May 14, 2013

Edited by David Sanders

Filed under: Poetry News in Review |

Specimen Days

1726 – John B Wellekens, poet/painter (Wedding Guests), dies.

1817 – Alexander Kaufmann, German poet (d. 1893), is born.

1940 – Eddy [Charles E] du Platform, writer/poet, dies.

1966 – Georgia BD Camp Johnson, US poet/playwright, dies at 88.

1973 – Jean Gebser, German-born author, linguist, and poet (b. 1905), dies.

2006 – Stanley Kunitz, American poet (b. 1905), dies.


Blue poured into summer blue,

A hawk broke from his cloudless tower,

The roof of the silo blazed, and I knew

That part of my life was forever over.

Already the iron door of the North

Clangs open: birds,leaves,snows

Order their populations forth,

And a cruel wind blows.

—from “End of Summer” by Stanley Kunitz, 1905–2006

“End of Summer” by Stanley Kunitz, 1905–2006

World Poetry

Poet Accused of Racist Remarks Says Words Twisted, Transcript Backs Her Up

Acclaimed poet Kiki Dimoula, whose alleged comments regarding migrants in the Athens neighborhood of Kypseli caused a stir on Tuesday, has hit back, claiming her words were misinterpreted. Dimoula suggested that the reporting of her comments, in which she apparently suggested there were too many migrants in Kypseli, was “ill-intentioned.” Read more at Ekathimerini.

Poet Accused of Racist Remarks Says Words Twisted, Transcript Backs Her Up

Recent Reviews

Scrambled Sonnets, Prosthetic Limbs, and Little Bitter Teeth: Notes on Some Recent Poetry Publications

by Barry Schwabsky 

Ezra Pound said poetry was news that stays news. I thought that in gathering some notes on poetry I’ve read this year I’d bring a bit of news and only after doing so realized to what extent those notes would indicate how today’s poetry can be entwined with medieval Moorish Spain or fourteenth century Tuscany or Elizabethan London or sixteenth century Japan. Sometimes, apparently, poetry can also be ancientries made new again. Read more at Hyperallergic.

From Blunden to Sassoon, with Gratitude

by Peter Parker

In May 1919, Siegfried Sassoon, in the somewhat unlikely role of literary editor of the left-wing Daily Herald, received in his office a small parcel containing two privately printed chapbooks of poetry. Accompanying them was a letter signed “E. C. Blunden (scholar-elect, Queen’s College, Oxford)”. A decade younger than Sassoon, Edmund Blunden had also fought in the First World War and concluded his letter “With gratitude not only for your vivacious criticism in the Herald, but also for your great efforts throughout the war to bring the ferocity of the trenches home to a public more disturbed about rations than Passchendaele”. Read more at the TLS.

More Than a Curmudgeon

by Alister Wedderburn 

The most engaging entries in Richard Burton's recently published diaries (Yale, 2012) are also the most barbed. A particularly withering assessment is reserved for his fellow Welshman, the priest-poet R.S. Thomas: "R.S. Thomas is a true minor poet but I'd rather share my journey to the other life with somebody more congenial. I think the last tight smile that he allowed to grimace his features was at the age of six when he realized with delight that death was inevitable. He has consigned his wife to hell for a long time. She will recognize it when she goes there." Read more at Standpoint.

Scrambled Sonnets, Prosthetic Limbs, and Little Bitter Teeth: Notes on Some Recent Poetry Publications


Moves in Contemporary Poetry

by Mike Young

Way back in the comments on Danika Stegeman’s poem “Panacea,” a discussion started about “moves” in contemporary poetry, and I mentioned that I’d seen the poet Elisa Gabbert start pretty awesome discussions about “moves” on her own blog and on the Ploughsharesblog. Then she posted the following comment: “Hi Mike, I have definitely talked about moves before, moves I like and moves I don’t like and my own signature moves, but haven’t made a real list, certainly not a comprehensive list, certainly not the DEFINITIVE list. Let me know if you want to collaborate on a list of moves for HTMLGiant.” Read more at HTML Giant.

