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Austin Allen

Austin Allen is the editor of the Poetry Genius project at Rap Genius, as well as a former editor at Big Think. He holds an MFA in poetry from Johns Hopkins University, where he has also taught as a creative writing instructor. He lives in New York City and can be reached at austin [at] bigthink [dot] com.


The Man Who Died for Poetry

A Q&A With Christian Wiman, Translator of Stolen Air When Osip Mandelstam died at age 47 in a Siberian work camp under the Stalin regime, he became one of twentieth-century […]

Why We Still Badly Need James Baldwin

“It is a sentimental error, therefore, to believe that the past is dead; it means nothing to say that it is all forgotten, that the Negro himself has forgotten it. […]

Is Holden Caulfield Obnoxious?

You already know where you stand on Holden Caulfield. Either you found him a kindred spirit in your youth and continue to sympathize with him—less blindly, more wistfully—as you age; […]

World War I Belongs to Literature Now

Reading last week about the death of Florence Green, Women’s Royal Air Force member and last surviving veteran of the First World War, I thought of a sonorous passage by […]

Philip Larkin, Sentimentalist?

Once in a great while, I write something that’s too long to fit comfortably in a blog post. This week one of those pieces, an essay on the notorious and […]

Cormac and Oprah, Revisited

Five years ago this June, Cormac McCarthy appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Given McCarthy’s legendary reticence (he had done only one major interview in the past, with the New […]

Reader, What’s Your New Year’s Resolution?

I like the idea of “literary New Year’s resolutions” suggested by Ruth Franklin in The New Republic, and I’ve decided to hop on the bandwagon. But while Franklin’s resolutions primarily concern […]

Elizabeth Bishop, MFA Idol

I’d be remiss if I let 2011 slip by without a tribute to Elizabeth Bishop (1911–1979), who was born a century ago and who now looms larger over contemporary poetry […]

Is There Any Great Sex in Literature?

Once again the Literary Review has announced the winner of its annual Bad Sex in Literature Awards, and once again I’m left strangely unsatisfied. What began as a novel exploration […]

Is Print the New Counterculture?

Since March of this year, a series of extraordinary paper sculptures has appeared in various locations around Edinburgh, Scotland. Each location is a library or other institution devoted to the […]

NaNoWriMo and Literary Spontaneity

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is drawing to a close, and with it the brave and caffeine-addled efforts of over 200,000 writers worldwide. Unabashedly privileging “enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking […]