June 5, 2012

Edited by David Sanders

Filed under: Poetry News in Review |

Specimen Days

June 5, 2012

1888 – Raden Mas Nato Suroto, Indonesia, poet (Melatiknoppen) is born.

1898 – Federico Garcia Lorca, Spain, poet/dramatist (Blood Wedding), is born.

The moon lays a long horn,
of light, on the sea.

Tremoring, ecstatic,
the grey-green unicorn.

The sky floats over the wind,
a huge flower of lotus.

(O you, walking alone,
in the last house of night!)

From “Moon Songs” by Federico Garcia Lorca, 1898–1936

Poetry In The News

Laureate Has Grand Poetic Plans for California

Wearing jeans, green sneakers, a hipster straw bowler and a Buddhist symbol around his neck, the new poet laureate of California opened his weekly poetry workshop at UC Riverside with stretching and breathing exercises. “Let’s detox our cluttered academic brain. That’s what the poet does,” said Juan Felipe Herrera, 63. “People call it daydreaming, detoxing our minds and taking care of that clutter. It’s being able to let in call letters from the poetry universe.” Read more at the Bellingham Herald.

MoMA Celebrates Former Employee Frank O’Hara With “Modern Poets” Series

The Museum of Modern Art is turning out to be quite the poetry patron these days. First, as part of its “Ecstatic Alphabets/Heaps of Language” exhibition, MoMA installed John Giorno’s 1969 piece, Dial-a-Poem, in which a telephone plays back recordings of poets reading from their work (it’s also available on their website). Now, the museum is celebrating its former employee, one of the great poets of the 20th century, Frank O’Hara, who worked as an assistant curator at MoMA’s department of painting and sculpture and wrote many canonical works during his lunch breaks. Read more at the Gallerist NY.

Sunken Garden Marks 20 Years Of Summers Filled With Poetry

Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, the festival, held on the grounds of the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, has expanded its program beyond readings by nationally celebrated and talented local poets with music complementing their work in a lush garden setting and — if the weather is kind — as the setting sun gives way to starry, starry skies. This year, in addition to presenting such poetry powerhouses as Richard Wilbur, Dana Gioia, Christian Wiman, Natasha Trethewey, Donald Hall and Tony Hoagland, along with Suji Kwock Kim, Bessy Reyna, Minton Sparks, B. Yung and Toi Derricotte, as well as 10 local poets who appeared during its first decade and winners of poetry competitions for adults and students, the festival will open with something new: a three-day event on Friday, June 1, Saturday, June 2 and Sunday, June 3. Read more at the Hartford Courant.

World Poetry

Turkish Pianist Charged with Insulting Muslim Values

It began with the crisis on Wall Street in 2008. Alexis Cuadrado, from Barcelona and now Brooklyn, remembered the poetry of the surrealist Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936), whom all Spanish students study in school. In 1929, Lorca took a self-declared sabbatical from his life in Spain to New York, where the Hispanic cultural elite celebrated the young poet like a star. His timing was fateful; he saw the 1929 Wall Street crash firsthand. Poeta en Nueva York (Poet in New York) is his collected verse about his experience. A few years later, Lorca was murdered in Spain. The Franco regime banned his writing for decades. Read more at NPR.

New Books

Orphan Hours: Poems by Stanley Plumly

[Hardcover] W. W. Norton & Company, 112 pp., $25.95
Orphan Hours is a book of reconciliation, of coming to terms with time in its most personal and memorable manifestations, and of learning the wisdom of what cannot be changed. The urgency of the elegy has been absorbed by an acceptance of the detail, texture, and small moments that constitute and enrich mortality.

Ring of Bone: Collected Poems (New & Expanded Edition) by Lew Welch

[Paperback] City Lights Publishers, 256 pp., $17.95
Ring of Bone collects poems, songs, and some drawings, documenting the full sweep of his creative output from his early years until his death. First published by legendary poetry editor Donald Allen, this new edition includes photos, a biographic timeline, and a statement of poetics gleaned from Welch’s own writing.

Last Poems by Hayden Carruth

[Paperback] Copper Canyon Press, 120 pp., $16.00
Hayden Carruth’s Last Poems is a triumph—a morally engaged, tender, and fearless volume that combines the last poems of his life with the concluding poems from each of his previous volumes. Introduced by Stephen Dobyns, Last Poems is a moving tribute to a towering and beloved figure in American poetry.

