June 5, 2013

Edited by David Sanders

Filed under: Poetry News in Review |

Specimen Days

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

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

Oh, how the night owl calls,

calling, calling from its tree!

The moon is climbing through the sky

with the child by the hand.

They are crying in the forge,

all the gypsies, shouting, crying.

The air is veiwing all, views all.

The air is at the viewing. 

—from “Ballad of the Moon” by Federico García Lorca (1898–1936)

“Ballad of the Moon” by Federico García Lorca (1898–1936)

World Poetry

Epic Poem a Milestone in Chinese Literature

The longest epic poem in contemporary Chinese language was released in May. The Chinese Epic, written by Hua Wenfeng and published by Writers Publishing House, is a three-volume entity of poems totaling 40,716 lines. The ambitious literary creation equals Dante's The Divine Comedy and Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey in number of lines, says Hua. Read more at China Daily.

Ghassan Zaqtan Barred from Attending Griffin Poetry Prize Ceremony

Ghassan Zaqtan, one of the finalists for this year’s Griffin Poetry Prize, will reportedly not be allowed into Canada to attend the awards ceremony. According to a Facebook post that circulated on Tuesday, the Palestian poet has been denied a visa to enter the country. Read more at the National Post.

The Poet, Raymond Chassagne Passed Away

In a statement, the publishing house "Mémoire d’encrier", announces the disappearance of Haitian poet, Raymond Chassagne, occurred early Monday, May 27 in Montreal at the age of 89, following his hospitalization, and offers its condolences to his children, Alex, Karen and Boris. Read more at Haiti Libre.

Ghassan Zaqtan Barred from Attending Griffin Poetry Prize Ceremony

Recent Reviews

Collateral Damage

by William Logan

On The Word on the Street by Paul Muldoon, Mayakovsky’s Revolver by Matthew Dickman, Come, Thief by Jane Hirshfield, Quick Question by John Ashbery, The Late Parade, and Red Doc> by Anne Carson.

If a poet sidles up to you and whispers that he’s been writing song lyrics, take my advice and run like hell! You might be fleeing the next Irving Berlin; but odds are the fellow’s one more deluded soul who thinks lyrics and poetry have something to do with each other. Read more at the New Criterion.

C. P. Cavafy: The Complete Poems – Review

by Paul Bailey

When Constantine Cavafy died on 29 April 1933, his 70th birthday, his work was little known beyond Greece and Alexandria, where he spent most of his life. In 1935, with the publication of the first substantial collection of his poems, he began to receive the critical attention his genius merited. His foremost, lasting admirer was another great Greek poet, George Seferis, who observed: "Outside his poetry Cavafy does not exist."  Read more at the Guardian.

A Salon with a Revolving Door: Virtual Community and the Space of Wom-po

by Lesley Wheeler

This essay argues for the importance of virtual networks to twenty-first century poetry by women by analyzing the “space” of Wom-po, an email list devoted to discussion of women's writing. Wom-po offers an example of computer-mediated communication among Anglophone poets from several continents, demonstrating the complex relations between web-based networks and geography. Read more at Contemporary Women’s Writing.

What Are We Going to Do

 About the New Philip Larkin?

by James Fenton

It was never possible during Philip Larkin’s lifetime—he died in 1985—for his publishers to get together and produce a Collected Poems under the poet’s own direction. Larkin had certainly wanted such a volume, and Faber had made the necessary first step towards this end by acquiring the rights to Larkin’s first collection, The North Ship, which had appeared in 1945, and which they reissued in 1966. Read more at Three Penny Review.

Collateral Damage


The Incredible Anthony Hecht

Hecht, diction, verse, fiction.

by Daniel Bosch

Anthony Hecht's "The  Venetian Vespers” is spoken by a nameless, expatriate, first-generation American of Lithuanian descent living his last days in Venice, where he is supported by a mysterious annuity and "…a vocabulary, /
A project that seemed allied to Architecture, /
The unbuttressed balancing of wooden blocks /
Into a Tower of Babel. (TVV, Part IV, ll. 41-44) “A shy, asthmatic child” (TVV, Part IV, l. 11), abandoned at age one by the man he was told was his father, apparently orphaned at age six, Hecht’s speaker has no patrimony but his word bank and his manner of seeing (or as he puts it, “misbelieving”) the world, both of which he built from the not-quite-privacy of a burlap sack-laden divan behind the counter of his uncle’s A&P franchise, “where I could lie and read and dream my dreams”(TVV, Part IV, l. 14).  Read more at Fortnightly Review.

Donald Justice's Collected Poems Offer Refuge From The Rain

by Mary Szybist

Donald Justice's Collected Poems, published less than two weeks after his death, is a slender volume for a life's work. At around 300 pages, it could easily be overlooked on a shelf beside the collected work of other poets. Justice wrote slowly. Trained as a pianist when he was young, he attended closely to the textures and music of words. He was a formalist who carried traditional poetic techniques like rhyme and meter forward into thoroughly modern poems that are not interested in making us feel comfortable or special. His poem "Poem" famously begins, "This poem is not addressed to you." Read more at NPR.

My Walking Shoes

Working-class origins of an American lyric.

by Afaa Michael Weaver 

I was sitting on the plane on the way to Paris, and the attendants were handing out customs forms and asking for people’s points of origin. One attendant, a white woman, looked at me contemptuously and said, “You could never be French.” Read more at the Poetry Foundation.

