Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

Poetry News In Review

November 14, 2012

Poetry News In Review

Edited By David Sanders

Specimen Days

November 14, 2012

1511 – Janus Secundus, neo-latin poet, is born.
1556 – Giovanni della Casa, Italian poet (b. 1504), dies.

1779 – Adam Gottlob Oehlenschläger, Danish poet (d. 1850), is born.

1877 – René de Clerq, Flemish poet/author, is born.

1878 – Leopold Staff, Polish poet (d. 1957), is born.

1910 – Norman MacCaig, poet, is born.

1962 – Manuel Galvez, Argentina writer/poet, dies at 80.

Norman MacCaig

It's hard to think that the earth is one —
This poor sad bearer of wars and disasters
Rolls-Roycing round the sun with its load of gangsters,
Attended only by the loveless moon.

—from “Stars and Planets” by Norman MacCaig (1910–1996)

World Poetry

Jacques Dupin, Art Scholar and Poet, Dies at 85

Jacques Dupin, a poet, art critic and cultural eminence in France whose influence straddled the avant-garde literary world and the commercial market in paintings and sculptures by major 20th-century artists, died on Oct. 27 at his home in Paris. He was 85. Read more at the New York Times.

Farmers Harvest a Crop of Poetry

Words help provide a refuge from harsh rural reality, Peng Yining reports in Xiji, Ningxia. For 30 years, potato farmer Zhang Lian plowed his fields during the day and wrote poetry at night. In the harsh environment of Northwest China's Ningxia Hui autonomous region, writing was his only hope and provided a source of spiritual solace, said the 45-year-old. Read more at China Daily.

Iñupiaq Poet's Visit Starts PoetryNorth Events in Kotzebue, Nome and Barrow

While many would say the landscape of the Arctic with all its extremes is prime fodder for prose, aspiring poets in the region have few sources of inspiration when it comes to Native poets — published ones, anyway. But two well-known Native poets, as well as the 2012 state writer laureate, will visit the Arctic region this winter as part of a collaborative program called PoetryNorth. Read more at Alaska Dispatch.

Recent Reviews

Verses Wielded Like a Razor

by Dwight Gardner

The most brutal and sorrow-filled book of American poetry published in the last 25 years, I’ve long felt, is Louise Glück’s Ararat (1990). It’s confessional and a bit wild, but intellectually formidable. It’s her Blood on the Tracks. A gifted dramatist could strip Ararat and the two excellent books that followed it, The Wild Iris (1992) and Meadowlands (1996), of their withering observations and nearly construct a play around them. You simply stand back and witness the carnage. Read more at the New York Times.

Erudition as Disguise

by Philip Belcher

On occasion, an eager and adept reader happens upon a poetry collection that satisfies immediately. The lyric intensity of individual poems may carry the volume, or the narrative arc may be so compelling and taut that the reader shelves the collection knowing where the journey has taken her and that she’s been accompanied by a reliable guide. The Chameleon Couch is not one of those collections.  Read more at Shenandoah.

Sailing to Babylon by James Pollock

by Michael Lista

Be it resolved that henceforth the following are off-limits to Canadian poets indefinitely: Tom Thomson, Glenn Gould (and his Chickering piano), fishing (especially as a metaphor), the Northwest Passage, the Franklin Expedition and birdsong. Step away from the wood stove; give us instead the poem Christian Bök has challenged us to write, whose action revolves around the word “microwaveable.” Dear Don McKay, I want to read “The Song for the Song of the SR-71 Blackbird.” Find and replace: “Henry Hudson” with “Felix Baumgartner.” Read more at the National Post.

Broadsides

Second Acts: A Second Look at Second Books of Poetry

by Lisa Russ Spaar

A second book of poems isn’t exactly like the under-photographed second child, the salutatorian, the beauty pageant runner-up, the bridesmaid, the vice-president, the associate chair, the jumped-the-shark television sit-com or movie sequel, the silver medalist, or the second largest car rental company with corporate motto “We try Harder.” But accompanying the writing, publication, notice, and shelf-life of second books of poems are a flock of anxieties, expectations, and other social, cultural, economic, and circumstantial forces that can often lead to their being overlooked and under-reviewed.  Read more at the LA Review of Books.

