February 12, 2013

Edited by David Sanders

Filed under: Poetry News in Review |

Specimen Days

February 12, 2013

1567 – Thomas Campion, England, composer/poet/physician, is born.

1584 – Casparus Barleaus, Flemish theologist/poet (Muiderkring), is born.

1777 – Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué, German poet (d. 1843), is born.

1828 – George Meredith, England, poet/novelist (Shaving of Shagpat), is born.

1865 – Kazimierz P. Tetmajer, Polish writer/poet (Young Poland), is born.
1901 – Ramon de Campoamor bon Campoosorio, Spanish poet (Colon), dies at 83.

1924 – Hans Berghuis, Dutch author/poet (3 Women, Adam), is born.
1980 – Muriel Rukeyser, American poet (b. 1913), dies.

Lift up your face, my love, lift up your mouth,

Kiss me and come to bed

And do not bow your mouth,

Longer on what is bad or what is good –

The dead are terribly misunderstood,

And sin and godhead are in the worm’s blind eye,

We’ll come to averages by and by.

—from “Drunken Girl” by Muriel Rukeyser (1913–1980)

Poetry In The News

Golden PEN for Dub Poet

The UK-based dub poet, Linton Kwesi Johnson has been awarded this year’s Golden PEN award. The award, by the English division of the prestigious worldwide association of Poets, Essayists and Novelists (PEN), is awarded annually to “a writer whose work has given both pleasure to readers and inspiration to their fellow writers.” Read more at New Europe.

The Poet Who Brought You Some Freedom of Speech

While we celebrate our singers and actors and, therefore, our songwriters and screenwriters, poetry is one of the hidden arts of American English. Chris Felver's charming new documentary Ferlinghetti: A Rebirth of Wonder is about an orphan who volunteered for the Navy out of patriotism but then became disgusted with war during a visit to Nagasaki six weeks after the bomb was dropped. Read more at the Huffington Post.

UT Arlington Professor, Graduate Student Discover Poem Written by 18th Century Slave from New York

A University of Texas at Arlington English professor and his doctoral student have discovered a never-before published, handwritten manuscript by Jupiter Hammon, an 18th century slave from Long Island, N.Y., who many scholars consider one of the founders of early African-American literature. Jupiter Hammon, an 18th century slave on Long Island, NY, wrote "An Essay on Slavery" around 1786. Read more at UTA News Center.

World Poetry

Poet Fights to Maintain Mongolia’s Nomadic Culture

A tribute to the recently deceased poet, translator and essayist Ruben Bonifaz is prepared by the National Council for Culture and the Arts (Conaculta) and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Through a joint statement by the two institutions, it was reported that its holders, Rafael Tovar y José Narro Robles, respectively, agreed to hold a ceremony to pay tribute to the poet and promote permanent awareness of his work. Read more at Prensa Latina.

The Poet and Politician: Who was Chokri Belaid?

Since opposition figure Chokri Belaid was assassinated yesterday morning, Tunisia has been thrown into total turmoil. Political violence is rare in Tunisia, so the assassination targeting a household name and performed in such spectacular style — Belaid was shot four times at point blank range by an unknown gunman outside his home — shook Tunisians to the core. Read more at Think Africa Press.

New Books

A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying by Laurie Ann Guerrero

[Paperback] University of Notre Dame Press, 72 pp., $15.00

“This is the poetry of both saints and sinners (and even murderers). The poet conjures up Pablo Neruda, Gloria Anzaldúa, Sylvia Plath, and is rooted in the best Latin American, Chicano/a, and contemporary American poetics, able to render an effective poetic version of Nepantla, the land where different traditions meet, according to Anzaldúa. These poems make the reader laugh, cry, cringe, lose one’s breath, and almost one’s mind, at times.” —Francisco X. Alarcón

Upriver by Carolyn Kremers

[Paperback] University of Alaska Press, 60 pp., $14.95

“How seemingly simple are the poems in Upriver, yet how profound; how dreamlike, yet how charged with reality, immediately and firmly grounded in the earth and human experience. The themes of this poetry are basic and multifaceted, the voice rich and resonant. I thank Carolyn Kremers for bringing this world, her world, in this way, in these words, to all of us.”—Pattiann Rogers

58 Poems by Stephen Berg

[Paperback] Sheep Meadow, 80 pp., $16.00

"From Joyce to Morrison, the great accomplishment of the twentieth century was to establish what a Writer is. Not many are left, but Berg is squarely among them."—Hayden Carruth 

Selvage by Donna Johnson

[Paperback] Carnegie Mellon, 96 pp., $15.95

Threaded with the colors and textures of the small-town South, this startling first collection by Donna Johnson opens up a world of unwashed secrets and messy truths, the sometimes unflattering iterations of "self" that emerge as a lifetime unspools. 

The Collected Poems of Ai with an introduction by Yusef Komunyakaa

[Hardcover] W. W. Norton & Company, 464 pp., $35.00

Before her untimely death in 2010, Ai, known for her searing dramatic monologues, was hailed as “one of the most singular voices of her generation”. Now for the first time, all eight books by this essential and uniquely American poet have been gathered in one volume. 

Recent Reviews

The Progressive Puritan

Revisiting the Poems of Marianne Moore

by Siobhan Phillips

Marianne Moore is always hiding in plain sight. She is the paradoxical radical, either distracting the reader from her traditionalism with avant-garde trappings or concealing rebellion in prim camouflage. She picketed for women’s rights and voted for Herbert Hoover. She distrusted the “obscenities” in William Carlos Williams and encouraged the “ability” in Allen Ginsberg. She breathed horror of “a sodomite” to one lesbian friend and signed letters to another “your affectionate albino-dactyl.” Read more at the Boston Review.

