Once you’ve seen the original photograph, this exercise in “Photoshopping” is understandable. But my first-year university students, trying to make sense of Claudia Rankine’s brilliant book Citizen have not. To them, it’s just a perplexing image of white people from long ago, turning around to look at the camera in front of the dark shape of a tree looming against an even darker sky. (More…)

Jewry is standing at a critical junction. While more than half of us remain in the Diaspora, intermarriage will probably tip the balance towards Israel over the next two decades. Ironically, Israel is pursuing colonial settlement policies that will most likely result in a single state, where Jews will be a minority, and the Palestinian population the majority. (More…)

Not being a big poetry fan, I’m in no position to offer a critique of Günter Grass’ controversial poem, “What Must Be Said.” I’ve read two different translations of it (here is the one I’ve seen most commonly, and here is another that feels like a very different poem.) The difference in wording of the translations leads to stark changes in the poem’s tone and substance. (More…)

On November 4th, Harriet, the Poetry Foundation’s blog, published a photo of Cindy Crawford reading Uncreative Writing, Kenneth Goldsmith’s new essay collection. There’s no attempt to explain why a former supermodel and current home furnishings magnate would spend her time reading a book of essays about avant-garde poetics (More…)

Arizona has become the site of a little-noticed literary flowering:  it is home to some of the best prison writing in North America. During the last two decades, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Ken Lamberton, and Richard Shelton have converted their experiences with Arizona’s penitentiaries into prize-winning books.  No US state can claim a similar cluster of prominent prison writers. (More…)