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Poetry News In Review

September 17, 2013
David Sanders

Specimen Days

1861 – Owen Seaman, poet/editor (Punch), is born.
1863 – Alfred Victor Comte de Vigny, poet, dies.
1883 – William Carlos Williams, American poet, is born.
1916 – Ove J Abildgaard, Danish poet (Uglegylp), is born.
1922 – Agostinho Neto, poet/president Angola [or Dec 27], is born.
1938 – Bruno JasieĊ„ski, Polish poet (b. 1901), dies.
1963 – Rami Saari, Israeli poet and translator, is born.
Approach of Winter
The half-stripped trees
struck by a wind together,
bending all,
the leaves flutter drily
and refuse to let go
or driven like hail
stream bitterly out to one side
and fall
where the salvias, hard carmine,—
like no leaf that ever was—
edge the bare garden.
—William Carlos Williams (1883–1963)


World Poetry

Ex-Pinochet Lieutenant Living Quietly in Florida Faces Civil Lawsuit from Family of Chilean Poet 

A former Pinochet lieutenant has been served with a civil lawsuit by the family of a celebrated Chilean poet who they believe murdered him following the country's 1973 coup which took place 40 years ago on Wednesday.  Victor Jara's family have filed a civil lawsuit accusing former Chilean army Lt. Pedro Barrientos Nunez of ordering soldiers to torture Jara. The suit claims that Barrientos fired the fatal shot while playing a game of 'Russian roulette' inside a locker room in Santiago’s Estadio Chile, where some 5,000 supporters of socialist President Salvador Allende were being detained. Read more at the Daily Mail.

7,000 Students In Mexico Read Poem Together

The Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon has broken a new world record. More than 7,000 students joined together and read a poem at the same time. They brought to life Alfonso Reyes' masterpiece called "Monterrey's Sun". "I think it's an important cultural aspect of the University and we did it with an emblematic part, an emblematic character," Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon President Jesus Ancer Rodriguez said. "Mr. Alfonso Reyes, the universal regiomontano that gave us his vote and then Nuevo Leon University was established. Now it's called the Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon." Read more at Digtriad.

Historic Poem Found in Belfry of Northampton Church

Historians have discovered a previously unrecorded poem in the belfry of one of Northamptonshire’s oldest church. The poem is painted on a piece of slate hung high on the wall of the belfry on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Until now, its existences has never been recorded in any history of the church, which dates back to 1100AD and is Northampton’s oldest standing building. Read more at the Northampton Chronicle.


Recent Reviews

Reading Seamus Heaney

The Irish writer and Nobel laureate, who died on August 30, was for the last forty years both a contributor to The New York Review and one of its frequent subjects. Fifteen of his books were reviewed in our pages, and we present several of the pieces here, in his memory. Read more at the New York Review of Books.

Mass Poetry Roundup

by Weston Cutter
It’s been a great, great year for poetry, and I’ve realized of late the coverage here at Corduroy’s been terribly small. Hicok’s new one, sure, but otherwise it’s been thin (I didn’t even mention the amazing Jennifer Boyden’s The Declarable Future, which should’ve been heralded—if you didn’t catch it, attend to that). To rectify, here’s a poetry purge of sorts: books that’ve been kicking around the desk for the last good while. All of these are excellent and worth much time and energy on your part. Read more at Corduroy Books.

The Rose of January

by John Ebersole
In The Rose of January, Geoffrey Nutter fills his soundscapes with taunting repetition and slick vines of syntax. If you are not familiar with Nutter, it is worth reading a few excerpts to get used to the poet’s observant, intelligent voice. Read more at Coldfront.

The Biscuit Joint: Poems

by Joelle Biele
If Acura ever decides to get a new host for “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” or if Nike, say, wants to start its own series, “Poets in Sneakers Getting Jamba Juice,” David Kirby would be their man. Billy Collins, Denise Duhamel, and Campbell McGrath could all be guests, and if time travel were a possibility, Kirby could discuss candy and fleas with Ogden Nash and the nuances of “scalawag,” “mendacity,” and “meringue” with Marianne Moore. I know I’d watch. Read more at the Harvard Review.



Poetry Isn't as Useless as a Lot of Poets Say It Is

by Noah Berlatsky
A recent speech at Yale inadvertently sums up what's wrong with the art form these days: Its gatekeepers believe poetry matters because it's poetry, not because of what it says. Read more at The Atlantic.

‘Now I’m a Real Boy!’ A Very Long Piece about the Poetry Plagiarism Scandals

by Katy Evans-Bush
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, the past couple of weeks have brought yet more sharks to the surface: it begins to seem that there’s no one left out there writing their own stuff. In one rather dismaying example, a poem disqualified from its previous place as winner of a major competition can’t even make way for the poem in 2nd place, because that one was by last year’s plagiarist, Christian Ward. Read more at Baroque in Hackney.


Drafts & Framents

Ozymandias of Amarillo: A Texan Take on Shelley's Poem, Featuring Tube Socks

By Atlas Obscura
Just off the highway heading south on I-27 out of Amarillo are two gigantic legs in athletic socks. You wouldn't know it, but they are the shattered likeness of an Egyptian king. "Ozymandias" is the Greek name for Ramesses II and was the inspiration and name of an 1818 poem by Percy Shelley. Read more at Slate.

Poetry In The News

Poet Philip Levine Wins $100,000 Prize

One of the country's most honored poets, Philip Levine, has received a $100,000 lifetime achievement prize. The American Academy of Poets announced Thursday that Levine, a Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. poet laureate, has been given the Wallace Stevens Award. Read more at the Post Bulletin.