Who Is A Contemporary Poet?

by Robert Archambeau

What does it mean to be a contemporary poet? It’s a trickier question than it seems, and not just because of the difficulty in defining poetry. In fact, the greater part of the difficulty may come in defining the nature of the contemporary. I’m no stranger to arguments about the meaning of the term. In 2011, for example, the conceptual poet Kenneth Goldsmith and I had a bit of a disagreement that, at root, was a disagreement about the meaning of the contemporary. Read more at Body.

Robert Frost and the Modern Narrative

by Dana Gioia

Robert Frost’s second book, North of Boston (1914), has almost universally been considered the defining moment of his literary maturation. First published in England when the poet was forty years old, it reflected twenty hard and lonely years of quiet artistic development. Thirteen months earlier Frost had published A Boy’s Will (1913), a collection of thirty-two mostly short lyrics. Widely praised in England, A Boy’s Will had demonstrated Frost’s mastery of the tunefully lyric, bucolic, and metrically conventional Georgian poetic style. North of Boston, however, represented something unmistakably new and distinctively American. Read more at VQR Online.

Idolatry—or Bardolatry?

by Helena Nelson 

This is what contemplation of one small poem leads you to. Last week I put a set of smallish poems, mostly sonnets, onto cards (they can be found in the HappenStance shop). These cards are the right size for someone like me to carry round with them. I like to learn sonnets: I love the feeling of getting inside their size and shape and workings. In particular, I have lived much of my life (like many readers) with some of Shakespeare’s sonnets as close friends. Read more at Happenstance.

Moves in Contemporary Poetry

Drafts & Fragments




Poetry In the News

Recognition Grows for Poets of Streets, Main or Otherwise

Fresno inaugurated its first poet laureate on April 22, formally embracing a rich poetic history that, though widely acclaimed in literary circles, had received little recognition here. Fresno joins a rapidly growing list of cities and towns across the nation with their own official bards; in just the past few months, not only have Houston and Los Angeles established poet laureateships but so have Boise, Idaho; Key West, Fla.; McAllen, Tex.; and San Mateo County, near San Francisco. Read more at the New York Times.

State Official Put on Leave after Benghazi Attack Turned to Poetry

Too bad there are few words that rhyme with “Benghazi.” Otherwise, there might be more poetry about the vagaries of the international diplomacy machine. But there’s at least one poetic ode, courtesy of Raymond Maxwell, a deputy assistant secretary at the State Department and one of the four officials placed on leave in December after the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost (“thrown under the bus,” as the Web site Diplopundit, which first flagged the poem, describes it). Read more at the Washington Post.

Web Gallery Adds 3 New Languages to Global Conversation on Whitman

This week, the International Writing Program (IWP) adds Arabic, Polish, and the first-ever Malay translation of Walt Whitman’s famous poem “Song of Myself” to the 9-language WhitmanWeb multimedia gallery. The gallery, which presents one section of the 52-section poem each week, along with an audio recording, foreword, afterword, and discussion question, already includes Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Ukrainian, as well as the first-ever translation into Persian. Read more at Shambaugh House. 

"Lost" W. H. Auden Journal Sheds Light on Pivotal Time for Poet

A journal written by W. H. Auden that for decades was believed lost has been unearthed, shedding new light on a critical year in the life of one of the giants of 20th century poetry. Auden, who died in 1973 aged 66, wrote the journal between August and November 1939. It gives an insight into the poet whose works include "Funeral Blues," "Lullaby" and "The Unknown Citizen." Read more at the Independent.

Recognition Grows for Poets of Streets, Main or Otherwise

New Books

Duppy Conqueror: New and Selected Poems by Kwame Dawes

[Paperback] Copper Canyon Press, 260 pp., $20.00

Born in Ghana, raised in Jamaica, and educated in Canada, Kwame Dawes is a dynamic and electrifying poet. In this generous collection, new poems appear with the best work from fifteen previous volumes. Deeply nuanced in exploring the human condition, Dawes' poems are filled with complex emotion and consistently remind us what it means to be a global citizen.

