
between the sickened farms of 1951
and finally entered the smeared air



Submitted by Jim Aune on July 21, 2011 - 12:44pm

I think I may have asked this before, but can anyone think of any studies of oratory as represented in literature (e.g. the lawyer's speech in Native Son)? I have plenty of examples of such representations but no scholarly work I can find.


Poem for Sunday

Submitted by Jim Aune on April 10, 2011 - 7:33pm

Philip Larkin - This Be The Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.


Merwin's Poem "To the New Year"

Submitted by Jim Aune on January 16, 2011 - 2:10pm

The Tucson memorial service concluded with this poem by the current U.S. Poet Laureate, W.S. Merwin:

To the New Year

With what stillness at last
you appear in the valley
your first sunlight reaching down
to touch the tips of a few
high leaves that do not stir
as though they had not noticed
and did not know you at all
then the voice of a dove calls
from far away in itself
to the hush of the morning

so this is the sound of you
here and now whether or not
anyone hears it this is
where we have come with our age



Submitted by Jim Aune on September 25, 2010 - 7:44pm

I grow old... I grow old...
I shall add some links to my blog roll.

Shall I change my default pic? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall play some World of Warcraft, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the servers singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen cats talking in capslock on the web,
All up in ur fridge, eatin' ur food
When my laptop lights the darkness white and black.

We have lingered in the tubes of internet,
By URLS wreathed with info, loaded-down
Till cellphones ringing wake us, and we drown.


Feeling Southern, on a day with the air conditioner out, I turn to RPW

Submitted by Jim Aune on July 17, 2010 - 7:10pm

A Way to Love God
by Robert Penn Warren

Here is the shadow of truth, for only the shadow is true.
And the line where the incoming swell from the sunset Pacific
First leans and staggers to break will tell all you need to know
About submarine geography, and your father's death rattle
Provides all biographical data required for the Who's Who of the dead.

I cannot recall what I started to tell you, but at least
I can say how night-long I have lain under the stars and
Heard mountains moan in their sleep. By daylight,
They remember nothing, and go about their lawful occasions


W.S. Merwin (Our New Poet Laureate), "Berryman"

Submitted by Jim Aune on July 2, 2010 - 3:00pm

as for publishing he advised me
to paper my wall with rejection slips
his lips and the bones of his long fingers trembled
with the vehemence of his views about poetry

he said the great presence
that permitted everything and transmuted it
in poetry was passion
passion was genius and he praised movement and invention

I had hardly begun to read
I asked how can you ever be sure
that what you write is really
any good at all and he said you can't

you can't you can never be sure
you die without knowing
whether anything you wrote was any good
if you have to be sure don't write


Speaking of Literature, II

Submitted by Jim Aune on June 22, 2010 - 9:13pm

An inspiring interview with J. Hillis Miller (DB, note the comments on IA Richards at Harvard, as well as Miller's indebtedness to Kenneth Burke). He has a forthcoming book on Derrida. Miller's academic world is not mine, but he is inspiration, on many levels (note how late anti-semitism survived in English, something our present-day faux-leftists just don't get).


Speaking of Literature

Submitted by Jim Aune on June 22, 2010 - 8:38pm

Worries about Dostoevsky Station. (I would have thought Anna Karenina Station would have been more worrisome.)


The Past Isn't Even Past

Submitted by Jim Aune on June 16, 2010 - 2:59pm

An instructive (of what, I'm not sure) exercise today, reading side-by-side:

Lowell and Tate.