Poetry News In Review
1804 – Eliza Roxcy Snow, American poet (d. 1887), is born.
1823 – Cayetano José Rodríguez, Argentine cleric, journalist and poet (b. 1761), dies.
1829 – Oscar II Frederik, King of Sweden (1872-1907)/Norway (-1905)/poet, is born.
1883 – Olav Aukrust, Norway, poet, is born.
1904 – Richard P Blackmur, Mass, critic/poet (Good European), is born.
1939 – Mary Ellen McAnally, Illinois, poet (Dance of the Zygotes), is born.
1974 – Jan Arends, Dutch poet/author, dies at 48.
1977 – Sandro Penna, Italian poet (b. 1906), dies.
1984 – Giannis Skaribas, Greek writer, dramatist, and poet (b. 1893), dies.
2003 – Paul Haines, American-born Canadian poet (b. 1933), dies.
The wind was in another country, and
the day had gathered to its heart of noon
the sum of silence, heat, and stricken time.
Not a ripple spread. The sea mirrored
perfectly all the nothing in the sky.
We had to walk about to keep our eyes
from seeing nothing, and our hearts from stopping
at nothing. Then most suddenly we saw
horizon on horizon lifting up
out of the sea's edge a shining mountain
sun-yellow and sea-green; against it surf
flung spray and spume into the miles of sky.
Somebody said mirage, and it was gone,
but there I have been living ever since.
–R. P. Blackmur (1904-1965)
Sinéad Morrissey Wins TS Eliot Poetry Prize with David Niven-inspired Poem
Winning the TS Eliot Prize is hardly a matter of life and death. But the film of that name inspired Sinéad Morrissey to pen a collection which finally secured the UK’s most prestigious poetry prize for Belfast’s first poet laureate. On Monday, the Poetry Book Society (PBS) announced that Dr Morrissey, previously shortlisted on three occasions, had won the most lucrative award in British poetry for Parallax, a collection exploring the artificiality of art. Read more at theIndependent.
Juan Gelman, Argentine Poet, 83
Juan Gelman, 83, a renowned Argentine poet and left-wing activist who was awarded the prestigious Cervantes Prize, died Tuesday in Mexico of undisclosed causes. Argentine President Cristina Fernandez on Wednesday announced three days of mourning in his native country, where writers paid homage to him as one of the most brilliant writers in Spanish of the 20th century. Read more atPhilly.com.
Urdu Poetry Website Reaches 140 Countries
An Urdu poetry website launched a year ago has a readership in 140 countries and provides access to more than 8,000 ghazals and 1,000 e-books, its promoter said Saturday as he unveiled an enriched version of the site here. "I am happy to say that the website has more than 8,000 ghazals, 700 nazms and 1,000 e-books from across 700 poets," Sanjiv Saraf, an IIT-Kharagpur graduate and entrepreneur whose company is one of the world's largest producers of PET film, said at a function here to commemorate the first anniversary of www.rekhta.org. Read more at Two Circles.
Poetry Works Show Alexie at His Best
by Kathryn Smith
Death. Family. Loss. Love. Wealth. Poetry. Spirituality. Genocide. Prejudice. Sherman Alexie’s new poetry collection, “What I’ve Stolen, What I’ve Earned,” demonstrates the National Book Award-winning writer’s ability to tackle big themes, weaving them together in the context of his Indian identity and with his wry, unapologetic sense of humor. And he wastes no time doing it. Read more at Spokesman.
On Kelly Cherry’s The Life and Death of Poetry
The Life and Death of Poetry, is an ambitious title to fulfill, especially in 68 pages of poetry. I could write about how Kelly Cherry manages to achieve this, but instead I want to think about beginnings. I want to mainly focus on how this book of poems opens and then moves, because after my first reading, I wasn’t convinced the current opening poem was the best poem to open the book with. Read more atThe Linebreak.
Writing in the Dark by Richard Caddel: A Quiet Contemplation of Night
by Billy Mills
Sometime in the late 1990s, the poet Richard Caddel got his hands on a PDA – a Psion handheld mobile with a backlit screen – and started to make notes for poems on it at night. He wrote them in the garden of his Durham home and another garden in Japan. The poems that resulted from this experiment form the 2003 collection, Writing in the Dark. These poems are, naturally enough, full of the sights and sounds of night-time – the moon, stars and planets form one thread of imagery that runs through the collection; the songs of nocturnal birds another, along with those other sounds of darkness – traffic, water, trains, hedge crickets and the laughter of girls in the lane behind the house. A third strand consists of images of breath and breathing, the fine thread of life itself. Read more at The Guardian.
by Helena Nelson
Sometimes poems are time bombs. You read them, and read them. You think you’ve ‘got’ them, whatever they are. Meaning extracted. Method noted. They’re compressed and filed somewhere in your brain with the rest, making whatever tiny difference they make. Sometimes you even read them a couple of times before discarding them as ‘useless’. They can sit there for decades before they explode. Read more at Happenstance.