The Veil: Laura Mullen’s Parapornographic Bride

by Johannes 

At a recent panel on “the poetics of kitsch” at the Poet’s House in NYC with Sianne Ngai, Daniel Tiffany and Joyelle, I talked, among other things, about this video by Laura Mullen. I talked about Timothy Morton’s idea of a “Dark Ecology”: “… a sugary sentimentality whose gaze is down, as opposed to the sublime upward gaze of the masculine mountain-climber…. The Ancient Mariner and Frankenstein are gothic and tacky. The tacky is the anaesthetic (unaesthetic) property of kitsch: glistening, plasticized, inert, tactile, sticky…  Read more at Montevidayo.

Poetryland or Coleslaw

by Jordan Davis 

The correct answer, when asked about any poet living or dead, is “I love them.” Ask any poet you’ve ever heard of about any other poet you’ve ever heard of, and if they know what’s good for them, that’s how they’ll respond. (If they don’t, you probably won’t hear of them much longer, at least not about their poetry.) Read more at The Best American Poetry.

Drafts & Fragments

Brazilian Poet Masterfully Mines Beauty from a Hard Earth and a Tough Past

by Amy Wilder

To be a poet is to communicate that which lies beyond the boundary of words. A poet stalks truth, encircling but never quite approaching it directly, weaving across it a net of language that gives implied form to the intangible, and allows a reader to infer the shape within. Brazilian poet Salgado Maranhão is a master of his native tongue. He does not simply use Portuguese in a conventional way; he reshapes and bends the syllables to his will to elicit from his audience deeper levels of understanding. Read more at the Columbia Tribune.

How Is Google Like Poetry? Let Me Autocomplete the Ways

by Matt Petronzio

Remember those magnets that had random words and phrases written on them, helping you to create works of poetry on your fridge? Well, now there’s a new way to put together snippets of poetic genius — and all from your web browser. The Tumblr blog Google Poetics documents autocompleted search terms as if Google were writing a poem on relevant topics. Read more at Mashable.

Poetry In The News

Poet Laureate Launches Major Poetry and Museums Project

Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy has invited ten of the best UK poets writing today to take part in an unprecedented series of residencies at the University of Cambridge, supported by Arts Council England. Read more at Research News.

T.S. Eliot's Widow Valerie Eliot Dies at 86
Valerie Eliot

Valerie Eliot, the widow of T.S. Eliot and zealous guardian of the poet's literary legacy for almost half a century, has died. She was 86. In a statement Sunday, the Eliot estate said Valerie Eliot died two days before at her London home after a short illness. Read more at the New York Times.

New Books

Poems 1962-2012 by Louise Glück

[Hardcover] Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 656 pp., $40.00

It is the astonishment of Louise Glück’s poetry that it resists collection. With each successive book her drive to leave behind what came before has grown more fierce, the force of her gaze fixed on what has yet to be imagined. She invented a form to accommodate this need, the book-length sequence of poems, like a landscape seen from above, a novel with lacunae opening onto the unspeakable. 

 

Family Portrait: American Prose Poetry, 1900-1950 edited by Robert Alexander

[Paperback] White Pine Press, 340 pp., $20.00

The groundbreaking anthology of prose poetry collects over sixty voices including such well-known figures as Sherwood Anderson, William Lisle Bowles, Kay Boyle, e. e. cummings, H.D., Robert Duncan, T. S. Eliot, William Faulkner, Earnest Hemingway, Robert Lowell, Kenneth Patchen, Riding Jackson, Gertrude Stein, Jean Toomer, Thornton Wilder, and William Carlos Williams.

Blacksnake at the Family Reunion: Poems by David Huddle

[Paperback] Louisiana State University Press, 72 pp., $17.95

Blacksnake at the Family Reunion continues Huddle's ongoing poetic inquiry into the power of early childhood and family to infuse adulthood with sadness and despair, an inquiry conducted with profound empathy for the fragility of humankind.

