I had occasion in How to Read Poetry Like a Professor to use Edgar Allen Poe’s poem, “The Bells,” as an instance of pure sound, which is to say, sound used for its own sake beyond the meaning of the poem. I never thought of is as something waiting for musical adaptation, and it turns out I was right, technically. It wasn’t waiting: the talented and tragic folk singer Phil Ochs had already been there. He adapted the poem on his first album, 1964’s All the News That’s Fit to Sing. It’s pretty great:
My interview about How to Read Poetry Like a Professor with Jake Nevins of The Guardian U.S. came out today. What a great birthday present! He does a great job of asking a solid setup question and then letting his subject blather, which is one of my specialties:
I’ll be reading from and talking about How to Read Poetry Like a Professor at two events in April:
Thursday, April 12 at 7:00 p.m. at Schuler Books in the Meridian Mall in Okemos, Michigan
Tuesday, April 24 at 7:00 p.m. at Nicola’s Books in the Westgate Shopping Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan
March 31 is the birthday of the late John Fowles (1926). Don’t blame him, but The French Lieutenant’s Woman changed my life. I’d never seen a book make use of the past, of tropes and types from the Victorian novel (in this case) in the service of something highly non-Victorian. The novel was still pretty new (six or seven years old), and even Nabokov hadn’t quite prepared me for this, and I knew I had to find out more about this heady business.
The new book hits shelves today. It’s available at better bookstores everywhere. Wondering if your bookstore is better? Ask if they have the book; then you’ll know.
How to Read Poetry Like a Professor hits shelves on the 27th. In anticipation of that blessed event, HarperCollins Academic Marketing interviewed me last week. The results are now available as a podcast. Michael and I had an interesting conversation: https://soundcloud.com/user-639387857/thomas-c-foster
The happiest day in the writer’s calendar? Easy. The one with a large box of books. My work here is done. I was so happy I didn’t even tell the UPS man he needs a muffler. Think he knows?