Friday, June 5, 2009

3 in 1

For obvious reasons, I don't like the title of those two Tarantino films. 40 years ago, also in Bangkok, poet and long-time Trappist monk Thomas Merton, was found dead in his room - via supposedly accidental electrocution - just before he was about to deliver to a Buddhist assembly a talk about the Vietnam War, which he opposed.

Initially led by a hyperlink on a May 31 post by Angela Veronica Wong on her "smart stuff" blog, I can now join the growing chorus of praise for Suheir Hammad's poetry.

Although somewhat boringly written, but definitively researched, W.J. McCormack's BLOOD KINDRED, does what no full-length biography of W.B. Yeats had done peviously. Only Indian scholar V.K.N. Menon, in a text favorably reviewed by Orwell over 60 years ago, dared to delve below and retrieve the sinister black box of his politics and prejudices. For example, Yeats had accepted the Third Reich's Goethe-Plakette (1934) from Nazi Oberburgermeister Krebs, and he was a supporter of the 1930's Nuremberg race laws, and during the Spanish Civil War describes democracy as "muck in the yard." In other letters and documents and drafts for poems, McCormack uncovers writings like a reference to a "Negro girl who lived near Sligo" Yeats noting "she is among those our civilization must reject" (p. 266). McCormack, Chief Librarian, Edward Worth Library, Dublin, and formerly Professor of Literary History and Head of Department, Goldsmiths' College, U. of London, discusses Yeats specifically in relation to Ireland and Irish politics, including the IRA, and concludes: "He gave comfort to democracy's enemies, to decency's enemies, to the enemies of art and culture." "Et Tu, Willy...? Modernism and Fascism" is the title of a brief piece I am writing.