The Poetry Election, Bradbury, Sendak,
and Sun Ra

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There are few positions more prestigious than being named Oxford Professor of Poetry. A new one will be elected next month and if you would like to be considered, apply here. The current holder of the position is the very eminent and very English poet Geoffrey Hill. Previously Matthew Arnold, Francis Turner Palgrave, A.C. Bradley and W. H. Auden have all been elected to the post. There has never been a woman who has served as Oxford Professor of Poetry. But a new Facebook group hopes to change that. “A. E. Stallings for Oxford Professor of Poetry” was created last month to support the poet who is known in this country for her brilliant translation of Lucretius into rhyming fourteeners. So far the page has received over 100 “likes.”

A few years ago I was at the Comic-Con convention in San Diego. It was packed with celebrities connected to the latest movies and books. But the person who seemed to get most people excited was not part of the formal program. Driving around in a mobile cart was the elderly writer Ray Bradbury followed by a trail of fans with cell phone cameras. Bradbury, who died in 2012, is the subject of an outstanding appreciation by the poet and critic Dana Gioia who writes:

“Bradbury is best understood as a mythmaker. In this sense, he resembles his heroes, Charles Dickens and Edgar Allan Poe, both long underestimated popular writers whose characters and stories didn’t stay only on the page but moved easily into stage, film, and the visual arts. More than any other contemporary writer, Bradbury created the stories, situations, characters, and symbols by which late twentieth-century America envisioned the Space Age and post-industrial world.” (h/t Ted Gioia)

Mazzy Star, Batman, Lacan, and Sun Ra are all brought together in an autobiographical essay by novelist Nick Courage on the Paris Review blog.

Over at Open Culture you can examine Maurice Sendak’s once controversial illustrations of Herman Melville’s “Pierre: or, the Ambiguities.”

Richard Abowitz is the editor of The Smart Set. Get in touch at rabowitz@drexel.edu.

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