Anis Shivani

Welcome Readers

In Etcetera on January 8, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Welcome to the new and improved Anis Shivani website and blog. Please take a look around at the Fiction, Poetry and Criticism pages. Then follow my latest work through the blog. There is an RSS feed for those who know what it means.

Feel free to leave a comment below.

  1. Dear Mr. Shivani,

    I have just left a message on your Facebook page…now I have discovered your blog. I hardly ever log on to Facebook myself, so I’ll repeat my message here.

    I enjoyed your article about overrated writers very much. Back in the 1990s I lived in Iowa City for a couple of years. I went through the undergraduate fiction workshop, and I was invited to apply to the graduate workshop, but eventually I realized that it was a sort of sociological phenomenon I couldn’t adapt to…and I would be required to think that Jorie Graham was good (and she wasn’t even as outré then as she is now).

    I’m especially impressed by the fact that you seem able to judge both fiction AND poetry. (I had to choose and I chose poetry.) Really, in some sense the fact of Billy Collins’ career is all anyone has to say about American poetry. He’s the Rod McKuen of his day. When I think about it, I realize that “the tradition” of poetry that they belonged to at Iowa isn’t even 100 years old yet. They’re still “in revolt”, I suppose.

    I used to hang out with someone who might make your underrated list, except that he dies in 2005 and he won the MacArthur, Guy Davenport. The poet Jonathan Williams said once after a visit to Guy’s that if he ever sat talking to him for another afternoon he wanted graduate credit. I used to spend about one evening a week talking to Guy. To him, Ron Johnson was the greatest American poet – maybe he meant “living poet” (Guy died in 2005 and Ron in 1998). I think Ron puts a little too much scientific analysis in his poems. He’s a little too Blakean; Blake’s thought is great but his diction is bad (and so is Milton’s). But Ron IS great. He reconnects with the tradition at the cost of his own life, pretty much, but it’s all worth it even though he doesn’t really have all the musical ability he might have wished for – his poems are not usually astonishing in terms of pure prosody, who knows, if they were, they might not be printable.

    The Tradition of poetry – I think Robert Graves would like the caps – involves knowledge, and even detailed knowledge. But certain deities must be respected, and you have to make poetry out of sound as well as image. I see you have a poem to Derek Wolcott on your site. That’s the man. The prosody of Omeros is superior. The near-rhymes and the ease of diction, the utter lack of any need to look over his shoulder at any other contemporary poet, and as a bonus the Greek subtext makes more sense than he knew, because he had listened to the tradition.

    Well…I’m not an English professor any more, so I should cut it short. Congratulations again. I will try to find some of your original work. If you ever feel like moving around, I would be glad to recommend you to the faculty at the University of Kentucky. I thank you for the glimmer of hope you have shown me. Please do not falter in swinging your critical sword.

    Yours very truly,

    Dr. Jeffrey Lewis

  2. Dear Mr. Shivani,
    I just finished reading your review of Bush’s “Decision Point” and I think it is the most insightful, brilliant and frightening piece of writing I have seen in many years. I cannot think of any analysis of the man or his presidency that comes close to yours in terms of accuracy and understanding. I agree with your comment that he has been a truly transformative president, in the same manner that Scipio Africanus was transformative in the Roman Replublic by turning the legionnaires loyalty toward their commander rather than to the Republic, with the subsequent disastrous results many years later. Bone-chillingly frightening. Thank you for articulating what I have felt but was unable to say.

  3. Fuck yeah your article in HP has me on fire. As the author of two published books, you are SO RIGHT. God that is the best article I have ever read and needed at just the right time. Everything you said is so true.

    Sorry for “Don’t want to give it” but I want to be alone, away from the crowds now. Wait, why am I apologizing? Fuck off! ;0

    Excellent, thanks!


  4. Dear Anis Shivani,

    Mr. Philosopher! I just happened upon your article in the Huffington Post. I was actually researching an article I’m doing on Monsanto, the GMO Corn Company, and your article popped up.

    What a wonderful article. How True you are. How aligned with your divinity you are, sir! I just wanted you to know that your article was heard round the world, because it was ALL truth. And it was the sword of truth, as well. Not to make you all prideful, but you really have an ear for the Truth.

    Are you teaching writing? You should. With all the false teachers out there, you would be teaching more than writing. You would be teaching How To Live Truthfully in the World. I’m going to copy your essay for all of my friends.

