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13

WEDNESDAY

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Ladies and gentlemen: Camille Paglia wants your attention. Pamela Murray Winters Realizing that people once loved to drop her name—usually in disgust at some perceived betrayal of feminism—but seldom made it past the first use of the word “chthonic” in her books, the scholar who’s given more support to Madonna than two decades of bras opens her latest with the promise “This book is intended for a general audience.” Perhaps she aims a little too broadly for the more moderately read members of that audience: The explications in Break, Blow, Burn: Camille Paglia Reads Forty-Three of the World’s Best Poems (Paglia’s “world” being English-language and post-16th-century) read, in effect, like really good college term papers. But put your snobbery aside; she’s pimping some fine verse here, including Shakespeare’s 73rd sonnet (the “bare ruined choirs” one) and Robert Lowell’s brutal “Man and Wife.” And her reading will surely be worth it just to hear that stentorian voice declaim Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock.” Paglia reads at 7 p.m. at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Pamela Murray Winters)