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Poetry News In Review

March 5, 2013

Poetry News In Review

Edited By David Sanders

Specimen Days

March 5, 2013

1625 –James I (VI), king of England (1603-25)/poet/author, dies at 58.
1703 – Vasily Kirillovich Trediakovsky, Russian poet (d. 1768), is born.

1901 – Julian Przybos, Polish poet (Sruby), is born.
1966 – Anna Akhmatova, Ukrainian poet, dies at 76.

A single glance: a sudden dart of pain
stitching her eyes before she made a sound . . .
Her body flaked into transparent salt,
and her swift legs rooted to the ground.

Who will grieve for this woman? Does she not seem
too insignificant for our concern?
Yet in my heart I never will deny her,
who suffered death because she chose to turn.

—from “Lot’s Wife” by Anna Akhmatova (1889–1966)

World Poetry

British Ambassador to Romania Cecites Iconic Romanian Poem, Local Senator Follows Suit Impressed by “Friendship Gesture”

A foreign ambassador to Romania and a Romanian senator have recently chosen to recite a poem of Romania’s national poet Mihai Eminescu, the first was a gesture of friendship, and the second, to underline that sometimes foreigners love Romania and its culture more than Romanians themselves. Romanian National Liberal Party (PNL) senator Tudor Chiuariu recently chose to recite some lines from What I wish you, sweet Romania (Ce-ti doresc eu tie, dulce Romanie)poem, written by famous national poet Mihai Eminescu, during the party’s Congress on Saturday (February 23). Read more at the Romania Insider.

Unseen Cecil Day-Lewis Poem Comes to Light Showing Basic Rhymes for Schoolboy

Unseen poems written by Cecil Day-Lewis and W H Auden for a former schoolboy pupil in 1930 have come to light, showing a list of off-the-cuff rhymes in stark contrast to their most famous works. The poems, while show simple rhyming lines no more sophisticated than those on an amateur, were scribbled in the autograph book of their former pupil Norman Wright. The lines, some of which have remained unseen and unpublished for more than 80 years, have now come to light as the book is to be sold at auction. Day-Lewis and Auden, two of Britain’s best-known poets, both taught Mr Wright at Larchfield Academy, Helensburgh, in 1930. Read more at the Telegraph.

The Writing on the Wall: Graffiti, Poetry, and Protest in Egypt

The face of 19-year-old Khaled Said, the catalyst for Egypt’s January 25 uprising, is stenciled all over Egypt. But if you walked down Mohamed Mahmoud Street, which ends in Tahrir Square, you would see his mutilated face after he was beaten to death by cop thugs. Beside his face, the artist Ammar Abo Bakr also depicts the disfigured images of other victims, including the young Shenouda Noshi Atteya, one of the 28 killed in the Maspero Massacre of October 2011, in which peaceful protesters, mostly Coptic Christians, were killed by the army. Read more at the LA Review of Books.

Recent Reviews

On the Job, and Reading Between the Gritty Lines

by Dwight Garner 

Mathew Henderson is a young Canadian poet who has spent time working in his country’s oil fields, and he’s emerged with a spare and eloquent first book of poems, The Lease, that cuts into its primary subjects — grease, technology, physical labor, alienated sex, mud, fear, profound loneliness — like a welder’s oxyacetylene flame. Mr. Henderson’s verse has a bit of Raymond Carver’s blue collar despair, and some of the raw-knuckled, come-as-you-are quality of Philip Levine’s poetry about toiling in Detroit’s automobile factories. It also made me recall something the writer Dagoberto Gilb, a former construction worker, once said: “My favorite ethnic group is smart.” Read more at the New York Times.

Sensual Poetry on Love, Marriage

by David Burleigh

Shuntaro Tanikawa, born in 1931, is one of the most acclaimed poets in Japan — well known not only from the many volumes of poetry he has published but also for his public readings and television appearances. I once stood on the other side of a pile of books from him in a museum bookstore, unsure at the moment whether to show that I recognized the famous and familiar face. Red more at Japan Times.

On D.A. Powell’s “Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys”

by Gregg Barrios 

With the national controversy over whether the Boy Scouts of America should remove their ban on gay scouts and scout leaders still remains to be resolved, it must amuse poet D.A. Powell that his latest book, Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys might be mistaken for a Boy Scout manual or a guide for scouts or both. The book’s cover with its paper doll boy scout uniform ready to be held with folding tabs onto an unseen figure is deceiving if one notices the various knots that cover the uniform’s lower regions. Read more at Critical Mass. 