On Remembering Poems

by Andrew Hamilton

Last December I was playing golf at Patriot’s Point, across the Cooper River from Charleston, SC, a course thronged with many sorts of wading birds and compelling views of Ft. Sumter and Charleston’s outer harbor where, as Charlestonians like to say, the Ashley and the Cooper Rivers come together to form the Atlantic Ocean. A little green heron of the type that is known in some places as a “Fly-up-the-creek” or “Shitepoke” flew across the fairway some fifty yards in front of me, spraying sheets of excrement. Read more at the New Criterion.

Pablo Neruda: Too little, too late?

by Cynthia Haven

We’re going to get to the bottom of this … forty years too late.  Why do I have a feeling the killer has escaped?  Or else died of old age? Much is puzzling about the claims that preeminent poet Pablo Neruda was murdered by Pinochet’s forces in Chile on Sept. 23, 1973.  Apparently, there was a mysterious “Dr. Price” on the scene, never seen before or since, who ordered the final injection, the doctor at the scene,  Sergio Draper, now claims.  Dr. Price is not in any of the hospital records.  The authorities are now organizing a portrait of the suspected killer, based on people’s memories of nearly half-a-century before … does anyone remember this guy at all except Draper? Read more at Book Haven.

My Walking Shoes

Drafts & Fragments

"Great poet" Dylan to Get French Honor After All

Despite his reported fondnesss for weed and well-recorded warbashing, US folk music legend Bob Dylan has swayed offical France with his work, and the "great poet" will now become a member of the Légion d'Honneur, it was confirmed on Monday. Read more at The Local.

“Great poet” Dylan to Get French Honor After All

Poetry In the News

Crowdsourcing Wins Poet Visit to AK Ghost Village

 An Anchorage poet gets to realize her dream to visit the ghost of a remote western Alaska village where her Inupiat Eskimo ancestors once lived, thanks to funds she raised through crowdsourcing. Joan Naviyuk Kane far surpassed her goal of $31,000 that she said is needed for a two-week visit for 20 descendants of people who once lived on King Island, a tiny community built on stilts across the jagged face of the island. Read more at SF Gate.

Senior Editor at Poetry Magazine Gets the Top Job

Don Share, a poet with 10 books to his credit, has been named the 12th editor of Poetry Magazine, the Chicago-based publication founded by Harriet Monroe in 1912. Mr. Share takes over from the poet and essayist Christian Wiman, with whom Mr. Share edited The Open Door: 100 Poems, 100 Years of Poetry Magazine, published last year as part of the publication’s centennial celebration. Read more at the New York Times.

Senior Editor at Poetry Magazine Gets the Top Job

New Books

River Inside the River: Poems by Gregory Orr

[Hardcover] W. W. Norton & Company, 160 pp., $25.95

River Inside the River combines Orr’s characteristic spirituality and meditative lyricism with storytelling and myth-making. These are poems that will sustain, console, and give hope, from a poet at the height of his powers.

The Narrow Circle by Nathan Hoks 

[Paperback] Penguin Books, 96 pp., $18.00

John Ashbery called Reveilles, Nathan Hoks’s debut book, a “dazzling” collection and Hoks a poet whose “fine gradations of observation turn the reader into a barometer of strong subtleties like those of the weather, that can be minute even as they affect us powerfully.” The poems in Hoks’s new book, The Narrow Circle, perform a similar magic.  In associative lyrics and fabulist prose, Hoks explores inner and outer experiences. 

New Cathay: Contemporary Chinese Poetry, 1990-2012 by Ming Di 

[Paperback] Tupelo Press, 88 pp., $19.95

Showcasing the achievement of Chinese poetry in the last twenty years, a time of tremendous literary ferment, this collection focuses on a diversity exciting poets from the mainland, highlighting Duo Duo (laureate of the 2010 Neustadt International Prize for Literature) and Liao Yiwu (recipient of 2012 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade organization) along with not yet well-known but brilliant poets such as Zang Di and Xiao Kaiyu and younger poets Jiang Tao and Lu Yue. 

River Inside the River: Poems by Gregory Orr


Poet Noah Eli Gordon on his wild new collection, The Year of the Rooster

By Robin Edwards

Noah Eli Gordon's newest book is hard to pin down. And why would you want to? The Year of the Rooster, out now on Ahsahta Press, is best understood through experience rather than painstaking analysis. It's wild and flowing, playing with gender pronouns, musical imagery, and poetic forms to create a thoughtful, vibrant work full of multiple interpretations. At the center is the the rooster of the title, who flits in and out of the work as both a grounding, repetitive image and enigmatic character. Read more at Westword.

A Conversation With Navajo Poet Sherwin Bitsui

Editor’s Note: During National Poetry Month in April we profiled Sherwin Bistui,Diné (Navajo) of the Todich’ii’nii (Bitter Water Clan), born for the Tl’izilani (Many Goats Clan). Growing up on the Navajo reservation, he now lives and writes poetry in Tucson. This interview takes us a bit more deeply into his work, especially the creation of his collection Flood Song (Copper Canyon Press, 2009). Read more at Indian Country Today.



A Conversation With Navajo Poet Sherwin Bitsui

Envoi: Editor’s Notes

Artist Kenneth Goldsmith Wants To Print The Entire Internet

Artist and the Museum of Modern Art’s first poet laureate Kenneth Goldsmith has rented out a 500-square-meter space in Mexico City with 6-meter high ceilings to be filled with one thing: the entirety of the Internet, printed out. Goldsmith is crowdsourcing the project, asking on the "Printing The Internet" Tumblr for web users of the world to ship whatever they can to Mexico City, be it "one sheet or a truckload." Read more at the Huffington Post.

Umm.  . . Please don't.

Artist Kenneth Goldsmith Wants To Print The Entire Internet