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Poetry news, poetry blogs, poetry magazines, poetry journals, poetry sites, poetry links, etc.

Monday, May 17, 2004
Turning the Pages (via Penny Dreadful)

Wallace Stevens, "Jumbo" (at Lime Tree)
One way to try imagining the kind of mind that could produce this poem--or for that matter, to try to understand what that mind was getting at--is to type it out yourself, as I just have.

At the very least, such an exercise makes you more aware of the delicate phonic, lexical, and rhetorical balances that make up a good deal of the poem's structure.

Or something like that. Anyway, it's good to copy out any poem you are studying. Make yourself look at every letter. And if it's too long to copy, it's probably too long.

Ágnes Nemes Nagy (George Szirtes in the Guardian):
At the end of the second world war, there was a brief moment when younger Hungarian writers began to assert themselves before the communist takeover. At this time, a young woman called Ágnes Nemes Nagy, and her then husband, the critic Balázs Lengyel, launched a magazine called Újhold, meaning New Moon. The best of the old and new writers flocked to it, but the new regime considered it too individualistic, too bourgeois, and took appropriate steps not only to close it down, but to ban its contributors from publishing.

So it was that the young Nemes Nagy found herself excluded from the literary life of the country. She taught in schools and Lengyel was imprisoned. [...]

I started translating some of her poems, the clearer, shorter, more epigrammatic ones first, since they seemed more cloudy in Maxton's translation than I thought they needed to be. Their ambiguity lay in their apparent clarity. They were rhymed, often in quatrains, with a firm metrical hand and the occasional line left almost orphaned, hanging like a thread into some other darker territory. I was certain the poems' power lay precisely in their formal structure: in the iron coincidence of rhyme, in the tight-fitting metre.

Two poems here.

Snobby Americana Project:
The Snobby Americana Project is located at www.darn-tootin.com. Once a week, the project will feature a different piece of American classical music, about a hundred works in all. The works will not be archived (I'm not made of server space, after all). The web listing will contain a few sentences about each piece of music, but subscribers to this list will get more information about the works featured, as well as open discussion.

The Haunted Igloo - Sarah Manguso

Thursday, May 13, 2004
'Fictitious' author publishes the first book without verbs:
First, there was the novel written without using the letter "e". Now a French author has produced what he claims is the first book with no verbs.

Perhaps inevitably, critics have commented unfavourably on the lack of action in Michel Thaler's work, The Train from Nowhere, which runs to 233 pages. Instead of action, lengthy passages are filled with florid adjectives in a series of vitriolic portraits of dislikeable passengers on a train.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Poet-of-the-skies Wendy Morton writes poems for airline passengers
When passengers on a recent Edmonton-to-Toronto flight got settled in their seats, they were offered the usual snacks and beverages. Later, a striking woman with a mellifluous voice took the microphone to read poetry aloud before querying whether anyone would like her to compose a personal poem.

Hands shot up, and Wendy Morton, a.k.a. WestJet's poet of the skies, was hard at work again, chatting with passengers for inspiration and then scribbling verses about life, love and adversity on sheets of lined paper as the plane winged its way over Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the Great Lakes. [...]

The resident of Sooke, B.C., isn't a regular fixture on WestJet, but whenever she does fly - a few times a year - the airline provides her with free passage in exchange for her labours. [...]

Here is a poem written by poet Wendy Morton aboard a recent WestJet flight for passenger Linda Konrad:
Water Polo

Her nieces never touch bottom,
tread water the whole game:
with grace and strength.
They cry when they win,
when they lose.
It's a watery metaphor
for their lives,
getting them ready
for the real world,
where they will tread water,

Bard of the Boots keeps singing the Blues:
What helped swing it for Hurst, 37, was the fervent rhyming of his singalong ode to the squad, especially Stan Lazaridis, to the tune of Tammy Wynette's Stand By Your Man:
_ (But) Stan is the man

His shirt they try to cling to

As he weaves down the wing to

Find Forssell with precision

Does the baseball league (or whatever it's called) have a poet laureate yet?

Joan Collins and the decline of the west:
Having set out her territory, her arguments take flight. In another essay, "Alchemy", she writes that "The greatest shock for an east European writer who turned up in the western literary marketplace was the absence of aesthetic criteria." The easterner, brought up to believe in a distinction between "literature" and "trash", is introduced to a westerner and admits modestly that he is a writer. "What a coincidence!" the reply comes. "Our 10-year-old daughter is just finishing a novel. We even have a publisher!"

Wednesday, April 28, 2004
Thom Gunn has died.

Thom Gunn, 74, Poet Who Left Tradition for the Counterculture, Dies (NY Times):
Thom Gunn, a transplanted British poet identified with the San Francisco scene and the California liberated style, died on Sunday night at his home in San Francisco, his adopted hometown. He was 74.

His death was announced by his companion of 52 years, Mike Kitay.