The Declarable Future by Jennifer Boyden 

[Paperback] University of Wisconsin Press, 112 pp., $16.95

The poems in this book inhabit a world uneasily familiar and promising, but from the distance of a few possibilities into the future. In this collection of sharp, hallucinatory, and often darkly humorous poems, a lost man wanders among the towns of people who can't remember what they named the children, how to find each other's porches, or whether their buildings are still intact. 

The Collected Poems of W.S. Merwin edited by J. D. McClatchy 

[Hardcover] Library of America, 1500 pp., $75.00

With this two-volume edition, Merwin becomes only the second living poet to have his work collected by The Library of America. Here are such landmark books as his debut volume A Mask for Janus (1952), which shows the young poet engaged in a fruitful dialogue with Auden and Berryman; The Lice (1967), with its impassioned political poems about the Vietnam War and ecological catastrophe; The Vixen (1996), which offers vivid recollections of southwestern France; the epic verse novel The Folding Cliffs (2008), set in nineteenth-century Hawaii; and The Shadow of Sirius (2008), with its “late poems / that are made of words / that have come the whole way / they have been there.”

Sweet Crude: Poems by Randy Blasing 

[Paperback] Persea, 80 pp., $15.95

This is the eighth collection from a poet of formal grace an open heart. Blasing's poems of love, the passing of time, and the kinds of desires that transcribe a life are timeless and full of warmth.

Sweet Air by Charlotte Mears

[Paperback] Sweet Air Press, 83 pp., $20.00

“The poems in Sweet Air are always beautifully crafted with an ear for the rhythms and sounds of poetic language as well as those of daily speech. They give us the material world we share and recognize, the losses and loves that fill us, and those magically transformative moments that open us to light, to what we really are. This generous collection of vital poems will make the reader say, ‘Where have you been all my life?’ And, for once, really mean it.” —R. H. W. Dillard

Duppy Conqueror: New and Selected Poems by Kwame Dawes


An Exchange for Fire—The Final Pilgrimage of Poet Craig Arnold*

by Christopher Blasdel 

On the morning of April 28th, 2009, I was settling into my workday at the Inter- national House of Japan in the Roppongi district of Tokyo. After several weeks of cold weather, it had finally warmed and the day promised to be glorious. Vivid rows of azaleas bloomed in the Japanese garden outside our office. Suddenly a secretary appeared with an urgent message: the police chief from Ya- kushima Island, a well-known tourist spot far south of Tokyo, had called, asking if we knew a foreign traveler named Craig Arnold. The police chief wanted us to return his call right away. Such an inquiry, coming out of the blue, could not be good news, and so with a sense of foreboding I made the call. Read more at

The Truth About Sex and Poetry: Interview With Alex Dimitrov, Author of Begging For It

by Anis Shivani

In his debut collection Begging for It (Four Way Books), Alex Dimitrov gives expression to a voice that is strong, insistent, sensual, passionate, and wounded. I spoke to Alex about sex, panic, and degradation with regard to specific poems in the collection. Read more at the Huffington Post.

An Exchange for Fire—The Final Pilgrimage of Poet Craig Arnold*

Envoi: Editor’s Notes

And Now a Word from Our Sponsor. . . 

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"Prairie Schooner, the University of Nebraska – Lincoln’s literary journal, will release its mobile app on May 1.  The mobile app, titled Global Schooner: A World of Prairie Schooner Writers, features an interactive global map that pinpoints the location of authors from past Prairie Schooner issues, offering users unprecedented access to author biographies, videos, interviews, and more. Global Schooner features profiles from more than 300 authors from around the globe who have been published in the prestigious literary journal run by the University of Nebraska – Lincoln’s English department for the last 87 years. Forty-five author profiles have expanded content, including audio and video of exclusive interviews and readings.  The app also provides links to Prairie Schooner’s blog, podcast, and other online content." Here's its link in the iTunes store. 

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