Poetry News In Review
1637 – Ben Jonson, English playwright and poet, dies at 65.
1809 – Alfred Lord Tennyson, Somersby, England, Poet Laureate of Great Britain, is born.
1850 – Edward Walsh, Irish poet (b. 1805), dies.
1868 – Paul Claudel, France, diplomat/poet, is born.
1889 – John Middleton Murry, English poet (d. 1957), is born.
1996 – Buland Al Haidary, poet, dies at 69.
The snail, low spiral of the soil
when confronted by a carping critic
retreats into its stairway coil
of convoluted system theoretic.
—from “The Snail” by Paul Claudel, 1868–1955
Lord Mayor Makes Sinead Morrissey Belfast's First Poet Laureate
Belfast is to get its first poet laureate as part of the Lord Mayor's plan for the city. The appointment of award-winning poet Sinead Morrissey was announced on Wednesday by the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Mairtin Ó'Muilleoir. Dr Morrissey said although she was interested in politics she does not regard herself as either a nationalist or a unionist. She said loves Belfast and wants her ashes scattered on Belfast Lough. As Poet Laureate, Dr Morrissey will engage the public in poetry, through a series of events, community outreach to art groups, language organisations and minority groups. She has also been commissioned to produce a series of poems about Belfast. Read more at the BBC.
Nuno Júdice Recipient of the Queen Sofia Ibero-American Poetry Prize
Portuguese poet Nuno Júdice, 64, was awarded the 2013 Queen Sofia Ibero-American Poetry Prize, announced Thursday Jose Rodriguez-Spiter, the president of Spain’s National Heritage agency. Considered the most prestigious literary prize in the Ibero-American world, the 42,100-euro ($55,700) cash award recognizes Judice’s complete body of work. Read more at the Portuguese-American Journal.
The Suffering of Others: On Adrienne Rich
Sometime in the 1970s, Adrienne Rich came home with a bagful of groceries, brewed coffee, and daydreamed about her lover. Her stack of mail, however, brought news of a tortured and imprisoned twenty- seven- year- old man. Rich recalled at that moment “my incurable anger, my unmendable wounds . . . I am crying helplessly.” The passage comes from “Twenty- one Love Poems,” and it tells us a great deal about its maker: She bears an almost disabling pity for the wounded, the downtrodden, the oppressed, the abused. Read more at Virginia Quarterly Online.
by Jason Bredle
Almost fifteen years ago, as an MFA student at the University of Michigan, I shuffled into a now defunct Ann Arbor bookstore to see Bob Hicok read for the first time. I can still recall a few details of that experience: there were about a dozen in attendance, none of whom were from the MFA program; I was seated behind two girls in Big Johnson t-shirts, which seemed dated even at the time; and Hicok totally killed it, but the audience didn’t appear to get it, otherwise he would have been inundated with screaming fans wanting a piece of him to take home afterwards, rather than quietly sitting alone as if waiting for someone to tell him it was okay to go home now. Read more at Coldfront.
Translation of Giacomo Leopardi's Zibaldone Published
by Lizzy Davies
Schopenhauer referred to him as his "spiritual brother"; Italians consider him one of their greatest ever intellects, and his thoughts have been said to "go beyond those of every other European man of letters, from Goethe to Paul Valéry". Yet, despite these many accolades, the 19th-century poet and philosopher Giacomo Leopardi remains unknown in the mainstream anglophone world. Read more at The Guardian.
Home, Where the Art Is
by Kirsten Kaschock
What is home but heart(h)? Stephen Burt’s Belmont has many arterial paths one might follow from first poem (“Poem of Nine A.M.”) to last (“Butterfly with Parachute”), thoroughfares though fatherhood and the Boston outskirts, through persistent longing and the rejection of regret. Burt has a talent for sonic cataloguing: a musical, list-based analysis of both a specific sort of life and of the accessories of that life “whose troubles//are troubles we’re lucky to have.” But I will not start with these—Belmont’s strongest currents. Instead, I’ll open the book at its center, its fitful heart. It is its arrhythmia that most surely locates me inside this collection, the moments when the steady beat of suburban autobiography slips away and some other music begins to pulse, irregular and thready. Read more at Open Letters Monthly.
