About Me

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As the resident poet at EcoHealth Alliance, my verse finds inspiration these days in the spectre of future pandemics. For my dissertation at LMU's Amerika-Institut, I'm anatomizing the poetics of E. A. Robinson's sonnets. I also teach English at Münchner Volkshochschule and lead the Amerikahaus Literary Circle.

20170813

What Will Your Verse Be?

Words matter; they genuinely affect the course of the world and the welfare of its inhabitants, which is why they must be carefully wroughtthis week alone, we witnessed how the words of President Trump horrifyingly raised the specter of nuclear holocaust and ghastily tendered political cover for domestic terrorists. Indeed, Mr. Keating, we do not read and write poetry because it is cute: We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. Fellow wordsmiths, what will your verse be?



20170807

Paradox

by Willa Cather

I knew them both upon Miranda's isle,
Which is of youth a sea-bound seigniory:
Misshapen Caliban, so seeming vile,
And Ariel, proud prince of minstrelsy,
Who did forsake the sunset for my tower
And like a star above my slumber burned.
The night was held in silver chains by power
Of melody, in which all longings yearned—
Star-grasping youth in one wild strain expressed,
Tender as dawn, insistent as the tide;
The heart of night and summer stood confessed.
I rose aglow and flung the lattice wide—
Ah, jest of art, what mockery and pang!
Alack, it was poor Caliban who sang.

Note: A recitation can be heard here.

20170714

Sonnet to Chatterton

by John Keats

O Chatterton! how very sad thy fate! 
Dear child of sorrow—son of misery! 
How soon the film of death obscur'd that eye, 
Whence Genius mildly flash'd, and high debate. 
How soon that voice, majestic and elate, 
Melted in dying numbers! Oh! how nigh 
Was night to thy fair morning. Thou didst die 
A half-blown flow'ret which cold blasts amate. 
But this is past: thou art among the stars 
Of highest Heaven: to the rolling spheres 
Thou sweetly singest: naught thy hymning mars, 
Above the ingrate world and human fears. 
On earth the good man base detraction bars 
From thy fair name, and waters it with tears.  


Note: A recitation can be heard here.

20170623

Sonnet

by William Wordsworth

Scorn not the Sonnet; Critic, you have frowned, 
Mindless of its just honours; with this key 
Shakespeare unlocked his heart; the melody 
Of this small lute gave ease to Petrarch's wound; 
A thousand times this pipe did Tasso sound; 
With it Camoëns soothed an exile's grief; 
The Sonnet glittered a gay myrtle leaf 
Amid the cypress with which Dante crowned 
His visionary brow: a glow-worm lamp, 
It cheered mild Spenser, called from Faery-land 
To struggle through dark ways; and, when a damp 
Fell round the path of Milton, in his hand 
The Thing became a trumpet; whence he blew 
Soul-animating strains—alas, too few! 

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20170622

On First Looking into Chapman's Homer

by John Keats


Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold, 
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen; 
Round many western islands have I been 
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold. 
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told 
That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne; 
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene 
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold: 
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies 
When a new planet swims into his ken; 
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes 
He star'd at the Pacific—and all his men 
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise— 
Silent, upon a peak in Darien. 

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20170621

Dear Friends

by E. A. Robinson

Dear friends, reproach me not for what I do,  
Nor counsel me, nor pity me; nor say  
That I am wearing half my life away  
For bubble-work that only fools pursue.  
And if my bubbles be too small for you,
Blow bigger then your own: the games we play  
To fill the frittered minutes of a day,  
Good glasses are to read the spirit through.  
  
And whoso reads may get him some shrewd skill;  
And some unprofitable scorn resign,
To praise the very thing that he deplores;  
So, friends (dear friends), remember, if you will,  
The shame I win for singing is all mine,  
The gold I miss for dreaming is all yours. 
Note: A recitation can be heard here.

20170620

XXIII

by John Milton

Methought I saw my late espoused Saint
Brought to me like Alcestis from the grave,
Whom Joves great son to her glad Husband gave,
Rescu'd from death by force though pale and faint.
Mine as whom washt from spot of child-bed taint,
Purification in the old Law did save,
And such, as yet once more I trust to have
Full sight of her in Heaven without restraint,
Came vested all in white, pure as her mind:
Her face was vail'd, yet to my fancied sight, 
Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shin'd
So clear, as in no face with more delight.
But O as to embrace me she enclin'd,
wak'd, she fled, and day brought back my night.