Building Community Through Poetry

Recently published by the University of Iowa Press, Redstart: An Ecological Poetics is a collaborative volume of poetry and literary criticism penned by two of the world's leading eco poets, Forrest Gander and John Kinsella. Though the term "eco poet" is self-explanatory in many ways, essentially eco poets are environmental activists that use poetry to investigate the relationship between nature, culture, language and perception. Read more at KCET.


Shelley's Most Scandalous Poem: But Who Really Censored It?

by Felicity Capon

New light has been shed on the story surrounding the publication of Shelley’s The Revolt of Islam, his epic romance of nearly 5,000 lines in Spenserian stanzas. Whilst it is common knowledge that the poem was censored due to its anti-religious content and incest theme, it has always been assumed that Shelley himself made the amendments. But the discovery of a copy of the original printing of the uncensored poem has led Nora Crook and Stephen Allen, writing in the Times Literary Supplement to believe that someone other than Shelley made the amendments. Read more at the Telegraph.

Make Make It New New

by Joshua Mehigan

Asked to compile a list of proscriptions, à la Pound, I was a little worried. My first impulse was to try to be funny. Then I started a project that involved reading thousands of pages of new, unpublished poetry. That put me in a more thoughtful and serious mood. It was as if all the
young poets had been told beforehand what six or seven qualities would be rewarded and had gone charging after those alone. It comes down to a straining for effect. This is nothing new. But that’s part of the point. Read more at Poetry.

“In Heraclitus’ River”

by Sophie Hughes

Exactly what hampered Wisława Szymborska’s poetic output in the few years after she was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1996 is not clear, but friends called her period of quiet, the “Nobel tragedy”. Though this writing block was short-lived, it is intriguing in light of her Nobel lecture, “The Poet and the World”, which focused on the matter of poetic inspiration. “Whatever inspiration is”, she suggested, “it’s born of a continuous “‘I don’t know’.” Read more at the TLS.

“Words” by Edward Thomas

Poets choose their words with the utmost care, don't they? "The best words in the best order" and all that? In this week's poem, "Words", Edward Thomas echoes John Keats rather than Coleridge, calling on words to choose him. This is perhaps extreme negative capability. But, despite Keats, and although Thomas is specifically addressing "English words", it's a poem that seems unusually attuned to the London-born poet's Celtic origins. Read more at the Guardian.

Drafts & Fragments

Portraits of American Poets

Portraits of poets by Jack Richard Smith.

The Poetry Project: Poetry and Art from Ireland

Every week, from January 1st 2013, we will be uploading a poem and accompanying video artwork, in celebration of Ireland’s literary and visual creativity. Week by week, over six months, you’ll be able to follow the work of leading, and emerging artists and writers, and discover Ireland through different eyes.

Unpublished John Clare Poem Will Sell for Thousands

The unpublished and unrecorded 12 line poem, by John Clare will go under the hammer at Bonhams in London on April 10, nearly 200 years after it was penned. It has been given an estimate price of £3,500 to £4,000. The handwritten piece was written by Helpston-born Clare in 1827 and is addressed: “To my friend, F.Simpson junior, of Stamford.” The verse includes the lines:

“Dear Frank against thy Work I place

“These dull & feeble verses

“& neath thy merits modest light

“his dullness half disperses.”

Poetry In The News

David Hernandez: Poet of Chicago Streets, Classroom Inspiration

Puerto Rican by birth, he was a Chicagoan by virtue of his passion, upbeat personality and the power of his poetry. "A great poet and terrific teacher, David was generous on every level," said Kevin Coval, the head of Young Chicago Authors. "He was a profound influence on my life and career." The bad news came early Monday morning: Hernandez died of a heart attack. He was 66. Read more at the Chicago Tribune. 

Dalton Middle Students “Flash Mob” Poe Poem

When Jordan Rochstetler of Soddy-Daisy, Tenn., pulled over at the Chick-fil-A on Walnut Avenue on Wednesday on his way to Atlanta he “had no clue” he would hear Edgar Allan Poe’s 1849 poem “Annabel Lee.” Rochstetler was all smiles when several Dalton Middle School students stood up at their tables in the restaurant during lunch and began reciting the first verse of the poem. As the poem progressed, more students stood up and joined until every person in the restaurant was paying attention.

Read more at Dalton Daily Citizen. 

