| Sep 20, 2009
When I was in my early 20s, living in Berkeley and drifting toward a PhD in Russian literature, I started writing poetry. It was a completely unexpected development. I definitely hadn't been one of those kids in high school who worked for the literary...
| Sep 27, 2009
The Wilderness Warrior
Theodore Roosevelt and the
Crusade for America
Harper: 960 pp., $34.99
Reviewing several Roosevelt biographies in 1920, H.L. Mencken reported that he had found more "gush" than "sense." Douglas Brinkley's...
| Oct 4, 2009
Daunting as it may be to assemble a centuries-spanning assessment of any country, even one with a fairly linear march through history, how does one approach a culture as unstable, contradictory and contested as ours? Where do you start? Where do you stop?...
| Apr 6, 2009
I'm impatient by nature. But I thought I had learned how to remain still in yoga classes, coaxing calm and patience from an overactive mind. I thought I learned patience when my daughter was born 2 1/2 weeks late. But I didn't really learn anything...
| Sep 12, 2010
Selected Poems and Commentaries
Harvard University Press: 530 pp., $35
I'm just a regular reader, you say. I read for pleasure. Why should I read the commentaries of critic Helen Vendler on the "epigrammatic, terse, abrupt,...
| Oct 3, 2010
Poems and Prose Poems
Beacon Press: 96 pp., $23
"What can I say that I have not said before?" the poet Mary Oliver wonders on page 1 of this, her 20th collection. "So I'll say it again./The leaf has a song in it." She is a little...
| Oct 14, 2010
| 9:19 AM
"Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family's Feuds"
By Lyndall Gordon Viking, 472 pages, $28
Even though fewer than a dozen of Emily Dickinson’s 1,789 poems were published in her lifetime, her family and friends in Amherst,...
| Jun 27, 2010
It was long after dark when Henry Sweets brought me to Hannibal's Old Baptist Cemetery, "a graveyard of the old-fashioned Western kind."
No moon. Ragged weeds, crumbling gravestones. We tried to tread lightly, but it had been raining, and mud grabbed...
| Feb 26, 2010
Whether they're true or not, myths and legends that surround poets help us to see their work in a comprehensible context. Say the names Keats, Poe or Plath, for instance, and images of consumption, drug addiction and mental illness may come to mind,...
| Dec 23, 2010
| 6:01 PM
The holidays are a time to extend hospitality — to show there is room at the inn. Here is a sampling of with whom Laguna folks would most like to invite share their Christmas or Hanukkah dinner, given the choices of anyone living or dead, fact or...
| Apr 12, 2009
by Mark Silva and updated with service President Barack Obama, his wife and two daughters attended Easter service this morning at St. John's Church, a favorite chapel of presidents past situated just across a sun-splashed, flowering park from the White......