The Collected Poems of Ai

by David Cooper 

For more than half a century most mainstream, accessible, non-experimental, American poetry has been autobiographical. But where other poets zigged the poet whose penname was Ai and whose legal name was Florence Ai Ogawa zagged; for four decades preceding her death from breast cancer at age 62 in 2010 she mostly wrote persona poems: first person dramatic narratives in the voices of fictional or historical characters. Now that W. W. Norton has collected all eight of her books of poetry in a single volume readers can more easily see the evolution of her poetic oeuvre over those four decades from the short, intense, sexually frank and graphically violent poems of her early books to the longer, more discursive narrative poems of her later work, though violence remained an important element throughout. Read more at the New York Journal of Books.

The Pike: Gabriele D’Annunzio – Poet, Seducer & Preacher of War by Lucy Hughes-Hallett – Review

by Ian Birrell

When Liane de Pougy, one of the most celebrated Parisian courtesans, visited Florence, a famous admirer sent a carriage filled with roses to collect her. As she descended the steps, his servants threw more roses at her. "There before me was a frightful gnome with red-rimmed eyes and no eyelashes, no hair, greenish teeth, bad breath, the manners of a mountebank and the reputation, nevertheless, for being a ladies' man." This was none other than Gabriele D'Annunzio, the poet and lothario who seduced Italy to wartime slaughter with his rhetoric, scandalized Europe with his writing and set up his own city state in a forerunner of fascism. Read more at the Guardian.

Dialogos: Paired Poems in Translation by George Kalogeris

by Daniel Bosch

Scene: The hilltop retreat of the ascetic Skepticus, high above the City. Small, uneven open space amid rocks, center. A rocky path leads upstage left, and, eventually, down the hill. Entrance to a small cave downstage center right. Enter urbane Fidelis, leaning on a hiking stick, his sandals dusty and his toga burr-spangled. He crosses, slowly, down the path from upstage left toward center. Read more at The Rumpus.


R. T. Smith Evokes Flannery O’Connor

by Sarah Tschiggfrie

In his new book of poetry, "The Red Wolf: A Dream of Flannery O'Connor," (Louisiana Literature Press, Jan. 2013) R.T. Smith gives voice to, if not the actual O'Connor, then a possible O'Connor or even a probable O'Connor. The kinship Smith felt with O'Connor began with proximity, since he lived on a farm in Griffin, Ga. close to where O'Connor lived on a family farm in Milledgeville, Ga. The Smith family had no idea that the famous American writer lived close by. "So it was proximity, but also literary appetite, admiration, envy, curiosity—a whole kettle of fish," Smith wrote in the book's introduction. Read more at WLU News and Media.

“Victory Goes to the Bold”: Erin Belieu, Cofounder of VIDA, Our Scholarship Partner

by Theo Pauline Nestor

On the heels of our announcement of the Cheryl Strayed/VIDA Scholarship last week, today I’m talking to Erin Belieu,  Co-founder of VIDA, the organization who will be choosing the scholarship recipient.  VIDA is a literary organization that “seeks to explore critical and cultural perceptions of writing by women through meaningful conversation and the exchange of ideas among existing and emerging literary communities.”  Since 2010, VIDA has been conducting “The Count,” which tracks the rate of publication of women writers compared to that of their male counterparts. Read more at Wild Mountain Memoir.


Dazzling and Tremendous

by Daniel Evans Pritchard

Insanity and poetry are old kin. The number of canonical poets who suffered from mental illness is immense: Blake, Holderlin, Pound, Plath, Lowell, Berryman, Hill, to name just a few. The distinction between insanity and genius is typically judged by the extent of an artist's transgressions as well as their social class. The blue-blood can afford his or her illness. A struggling mother or teacher is suffocated by it. And although poets may be granted some leniency, they're hardly alone. Many vocations provide a similar amount of societal absolution, from obsessive-compulsive computer programmers to sociopathic business executives and egomaniacal radio hosts. Read more at Critical Flame.

Finding Poetry in Cancer

by Tara Parker-Pope 

When Kyle Potvin learned she had breast cancer at the age of 41, she tracked the details of her illness and treatment in a journal. But when it came to grappling with issues of mortality, fear and hope, she found that her best outlet was poetry. Read more at the New York Times.

Drafts & Fragments

Most Famous War Poem — “For the Fallen” — For Sale at Bonhams

Bonhams is to sell a copy of the last and most famous stanza of For the Fallen which begins, “They shall grow not old”, handwritten by its author, Lawrence Binyon. It will feature in Part I of The Roy Davids Collection Part III: Poetry: Poetical Manuscripts and Portraits of Poets at Bonhams New Bond Street on 10 April offered at auction and is estimated at £5,000-8,000. Read more at Art Daily.

Two Uncollected Poems by Paul Celan

As I work on commentaries for my collected Paul Celan translations (not a Complete Collected Celan, just all my translations starting with Breathturn) a few poems never included in any volume, though now gathered in the German Collected Editions, seemed relevant to include among the annotations. Read more at Nomadics.

Get a Free Copy of Poetry Magazine

The Poetry Foundation will offer free copies of Poetry magazine in celebration of National Poetry Month 2013. Sign up online to receive your free copy. Individuals, book clubs and reading groups must send in a request by March 24th.  Please note that each recipient (individuals or groups) will receive up to ten free copies only. Read more at Media Bistro.

Envoi: Editor’s Notes

From the archives of others:

“Poets are always taking the weather so seriously.” —J. D. Salinger

—David Sanders