Elsewhere

In the London Review of Books, Perry Anderson on "The Crisis in Brazil":

The Workers’ Party believed, after a time, that it could use the established order in Brazil to benefit the poor, without harm—indeed with help—to the rich. It did benefit the poor, as it set out to do. But once it accepted the price of entry into a diseased political system, the door closed behind it. The party itself withered, becoming an enclave in the state, without self-awareness or strategic direction, so blind that it ostracised André Singer, its best thinker, for a mess of spin-doctors and pollsters, so insensible it took lucre, wherever it came from, as the condition of power. Its achievements will remain. Whether the party will itself do so is an open question. In South America, a cycle is coming to an end. For a decade and a half, relieved of attention by the US, buoyed by the commodities boom, and drawing on deep reserves of popular tradition, the continent was the only part of the world where rebellious social movements coexisted with heterodox governments. In the wake of 2008, there are now plenty of the former elsewhere. But none so far of the latter. A global exception is closing, with no relay yet in sight.

In the New York Times, Roger Cohen on "Bernie's Israel Heresy":

Sanders struck an important blow for honest and more open debate by raising issues seldom broached in an American presidential campaign—the Palestinian houses and schools “decimated” by Israeli force in Gaza, the fact that “there are two sides to the issue,” the need for a balanced American role. He set down a marker in the Jewish American city par excellence.

In the Atlantic, James Parker on "The Greatest Poet Alive":

If you’re a certain kind of reader, with a certain kind of brain, you’re always on the lookout for the poem that will save your life. Existence heaps itself upon you; your tongue thickens and your thoughts get cluttered. But you keep a muddy eye trained on the world’s poetry portals, the places where the poems come flapping through, because you know that a line, a rhyme, a verb can reboot your internal chitchat and zap you out of all your encrustations. You know that this is the poet’s job, in the end: to remind you—oh, the cheesiness, but oh, the urgency—how to be alive.

Not every poet can do it, of course. Even the champs manage it only intermittently. But there’s one, Les Murray—an almost hairless, shorts-wearing, rustic giant-genius from the back end of Australia, prone to vast grumps and vaster generosities—who pulls it off with miraculous regularity. (Miraculous regularity … Oxymoron? Not with this guy.) I say he’s our greatest living English-language poet.

DotCommonweal's Anthony Domestico reviewed Murray's new collection here. Murray's great poem "The Say-but-the-Word Centurion Attempts a Summary," first published in Commonweal, can be found here.

Matthew Boudway is an associate editor of Commonweal.

Please email comments to editors@commonwealmagazine.org and join the conversation on our Facebook page.

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