Poet Uses Defense of “Collage Poetry' after Recycling Plath Lines

Australian poetry circles are abuzz with a plagiarism scandal involving a little-known but award-winning poet who has recycled works by giants of the genre such as Sylvia Plath, Seamus Heaney and Charles Bukowski. Newcastle-based poet and academic Andrew Slattery, 30, admitted to The Australian yesterday he had passed off as his own the work of other poets and acknowledged his once-promising writing career was in ruins. Read more at the Australian.

New Books

Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years edited by Jim Kacian, Philip Rowland, and Allan Burns 

[Hardcover] W. W. Norton & Company, 464 pp., $23.95
Haiku in English is an anthology of more than 800 brilliantly chosen poems that were originally written in English by over 200 poets from around the world. Although haiku originated as a Japanese art form, it has found a welcome home in the English-speaking world. This collection tells the story for the first time of Anglophone haiku, charting its evolution over the last one hundred years and placing it within its historical and literary context. It features an engaging introduction by former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins and an insightful historical overview by leading haiku poet, editor, and publisher Jim Kacian.

The Accounts by Katie Peterson

[Paperback] University of Chicago Press, 104 pp., $18.00
“Katie Peterson’s impressive poems belong to the school of omission and inference. ‘I didn’t come here to make speeches,’ she says in her poem ‘Earth,’ yet the poems in The Accounts fill you with wonder at what is not being said so skillfully. ‘Pockets of silence,’ they are called, and they contain precise measurements of feeling and thought. In their quiet complexity, Peterson’s accounts involve and entrap the reader in serious conversation.”—Tony Hoagland

Viral by Suzanne Parker  

[Paperback] Alice James Books, 80 pp., $15.95
“One boy leaps from a bridge into a river, and the ripples from his fall ring out to encompass a nation. All that remains unspoken in the reportage—the sorrow and compassion and anger—is given eloquent voice as Suzanne Parker documents another tragedy that challenges our political experiment. Grief-stricken and abiding, Viral addresses our ongoing struggle for democracy.” —Michael Water

The Cloud that Contained the Lightning by Cynthia Lowen

[Paperback] University of Georgia Press, 80 pp., $16.95
“Tough minded, mordant, and oracular, many poems in this book speak through the persona of J. Robert Oppenheimer—but as if he were a revenant and had come back to haunt our contemporary world. His comments on our social and political and spiritual arrangements make up a kind of shadow autobiography fraught with dread, nuclear threat, and a sense of the absurd. Zbigniew Herbert’s Mr. Cogito has found his American counterpart.”—Tom Sleigh

The Lame God by M. B. McLatchey  

[Hardcover] Utah State University Press, 80 pp., $19.95
In The Lame God, author M. B. McLatchey reminds us of the inevitable bond between art and empathy. With a controlled language that finds its echo chamber in the immortal themes and characters of classical literature, this courageous work accompanies the author on her journey through a parent’s anguish in the face of a horrific crime. Using the art of poetry she gives voice to a suffering—and a love—that might otherwise go unheard.

American Amnesiac by Diane Raptosh  

[Paperback] Etruscan Press, 102 pp., $16.00
American Amnesiac is Everyman from the inside out, a truly remarkable work. It records the mental processes of a man suffering from amnesia as flashes of the past impinge on the only world he knows—the now. Its language moves with the speed of thought: rational, irrational, dynamic, but always convincing. It’s a jolting read.—Richard Shelton


Interview with a Poet: Richard Murphy, an Old Spectator Hand

by JP O'Malley 
Richard Murphy was born in County Mayo in Ireland in 1927. He spent part of his childhood in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) where his father was the last British mayor of Colombo. From the age of eight he attended boarding schools in Ireland and England, eventually winning a scholarship to Oxford. In 1959 Murphy moved to Inishbofin, an island off the coast of Connemara in County Galway. He settled there for twenty years, writing poems inspired by tragic tales from the local fishing community. These include ‘The Cleggan Disaster’, ‘The Last Galway Hooker’, ‘Pat Cloherty’s Version of The Maisie’ and ‘Sailing to an Island’. The latter describes a dangerous boating trip Murphy took with his brother. Murphy has always been an outsider. Coming from an Anglo-Irish background, he spent much of his career struggling to be accepted into Irish culture. This subject is reflected in many of his poems. The west of Ireland also features prominently in his work, inspiring him to write poems about Irish landscape, myth and history. In 1980 Murphy moved to Dublin. He lived for a short time in South Africa, and then in 2007 he returned to Sri Lanka, where he still resides. Murphy has recently published The Pleasure Ground, a collection of poems spanning 1952 to 2012. Read more at the Spectator.

Envoi: Editor's Notes

Welcome to Free Verse: The Poetry Book Fair!

Free Verse is an all-day bazaar, market, library, meeting place, performance venue, information resource and more. Celebrating the vitality of contemporary poetry in the UK, publishers both large and small, both experimental and traditional, display and sell their work direct to the public. Read more at Poetry Book Fair.
—Free? Hold out a little longer. The economy is turning around.

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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
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Julia Randall
Emily Dickinson
Gary Snyder
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Robert Penn Warren
Aime Cesaire
Bella Akhmadulina
George Herbert
Louis Simpson
Gerard Malanga
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Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Kostis Palama
A.M. Klein
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