Poetry News In Review
who rarely dozes, the attaché
that sometimes imposes,
all the sprites who sprint
through the high supposes,
the patient saint who aspires
to a heaven which encloses,
and, especially, the touched one
committed to the asylum
and penitentiary of roses.
—from "The Savant of Sunflowers, The Apprentice of Roses" by Diane Ackerman
Noted Syrian poet Adonis, whose name surfaces regularly as a top contender for the Nobel literature prize, says religious fanaticism is "destroying the heart of the Arab world", but sees salvation in poetry. The 86-year-old lives in exile and is equally scathing about the West's role in the conflict in his homeland which has claimed more than 300,000 lives over five years. "The Americans are not looking for solutions, they are seeking problems," he told AFP in an interview at the Gothenburg Book Fair.
Pleas to Turkish authorities to halt its repressive crackdown on freedom of speech are going unheeded, PEN International said today, as the organization expressed concern about developments in Turkey over the past week including the detentions of Murat Özyaşar, a renowned writer and academic, and poet Renas Jiyan. PEN International is calling for the release of all journalists and other writers held solely on account of their peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly and for those detained to be protected from torture and other ill-treatment.
Former Israeli President Shimon Peres, who died on Wednesday, was said to be an admirer of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru and a supporter of India’s bid on the UN Security Council. But there was another Indian who had affected him deeply-the poet Nissim Ezekiel. Peres had come across Ezekiel’s poem Acceptance and was said to love it so much that he often quoted it in his public lectures. Nissim Ezekiel belonged to the minuscule Bene Israeli community of Jews found mainly in western India.
Sharp Blue Search of Flame by Zilka Joseph
by Saleem Peeradina
If the American critic Stephen Burt’s precepts for reading new poetry—look for a persona and a world, not for an argument or a plot—are to be heeded, then Zilka Joseph’s first book eminently meets those criteria. In addition to a distinct persona inhabiting a world of dual cultures, Joseph also makes an argument.
Blake Within Blake Within Blake Without End
by Harold Lloyd
Drafts & Framents
Poets University [infographic]
by Joanne Jeffries and Julian Yanover
Poetry In The News
David Budbill, whose pared-down, plain-dress poems about his remote corner of northern Vermont found a national audience thanks to Garrison Keillor, died on Sept. 25 at his home in Montpelier, Vt. He was 76. The cause was progressive supranuclear palsy, a rare form of Parkinson’s disease, his publisher, Copper Canyon Press, said in a statement.
Two new films honor literature as a life-saving force, presenting poets as heroic protagonists who either wield mighty pens against swords or simply capture some of life’s most intimate moments in passages of carefully-crafted prose. The stories of Jim Jarmusch’s “Paterson” and Pablo Larrain’s “Neruda” (both of which will screen at the New York Film Festival and open in theatres later this year) use poetry to define their central figures, even when society might view them through the prism of their day jobs.
Four Reincarnations: Poems by Max Ritvo
[Hardcover] Milkweed Editions, 96 pp., $22.00
My Private Property by Mary Ruefle
[Hardcover] Wave Books, 128 pp., $25.00
The Rain in Portugal:Poems by Billy Collins
[Hardcover] Random House, 128 pp., $26.00
Prayer Book of the Anxious by Josephine Yu
[Paperback] Elixir Press, 96 pp., $17.00
Landscape with Headless Mama: Poems by Jennifer Givhan
[Paperback] LSU Press, 80 pp., $17.95
Max Ritvo: “It takes a ton of chutzpah to reincarnate.”
An interview with the poet Max Ritvo about illness, improvisation, and his first book, published posthumously next week.
by Sarah Ruhl
by Kaveh Akbar
Billy Collins on Being an Only Child, and Why Majoring in Poetry Is Like Majoring in Death
The former U.S. Poet Laureate describes his inspiration for a new poem, taken from his solitary childhood
by Barbara Chai
The Wall Street Journal examines the poem, “Only Child,” by Billy Collins, from his new book, “The Rain in Portugal” (Random House, Oct. 4). Below the poem, Collins describes his inspiration for the poem, how his poems are accessible to readers, and why studying poetry is like studying death.
Envoi: Editor's Notes
In honor of Diane Ackerman on her birthday, a quote from her book An Alchemy of Mind: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain:
“Metaphor isn't just decorative language. If it were, it wouldn't scare us so much. . . . Colorful language threatens some people, who associate it, I think, with a kind of eroticism (playing with language in public = playing with yourself), and with extra expense (having to sense or feel more). I don't share that opinion. Why reduce life to a monotone? Is that truer to the experience of being alive? I don't think so. It robs us of life's many textures. Language provides an abundance of words to keep us company on our travels. But we're losing words at a reckless pace, the national vocabulary is shrinking. Most Americans use only several hundred words or so. Frugality has its place, but not in the larder of language. We rely on words to help us detail how we feel, what we once felt, what we can feel. When the blood drains out of language, one's experience of life weakens and grows pale. It's not simply a dumbing down, but a numbing.” ― Diane Ackerman