Author: R.S. Stewart

POETRY & BOOZE

Do poets drink for inspiration and not for other reasons that critics are hell-bent on discovering? This rhetorical question has been as thoroughly discussed as has the belief that poets and other artists are more “sensitive” than the general population.  Quick assumptions about art and where it comes from and what fuels it need to be reexamined and if not laid to rest, at least seen in a more enlightened and forgiving light. The mistaken place to begin is with definitions of “art” and “sensitivity.”  We have the Oxford English Dictionary to rely upon for root origins and multiple meanings, but how far will they take us in clarity of knowing something as wide-sweeping as art and depth-defying as sensitivity?  To define “alcohol” is much easier, an irony that will not pass by either poet or non-poet without a grin. Some poets come early to their calling. Arthur Rimbaud, the French symbolist and surrealist, wrote all he wanted to by the age of 19 and then abandoned literature entirely. Some come late; Amy Clampitt published her first book of poems at 63.  In stark contrast, Dylan Thomas and Anne Sexton also died young (39 and 45) because of heavy drinking; Sexton was also a suicide, another entire realm of poetic discussion. If age is not a factor in artistic achievement, what is? It certainly isn’t geographic location, since poets...

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FULL HAPPY LIVES? -A Review

Gina Ochsner’s second volume of stories is called The People I Wanted to Be, a phrase found mid-way in the third story, “How One Carries Another,” in which the narrator, a grown man, reminisces about his old paper route, walking in the rain and wind and seeing haloes of light in kitchens and on front walks of houses: “I’d watch people moving from one square of light to another, and I’d imagine the happy and full lives of those people I wanted to be.” Such a description prepares us for characters who are the complete opposite, caught in difficult...

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