The following is from the Feb. 11, 2007, edition of The Dallas Morning News.
Love seems to bring out
our verse side
By Tom Mayo
With Valentine's Day
fast upon us, our thoughts naturally turn to love and
marriage. So there may be no more obvious book of poems for
this month than the posthumously published Poems of Love
and Marriage by John Ciardi (University of Arkansas,
Apart from that title, there is nothing obvious about the
love poems Mr. Ciardi wrote to his wife, Judith. The verses
are sometimes sweet (but never maudlin), always fresh, and
often surprising, as the Columbia professor and former
director of the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference moves us
across the arc of their decades-long love affair.
Even more of a surprise was this past year's Acts of
Love: Ancient Greek Poetry from Aphrodite's Garden
(Modern Library, $13.95), selected and translated by George
Economou. These translations are fearlessly modern,
thoroughly grounded (as improbable as this sounds) in
American idiom, and (as Billy Collins has written)
"unabashed." If you like your Greeks straight, no chaser,
you will cheer Mr. Economou's decision to rescue the
ancients from euphemism and delicacy. This is Eros dressed
in full metal jacket, aiming not only for the heart but the
nether regions, as well.
Former poet laureate Robert Pinsky introduces his
collection, The Handbook of Heartbreak (Rob Weisback
Books, out of print but widely available on the Internet)
with this puzzle: "Why do works of art about bad things such
as loss and deprivation make us feel good?" It is the appeal
of the blues, of every torch song ever written, and of the
poems in this little anthology of 101 poems. The number was
chosen by Mr. Pinsky because it sounded lonely to him. The
poets represented include Thomas Wyatt, Ben Jonson, Sherman
Alexie and Mark Doty, not to mention Yeats, Bishop,
Dickinson, Frost, Milton, Plath, Merrill, Blake, Heaney.
It's a completely satisfying collection.
Read the full story.
Tom Mayo teaches "Law, Literature & Medicine" at SMU's
Dedman School of Law.
The following is from the Feb. 10, 2007, edition of InsideBayArea.com.
The modern sound of romance
By Blanca Torres
VALENTINE'S DAY will be easier on
Jeremy Jones' wallet this year. He's
"off the hook" since he bought his
wife, Jaime, an expensive watch for
That means he's only responsible
for dinner, champagne, flowers and a
card. That is unlike other years
when he was more extravagant, such
as the time he sent her flowers
every day for a week leading up to
"She works in an office," said
Jones, who is 27 and lives in
Concord. "Everybody got to see it."
Some people say Valentine's Day
has become just another reason to
spend money. They may be right.
Americans are expected to spend
nearly $17 billion on Valentine's
Day this year to romance their
sweethearts, a 23 percent increase
compared with $13.7 billion last
year, according to the National
Retail Federation.But, does that
mean there is more love in the air
than years past? No, experts said.
Consumers are just more willing
to spend. The reasons vary from
having more disposable income to
social pressure to prove how much
someone cares via gifts and fancy
The National Retail Federation
estimates that about 63 percent of
consumers celebrate Valentine's Day
with the average person spending
$119.67. The occasion ranks third in
consumer spending after winter
holiday shopping and back-to-school
"The trend has more to do with
disposable incomes and more to do
with the effectiveness of retailers
to persuade people to buy more,"
said Daniel Howard, a marketing professor at Southern Methodist
University's Cox School of Business
in Dallas. "It's not because people
care more about their loved ones
this year than last year."
Read the full story.