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Essays: [Against Decoration]
  Decoration abounds in contemporary poetry, much of it marchingbeneath the banner of neo-formalism. Actually a mix of strict form andfree verse, the new formalist poems juggle rhyme, meter, and varioussyllabic and stanzaic strategies. In the last few years, the movement hasgenerated a rush of anthologies, such as Robert Richman’s The Direc- tion of Poetry:... [Read More]
  [Facing Altars: Poetry and Prayer]
  To confess my unlikely Catholicism in Poetry—a journal founded in part on and for the godless, twentieth-century disillusionaries of J. Alfred Prufrock and his pals—feels like an act of perversion kinkier than any dildo-wielding dominatrix could manage on HBO’s “Real Sex Extra.”... [Read More]
  Op-ed in New York Times about James Frey, Jan 15, 2006 [His So-Called Life]
  NOW that J T Leroy and James Frey have been busted for duping the public in order to sell second-rate books, the monstrous question of what's fair and foul in fiction and nonfiction has reared its much-bashed head. Asked to referee the ethical contest between the two writers, I'd call J T Leroy a fine little prankster and Mr. Frey a skunk... [Read More]
  Life-Lessons piece in Real Simple [The Kindness of Strangers]
  One night shortly after Thanksgiving last year, a deeply crummy mind-set I’d taken on went though an instantaneous reversal. As if a magician had said, “Presto,” the New York City landscape likewise flipped from seedy to radiant. The shift proved that the city I move through every day (often with narrowed eyes and clenched jaw) is partly a projection of my self-centered fears. With an attitude adjustment, I came to see that a dark world can become floodlit in a heartbeat... [Read More]
  New York Times, Op-ed, 2009 [The End]
  In 2009’s holiday season of unemployment and the burst spending bubble, I was gnawing the chew toy of my own financial worries — minuscule compared to mot, agonizing in my skull’s confines — as I drove to the hospital to visit an ailing priest, a duty I didn’t have time for. Between teaching and promoting a book this fall, I’d graced more than 60 planes with my increasingly careworn presence... [Read More]
  New York Times, Op-ed, 2008 [Fact-Finding Mission]
  People like to quip that all Barack Obama has done is write two memoirs. But the act of memoir writing, at its most rigorous and profound, is the act of ferreting out truth from often grossly conflicting facts. At this juncture in history, what better preparation could there be for the White House?... [Read More]