Christopher Schmidt

  • culture July 05, 2016

    Proxies: Essays Near Knowing: {A Reckoning} By Brian Blanchfield

    The breathtaking excellence of Proxies, poet Brian Blanchfield’s first collection of personal essays, is an urgent reminder of how shortsighted it would be to take identity politics as the sole measure of value in queer writing. Blanchfield—who is white, male, and gay—does not treat these contours of his life as extraordinary in themselves. He attends instead to the subtlest registers of misfit between a queer self and its world—and with such sensitivity, he provides a startlingly detailed map to a territory we only thought we knew well. Again and again, he finds unexpected grace in grim

  • The New Spectator

    Gifts can be difficult propositions. They ask some sorry object—poor thing—to bear the weight of an entire relationship. Is this what I mean to you?

    Gifts can also be magical, offering us bouquets of unexpected pleasures. Rebekah Rutkoff’s collection of essays and fictions, The Irresponsible Magician, is full of both kinds of gift, and captures some of the ways a gift can slip from one category to the other. The book’s signal feat is to take encounters of the awkward variety—unreciprocated attentions, a disappointing brush with an idol, having your life saved by a doctor who is later arrested

  • culture December 30, 2010

    The Book of Frank by CAConrad

    At its most philosophically acute, poetry is dumb. Hölderlin deeply believed this truth, titling one of his great poems “Blödigkeit,” or “Stupidity.” Wordsworth was fiercely attached to his own “Idiot Boy,” insisting on publishing the poem against his friend Coleridge’s advice. Especially today, amid a media culture of rampant knowingness, poetry’s dumbness—its ability to cut through false rhetoric and give us the thing itself—may be its most vital and necessary quality.

    Philadelphian CAConrad is the latest poet to take up the mantle of idiot savant. In The Book of Frank, a sequence of 132