Recent Reviews

May 2012 Contemporary Poetry Reviews

by Seth Abramson
Each month, this contemporary poetry review series selects collections published since 2000 to recommend to its readership. These collections are selected from a pool of more than a thousand books of contemporary poetry. Publishers interested in submitting review copies to the series should contact the author of this article. All submitted books remain eligible for inclusion in the series for a 10-year period. This month, the series focuses on just two collections: works of such extraordinary merit that they require a longer-than-usual treatment. Next month the series will return to its usual format. Read more at the Huffington Post.

Pride and Poetry

by Michael Scammell
Joseph Brodsky caught the attention of the outside world for the first time in 1964, when he was tried in Leningrad for the crime of writing poetry. That is not how the indictment read, of course: his “crime” was that he did not have a regular job, and was therefore a “parasite.” But a scurrilous article attacking Brodsky in the Evening Leningrad newspaper not long before his trial gave the game away. He was charged with being a “literary drone,” a writer of pointless doggerel, and therefore useless to society unless he was made to do “real” work. Read more at The New Republic.

Love’s Bonfire, by Tom Paulin

by Fiona Sampson
Tom Paulin is that awkward phenomenon, a fine poet with a wider reputation for his thinking about poetry. But it would be foolish to ignore his deep-seated commitment to political writing, especially from the Irish tradition. Love’s Bonfire, his first collection for eight years, is an absolutely characteristic volume. Read more at the Independent.


When Poetry Gets Under the Skin

by Sasha Weiss
In this podcast, Henri Cole reads from his recent book of poems, Touch (2011), and talks about his search for what he calls the “essentialness of emotion.” Read more at New York Review of Books.

Talking about Swedish Poetry, Translations, Literary Culture, Etc.

by Johannes Gorannson
Here’s an interview Peter Connors (a scholar of Bataille, translation theory, modern French literature) conducted with me the other weekend when I visited Barnard for a panel on Swedish poetry with Jörgen Gassilewski and Anna Hallberg. I can’t remember what I said and I hate listening to the sound of my own voice so I’m not going to listen to it, but you can! If you want to! Read more at Montevidayo.


A Poet’s Protest: An Address by W.S. Merwin at SUNY, Buffalo, October 1970

by Monish Chatterjee
It was on ebay, therefore, that I recently came across a printed and signed copy of a speech by Poet Laureate W. S. Merwin that was presented to an audience at the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1970. Read more at OpEd News.

Does Love Survive Loss?

Auden and Larkin each wrote powerful lines about love—and then had grave doubts about them. Why?
By Ron Rosenbaum|
Amor vincit omnia,” Love conquers all. Or so Virgil wrote. But does it? Does love survive dissolution of the lovers? And if so, where exactly would it be, where does all that lost love survive? I was prompted to revisit these ancient questions anew by a long footnote about a single line in the new Complete Poems edition of Philip Larkin’s poetry. The footnote refers to “An Arundel Tomb”—widely regarded as one of Larkin’s finest poems—and contains a provocative remark about that the poem’s celebrated, controversial, closing line, the one about the true nature of immortality: “What will survive of us is love.”
Read more at Slate.

O Delmore How I Miss You

by Lou Reed
O Delmore how I miss you. You inspired me to write. You were the greatest man I ever met. You could capture the deepest emotions in the simplest language. Your titles were more than enough to raise the muse of fire on my neck. You were a genius. Doomed. Read more at the Poetry Foundation.

Drafts & Fragments


Erasure is a process by which you can take any text and from it, create a poem. Below you will find a number of source texts. Choose one by clicking on the title. You will be sent to a new page where you can click on any word or punctuation mark to make it disappear. Clicking where it was will make it return. By removing much of the text a newly sculpted text (poem) appears.

Wales Coast Path

From Dylan Thomas’s birthplace in Cwmdonkin Drive, Swansea, to his writing berth at the Boathouse in Laugharne on the Carmarthenshire coast, we follow the trail that inspired the Welsh bard.

Envoi: Editor’s Notes

Do Not Go Gentle

What sort of anomaly was Dylan Thomas that he could lure thousands to his readings, have the best orators in the English-speaking world recite his verses, lend his name to babies of hip parents, and be preserved as a tourist attraction in his native Wales, but then, for all intents and purposes, be written off so thoroughly that his writing is little studied or read today, save for a handful of poems? Maybe it was his estrangement from any particular literary group or style, his failure to embrace Modernism. Maybe it was the fashion, the legend itself. His was a different sort of a fall from popularity from the typical— say, the likes of a Vachel Lindsay or Edna St. Vincent Millay, although their popularity was hardly typical. Dylan Thomas was a recognizable face and voice. He was a celebrity; he was anthologized. He was a personality; he was imitated. Even the boathouse he wrote in was well known. Drink did him in. But what brought about his demise?
—David Sanders