“As we get older, and stop making sense. . . . ”
by Jeff Sypeck
English teachers make great idols. Rich kids who can’t pursue their dreams should kill themselves. Such are the awful lessons of Dead Poets Society, a movie I love to hate—not only because real-life English teachers are dubious exemplars, but also because the movie takes too much glee in damning “Dr. J. Evans Pritchard, Ph.D,” the textbook author who supposedly reduces the evaluation of poems to a simple trick of geometry. Not even my worst English teachers would have endorsed the idea, so I assumed such a book didn’t and couldn’t exist—until I discovered the real Dr. Pritchard, but found that he’s hardly as bad as he seems. Read more at Quid Plura.
Call to Action – Kazakh Poet Aron Atabek: A Prison Within a Prison
The Kazakh poet Aron Atabek has been in prison since 2007. He has been placed in solitary confinement for two years as punishment for writing a book that criticizes President Nursultan Nazarbayev, and is due for return to the general prison population at the end of 2014. He has previously spent two years in solitary confinement for refusing to wear a prison uniform: one third of his incarceration so far has been spent in isolation. Both the UN Human Rights Committee and the UN Committee against Torture have concluded that prolonged solitary confinement may amount to torture. Read more at PEN International.
Drafts & Framents
Poet Available (Hillsborough)
Poet available to begin work immediately. Capable in rhyme and meter, fluent in traditional and contemporary forms. Quotidian observations available at standard rate of $15/hour; occasional verse at slightly higher rate of $17/hour. Incomprehensible garbage $25/hour. Angst extra. Read more at Craigslist.
Ten Years of Flarf Poetry
By Bruce Sterling
“1. The Big Ugly Thing That Totally Ruined Poetry
“Squid, nuthatch urethras, pizza kitties, unicorn boners and unicorn believers, 9/11 and the Iraq War: some basic ingredients of flarf, in case you hadn’t already noticed. Oh, and rage. Rage was definitely a factor. And Google — I almost forgot about Google! But Google seems, oddly, to have not been the most important thing about flarf from my perspective, and my perspective, twelve years on, is: flarf is dead, long live flarf. Read more at Wired.
Poetry In The News
23 People Who Will Make You Care About Poetry in 2013
Rare Poe-m Sells for $300,000 at Marion Auction
Halting Steps: Collected and New Poems by Claribel Alegria
[Paperback] Curbstone Books, 264 pp., $19.95
Halting Steps represents the most complete single-volume retrospective in English of Claribel Alegría’s seven-decade career. The volume collects all of Alegría’s poems from her fourteen previously published books and debuts several new poems under the title “Otherness.”
Vestigial by Page Hill Starzinger
[Paperback] Barrow Street Press, 72 pp., $16.95
The velocity of the author's insights stuns the reader: we follow, bewitched, into synaptical leaps that seem impossible to sustain, yet are sustained and unstoppable. Vestigial is a virtuoso performance, learned in the extreme, yet also eloquently empathetic. Unfold your hands,/fall a/part; she writes. And we open the page and fall a/part then are re-made, wholly. --Carol Muske-Dukes
Part of the Darkness by David J. Rothman
The Boss by Victoria Chang
Everything Begins Elsewhere by Tishani Doshi
Gifts and Questions – An Interview with Anne Carson
by Kevin McNeilly
KM The first thing I want to ask you is about interviews. We’ve been seeing your picture on magazine covers, and you’ve been interviewed quite a bit recently; some of your recent books from Autobiography of Red to Men In the Off Hours have interviews in them. Read more at Unsaid Magazine.
The Quest of a Lifetime
by Harry Eyres
A few weeks ago the BBC’s political editor Nick Robinson eulogised the newly retired Sir Alex Ferguson as “the greatest living Briton”. “Most successful football manager of modern times” might seem a more accurate and less hyperbolic description. The truth is that most claims involving the double epithet “greatest living” are dubious. But I think that few would deny the title of France’s greatest living poet to Yves Bonnefoy, who celebrates his 90th birthday later this month, and who says that “to call oneself a poet ... would be pretentious. Poet is a word one can use when speaking of others, if one admires them sufficiently.” Read more at the Financial Times.
Envoi: Editor's Notes
Just a note to let you know that Poetry News in Review will not be issued next week. The editor will be on vacation: reading, talking, eating, doing yardwork, and sleeping (not necessarily in that order). Unless lethargy sets in, we ought to be back up and running the following week.