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Comment Archives: stories: Arts and Culture: Books

Re: “Ruta Sepetys' harrowing debut Between Shades of Gray chronicles Stalin's murder of millions

We need to be more concerned about the Slavic and former Soviet block countries. Never hear much about them in most media. I wish them all well as they struggle with democracy and new economies. My ancestors are from that region too.

Posted by John Cavin on 02/24/2012 at 5:06 PM

Re: “Robert K. Massie's biography shows the human side of Catherine the Great, Russia's brilliant 18th century monarch

I got this for Christmas, and I read it halfway through in one sitting. The detail is just astonishing: Massie can tell me not only what happened on a day the nine-year-old Peter III had lunch with his father, he knows who else was there and what the topic of conversation was. (Boy, I see why I've never read any biographies of Peter. If anything, his portrayal in Josef von Sternberg's THE SCARLET EMPRESS as a leering idiot manchild was flattering.)

Also, it's cool to see the closing thank-yous to Judges Gilbert Merritt and George Paine. Would love to hear the story behind those.

Posted by mr. pink on 01/13/2012 at 5:32 PM

Re: “So Small, and Right on the Street

Thank God for you,Mr. McGuire. I listened as a kid, to them final performances on the airwaves of WSM. I remember having an issue of Country Music Magazine, with a drawn picture of Roy Acuff, throwing a wrecking ball at the Ryman. I'm sure he'd have a change of heart,if he c'd seen the rebirth of it. A Picture,is worth a Thousand words.

Posted by Rooster Simpson on 11/29/2011 at 7:04 PM

Re: “The female artists in Jewly Hight's new study of Americana music are making music their way — even if their record labels aren't always thrilled

Great book, it really is an exciting time for music, so many of the best songs coming out today are by these fantastic female artists that so often get overlooked!

My favorite thing about Americana Music is that it is a genre that embraces established artists like Emmylou Harris, Loretta Lynn, Lucinda Williams, Kasey Chambers, Rosie Flores, and Kelly Willis; while at the same time opening the doors for new and talented singers and songwriters like Elizabeth Cook, Neko Case, Zoe Muth, Tara Nevins, Caitlin Rose, Renee Wahl, Gillian Welch, Sarah Borges, Laura Cantrell, Amy Levere, Eilen Jewell, Carrie Rodriguez and even poppier singers like Jenny Lewis, Tift Merritt and Allison Moorer.

It is easy to find really good music, you just have to be smart enough to go look for it!

11 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by janey on 11/21/2011 at 10:20 PM

Re: “Parnassus Books is opening this weekend in Nashville, and Chapter 16 has the inside story

As a local author, I couldn't be more excited about today! Parnassus is going to become a mainstay of the community, I just know it.…

Posted by Erin Tocknell on 11/19/2011 at 11:04 AM

Re: “Parnassus Books is opening this weekend in Nashville, and Chapter 16 has the inside story

I heard this story on NPR. Will be there for DC on 12/4. Very exciting!

Posted by Ray Barber on 11/19/2011 at 9:23 AM

Re: “Framed for murder and left to languish in a Nicaraguan prison, Eric Volz tells his story

Thank goodness you were freed.
To check on other inmates go to

Posted by elainemarie on 10/30/2011 at 12:34 PM

Re: “Billy Collins takes his appeal for accessible poetry to the Fugitives' citadel

You're welcome, JP Grasser's crazy stalker ex!

Posted by a collins fan, actually on 10/10/2011 at 12:07 AM

Re: “Billy Collins takes his appeal for accessible poetry to the Fugitives' citadel

And thank you, aunt of JP Grasser, you "collins fan, actually." First: Ernest Hilbert isn't bashing Poetry 180 (a careful reading reveals that he actually is bashing Collins himself by throwing him in with laughingly bad "poets" like Rod McKuen, but Hilbert liked the Poetry 180 project). But who is Ernest Hilbert? Obviously someone who doesn't understand that poetry can be popular and still be good poetry; his lumping Collins with McKuen shows his basic lack of logic in his arguments. But thanks, auntie-whomever. I'm sure you're very proud of JP-- and you posted the link properly and everything.

Posted by Iris C. on 10/09/2011 at 10:50 AM

Re: “Billy Collins takes his appeal for accessible poetry to the Fugitives' citadel

From Contemporary Poetry Review:

Collins’s practical achievement as laureate was the creation of the Poetry 180 website and anthologies, which offer an easy, introductory contemporary poem for each day of the high school year, intended particularly for students to hear in English class or while held captive during the dreaded morning announcements. Teachers are urged to avoid discussing the poems or building any kind of assignment around them. The core of this attitude is a good one. Poetry could do with being unmoored from academic settings and put back into the world beyond the lagoons of academe. Although a respectable enterprise, it highlights what might be considered the central shortcoming of Collins as a poet. He writes in the introduction to Poetry 180 that he wanted poems that “any listener could basically ‘get’ on first hearing—poems whose injection of pleasure is immediate.” This is ideal for his purposes (or it may be that these purposes are fitted perfectly to his ideal). The poems he likes best, the ones he included on the website and in the book, are suited to the adolescent “wish to accelerate, to get from zero to sixty in a heartbeat or in a speed-shop Honda.”

