What We Are Reading Today: Horace, The Odes

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Updated 12 May 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Horace, The Odes

Author: Edited by J. D. McClatchy

They have inspired poets and challenged translators through the centuries. The odes of Horace are the cornerstone of lyric poetry in the Western world. Their subtlety of tone and brilliance of technique have often proved elusive, especially when — as has usually been the case — a single translator ventures to maneuver through Horace’s infinite variety.
Now for the first time, leading poets from America, England, and Ireland have collaborated to bring all 103 odes into English in a series of new translations that dazzle as poems while also illuminating the imagination of one of literary history’s towering figures.
The 35 contemporary poets assembled in this outstanding volume include nine winners of the Pulitzer prize for poetry as well as four former poet laureates. Their translations, while faithful to the Latin, elegantly dramatize how the poets, each in his or her own way, have engaged Horace in a spirited encounter across time.
Each of the odes now has a distinct voice, and Horace’s poetic achievement has at last been revealed in all its mercurial majesty.


What We Are Reading Today: Walker Evans: Starting from Scratch by Svetlana Alpers

Updated 30 October 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Walker Evans: Starting from Scratch by Svetlana Alpers

Walker Evans (1903–75) was a great American artist photographing people and places in the US in unforgettable ways. He is known for his work for the Farm Security Administration, addressing the Great Depression, but what he actually saw was the diversity of people and the damage of the long Civil War.
In Walker Evans, renowned art historian Svetlana Alpers explores how Evans made his distinctive photographs. Delving into a lavish selection of Evans’s work, Alpers uncovers rich parallels between his creative approach and those of numerous literary and cultural figures, locating Evans within the wide context of a truly international circle.
Alpers demonstrates that Evans’s practice relied on his camera choices and willingness to edit multiple versions of a shot, as well as his keen eye and his distant straight-on view of visual objects. Illustrating the vital role of Evans’s dual love of text and images, Alpers places his writings in conversation with his photographs. She brings his techniques into dialogue with the work of a global cast of important artists—from Flaubert and Baudelaire to Elizabeth Bishop and William Faulkner—underscoring how Evans’s travels abroad in such places as France and Cuba.