Inside The Book

Caedmon's Hymn and Other Old English Poems

introduced and translated by Miller Oberman
November 9, 2017

Years ago, before I began studying and translating Old English poetry, I read a collection of medieval Welsh tales referred to as The Mabinogion. In one tale, “The Dream of Macsen Wledig,” a marauding Roman emperor invades an island. Following his victory he returns home, but some of...

Photo courtesy of Yaritza Acosta.

With a Cuban song in the heart

by Iván Acosta translated by Julie and Lisa Nemrow
May 10, 2017

In 1961, with his parents and sister, a sixteen-year-old Iván Acosta escaped the island of Cuba by boat. He had nothing with him except for two long-playing records, which he smuggled off the island tucked under his shirt. These two records were the first in a collection he would grow for the...

Secret Histories: On Shirley Jackson

by Heather Clark
March 3, 2017

On June 27, 1948, Shirley Jackson published “The Lottery” in The New Yorker. Savagery unfolds slowly in this strange, spare story about a ritual stoning in a New England village. Jackson opens with images of blossoming flowers and “richly green” grass. Neighbors gather in the town...

"Like Wings Unfolding in the Body": Eleven New Poets

by William Doreski
January 31, 2017

The intelligence and accomplishment of each year’s crop of debut poetry collections always astonishes me. Poetry is one of our most widely practiced arts, but it receives too little attention in the press. Still, poets continue to offer their wares. The books considered here all deserve serious...

The Auction of the Mind: Editing Emily Dickinson

by William Doreski
November 22, 2016

Emily Dickinson’s poetry explores the relationship between the temporal world and the infinite, teasing out the ways in which the ineffable presses upon the mortal and ephemeral. Wallace Stevens notes that the pressure of reality on the imagination varies with circumstance (wartime, for example...

The Poems of Alvin Feinman

introduced by James Geary
November 1, 2016

When Alvin Feinman arrived at Bennington College as a literature instructor in the fall of 1969, he was not yet forty, but to students already seemed immensely old. His face was lined and grave, his teeth yellowed by nicotine stains, his voice sonorous and low with deep Old Testament overtones...

An Interview With Paul Harding

Harvard Review editor Christina Thompson in conversation with guest editor Paul Harding
September 23, 2016
Harvard Review issue 49 is guest edited by Pulitzer Prize–winning author Paul Harding, fourteen years after Harvard Review published his first story, “Walter, Charmed,” in HR 22. He speaks with Harvard Review editor, Christina Thompson, about teaching, writing, and what he...

On Book Reviewing

by Helen Vendler
May 24, 2016

On December 6, 1990, Harvard professor and eminent literary critic Helen Vendler gave a talk on book reviewing. Somehow the text of this talk found its way into a copy of Erato/Harvard Book Review, where it was discovered...

An Interview with John D'Agata

Harvard Review editor Christina Thompson in conversation with John D'Agata
March 15, 2016

The third and last volume in essayist John D'Agata's A New History of the Essay series was published this month. Harvard Review editor Christina Thompson and John D'Agata discuss the now-complete trilogy, D'Agata's approach to its editing, and the essay genre as a whole....

"Open the book": Elizabeth Bishop's Marginalia

by Calista McRae
December 17, 2015

Elizabeth Bishop was a light annotator, the near-opposite of her friend John Berryman, who darkened his books with arguments. Bishop’s marginalia sometimes brings to mind the sandpiper that runs “straight through” the water, watching “the spaces of sand” between his toes. She doesn’t usually...

book covers

"Captured, Tortured, and Biting a Stick": Fourteen First Books of Poetry

by William Doreski
September 25, 2015

“All poetry is experimental poetry,” Wallace Steven famously noted. Our era proves him wrong. With so many style templates available, most poems can’t help but signal their intentions in their first few lines, so the experienced reader knows immediately where they’re going and how they will get...

Yiyun Li

Writing Is a Second Life: An Interview with Yiyun Li

Alicia Oltuski talks to Yiyun Li
February 25, 2015

Your work is widely, internationally read and, although many of your narratives take place in China (where you grew up) or among Chinese Americans, you write in English. What are the nuances your English-speaking readership is most likely to overlook, misapprehend, or interpret...

Maxine Kumin

Boston's Fabled Mid-Century: An Interview with Maxine Kumin

Heather Treseler talks to Maxine Kumin
November 13, 2014

I was lucky to grow up in Boston, where, as an adolescent, I heard readings by Louise Gluck, Rosanna Warren, Robert Pinsky, and Frank Bidart. In college, I began reading the poets from Boston’s fabled mid-century: Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop, Stanley Kunitz, Sylvia Plath, Peter Davison,...

Sad Friends, Drowned Lovers, Stapled Songs

Mid-Century Modern: Conversations with 20th-Century American Poets

Harvard Review talks to Chard deNiord
June 3, 2013

Chard deNiord talks about his interviews with some of America’s best-loved poets of the mid-twentieth century. The book is called Sad Friends, Drowned Lovers, Stapled Songs, Conversations and Reflections on 20th Century American Poets (Marick Press, 2011).


Denise Duhamel

A Poet on Her Poems

Harvard Review talks to Denise Duhamel
February 8, 2012

I think one of the qualities that I enjoy about your writing, particularly in this poem, is its immediacy. You’re able to capture the texture of the real world yet somehow transform it. What do you do to move the material beyond the mundane and into that place of artifice and...

Elizabeth Bishop and the New Yorker by Joelle Biele

Elizabeth Bishop and The New Yorker

Harvard Review talks to Joelle Biele
July 23, 2011

Can you talk a little about The New Yorker in the 1950s, what kind of place it was to publish, and what its standing was in the larger literary world?

When Bishop began publishing regularly in The New Yorker in the late 1940s and early 50s, the...

Chris Wallace-Crabbe

A Conversation with Australian Poet Chris Wallace-Crabbe

Ronald A. Sharp talks to Chris Wallace-Crabbe
April 9, 2010

I know the Australian government funded a chair in Australian studies at Harvard some years ago and that you were one of the first to hold it. It has been a while now, but how did you enjoy your year at Harvard?

I loved Cambridge as an intellectually accessible area....