“This book is about modern poetry.” That’s how David Orr begins his introduction to Beautiful and Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry. It is a fine way to begin a book. But it isn’t true.

Beautiful and Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry by David Orr. 224 pages. Harper. $25.99

I, for one, like a book that isn’t about what it claims to be about. More interesting yet is a book that continually redefines what it is about. Orr does that, too. After having claimed in the beginning of his book that he is writing about modern poetry, he opens his first chapter talking about what it means to be a critic of poetry. Poetry criticism is something Orr is well placed to talk about since he writes the “On Poetry” column for the New York Times and is… More…

I’ve become a Julian Assange man. Leak away, Julian. Leak it all, leak everything. Leak whatever you can until they find a way to shut you down for good.

 

At first, I was not sure how to feel about the recent dump of classified documents at WikiLeaks. I could see the arguments on both sides. I understand that we are the owners of a flawed and imperfect world within which no one owns a pair of those proverbial clean hands. No, we have a dirty world of infinite compromise. We muddle through, more or less, and the women and men who do the muddling, at the international level, are, more often than not, engaged in a tricky business. Human beings have a hard enough time being moral agents. For nation states, the task is well nigh impossible. And… More…