Selected Poems by Dannie Abse

[Paperback] Sheep Meadow, 192 pp., $15.95

"Dannie Abse is a Welsh lyrical poet and medical doctor with a choirmaster's ear for language. Readers will hear, where there is narrative in these poems, a sometimes distant, sometimes nearby Welsh-English sound—call it pitch, call it history. And where there is song, something other—passages particularly beautiful in a language that is extra-English. There is mystical, moral sunlight in Abse's poetry. This important book consists of poems selected by him from most of his lifetime's work." —Stanley Moss 

Correspondences

Maureen McLane

by Adam Fitzgerald

Poetry criticism in our time has suffered a steady marginalization of print attention, to the greater disadvantage of poets, poetry enthusiasts, and the general reader. Even so, the last generation’s kingmakers—Harold Bloom and Helen Vendler—have loosened their grip on reliably championing the newest and most vital contemporary poetry (yet, of course, here there are exceptions: as evidenced with Marjorie Perloff’s rigorous, at times monotone, championing of conceptual poetics practiced today). Interestingly, many of the noted next-generation critics such as Stephen Burt and William Logan, whatever one makes of their too-soft or too-hard sells, are poets themselves.  Read more at the Brooklyn Rail.

Visiting Poet Inspired by Southern Cooking and the Blues

by Jennifer Li

Last Friday, as part of the Lindsay J. Cropper Memorial Writers Series, poet Kevin Young began his reading with Gertrude Stein’s poem “Susie Asado.” “Sweet sweet sweet sweet sweet tea./ Susie Asado,” the poem begins. As part of the collection of food poems that Young published under his name as editor, the poem embodied those written by the poet himself in its concentration on sound. With a slighter repetition, Young’s inspiration draws from a variety of musical influences. Including but not limited to, the poet draws aspects from the music of Johnny Cash and Amy Winehouse, as well as poets Emily Dickinson and Langston Hughes. Read more at The Vista.

Ko Un's First Person Sorrowful Offers a Window into an Extraordinary Life

by Alison Flood

Ko Un, Korea's most famous poet, ended an interview on Saturday not with a poem, but a song. This octogenarian stood up in front of a room full of people and began to sing, at first quietly, then belting it out. There was absolute silence when he finished. It was an extraordinary ending to what had been a glimpse into a most extraordinary life. Read more at the Guardian.

Envoi: Editor's Notes

Ferlinghetti's Age of Enlightenment

This letter from Lawrence Ferlinghetti was on the New Directions blog a few days ago. It isn't there now, but parts of it can still be found on other sites on the web.

 

Dear Red States:

We're ticked off at your Neanderthal attitudes and politics and we've decided we're leaving. We intend to form our own country and we're taking the other Blue States with us.

In case you aren't aware that includes Washington, California, Hawaii, Oregon, New York, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and the rest of the Northeast.

We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation and especially to the people of the new country of The Enlightened States of America (E.S.A).

To sum up briefly:

You get Texas, Oklahoma, and all the former slave states. We get Andrew Cuomo and Elizabeth Warren. You get Bobby Jindal and Todd Akin.

We get stem cell research and the best beaches. We get the Statue of Liberty. You get OpryLand.

We get Apple, Intel, and Microsoft. You get WorldCom. We get Harvard and Stanford. You get Ole' Miss.

We get 85% of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama.

We get two-thirds of the tax revenue. You get to make the red states pay their fair share.

Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22% lower than the Christian Coalition's, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms.

With the Blue States in hand we will have firm control of 80% of the country's fresh water, more than 90% of the pineapple and lettuce, 92% of the nation's fresh fruit, 95% of America's quality wines (you can serve French wines at state dinners), 90% of all cheese, 90% of the high tech industry, most of the US low sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias, and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools plus Stanford, Cal Tech, and MIT.

With the Red States you will have to cope with 88% of all obese Americans and their projected health care costs, 92% of all US mosquitoes, nearly 100% of the tornadoes, 90% of the hurricanes, 99% of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100% of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson, and the University of Georgia.

We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.

38% of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62% believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44% say that evolution is only a theory, 53% that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61% of you crazy bastards believe you are people with higher morals then we lefties.

We're taking the good weed too. You can have that crap they grow in Mexico.

 

Sincerely,

Citizen of the Enlightened States of America

————————————————————

 

Not to put too fine a point on it, but wouldn't a truly enlightened view recognize that the United States is actually fifty shades of purple?

 

—David Sanders

 

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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
Kenneth Fearing
Geoffrey Hill
Sandro Penna
Lorca
Juan Ramon Jimenez
Julia Randall
Emily Dickinson
Gary Snyder
Yannis Ritsos
Robert Penn Warren
Aime Cesaire
Bella Akhmadulina
George Herbert
Louis Simpson
Gerard Malanga
Mahmoud Darwish
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Kostis Palama
Auden
A.M. Klein
David Ignatow
Langston Hughes
Carriera Duke
Jon Stallworthy