Philip Levine, a Pulitzer Prize winner in 1995, has been named the 18th poet laureate of the United States.
Surely the most unusual title among the finalists in the poetry category of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes is “God’s Optimism” by Yehoshua November (Main Street Rag, $14). After all, the rarefied world of poetry rarely encounters a Chasidic poet who declares that his intention is “to restore the sanctity to language.” And in case the book won first prize, I was asked to be ready to read the author’s acceptance speech, because the prize ceremony took place on a Friday night, and he is shomer Shabbat.
For Walt Whitman, the Civil War was about the body. The crime of the Confederacy, Whitman believed, was treating blacks as nothing but flesh, selling them and buying them like pieces of meat. Whitman's revelation, which he had for the first time at a New Orleans slave auction, was that body and mind are inseparable. To whip a man's body was to whip a man's soul.
Poet, translator and publisher Peter Cole is among the 24 recipients of the 2007 MacArthur Foundation fellowships, or genius awards, as they are popularly known. The no-strings-attached award, honoring creativity, includes a $500,000 stipend that is paid quarterly over five years.
In "Pound of Flesh," at the Odyssey Theater, Ezra Pound spars with Pvt. Cooper, a young soldier who keeps him company while he awaits trial in Italy for his crimes of treachery against the United States in World War II. If this private is not Pound's intellectual match, he more than matches the poet on moral grounds.
Somebody must have perfected human cloning, because no way is Danny Maseng just one person.
When the singer-songwriter-guitarist-actor-poet-dramatist-lay rabbi-teacher-visionary, who will headline the Fund for Reform Judaism's annual fundraiser at Temple Isaiah in Rancho Park on June 13, isn't performing, he may be teaching the Zohar, leading a service at his New York congregation or dashing off a new setting for a passage in Jewish liturgy.
Or he might be working institutionally on innovations in Jewish arts, Jewish worship, Jewish music or Jewish camping.