Avoidance and Confrontation
by Jon Davis
One of the qualities I admire in Santa Fe poet Dana Levin’s work is her willingness to address difficult issues head on. In “Moo and Thrall,” the speaker of the poem goes looking for coffee and walks straight into a graphic anti-abortion demonstration. Thematically, the poem weighs avoidance and confrontation, the status of rationality and information in an age of spectacle, and women’s rights and the omnipresent patriarchy. It’s a difficult feat Levin accomplishes here, to enter a politicized situation and address the politics of it without slighting the human needs at play. Read more at the SF Reporter.
Whacked Out: A Case for the Advocacy of the Unlisted
by Amy King
I’ve loved poetry since I discovered Gertrude Stein in my first year of college. I didn’t know the poetry world would be such a hotbed of politics. I couldn’t predict that being a poet would make the list of most competitive jobs, ranked at the top with athletes and choreographers. I only initially experienced the pleasure of having the top of my head taken off whenever I read aloud from A Primer for the Gradual Understanding of Gertrude Stein to my friends on the phone to annoy them. Until one day I finally admitted that I was infatuated with her words gone wrong and was spreading that love with the gusto of a convert. I had found god, and she was literary. Read more at the Poetry Foundation.
Drafts & Framents
Rafael Campo's Student Physicians Embrace Poetry to Hone Art of Healing
Doctor and poet Rafael Campo thinks medical school distances doctor and patient at the cost of human understanding. A possible cure? He uses poetry to help close the gap. Jeffrey Brown and Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey continue to seek "Where Poetry Lives" by visiting Campo's reading and writing workshop for medical students. Read more at the NewsHour.
Video: Liu Xia Reads Her Own Poetry under House Arrest
Liu Xia, a poet and wife of imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, has been under house arrest since October 2010. PEN received this video, recorded in December 2013, through the Independent Chinese PEN Center and Friends of Liu Xiaobo. Read more at Sampsonia Way.
Poetry In The News
Former U.S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan Recovering from Bike Crash
U.S. Poet Laureate Visiting Palm Beach Poetry Festival
Young Poet’s ‘Shrinking Women’ Goes Viral
Lily Myers intended her poem “Shrinking Women” to be a personal one. But a video of her recital at the 2013 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational was posted to the poetry website Button Poetry and to The Huffington Post, where it went viral. With more than 3 million views, it continues to circulate across social media websites. The poem tells the story of women in her family who for generations have been taught to unconsciously shrink while making space for the men in their lives. Read more at Here and Now.
Team Renovating Poet Al Purdy’s Cabin Find Poem Hidden in the Wall
Cowboy Poet Mitchell Named Honorary Poet for Nevada’s 150th Birthday Celebration
Poet’s Archive Goes to University of Texas
Fullblood Arabian by Osama Alomar
[Paperback] New Directions, 48 pp., $10.95
A prominent practitioner of the Arabic “very short story” (al-qisa al-qasira jiddan), Osama Alomar’s poetic fictions embody the wisdom of Kahlil Gibran filtered through the violent gray absurdity of Assad’s police state. Fullblood Arabian is the first publication of Alomar’s strange, often humorously satirical allegories, where good and evil battle with indifference, avarice, and compassion using striking imagery and effervescent language.
Selected Poems by Nicolas Boileau
[Paperback] Yale University Press, 82 pp., $16.00
French poet and critic Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux (1636-1711) was by turns venerated (in the eighteenth century) and reviled (in the nineteenth century) as the lawgiver of French classicism. Today critics see his achievement as more varied and complex than the label of classicism allows. This selection of Boileau's poems, translated with spirit and carefully annotated by Burton Raffel, brings the work of Boileau to English-speaking readers for the first time in a generation. Much admired for his wit, Boileau perceived the role of the satirist as the scourge of bad writing and delighted in the notion of 'l'ami du vrai', the brash truth-teller and enemy of humbug, inflation, and equivocation. Raffel's translations, vigorous and engaging, preserve the meaning of Boileau's poems and invite today's reader to enjoy the poet's astute perceptions. Julia Prest's insightful introduction to the volume provides an overview of Boileau's life and achievement.
