The Berkeley Beacon

Blake Campbell

Arts Columnist

Campbell can be reached at


The poems that changed my life

Great poems do not sugarcoat. They have no obligation to comfort the reader; they present crises exactly as they appear to the poet.

"Taste and Sunlight": The poetry of James Merrill

As Merrill aged, his poetry became more explicitly autobiographical, and he became more willing to write about his life as a gay man. His battle with AIDS and growing awareness of his own mortality during the last decade of his life inspired some of his most moving lyrics.

The limits of literary patriotism

Our culture’s continued interest in what makes a literary text or its author “American” is one worthy of further inquiry.

Elizabeth Bishop’s love poetry ponders what connects us

Since her death in 1979, Bishop has become one of the most beloved American writers of our time. A keen observer and cataloguer of natural phenomena, Bishop finds the profound in the minutest details of the world around us, and critics and poets alike revere her work for its precision.

Why Poe Matters: Examining the legacy and longevity of a misunderstood writer

Poe was also the first 19th-century American writer that I read as a child, and almost everyone who went to public school will have probably encountered “The Raven,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” or “The Masque of the Red Death,” among other classics. Yet the nature of Poe’s legacy has always been a matter of dispute. Of course his influence on genre fiction cannot be overstated; he is one of the prime progenitors of the detective story and the adventure story.

Memory: 'a great wonder of human existence'

Poetry, as the great 20th century poet Robert Hayden once said, remains a mysterious thing, and our increasingly pragmatic and fast-paced world is often lacking in mystery. When I encounter a truly great poem, I feel that I am in the presence of something larger than myself.

Stephen King and the American Gothic

Although my taste in literature has expanded and deepened, I still put aside John Milton and Vladimir Nabokov to indulge my taste for the macabre from time to time, and am rarely disappointed.

The pleasures of difficult literature

The most pleasurable reading experience in my recent memory was when, for the third time, I pored over the entirety of “Notes toward a Supreme Fiction,” one of Wallace Stevens’ major long poems

The Splendor of Hart Crane's Poetry

Several months ago, I visited the Brooklyn Bridge for the first time. It was a hot day in early summer, and I was sleep-deprived, tired from walking, and a little anxious about the prospect of navigating New York City alone.

Solitude and the American writer

Blake Campell tackles the question on all WLP's minds: MFA or NYC?

The poem as a sonic experience

Literary columnist Blake Campbell offers a case for the importance of not just reading poetry, but hearing it.

Sylvia Plath's Ariel: An appreciation

Columnist Blake Campbell remembers poet Sylvia Plath, her work, and her legacy.

My favorite literary Twitter feeds of 2013

Columnist Blake Campbell writes about his favorite literary Twitter feeds of 2013.

Self-indulgence and the literature of the internet

Columnist Blake Campbell offers his opinion how the internet is affecting literature, focusing on blogger and poet Megan Boyle.

The lost world of horror master Richard Laymon

Columnist Blake Campbell gets in the Halloween spirit as he writes about a long underrated horror writer, Richard Laymon.

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Birds, words, & finding literature in unexpected places

Columnist Blake Campbell discusses the art of field guides.

In defense of first-year writing classes

Arts columnist Blake Campbell comes to the defense of the often criticized first-year writing classes.

Literature in the age of distraction

Writing longhand was not an arbitrary decision. For some time, I’ve been thinking critically about how much our age’s proliferation of technology has encumbered writers and readers.

The dangers of leading a literary life

It’s easy to understand how our lives influence the art we produce and the way we look at other’s art (I’ve heard the mantra “write what you know” more times at Emerson than I can count) but the inverse of that — how art influences our lives — is something I hear talked about much less frequently.

The other L in WLP

Young writers often take the mechanics of their craft for granted — I know I do.

Literary idols on Twitter

Caitlín R. Kiernan, a Providence-based writer of Lovecraftian horror and science fiction, blogs regularly on LiveJournal, documenting her progress on various projects and offering her opinions on movies, music, and literature. Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk tweets links to helpful writing advice pages and thought-provoking opinion pieces on contemporary works of literature. Horror writer Joe Hill recently tweeted his invigorating experience of finishing Moby Dick.

Fiction & imagination

Certainly, such a story isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of “literary fiction,” and I was a little shocked to find it in one of the country’s premier literary magazines.

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Album Review: Sudden Myth by Jake Sorgen

Layered and experimental, Jake Sorgen’s new album Sudden Myth offers an intriguing flavor of folk.

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A haunting ride along Spoon River

Shakespeare Society’s production of Spoon River, which ran last weekend in the Piano Row Multipurpose Room, held spectators spellbound with a series of monologues that form a haunting commentary on small town life.

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Subverting norms with Zanna, Don’t

Football players are shy, awkward, and misunderstood by the student body. Chess players are egged on by hoots and hollers from the crowd. Homosexuality is the norm, heterosexuality is unacceptable, and love is always in the air. This is Heartsville High, the quirky setting of Zanna, Don’t!: A Musical Fairy Tale.

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Stroopwafel alleviates midterm stress

In the Piano Row Multipurpose Room on Tuesday, Feb. 28, the Emerson comedy troupe Stroopwafel, provided a much-needed escape from the stress of midterms with their audience-driven brand of improvisational humor. Sharp, witty, and fun, their first show of the semester electrified the audience.

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Review: Joseph Freeman's The Space EP is intergalactic treat

Loaded with good-natured camp and nostalgia, Joseph Freeman’s The Space EP is a brief but captivating journey through the tropes and traditions of classic science fiction

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The Proposed Posed Poes

Last Thursday, the Edgar Allan Poe Foundation of Boston held Poe’s 203rd birthday celebration at the Boston Public Library and detailed plans for the construction of a memorial at Boylston and Charles streets.

Cheap thrills swallow The Thing's originality

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Tucker Dale vs. Evil provides laughs and gore

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Tucker Dale vs. Evil provides laughs and gore

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