Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

Poetry News In Review

December 23, 2016
David Sanders

Specimen Days

1597—Martin Opitz, Germany, poet "Father of Modern German Poetry”, is born.
1631—Michael Drayton, English poet (b. 1563), dies.
1743—Ippolit Bogdanovich, Russian poet (d. 1803), is born.
1819—Jan Jakob Lodewijk ten Kate, Dutch poet and clergyman (d. 1889), is born.
1828—Mathilde Wesendonk, German writer/poet (Tagebuchblatter), is born
1860—Harriet Monroe, poet/editor of Poetry magazine (You & I), born in Chicago, Illinois.
1907—Manuel Lopes, Cape Verdean writer and poet (d. 2005), is born
1926—Robert Bly, US, poet/editor/translator (Loving a Woman in 2 Worlds), is born.
1955—Carol Ann Duffy, Scottish poet (British Poet Laureate 2009-), born in Glasgow.

 

The most unusual thing I ever stole? A snowman.
Midnight. He looked magnificent; a tall, white mute
beneath the winter moon. I wanted him, a mate
with a mind as cold as the slice of ice
within my own brain. I started with the head.
Better off dead than giving in, not taking
what you want. He weighed a ton; his torso,
frozen stiff, hugged to my chest, a fierce chill
piercing my gut. Part of the thrill was knowing
that children would cry in the morning. Life's tough.

—from “Stealing” by Carol Ann Duffy

World Poetry

Emirati Poet Held for Writing Poems about Sexual Acts

An Emirati poet allegedly misused his social media accounts to publish poems that breached public morality. Authorities in Abu Dhabi are taking legal action against the writer, known as the "poet of the senses" (Shaa'ir Al Ahasees in Arabic) for misusing social media. According to a statement issued by the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, the poet is reported to have published a poem, which is contrary to the UAE's social values, ethics and religion.

Recent Reviews

ShallCross by C.D. Wright
by Katy Lederer

C.D. Wright, who died unexpectedly in January of this year, was the author of sixteen published volumes of writing, including this posthumous collection, which, according to the opening page of this beautiful hard-backed edition, she edited shortly before she passed on. As with other of her works, crime is a repeating theme here, corpses, violation—the sacred and profane of life and death. The title of the book itself is a fulcrum, “shall” being for Wright a typically archaic and gentle formulation of human will, and “cross” a word indicative of spiritual transition, neither here nor there, a symbol of self-sacrifice and burden. In much of her work, Wright was taken with prisons, literal and figurative, and the works in ShallCross, particularly the two-columned, crime-procedural section, “Breathtaken,” elaborate upon this central theme.

In the Direction of Falling Apart: A Review of Disaster by Madison Davis
by Jamie Townsend

When I lived in New York between the summer of 2012 and the winter of 2015 I worked as a bookseller at the Tenement Museum, an immigration history destination spot, situated in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Every day I was tasked to recommend books to the streams of tourists cycling through the visitor center and shop – books that unreservedly praised the uniqueness and vitality of the American experiment New York exemplified, as well as books that outlined in lurid detail the innumerable disasters, both large and small, that continue to meter the city’s history.

The Year in Poetry: Anne Carson’s Funny but Bleak ‘Float’ Stands Out
In a year of stocktaking, the most revelatory books were anthologies and selections
by John McAuliffe

Anne Carson’s Float (Cape, £16.99) collects 22 pamphlets in a clear slipcase, including poems about the death of her older brother (which she so memorably wrote about in Nox (2010)), brilliant litanies which draw on Ancient Greek poets and 20th-century visual art (and, in one case, the instruction manual for her microwave), funny, theatrical poems for Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed, and cross-genre essays, including the reflection on Francis Bacon, Variations on the Right to Remain Silent, which was initially commissioned by Belinda McKeon and first performed at the Poetry Now festival in Dún Laoghaire.