Broken Hierarchies: Poems 1952-2012 by Geoffrey Hill
[Hardcover] Oxford University Press, 650 pp., $39.95
Broken Hierarchies collects twenty books of poems by Geoffrey Hill, written over sixty years, and presents them in their definitive form. Four of these books (Ludo, Expostulations on the Volcano, Liber Illustrium Virorum, and Al Tempo de' Tremuoti) have never before appeared in print, and three of them (Hymns to Our Lady of Chartres, Pindarics, and Clavics) have been greatly revised and expanded.
Poetry of Witness: The Tradition in English, 1500 - 2001 edited by Carolyn Forché and Duncan Wu
[Paperback] W. W. Norton, 672 pp., $29.95
A groundbreaking anthology containing the work of poets who have witnessed war, imprisonment, torture, and slavery. A companion volume to Against Forgetting, Poetry of Witness is the first anthology to reveal a tradition that runs through English-language poetry. The 300 poems collected here were composed at an extreme of human endurance—while their authors awaited execution, endured imprisonment, fought on the battlefield, or labored on the brink of breakdown or death. All bear witness to historical events and the irresistibility of their impact.
Imperial by George Bilgere
[Paperback] University of Pittsburgh Press, 72 pa., $15.95
In Imperial, George Bilgere’s sixth collection of poetry, he continues his exploration of the beauties, mysteries, and absurdities of being middle-aged and middle-class in mid-America. In poems that range from the Cold War anxieties of the 1950s to the perils and predicaments of an aging Boomer in a post-9/11 world, Bilgere’s rueful humor and slippery syntax become a trapdoor that at any moment can plunge the reader into the abyss. In Bilgere’s world a yo-yo morphs into an emblem for the atomic bomb. A spot of cancer flames into the Vietnam War. And the death of a baseball player reminds us, in this age of disbelief, of the importance—the necessity—of myth.
Orphan by Jan Heller Levi
[Paperback] Alice James Books, 80 pa., $15.95
Orphan, Jan Heller Levi’s new collection, is an unabashed confrontation with loneliness, otherness, and abandonment. These poems—ancient, immediate, serene, disgruntled, wickedly humorous, unsettlingly earnest—are also daring explorations of what love is. In the new millennium, with so much loss to mourn—and so much more still to lose—Orphancontemplates how “we make our griefs our tools.”
Poet Tarfia Faizullah on Her Upcoming Book, the 1971 Liberation War, and "Our Complicated Histories"
by Pavani Yalamanchili
Tarfia Faizullah’s first book of poetry, “Seam,” centers around a series of poems that she started writing in graduate school. This adept and moving work explores the tragedy of Bangladeshi women raped by the Pakistani Army during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. In 2008, she received Ploughshares’ Cohen Award for her poem “Interview with a Birangona.” Two years later, she received a Fulbright fellowship that allowed her travel to Bangladesh to record the testimonies of “birangonas,” or war heroines. Her work was honored yet again last year when “Seam” received the Crab Orchard Review’s First Book Award. Read more at The Aerogram.
Poetry Profiles: Coffee House Press
by Dana Jennings
The latest in a series of occasional profiles of poetry publishers. These questions were answered by Chris Fischbach, a longtime editor at Coffee House Press who became publisher in 2011.
What book in the last five years do you wish you had published?
Anything by C.D. Wright. Read more at the New York Times.
Behind The Scenes: William Stafford Project
by Kayo Lackey
On the occasion of the centennial of William Stafford’s birth, OPB explores the life and impact of Oregon’s beloved poet laureate through special programs on Oregon Art Beat, State of Wonder and Think Out Loud. Some of the producers who worked on our coverage were new to William Stafford and some had connections with his poetry dating back to grade school. They share with us how the man and the poet impacted their lives. Read more at OPB.
A Poet of “Mindful” Words
by Rajvinder Singh
How does one remember a poet, a friend, who has just been swallowed by the crevice of history, but who had himself created history with his work and enlivened it throughout his active life? Namdeo Laxman Dhasal, the celebrated Marathi poet, a Padma Shri, and a Lifetime Achievement Award winner of the Sahitya Akademi, who has won various battles in life, has lost his ultimate and most precious war against the disease, myasthenia gravis, deteriorated further by a recently detected colorectal cancer. Ever since I met him some 13 years ago, the cage of his illness had been trying hard to stifle the powerful bird of his being and his creativity, but it had not been able to subdue him all these years. Read more at The Hindu.