Life on Mars

In real life, my strangeness is my own hell.
Deaf with remorse: the shrieks of memory
are an ancient violin, while through every catacomb
radioactive blood scans unseen ravines of fear.
Death on the red planet is not death.
On the red planet it is when you don’t move.

But when you come near, it’s time for us
to roll over and be dreamy. The sun blows
while we dream, making love. There are
pomegranates on the moon, I said. I was a poet
only in bed, you said. My moon. And I’m your
statue, my strangeness gone. Moon profane
with miracle, I kiss your white pit, your faithful teeth,
your honest skin, your gleaming stone. The first time
we touch exists only in our hearts. Your light kills.

All This Occurred in Palestine

The cosmocrator who tells the lie about his birth
and lies about his secret teachings
threatens the existence of the slow
consuming sun. Truth is coldly night.
They wrote their bible in bright letters
while baybirds screamed over the desert.

But I am the beast of light, a phantom
hiding in a bag, a tool for the magician.
I am the beast of light, a negative,
a cry against the night, a candle against the laws
of darkness, a candle against the invisible,
and when I cry, it is deep like a sigh
of unclean blood. When I fade, their whispers
of death follow me like a ghost scent.

ALSCW Washington, DC Event featuring Deborah Nord and Maria Dibattista

At Home In the World: Women Writers and Public Life
Maria DiBattista and Deborah Nord
5 pm, December 6th, 2017
McGiveny Hall
(co-sponsored by Politics and Prose bookstore) 


Deborah Nord, Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature

2008 News Digest

ALSC Officer Contributes to National Conversation on Workforce Reduction Dec 23

New York Times reporter Matt Richtel has interviewed ALSC Secretary-Treasurer William Flesch for an article on alternatives to workforce reduction in the current economy. Speaking in his capacity as head of the faculty senate at Brandeis University, Flesch is quoted on his suggestion that the school’s faculty give up 1 percent of their pay. “What we are doing is a symbolic gesture that has real consequences — it can save a few jobs . . . It’s not painless, but it is relatively painless and it could help some people.” Read the full article here.

In Memoriam: William Louis-Dreyfus

We are grieved at the loss of William Louis-Dreyfus, the noted businessman, philanthropist, art collector, and poet who died on September 16, 2016. William was a staunch friend to the ALSCW. In the past decade he hosted quite a few of our literary “salons” in his apartment in New York City, where writers presented their work, discussion eddied, and wine flowed in the presence of noble works of art (including, I especially remember, a small flower painting by Fantin-Latour, and a landscape by Stanley Lewis). In 2012 William sponsored a memorable evening at Poets House for ALSCW, a panel discussion about “What Makes Poetry Good,”at which Paul Keegan spoke about Beckett’s French poems, Christopher Ricks discussed John Crowe Ransom’s critique of Hardy, and Jill Rosser spoke about Donne. In 2014, William made possible a series of three lectures in New York by Christopher Ricks, sumptuously presented and catered. He understood the Association’s ideals, and supported us materially and spiritually.

William Craig Rice—1955-2016

Long time friend of ALSCW, William Craig Rice passed away in June. We have included an excerpt from his obituary published by The Hauenstein Center at Grand Valley State University:

For nine years, Dr. Rice worked at the National Endowment for the Humanities and, before that, served as the 12th President of Shimer College, a great books institution in Chicago where, according to The New York Times, “books, not professors, are considered the teachers, and the path to learning relies on the Socratic method of discussion.” As an educator, Dr. Rice’s commitment was always to the humanities and arts, as well as to what, in an interview with the University of Michigan, he called “that neglected good thing.” Concerning his leadership at the NEH, Dr. Rice, who always sported a bow-tie, said, “I wanted to find causes that needed support, including unpopular causes like the great books, just as poetry needs support.”

ALSCW NYC Local Meeting, May 3, 2016

Celebrating Lady Byron: A Reading and Conversation
410 Columbus Avenue
New York, NY 10024

“A Celebration of Lady Byron: Reading and Conversation” was a combination of refinement and literary gossip befitting Annabella herself. Introductions by Phillis Levin and Margaret Ducharme kicked off the evening at one of New York’s subtler salons, the New York Cultural Center. Amidst monastic Buddhist art and stoney arches, acclaimed biographer and fiction author Julia Markus, gave a sweeping (and at times shocking) overview of the Byrons’ relationship and subsequent separation, sparking an intimate and lively conversation between members and guests alike. Ranging from the slave trade and upperclass Recency era bawds to the social function of gossip, the works of Henry James and Tom Stoppard, and how Ada Byron helped NASA, the discussion lasted well beyond the evening’s end. The extensive and enlightening chat was complimented by gourmet refreshments, including prosciutto wrapped asparagus, caprese kabobs, and fine wine.

ALSCW Chicago Local Meeting, April 21, 2016.

On April 21, novelist Mary Gordon read from the manuscript of her nearly-completed novel about the Spanish Civil War at the Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago. Lively discussion followed, about the complex politics of the war, the nature of political idealism, Orwell’s simplification of the role of the anarchists in that conflict, Simone Weil, and the way fiction can treat matters of ethics, conscience, and politics.