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The Way of the Critic: To Judge Is to Love


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Good criticism also helps us see why some art doesn’t work, or works poorly, activating the worst in us. When criticism is judgmental in the sense of being censorious, that too is in the service of art and our experience. The critic is showing us why we need and deserve better.

Haji Gershin’s Hamam


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Every time the women came to bathe, inevitably, someone’s bracelet or earring fell into the drain, and the head female bath attendant led a blindfolded Haji Gershin into the baths, where he stood amidst the naked women, tapping the copper pipes, his head cocked to the side.

Reunion


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I felt / the soil-dark downward / proof of being, the earth / an appetite, an almost-love, the air / a meeting ground, / the whole of seeing / seeable

The Unvarnished Truth


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Throughout the winter, Dr. Iske obsessively polished their furniture with oil. He had studied plant biology in college before going on to med school, and when he saw varnished wood, he saw the tree it had come from.

Plague Psalm 90


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A psalm for the plague year by Philip Metres: “Loss, you have been our regent, / Refusing the refugees / you sent. / / Truly we’re boxed in an annex / Of the mansion / of your text.”

The Wall


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Wasim’s was the only part of the family cut off when the wall was erected, the rest residing on the other side near the Israeli settlement of Gilo. From their family balcony, Gilo can be seen—ten thousand red-roofed pillars by night, one colossal cloud by day.

Vessel


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But innocence / / Is not responsibility / cleansed by command / And water, lifted, can but flee / the trembling hand.

To the Ram’s Horn I Cannot Sound


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The sound I imagine / you make has to / hold me and wake / me to its own kind / of internal return.

The Day of Big Trouble


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How a thing looked was important. Not just Is it useful, but Is it nice to look at. Trees made fruit, and fruit is useful, he’d said to Zeke. But before fruit comes flowers, and there’s not a thing to be done with them but look.

In the Studio


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I cut a hole in the ice each winter, an extraordinary black trapezoid—“avanto” in Finnish—intended for the bracing plunge to follow the extreme heat of the Finnish sauna. The shape carries so much personal meaning.

The Way of the Critic: To Judge Is to Love


|

Good criticism also helps us see why some art doesn’t work, or works poorly, activating the worst in us. When criticism is judgmental in the sense of being censorious, that too is in the service of art and our experience. The critic is showing us why we need and deserve better.

Haji Gershin’s Hamam


|

Every time the women came to bathe, inevitably, someone’s bracelet or earring fell into the drain, and the head female bath attendant led a blindfolded Haji Gershin into the baths, where he stood amidst the naked women, tapping the copper pipes, his head cocked to the side.

Reunion


|

I felt / the soil-dark downward / proof of being, the earth / an appetite, an almost-love, the air / a meeting ground, / the whole of seeing / seeable

The Unvarnished Truth


|

Throughout the winter, Dr. Iske obsessively polished their furniture with oil. He had studied plant biology in college before going on to med school, and when he saw varnished wood, he saw the tree it had come from.

Plague Psalm 90


|

A psalm for the plague year by Philip Metres: “Loss, you have been our regent, / Refusing the refugees / you sent. / / Truly we’re boxed in an annex / Of the mansion / of your text.”

The Wall


|

Wasim’s was the only part of the family cut off when the wall was erected, the rest residing on the other side near the Israeli settlement of Gilo. From their family balcony, Gilo can be seen—ten thousand red-roofed pillars by night, one colossal cloud by day.

ImageUpdate is a free weekly e-newsletter with reviews of books, albums, artists, gallery openings, and more! 

The biennial Ross and Davis Mitchell Prize for Faith and Poetry awards more than $25,000 to Canadian poets whose work wrestles with the complexity of religious belief. 

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