Broadsides

The Poetry Project’s Half-Century of Dissent
by Jennifer Krasinski

February 10, 1971, on a Wednesday night in the East Village, a full moon glowed in the wintry sky over St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery. Inside, a group of New York's most cutting-edge scene-makers gathered at the Poetry Project to hear a reading by poet and Warhol aide-de-camp Gerard Malanga. Andy was there, as was Lou Reed, along with poets Gregory Corso, John Giorno, Joe Brainard, and Bernadette Mayer. First up that night was a dark-eyed, lanky young poetess by the name of Patti Smith. An up-and-coming playwright named Sam Shepard, with whom she'd recently become involved, was there in support, as was her closest friend and collaborator, Robert Mapplethorpe.

Drafts & Framents

Gael García Bernal Explores the Political Power of Poetry in His New Film Neruda

"He is the emblem of a whole generation of poets all over the world and of artists all over the world that were very political," says Gael García Bernal of Chilean poet and politician Pablo Neruda. Bernal's latest film Neruda, out this Friday, is a metafictional story based upon the 1948 manhunt of the poet-politician who goes into hiding after Chile outlaws communism. Bernal plays the inspector Óscar Peluchonneau who is tasked with capturing the fugitive.

Poetry In The News

An Ode to Good Health: Poetry Classes Becoming Part of Minnesota Wellness Programs

Prose lovers already embrace the assertion that poetry is medicine. Now the medical world is catching on to the potential healing powers of reading and writing poems. At the HealthPartners Como Clinic in St. Paul, a doctor and a health coach meet regularly with two dozen patients to recite and discuss the works of great poets.

Making a Point by Moving Shakespeare's Portrait

Officials at the University of Pennsylvania want you to know that Shakespeare is "alive and well" at their institution. It's just his portrait that may be less central. But moving a portrait of Shakespeare can set off a debate. And that's what happened when some students removed a large Shakespeare portrait from a staircase that students and faculty members in the English department walk by every day. The students moved the portrait to the English department chair's office and left it there. In place of the Bard, the students put up a photograph of Audre Lorde, the black feminist poet who died in 1992.

New Books

Skeleton Coast by Elizabeth Arnold
[Paperback] Flood Editions, 120 pp., $15.95 


"'What do I see' when I look into the eyes of another? What kind of exchange takes place when that look is returned? The poems in Elizabeth Arnold's devastating SKELETON COAST investigate the ways we are formed by such encounters—especially, at the core of the collection, by encounters with evil in the face of a person one loves, or has loved, or has wanted to love. These poems alternate between spare, psychological explorations and more expansive descriptions of difficult terrain: the Sahara, Egyptian ruins, and the dry riverbeds of the Skeleton Coast in the title sequence. The goal is to read what is truly there, as if we are all wrecks and deserts, to understand our dislocation from the forces that have made us and the sources that might feed us. What is buried is both violence and clarity, 'like a fault deep in the ground / with its / inexact though statistically measurable need / to relieve stress over time.' The vistas and profundities are Jamesian here, the poems scrupulous in their exploration of ethical weights and balances. Each poem is like a delicately fused mechanism, twisting around both still and moving parts, which the reader tracks silently on the way to inevitable, impeccable detonations."—Jennifer Clarvoe

The Night-Watchman's Daughter by Michael Heffernan
[Paperback] Salmon Poetry, 96 pp., $18.00

Lifelong night person Michael Heffernan often writes poems before he can glimpse the rosy-fingered dawn. The title of his twelfth book redounds from poetry itself as a muse who recognizes the poet in the form of a father figure. None of this has much to do with the poems themselves, which belong to the imagination via the unconscious. The act of making the poem happens in its own place, in a time at once past and future, where the present has no space.

