Paying for Crime

The Minneapolis City Council proved itself to be more politically adept than the Minneapolis Library Board in early December when it warded off the pleas for permanent funding of the Minneapolis Library system. Instead of the hoped-for permanent budget increases that had been dangled before the Library Board, the Council instead gave them one year’s […]

The Sixties—Dead By Self-Inflicted Gunshot

The moment flickered past while I realized that the last of them was gone, the last of the sixties counterculture iconoclasts, those world shakers and rainbow revolutionaries: Lenny Bruce, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, John Lennon, Abbie Hoffman, Edward Abbey, Timothy Leary, Ken Kesey, Hunter Thompson—all gone, the last by his own hand. I […]

Can the Public Library (and Democracy) Survive?

On the third floor of the temporary library in downtown Minneapolis—a retrofitted office building that once housed the Federal Reserve Bank—a skinny man with a shock of white hair paced hurriedly up and down the aisles carrying a bouquet of roses wrapped in a wad of shredded newspaper. He looked disheveled, a little like Sam […]

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Judith Guest: Ordinary Person

Renowned author Judith Guest talks about “the terror of chance,” taking what you want, and falling in love with your characters. I can vividly recall my first reading of Judith Guest’s Ordinary People twenty years ago, in the bleak midwinter of my sophomore year of high school. When the book’s main character—the mortally depressed teenager, […]

Robert Bly’s Greatest Hits

Selected Poems, 1986 A “best of” anthology of a kind, these are really good poems—and the mixture of work sheds light on Bly’s stylistic and topical meanderings. You’ll find “Counting Small Boned Bodies” and other lamentations on Vietnam, as well as more than a hundred examples from three decades of work. The prose poems from […]

Repetition Compulsion

“We have to speak up about this war. Now we don’t even count the bodies. We only count the American bodies. Woo-hoo. That’s even more self-obsessed. We kill hundreds and hundreds of Iraqis, and we don’t pay any attention to how many there are. We don’t call up the hospitals; we don’t call up the […]

Robert Bly: The Dude Abides

In his seventy-seven years, he has established himself as a world-class poet, teacher, social critic—and founder of the controversial “expressive men’s movement.” Standing in his studio—a nineteenth-century stable behind what was once a lone farmhouse atop Lowry Hill—Robert Bly is surrounded by books, papers, and icons. This is a monk’s cell. In one nook stands […]

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Does Poetry Matter?

Being a poet in America makes as much sense as a butt full of pennies. That’s one of the pleasures of being a poet in America. There’s something wonderful, something perversely subversive about being disconnected from the world of goods and services and John Maynard Keynes, if only for an hour or two every now […]

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