Light and Classic

I walked into the amazing and incredible Shakespeare & Co on Lexington Avenue today and asked for the lightest (both physically and intellectually) classic novel they sold. A young assistant rightly suggested “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Truman Capote. He said he had just read it and it made him feel “late to the party.” I […]

I, too, Am America

“Langston Hughes, although only twenty-four years old, is already conspicuous in the group of Negro intellectuals who are dignifying Harlem with a genuine art life. . . .”wrote author Du Bose Heyward in the New York Herald Tribune in 1926. Despite such praise, Hughes was derided by his fellow black writers of the time for allowing race to be a […]

“Oh, Zelda” – A Poem

East Coast Ink Magazine published my poem “Oh, Zelda,” inspired by F. Scot Fitzgerald’s wife Zelda

Transit Poem

  The way it happens proves too much   Russian weapons carved for a dead menace sold to hungry Hezbollah   Borders get pierced   A regime firm as bone takes in the Shiite mobs   An ayatollah fingers a final prayer bead before the burnt fridges of Homs   This is called ash That is called […]

Shameful and Shameless Election Coverage in Colombia

Election Day Today, I am veering off topic to write about politics in my home country of Colombia. Today, is the presidential run-off between incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos and hopeful candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga. It is a very tight race, exacerbated by the reprehensible media coverage of the candidates and the positions they represent. […]

Baudelaire and Woolf Present their Magic Show

  To see how Literature defines the everyday, it is sufficient to look to the work of Charles Baudelaire and Virginia Woolf. The first is marked, indeed enabled, by Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann’s redrawing of the Parisian landscape in the 1860’s. The second allows herself to be inspired by domesticity in the burnt-metal aftermath of World […]

How Nietzsche and Freud Invented Fun by Defining Guilt

At the closing of his work Civilization and its Discontents, Sigmund Freud confesses to his audience that he has no solution to the problems outlined in the book. Likewise, Friedrich Nietzsche admits in his Genealogy of Morals that he does not know if we will ever be able to escape our fraught values. Neither philosopher attempts […]

Michel Foucault Defines Modernity

For the attitude of modernity, the high value of the present is indissociable from a desperate eagerness to imagine it, to imagine it otherwise than it is, and to transform it not by destroying it but by grasping it in what it is. Baudelairean modernity is an exercise in which extreme attention to what is […]

No Great Revelation, Thank You

I finished reading Virginia Woolf’s “To the Lighthouse” last week. Apart from some fifty experimental-ish pages toward the middle, it was stunning. Especially the closing. In fact, if anyone is interested in reading it but doesn’t have time, the last chapter is fifty pages and gives an ample taste of the complete work. Above is […]

Book Burning with Madame Bovary

I am taking my first Coursera class called The Modern and The Post-Modern, taught by Wesleyan University President Michael Roth. To all those interested in casual or even serious learning, I truly recommend getting started on Coursera. As part of the course, I had to read Gustave Flaubert’s classic soap opera “Madame Bovary.” Regardless of what […]

From Kant to Marx: A Brief & Easy History of Philosophy

If German philosopher Immanuel Kant was anything, it was optimistic. Even though he quickly recognized the potential risks of the 18th century political and intellectual awakening known as the “Enlightenment,” he focused on the positive and worked to steer the movement along a middle philosophical course, away from potentially explosive extremes. Examples of such extremes […]

The Poetry of Witness

Robyn Creswell, the Poetry Editor of the prestigious Paris Review, wrote an interesting article for The New Yorker about a new anthology titled “The Poetry of Witness: The English Tradition, 1500-2001.”  This collection was put together by accomplished poet Carolyn Forché, in collaboration with Duncan Wu, a professor of English Romantic Poetry at Georgetown. The anthology, along with a previous compilation […]

Cartoon Journalism

Normally I write about poetry, but this post is about cartoons. Heart-wrenching, bone-chilling, unsettling black and white comics, the more so because they are based solely on reality. They are drawn by cartoon journalist Joe Sacco and treat subjects like Palestine, Bosnia and World War I . I had a chance to hear Sacco speak at […]

The thing we turn out to be

The first book of poetry I ever had is an anthology called Sleeping on the Wing, compiled by Kenneth Kock and Kate Farrell. It was part of my eight grade reading list. I still have it and go through it on occasion because it’s truly a great introduction to modern poetry. Since today is Friday […]

Objects of mercy

Herta Muller’s The Appointment is a book about objects and their power to make life real, make life livable. Humans are useless because they have all given up. The nameless narrator narrates her life on a tram en route to yet another interrogation by Major Albu, one of countless henchmen working to keep the Communist […]

A Girlfriend for Prufrock

The Boston Poetry Magazine published my poem “A Girlfriend for Prufrock.” It is based on “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock,” the poem that showed me how language is holy.   But, Prufrock’s loneliness bothered me, so I got him a date… Related articles 1. The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock ( Being Prufrock […]

The guilty pleasures of domesticity

  Since I have a nine-month-old baby, and since my husband has nine aunts and two uncles, people are still coming over to “meet the baby.”  Every time people come over, I can’t help but feel like a younger Mrs. Dalloway, from Virginia Woolf’s novel by the same name. There are indeed things that just require […]

Get a Life: Step 1 – Love and a Kid

  I must confess I did not know who Nadine Gordimer was until a few months ago. At a used bookstore, I picked up a copy of one of her novels, prompted by its arresting title: Get a Life. This novel is not a relaxing beach-read. But it is worth the effort made. It’s probably not […]

Maya – who? Mayakovsky! Part II

  This is part two of four excerpts I will be posting from Vladimir Mayakovsky’s poem The Cloud in Trousers. Read New York, 2004