All practicality aside, the one thing genuinely accomplished by such an editorial gesture is that it solves the headache of distinguishing “between legitimate difficulty and obscurity for its own sake” by simply eradicating all difficult poems from the reader’s ken right from the start. Collins asks rhetorically “if there is no room in poetry for difficulty, where is difficulty to go?” His answer? He does not really have one, except to say that even simple poems are difficult when we “experience” them. He goes on to denounce complexity in literary art as an unnecessary roadblock. According to Collins, the difficulty that reigned as a criterion of greatness among the modernists also caused readers to “flee in droves into the waiting arms of novelists, where they could relax in the familiar surroundings of social realism.” Let us forget for one moment that modernism also produced exceptionally ambitious and complex novels. Collins refuses to give difficulty in poetry a hearing at all. Instead, he claims “clarity is the real risk in poetry. To be clear means opening yourself up to judgment.” This is not entirely true. Artistic complexity yields itself up to a different grade and degree of judgment.

Posted by a collins fan, actually on 10/08/2011 at 4:29 PM

Re: “Billy Collins takes his appeal for accessible poetry to the Fugitives' citadel

I saw Collins at Hume Fogg when he did a free reading to a packed auditorium one Saturday morning. So personable, funny and real! In the days when everybody is a writer and self-expression seems to have no bounds, I am thrilled there are still people for whom writing is a craft and who truly rise above the mediocrity of the internet and prime time television. I didn't really appreciate the slurping, late, higher chair slant given in the article either, and I would personally treat him with more deference - call me old fashioned.

Posted by Alecia Higginbotham Ford on 10/08/2011 at 1:11 PM

Re: “Billy Collins takes his appeal for accessible poetry to the Fugitives' citadel

I happen to see through JP Grasser, though I do appreciate the glowing comment from his mother, "Poetry lover." He crafted his article in such a way to make Billy Collins look like he was late, didn't care, and was sloppy-- totally not the case with Collins. The details Grasser included tell us more about him than they do about Collins. It sounds like Collins directed Glasser to sit in a chair that would make him seem short while sitting upright himself (so he'd be taller than Grasser?). Collins is six feet tall. I'd be interested to know how tall Grasser is, and also how many chairs were in that room. And I'm still waiting for JP to support his assertion that Poetry 180 has detractors. In fact, Poetry 180 has gotten nothing but praise. Sigh.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Iris C. on 10/08/2011 at 12:28 PM

Re: “Billy Collins takes his appeal for accessible poetry to the Fugitives' citadel

Vanderbilt and the Nashville community were fortunate to have this national treasure in their midst, if only for a fortnight. This engaging portrait, with its details such as slouching and slurping, only serve to make the poet flesh and blood, while his comments on poetry, the writing process, and even the Kindle provide original insights. This well-crafted article inspired me to seek out Collins’ latest volume. Thanks to JP Grasser for a well-crafted interview, allowing those of us who couldn’t attend to gain a glimpse of Billy Collins.

Posted by Poetry lover on 10/02/2011 at 10:05 AM

Re: “Billy Collins takes his appeal for accessible poetry to the Fugitives' citadel

Lovely article! Glad to have such a talented poet in Nashville.

Posted by Charlotte31829 on 09/25/2011 at 3:02 PM

Re: “Billy Collins takes his appeal for accessible poetry to the Fugitives' citadel


Also, check your facts about Collins not including his own poems in Poetry 180, the book for high schoolers.

Posted by Iris C. on 09/22/2011 at 8:21 AM

Re: “Billy Collins takes his appeal for accessible poetry to the Fugitives' citadel

I think you're confusing the general criticism of Collins by other poets regarding his hospital poems, poems that "welcome the reader," as Collins puts it (others call it his "accessibility"), with the Poetry 180 program, which was intended for high school students. Poetry 180 has had no criticism directed toward it that I've heard of or read, ever. Can you provide a source for your assertion that it has?

Other poets' criticism of Collins is generally centered around their resentment that he has taken away their poetry readers with his more easily understood poetry, while they're left with their dense books in hand, unsold. That's based on the fallacy that Collins's audience is made up of readers of the other poets' poetry. Collins, in fact, has created a large audience of poetry readers who wouldn't be reading poetry if it weren't for him. His poetry actually reaches people, and he's not compromised one thing about poetry or himself to achieve that.

Your observations about Collins being late because he had trouble finding the place, his slumped shoulders, and the slurping of his coffee are interesting. Perhaps a professor with over forty years of teaching behind him with these personal attributes is constitutionally incapable of writing formal poetry. Then again, he has formal poems in nearly every one of his books, if not every one. And what do we make of his vast knowledge of formalists and their works and his ability to teach them? Perhaps he has learned the rules in order to break the rules (to good effect), having a mind of such imaginative force that it is unwilling to remain in the box. Don't even get me started on the paradelle and its legacy.

Posted by Iris C. on 09/22/2011 at 7:47 AM

Re: “A new multimedia children's book reminds us that it takes a village

I've ordered the book and can't wait for it to come in!

Posted by Paula Lovell on 09/02/2011 at 8:32 AM

Re: “Joyce Carol Oates talks about her new memoir

She is my favorite living author, has been for decades now. This memoir is beautiful.

Posted by dcmitchell95 on 07/08/2011 at 7:23 PM

Re: “Steve Earle's debut novel is a skid-row story of grit and redemption

Graciela proves to be a quick study; she is also something much more. Her touch offers healing powers that leave the stricken with no signs of their ailments, and that summons them to turn their lives around entirely and escape the vortex of South Presa.
This is from http://www.christianlouboutindiscountsale.…

Posted by Kelly 4 on 06/09/2011 at 8:23 PM

Re: “Jean Auel talks about the long-awaited conclusion to her celebrated Earth's Children series

we hope she ends the series - Painted Caves most definitely did not, left far to many threads unanswered... and some of it just made no sense at all according to the culture she has developed.
All the fans are hoping for Book Seven to wrap up the series... and be in accord with the world Auel has built

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by dragonasbreath on 06/07/2011 at 11:04 PM

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