B.C. Poet Shane Koyczan Wins Hearts of TED Crowd with Anti-bullying Stories

Shane Koyczan, the Penticton spoken-word poet and author, left attendees at the TED conference near tears Thursday with his self-effacing look at the effects of bullying through the eyes of being both a victim and a bully. In the week since his anti-bullying video, To This Day, was released on YouTube as part of Pink Shirt Day, it has been seen nearly 5.2 million times. Read more at the Vancouver Sun. 

New Books

All of You on the Good Earth by Ernest Hilbert

[Paperback] Red Hen Press, 96 pp., $16.95

“His material ranges from the all too familiar to visionary moments in which our debauchery brings us to ‘fall apart like ancient stars’ or to witness a vaseful of stargazer lilies ‘unfastening like a vast nebula’ with a ‘long pour of poisonous gas.’ Retrospective, forward-looking, tonic and toxic, All of You on the Good Earth is a wonder of a book, and Hilbert’s best yet.”—Timothy Donnelly

Phantom Camera by Jaswinder Bolina

[Paperback] New Issues Poetry & Prose, 74 pp., $15.00

Poetry. "Phantom Camera searches for ways to escape the traps of autobiographical self-absorption while retaining the warmth and energy of personal narrative. Bolina's speakers are often melancholy and estranged, yet charmingly ironic about their estrangement. Drama—both funny and touching-arises from their efforts to stay safe while longing for human connection."—Mark Halliday

Women's Poetry: Poems and Advice by Daisy Fried

[Paperback] University of Pittsburgh Press, 88 pp., $15.95

There is nothing like this book, because there is nothing in it but America. No comfort, no consolation, no life-affirming pats on the back, no despair about God, no fear or acceptance of death, no irrational exuberance, no guilt or weariness, no misery even in the middle of personal and political crisis. Plenty of humor and plenty of seriousness. Joy. And a new kind of poetry: not nice, but rich and real.

Hummingbird Sleep: Poems, 2009-2011 by Coleman Barks

[Paperback] University of Georgia Press, 128 pp., $16.95

The poems in Hummingbird Sleep move associatively between Coleman Barks's personal experience and his extensive reading, weaving together a wild and eclectic range of material. A discussion of Plotinus, Barks's appearance on PBS NewsHour, a note Keats once left on Wordsworth's mantelpiece, a splinter in the heel, and a quote from the Upanishads-all make their way into Barks's most recent poems, which achieve intimacy and expansiveness at the same time.


Robert Creeley, The Art of Poetry No. 10

Interviewed by Lewis MacAdams and Linda Wagner-Martin

This is a composite interview. It combines two separate discussions with Robert Creeley—held at different times, and conducted by two different interviewers: Linda Wagner and Lewis MacAdams, Jr. The questions specifically devoted to the poet's craft were put to Robert Creeley by Linda Wagner. She refers to the exchange as a “colloquy”—a term that Creeley insisted on because (as he put it) her questions were “active in their own assumptions . . . . We are talking together.” She began the exchange at the 1963 Vancouver poetry sessions, continued it at Creeley's 1964 Bowling Green, Ohio, reading, and finished it in August 1965, at the poet's home in New Mexico. Read more at The Paris Review.

Envoi: Editor's Notes

A word to the wise, from the wise:

"Again, while it is a great blessing that a man no longer has to be rich in order to enjoy the masterpieces of the past, for paperbacks, first-rate color reproductions, and stereo-phonograph records have made them available to all but the very poor, this ease of access, if misused — and we do misuse it — can become a curse. We are all of us tempted to read more books, look at more pictures, listen to more music than we can possibly absorb, and the result of such gluttony is not a cultured mind but a consuming one; what it reads, looks at, listens to is immediately forgotten, leaving no more traces behind than yesterday’s newspaper."— W. H. Auden

—David Sanders

View Past Issues

Faiz Ahmed Faiz
Norman MacCaig
Ezra Pound
Robert Bridges
Robert Herrick
Nicanor Parra
John Betjeman
Mary Jo Salter
Rosario Castellanos
Anne Hebert
Ahmad Shamlou
Donald Davie
Kenneth Fearing
Geoffrey Hill
Sandro Penna
Juan Ramon Jimenez
Julia Randall
Emily Dickinson
Gary Snyder
Yannis Ritsos
Robert Penn Warren
Aime Cesaire
Bella Akhmadulina
George Herbert
Louis Simpson
Gerard Malanga
Mahmoud Darwish
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Kostis Palama
A.M. Klein
David Ignatow
Langston Hughes
Carriera Duke
Jon Stallworthy