California Literary Review


Festival of the Earth: Rabindranath Tagore’s Environmental Vision


December 6th, 2019

I knew it occurred every Autumn. And every Autumn I intended to go. And after many trials and as many errors, I finally made it one August. It was the festival of the earth.

Much Ado About Joss Whedon


March 8th, 2013

Is Joss Whedon’s biggest year ever taking a second lap?

Book Review: John Keats: A New Life by Nicholas Roe


November 16th, 2012

Whether one approaches Keats’ life by reading a biography or by the direct study of his poems, there is no escaping the fact that he was obsessed by the nature and effect of beauty in its various forms. He was also haunted by death, the sheer, undeniable, inescapable physical annihilation that awaits each of us, sooner or later. In the case of Keats, death occurred much, much too soon.

Into the Void: The Bicoastal Legacy of Weldon Kees


January 26th, 2012

This is very different stuff than the angst of later confessional poets such as Lowell and Plath, whose despair is essentially personal, rooted in disappointment and disillusionment. Kees, by comparison, proposes that this is simply how it is, and does so with enough coolness and elegance that it comes as no surprise that Wallace Stevens wrote to Kees ordering a volume of a limited edition of his verse.

The Weekly Listicle: Method In Our Movie Madness


October 7th, 2011

The practice of blessing mass entertainment with the bard’s prose confers a kind of loftiness upon it, or at least that must be the idea. A quick glance indicates that Shakespeare has provided titles for an alarming number of Star Trek episodes, just for starters. This week, lend your ears to Brett Harrison Davinger and me (Dan Fields) as we look at some of our favorite films to borrow a title from the works of Shakespeare.

Book Review: Beautiful & Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry by David Orr


July 6th, 2011

Except for a (thankfully) brief, unscientific use of Google metrics, Orr beautifully shares instances of why one might fall in love with poetry. He recounts his life-changing discovery of the poet Philip Larkin, and his experience of helping his father, a stroke victim, improve his speech through readings of Edward Lear’s “The Owl and the Pussycat.”

Movie Time Nostalgia, Part 4: We Are All Children Of Paradise


November 9th, 2010

A movie can do a lot of things to an audience. It may move them, amuse them, disgust them, terrify them, or in all too many cases bore them. One thing only a handful of films can do is inspire wonder. Every once in a while, a winning combination of writer, director, designers, composers and cast meet in perfect harmony. Such, I feel, is the case of Marcel Carné’s 1945 epic romance, Les Enfants du Paradis (Children of Paradise).

Break, Blow, Burn: Camille Paglia Reads Forty-three of the World’s Best Poems


April 10th, 2007

Blest be anyone who, in this age of meretricious materialism, nascent narcissism, and hapless hedonism, returns us to poetry, to the joy of language for its own sake, for its distilled passion, and for its summons to discipline, in both writer and reader.

Camille Paglia Discusses Her New Book Break, Blow, Burn


March 31st, 2007

“American culture is swamped with dizzying media images, which have become a primary form of communication. Language has become increasingly debased. It proliferates on the Web but in rushed, banal form. Newspapers and magazines no longer have a concern for style of expression.”

Between Alpha and Omega: Some Observations on Poetry and Poetry’s Task in our Time


March 26th, 2007

We lived heretofore in the multitude of villages scattered world-wide amongst the ruins of the Tower of Babel. Civilization’s tapestry, its complicated patterns interwoven from multitudes of poets and poetries, once covered their walls and held our attention. Will there come to be in the global village but one faceless, boring bard who speaks with the reduced, infinitely reductive voice the simplified and platitudinous messages of the Media?

Borges: A Poet’s Quest for Simplicity


March 26th, 2007

Simplicity requires oneness. If you want to be someone, you are two and you are not simple. If you want to be simple, you are also two and you are not simple.

Cassady, Kerouac and Ginsberg


March 26th, 2007

The time between New Year’s 1956 and April 1958 was a period of general uncertainty and renewed spiritual doubt for Neal Cassady. He remained haunted by Natalie’s death.

Goethe and Tagore – Unexpected Interests


March 26th, 2007

Goethe and Tagore, separated by time and contexts, but joined in their great felicity over the literary idiom, show similar quests in the understanding of the sciences. It is alluring to jump to the conclusion of a phony and fashionable unity; that science and arts are the same after all; and literature, music, mathematics, and the physical sciences are all manifestations of the common muse.

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