The Ghost Manada by Marci Nelligan
[Paperback] Black Radish Books, 104 pp., $17.00

"Marci Nelligan writes: 'I don't know what I am but I am not this body only; every woman a distance from her skin by some measure of the measure of the world.' With Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian as both inspiration and site of interrogation Nelligan considers erasure and displacement of the female body in the ethos of the West. Through alluring lyric and visual poetics she opens doors, hinges, utterances. Read THE GHOST MANADA to learn 'why witches salt their thresholds.' This haunted text resides where words break open 'like feathers ripped from breasts, like beds inside beds—' . This book forges a passage and invokes the gestational, the birth of a necessary equity."—Laynie Browne

Porcelain Pillow by Thomas Meyer 
[Paperback] Lunar Chandelier Collective, 104 pp., $12.00

"Thomas Meyer has built a strong book cunningly wrought from fragile subtleties. His voices veer from praise to analysis, anamnesis to poises, gentle autobiography, quiet distress, overt love poems, moody summonings of wind and weather—read and learn what an immensely learned and experienced poet, author of many important books and valuable translations, can tell you about the long roads of love."—Robert Kelly

The Tornado Is the World by Catherine Pierce
[Paperback] Saturnalia, 80 pp., $16.00

At the heart of Catherine Pierce's much-anticipated third book, a powerful tornado churns, spinning out poems of disaster and love, of sirens and wrecked landscapes, of warnings heeded and not. These poems stare down fear from the inside, and ask what it means to walk straight into a splintering world both profane and sacred.

Correspondences

Shadows of Words: Our Twelfth Annual Look at Debut Poets
by Dana Isokawa

The debut has a certain allure: an air of freshness, the promise of an exciting, original voice. Here is the new. Here is something you haven’t yet heard. And while that certainly might be the case with a poetry debut, it can also be true of a poet’s second, fifth, or tenth book—artistic innovation can happen at any stage in a writer’s life. What does make a debut uniquely exciting, though, is its sense of beginning—that the arc of a poet’s career has just begun, that the ball has just been tossed into the air.

Turkey May Be Going Through Hard Times, but It Remains a Powerhouse of Poetry
Despite the political upheaval and suppression of intellectuals, the country's literary scene flourishes. A conversation with the courageous poet Efe Duyan.
by Benny Ziffer

Sometimes in a climate of oppression lovely flowers of poetry flourish. In that sense, today’s Turkey is a powerhouse of excellent writers who compose strong poetry, political in its own way, protest poetry, which also finds a path to the rest of the world. I interviewed one of them last week. His name is Efe Duyan, a courageous poet.

My Nature Is to Dive: An Interview with Poet Mandy Kahn
by Lois P. Jones

After selling out its original UK edition on Eyewear Publishing, Mandy Kahn’s remarkable first collection of poems, Math, Heaven, Time, is now available in an American paperback edition. In using the word “remarkable,” I do mean that the collection is so extraordinary or exceptional as to invite comment. Or perhaps I should have called it striking, because it certainly impresses itself powerfully and deeply upon the observer’s mind or vision. From the moment I was first introduced to Mandy Kahn and her debut collection, Math, Heaven, Time, at a local Los Angeles reading series curated by Peggy Dobreer, I knew I had encountered a voice beyond the common realm.

Envoi: Editor's Notes

Lessons from the Past: Zbigniew Herbert

“Very early on, near the beginning of my writing life, I came to believe that I had to seize on some object outside of literature. Writing as a stylistic exercise seemed barren to me. Poetry as the art of the word made me yawn. I also understood that I couldn't sustain myself very long on the poems of others. I had to go out from myself and literature, look around in the world and lay hold of other spheres of reality.” - Zbigniew Herbert, Collected Prose

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Faiz Ahmed Faiz
Norman MacCaig
Ezra Pound
Robert Bridges
Robert Herrick
Nicanor Parra
John Betjeman
Ravikovitch
Mary Jo Salter
Rosario Castellanos
Anne Hebert
Ahmad Shamlou
Donald Davie
Verlaine
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Sandro Penna
Lorca
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Mahmoud Darwish
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Kostis Palama
Auden
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Langston Hughes
Carriera Duke
Jon Stallworthy