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Black Lamb

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Now in its 14th year of publication, this magazine was created to offer the discerning reader a stimulating selection of excellent original writing. Black Lamb Review is a literate rather than a literary publication. Regular columns by writers in a variety of geographic locations and vocations are supplemented by features, reviews, articles on books and authors, and a selection of “departments,” including an acerbic advice column and a lamb recipe.

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Archive for the 'Silvis' Category

Pagan primer

"In olden times...."

June 1st, 2016

BY STEFFEN SILVIS

Her hair needed pulling. She wore poor clothes that we could mock, and had “germs with no returns.” She sat silently while we stood and pledged our allegiance to the flag each morning: there was something about her religion, we were told. She never wore a Hallowe’en costume, was excused from carol practice, and never received a Valentine. She seemed to spend most of the year alone in the library, a fitting banishment from our revels, we thought. Books were boring and so was she.

d'aulaireUnfortunately, she rode my bus, and it often happened that the last available place was next to her. One morning, to the catcalls of classmates, I was forced to share her seat. She sat poring over a colorful book, and as she turned a page my attention was immediately drawn to an illustration. There was a great hole in the earth, and a dark man in a chariot pulled by four black horses was descending into the underworld. In one hand he held the reins to the steeds, while in the other he grasped, as captive, a frightened young woman. “Do you know about the Greek Gods?” I heard the voice next to me say. I looked up at her and admitted that I didn’t. “Here,” she said, handing me the book. “These are my favorite stories.”

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: Black Lamb Review of Books, Books and Authors, Silvis | Link to this Entry

Poet of parts

Trampled by the modernists

January 1st, 2016

BY STEFFEN SILVIS

In 1930, even while he tasted a touch of inspirational stray ash from D.H. Lawrence’s cremation urn, Witter Bynner was being thoroughly made a meal of by T.S. Eliot and the Moderns. Considered one of the leading lyric poets in America, Bynner had watched helplessly as his reputation, and that of his friend Edna St. Vincent Millay, were trampled by the followers of avant-gardists Pound, Moore, Stevens, and Eliot. Seemingly overnight, the definition of poetry had changed, and Bynner, at that moment eucharistically sampling his friend, found himself speaking a lost tongue. That James Kraft’s biography is titled Who Is Witter Bynner? measures the depth to which the writer’s name plunged into obscurity. Yet there are parts of Bynner’s work that demand rediscovery, if not necessarily the parts he would have wished.

bynnerFamily legend has it that Bynner arrived prematurely into the world in 1881 as his mother Annie raced down a flight of stairs to save a bird from a cat’s mouth. The resulting gentle youth became an ardent follower of Walt Whitman, to such an extent that rumors circulated that he was Whitman’s illegitimate son, a tale Bynner never hurried to quash. By his early twenties, Bynner was considered one of the bright hopes of American poetry, and despite his demotion by the Modernists, he devoted his entire life to verse until his death in 1968.

Bynner first established himself with two books of poetry: An Ode to Harvard and Other Poems (1907) and The New World (1915). Though both books contain commendable verses, one finds oneself agreeing with Richard Wilbur that there is too much lazy and obvious rhyming and “a fair amount of sincere and exclamatory gush.” In fact, Bynner achieves a kind of high kitsch with these poems that lards most of his “serious” work to come, insuring obsolescence. But with the Spectra poems (1916), Bynner reveals himself as one of American literature’s lost wits.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: 13th Anniversary Issue, Books and Authors, Silvis | Link to this Entry

Harlow with a “t”

September 1st, 2003

buxomrecliningnude.jpgBY STEFFEN SILVIS

I am perhaps the last person to have discovered sex through Jean Harlow. Not the mechanics of coupling, mind you — I was raised on a farm, and so was wise to the routine at a tender age. No, what I gathered from Miss Harlow was an understanding of unbridled passion and an appreciation for sexual aids, courtesy of my poor mother.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Movie Issue, Silvis | Link to this Entry

Pagan primer

June 1st, 2003

BY STEFFEN SILVIS

Her hair needed pulling. She wore poor clothes that we could mock, and had “germs with no returns.” She sat silently while we stood and pledged our allegiance to the flag each morning: there was something about her religion, we were told. She never wore a Hallowe’en costume, was excused from carol practice, and mythologynever received a Valentine. She seemed to spend most of the year alone in the library, a fitting banishment from our revels, we thought. Books were boring and so was she.

Unfortunately, she rode my bus, and it often happened that the last available place was next to her. One morning, to the catcalls of classmates, I was forced to share her seat. She sat poring over a colorful book, and as she turned a page my attention was immediately drawn to an illustration. There was a great hole in the earth, and a dark man in a chariot pulled by four black horses was descending into the underworld. In one hand he held the reins to the steeds, while in the other he grasped, as captive, a frightened young woman. “Do you know about the Greek Gods?” I heard the voice next to me say. I looked up at her and admitted that I didn’t. “Here,” she said, handing me the book. “These are my favorite stories.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Book Issue, Books and Authors, Silvis | Link to this Entry

Author profile

December 1st, 2002

Steffen Silvis, a drama critic and prize-winning playwright, lives in Los Angeles.

Posted by: The Editors
Category: Silvis | Link to this Entry

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