Literary Criticism/Cultural Studies

Daniel Stein Explores Jazz as Cold War Diplomacy

by Phillip Witteveen July 11, 2014
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“Studies of the jazz tours sponsored by the American State Department have reconstructed moments of resistance,” begins Daniel Stein in a sentence that puts landing gear down on “largely unexplored territory.” That territory is in the Honalee of convening spaces where Cold War jazz, race relations and international relations intercede in tectonic symphony. Stein, whose work on Louis Armstrong has already coalesced at least once into Music is My Life, takes the space afforded to him in Americana: The Journal of American Popular Culture, to tease apart a lesser known fringe of his research interest. A marginal inclusion in either […]

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Poet Allen Grossman has died

by Phillip Witteveen June 30, 2014
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Allen Grossman, cherished poet and teacher of poets, died this past Friday at age 82 due to “complications from Alzheimer’s.” He was held in high regard by those few who knew him: his students and others in a small community of like-minded people. Authoring, or anthologized in over 20 publications, Grossman’s poetry had many tributaries, taking from Stevens, Lowell, Blake, Auden, Descartes, and others, but his voice was distinctly his own, and of course, distinctly American. His writing was not only in the company of great artists before him, and also in the recognition of those alongside, as the winner of […]

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Craig Maki talks ‘Detroit Country Music’ on Stateside

by Phillip Witteveen June 30, 2014
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On Michigan Public Radio, Detroit Country Music co-author Craig Maki recently exhibited Detroit’s lesser-known country and bluegrass roots. Stemming from Appalachia to the West, intranational immigration to Southeast Michigan brought with it the blues-infused soul of  ”the end of the 19th century cowboy experience.” Lured to Detroit “not only at the invitation of the automakers, but also family members would call their cousins or their in-laws to come up and join them,” a migrated, country culture made a kind of tensile contact with our more Northern sensibilities. Artists like the York Brothers re-imagined a Michigan of “Hamtramck Mama,” a single which was banned by that eponymous city’s mayor, […]

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Charles Wright named Poet Laureate

by Shaun Manning June 12, 2014
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Charles Wright, author of nearly two dozen books of poetry as well as two volumes in the University of Michigan Press’s Poets on Poetry series, has been named America’s Poet Laureate by the Library of Congress, as reported by the New York Times. Wright’s books of criticism with the Press include Quarter Notes: Improvisation and Interviews and Halflife: Improvisations and Interviews, 1977-87. “I’m very honored and flattered to be picked, but also somewhat confused,” Wright told the Times. “I really don’t know what I’m supposed to do. But as soon as I find out, I’ll do it.” Two years ago, the Poet […]

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Ellen Handler Spitz Reviews Children’s Literature

by Phillip Witteveen May 15, 2014
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“Almost entirely absent from elementary school curriculums, rarely chosen as bedtime reading by parents, poetry — formerly a joyful accouterment of youth, an inexhaustible gift — seems forgotten,” writes Press author Ellen Handler Spitz in this week’s New York Times’ Sunday Book Review. “Yet poetry and children belong together.” Spitz’s review centers on two children’s books that “strive to create, by very different means and with different results, a sense of the poet Emily Dickinson as a person.” In this and other published criticism, she returns to the relationship between aesthetics and psychology, especially in youth cultures. For Spitz, a […]

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