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Articles by Stephen Akey

OLM Favorites: Learning How To Read: William Goldman’s The Temple of Gold

December 1st, 2017
OLM Favorites: Learning How To Read: William Goldman’s <em>The Temple of Gold</em>

In Stephen Akey’s personal essay, the sex and squalor of William Goldman’s The Temple of Gold appeals to the thirteen-year-old he was when he first encountered it – and prompts an adult reassessment.

An Ignorant Highbrow

August 1st, 2014
An Ignorant Highbrow

If you think distinctions between ‘high’ and ‘low’ art are stuffy Victorian relics, our beleagured Stephen Akey says, you’re just not paying enough attention. So are you a highbrow? And should you be? And should everybody be?

January 2014 Issue

January 1st, 2014
January 2014 Issue


Second Glance: Reticent Confessional

July 1st, 2013
Second Glance: Reticent Confessional

Hospital visits, supermarket checkouts, and casseroles – the odd, unassuming verse of Jenny Bornholdt might leave some critics wondering if it’s actually poetry at all. Critic Stephen Akey says her work is intimate yet reserved – and warns us not to expect The Duino Elegies.

Silly Like Us: W.H. Auden

April 1st, 2013
Auden 2

Coming of age after World War I, Auden took the alienation of his generation and sharpened it to a special keenness; he transformed his disaffected modernism into an immortal body of work that still challenges today.

Tom and Em

January 1st, 2013
Tom and Em

It is said that Thomas Hardy fell deeply in love with his wife, Emma, only after she died. Stephen Akey revisits the stunning, elegiac poetry he wrote in her memory.

Borges and You

November 1st, 2012
Borges and You

Although I would rather do almost anything than attend a literary reading (like, for instance, stay home and read), I made an exception for Jorge Luis Borges when he lectured to a packed house at …

Therapeutic Wordsworth

September 1st, 2012

There are warring schools of fad and interpretation, there are critical readings of an hour or a season – and then there’s Wordsworth’s verse itself, annotating and amplifying the personal reading experience.

Good in the Good Sense: Antonio Machado

August 1st, 2012

The great Antonio Machado loved his native Spain and was disgusted by its descent into fascism; that fusion of enchantment and grief vivifies his unforgettable poetry.

Humane to Hornets: The Poetry of James Schuyler

July 1st, 2012

The verses of the neglected poet James Schuyler seem to ramble, but they don’t really ramble; they seem dishevelled, but they aren’t; they seem miniaturist, but they contain whole worlds. Stephen Akey makes the case for your renewed attention.

Bad for You

May 1st, 2012

Known as much for how she exited her life as for the poetry she wrote during it, Sylvia Plath remains a polarizing figure in the world of verse. What are we reading, when we subject ourselves to her poems?

Downright Rude: Reading Catullus

April 1st, 2012

The raw sexuality of the Catullus’ love poems keeps them alive even today, and the things he implied about Julius Caesar STILL can’t be repeated in polite conversation – how do we deal with this young man who’s always making us feel just a bit uncomfortable?

How Pleasant to Know Mr. Lane

March 1st, 2012

The best of Anthony Lane’s many New Yorker reviews and essays were collected in Nobody’s Perfect, a big volume that amply displays this writer’s wit and subtlety.

Wallace Stevens: A Spirit Storming

February 1st, 2012

Wallace Stevens, so long considered the driest and most cerebral of poets, can in fact touch the soul. It all hangs on the nature of poetry itself, what it is.

The Laureate of Everyday

December 1st, 2011

As a young man, the Roman poet Horace ran from battle; when he was older, he turned down a job offer from Augustus Caesar. He refused to write epics, but he gave readers something even better, and it insured his immortality.