Oct/Nov 2008  •   Reviews & Interviews

Five Quick and Dirty Lit Site Reviews

Review by Scott Malby

The following are the author's opinions and not necessarily those of Eclectica Magazine or its editors.


Fernando Pessoa

One of the most significant intellectual trends of the early 21st century is the exponential transfer of entertainment, information, and yes, literary resources to an electronic format. The rise of numerous literary international communities has resulted and in terms of literary arts, the current age may well come to be known as the Age of the Internet. Due to the cost of traditional publishing and difficulty in access, many important artists with a primarily non-English background have been difficult to access in this country. This is now changing however. We are now moving toward a period of international literature just as painting became international in style during and shortly after WWII. The Portugese poet Fernando Pessoa is certainly one of the major European poets of the twentieth century and there has been a resurgence of interest in him among American intellectuals. Poems written in English by Pessoa or translated from the Portuguese by J. Griffin are featured on this interesting site. There are also links. Still, you have to do some internet surfing to gain a good appreciation of Pessoa's remarkably influential work.


Colorado College

The Comparative Literature program at Colorado College is responsible for a valuable site devoted to influential writers. I was particularly struck by their pages devoted to Xavier Villaurrutia. Villaurrutia is well known in Mexico and Latin America but is often overlooked in the U.S. Links are embedded in the introductory essay adding depth and interest. Other writer profiles on this site appear to be seriously less detailed but the Villaurrutia section is excellent.


Excerpts from and extensions of Oceans Beyond Monotonous Space: Selected Poems of Kitasono Katue

At this site, Kitasono Katue's importance is well documented in a great introductory essay by Karl Young. Selections of Katue's work covering 1929 to 1966 are included. The material is from "Oceans Beyond Monotonous Space; Selected Poems Of Kitasono Katue", translated by John Solt, edited by Karl Young and John Salt with an introduction by Karl Young. Katue wrote: "I will create poetry through the viewfinder of my camera, out of pieces of paper scraps, boards, glasses, etc. This is the birth of new poetry." Japanese Surrealism has long been overlooked in America but it represents a major contribution to world literature. The material, while it can certainly stand by itself, is subsumed under a site that is intellectually quite interesting and very worthwhile.


Light & Dust Anthology

I guarantee you that this smart site has the potential of warming your toes on a cold night. It is varied, polished, substantive, and appears to focus as a collation of tendencies, influences and movements pertaining to contemporary poetry. If there was such a thing as an avant-garde in this day and age, you would likely find it here. It is not afraid to take risks. In its own words: "This is an anthology rather than a zine, and an anthology dedicated to alternative means of presentation as well as pluralistic forms and subjects. It includes over 60 complete books, new and reprinted..." I love this site. At times, I am also a little put off by what I feel is its arrogant sincerity. When it comes to poetry, the only expert is the specific poem at hand and that for a short time only. However, it offers so much that you can pick and choose through some very entertaining material.


Literary History

What would it be like if everyone with Internet access was able to consult an academic research library at no charge? You can get a glimpse by taking a look at this site. I can't tell you how many frustrating times I've tried to read an article or research paper but have been told that access is restricted or must be paid for. This site is a treasure. It has an extensive and multi-cultural focus centering on English and American literature on the internet. I am continually amazed by its range and depth. The links on the left located on its home page are worth exploring for their own sakes. Literary History represents one of the most important, promising and valuable sites I have ever encountered when it comes to the literary internet in English. It is also full of surprises. I'm tempted to make it my home page.