    And your name has “Shiva” in it, too! That I’m sure is no coincidence, as Shiva destroys all that is not the Truth!!!
    God knew what He was doing when He gave you that name, I suppose!

    Maria Marino

  5. I love the essay for writers… especially the part about FUCK THE NICHE. Awesome. That is lovely and good, thank you.

  6. OH! ACK! Edit that… didn’t realize it would be a curse word on your site… so sorry. Could you edit it and put DAMN THE NICHE.

    Really, that was a bit OUT THERE. So sorry.

    Also. Fuck the niche.

  7. Hello,

    I’ve been defending you in the Huff Post comments section, on your “rules for writers” and the criticism by Andrew Shaffer. It’s been fun, really. I’m quite fond of the piece. Very much something I needed, to affirm, clarify and strengthen my own perspective. Thank you,

    William Hunter Duncan

  8. Hi Anis,

    I first read you through your Oct. Huffpo column and thought it was brilliant; kudos to you for daring to say that the emperor is naked. I’ve since read several of your articles and continue to agree with much of your points though I haven’t read 3/4 of the writers you critique. I’m nearly 60, have 3 degrees in French and English from the ivy league and Berkeley, read and write in 3 other languages, live half the time outside of the US, and teach lit. I shared your beliefs and especially your enthusiasm for political honesty until finding your pronouncements re: Lan Samantha Chang’s last novel. I also had greatly anticipated it and wrangled a pre-release copy. Did you read it? Honestly it’s one of the worst novels I’ve ever read which is not big crime, but as she directs the ‘best’ MFA program it’s unsettling. I’m curious.

    In particular I’m fascinated by your theory of MFA programs developing during the 70s & 80s; I think you’re right. I’ve also asked myself why post-modern theory took roots at the same time and its role in the mess of current humanities curriculum.

    For what it’s worth I have a friend at the U. of Iowa who tells me that the MFA program currently carefully picks wealthy students from Harvard/Princeton/etc. whose undergrad profs were (as you suggest) friends/students of the Iowa crew; they and their families will be receiving many donation requests. A few poorer students receive grants, and the entire program is heavily funded by grants. Many other Iowa alumni will give based on the MFA reputation. So the program does function as a cash-generating machine for the university, a little like athletics in that it’s academic value is doubtful.

    Thanks for all the excellent ideas.

  9. Anis, you are new to me. I just read your review of Andre Dubus III’s book “Townie” in the Austin American-Statesman and liked what you had to say. Then I went to your “New Rules for Writers: Ignore Publicity, Shun Crowds, Refuse Recognition and More” and liked it, too, though I didn’t understand some of it. However, I think that is my style of living, being the hermit that I am.

    I am an almost-77-year-old great-grandmother semi-retired real estate broker in Austin. I am planning on writing my memoir and have been mulling over how to do it. I have led a very interesting, tragic, adventurous, outrageous life that would probably fill at least two volumes. I look forward to reading your forthcoming book, “Against the Workshop:…” I know you are very busy doing all your writing, reviews, criticisms, etc. Would you consider mentoring or co-writing with me? I especially like your Fuck You attitude. I love profanity and fuck is probably my favorite word. If you have any interest at all, please let me know. I can send you a brief resume of my life and some very interesting photos, news articles, etc. By the way, I lived in Houston from 1963 to 1974, when I went screaming down the highway and moved to Austin, leaving a note for my daughter who was a camp counselor in Wimbe4rley. (By the way, I hope no one else has access to this comment page.)

    I would appreciate an answer from you, but if it comes, I will be amazed! Thank you very much for hopefully reading this.

    Sunshine Williams

  10. Your new blog is beautiful and so is your writing. I read your latest article in the HuffPo today and I loved every minute of reading it out loud. You are a very courageous man. I only hope that any enemies you you may or may not have conjured up by writing such point blank and take no prisioners criticism – I hope they never have an opportunity to harm you in any way. Why? Because of your bravery in telling the truth and explicating everything in the way that you. Your writing is amazing. I have to be careful because I go on too much but, yes. I am a big fan of yours and although, I’m so busy these days with all kinds of projects I am looking forward to reading everything you have written. 🙂 I only hope I will have time to read your back articles, poetry, novels and everything else. I think you and your writing are great and wonderful. If that’s the lenghty kind of excellent writing you post for free in HuffPo, what can your other work be like? I’m looking forward to finding out as soon as time allows. Thank you for such really superb writing. You are amazing!

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