Month: July 2014

Ben Tarnoff: Mark Twain and the Bohemians

“Author Ben Tarnoff discusses Mark Twain, Bret Harte, and other literary notables who lived in San Francisco in the mid-19th century, and how the western frontier experience influenced a new way of writing. Twain and his fellow literati make up Tarnoff’s new book ‘The Bohemians: Mark Twain and the San Francisco Writers Who Reinvented American Literature.’ He sits down with Piya Chattopadhyay.”

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This is the World as We Have Made It

In my poetry I am concerned with finding the relationships between what we call the “real” world and that other world which consists of dream, fantasy and myth. I’ve never felt that these “two worlds” are as separate as one might think, and in fact my poetry as well as my life seems to occupy a place—you might call it a kind of no-man’s land—between the two. Very often experiences or observations which are immediate take on grand or universal significance for me, because they seem to capsulize and give new force to the age-old wonders, mysteries and fears which have always delighted and bewildered mankind. In my attempt to describe a world which is for me both miraculous and terrible, I make abundant use of myth, metaphor and symbol; these are as much a part of my language as the alphabet I use.
—Gwendolyn MacEwen, qtd. in Jan Bartley, Gwendolyn MacEwen and Her Works (1-2)