Acclaimed as one of the most promising young poets of postwar Britain, Mr. Gunn found his own voice after he migrated to California in the 1950's and established himself in San Francisco, his home for the rest of his life. There, he wedded traditional form to unorthodox themes like LSD, panhandling and homosexuality. He experimented with free verse and syllabic stanzas. In doing so he evolved from British tradition and European existentialism to embrace the relaxed ways of the California counterculture.

Thom Gunn (Guardian):
In a poem from his 1982 collection, The Passages of Joy, Thom Gunn delightedly announced: "I like loud music, bars, and boisterous men."

But he immediately provided a characteristically cerebal explanation: these were things "That help me if not lose then leave behind, / What else, the self."

This relationship - balance rather than conflict - between the body's hedonism and the mind's discipline is a central, enduring theme in the work of one of the late twentieth century's finest poets.

More at:

Tuesday, April 27, 2004
A beautiful, impressionistic cine-poem (and a companion piece to her short Chronic), Jennifer Reeves's debut feature combines elements of experimental film, narrative cinema, and documentary to create a stellar example of personal filmmaking. Poet Lisa Jarnot plays Robyn, a borderline agoraphobe who can't prevent the outside world from penetrating her Brooklyn apartment—whether it's a murder-suicide next door, memories of her true love, or September 11.

Anselm Dovetonsils, ladies and gentlemen.

Diagram 4.2 is out.

Sunday, April 25, 2004
Walt Whitman was an awful child molester who was born in ancient Hong Kong. He is over 3,000 years old and remembers the names of all the forgotten gods.

Saturday, April 24, 2004
What's Going On (Tucson Citizen):
Heriberto Yepez - Poet, essayist, short-story writer and translator Heriberto Yepez lectures - 1-3 p.m. at the Poetry Center, 1600 E. First St., on the University of Arizona campus. Call 296-6416.

Run Loses Poet Laureate Bid (www.allhiphop.com):
Rev. Run [of Run/DMC] was denied the status of poet laureate yesterday (April 23) in Queens, New York.

The winner was noted Korean-American poet Ishle Yi Park who is ironically, a poet that appears on Def Poetry, which was created by the younger Simmons' older brother Russell.

Yi Park, 26, said that she was honored to be compared with Run, because she grew up listening to Run and Hip-Hop music. [...]

Simmons said that he felt Queens wasn't ready for a rapper as a poet and was setting a goal of becoming the national poet laureate.

Her journal is here.

Thursday, April 22, 2004
Dylan Thomas's local bought by voice of Bob the Builder.

Poets die young - U.S. study
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Poets die young -- younger than novelists, playwrights and other writers, a U.S. researcher said on Wednesday.

It could be because poets are tortured and prone to self-destruction, or it could be that poets become famous young, so their early deaths are noticed, said James Kaufman of the Learning Research Institute at California State University at San Bernardino.

For the report, published in the Journal of Death Studies, Kaufman studied 1,987 dead writers from various centuries from the United States, China, Turkey and Eastern Europe. He classified the writers as fiction writers, poets, playwrights, and nonfiction writers. He did not study the causes of death.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Sandy Duncan is Emily Dickinson:
Whether she's soaring above the stage in "Peter Pan," or flying solo in the "The Belle of Amherst," Sandy Duncan loves to take risks in the theater.

Americans fell in love with Duncan as the feisty fairy, a role that earned her a 1980 Tony nomination for best actress in a musical. This week, she's playing a more complex character, the poet Emily Dickinson, in a revival of "The Belle of Amherst." Commonwealth Theatre Company is premiering Duncan in the one-woman show Wednesday through Sunday in the Roper Performing Arts Center in Norfolk.

A one-woman show? We won't get to see Emily's wacky neighbors?

Meanwhile, Emily Dickinson's 'castle of sunshine' discusses the Dickinson house and museum.
"famed reclusive poet"
"literary pilgrimage"
"she shut herself off from the world"
"Legend has it"
"climb a curving staircase"
"the woman in the white dress"
"It was not until after Dickinson died"
"found the handwritten poems" [Oh! They weren't typed?]
"The bedroom window, draped with white gauze curtains"

Castle of sunshine or Castle or Otranto?

Tuesday, April 20, 2004
I wonder how much they'll massacre the language?
The NEA this week is unveiling “Operation Homecoming,” in which troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan will attend workshops run by such writers as Tom Clancy, Tobias Wolff and James McBride. The best submissions will be published in an anthology, scheduled to come out at the end of 2005.

“I’ve always believed that one of the signs of a healthy society is when all aspects of that society communicate with each other,” Gioia said.

Twenty-six authors will participate in “Operation Homecoming,” which Gioia expects to get under way this summer. The program has an initial budget of $300,000, with $250,000 donated from Boeing, Inc., a leading defense contractor. Gioia said the Boeing money comes without restrictions and that submissions will be based on artistic merit, not on whether they’re pro- or anti-war.

Tim Yu on what to call it.
The new Chicago Postmodern Poetry site (a spinoff of Ray Bianchi's former Chicago Postmodern Poetry Calendar) is now up [...]

I admit that I'm a little wary about the "postmodern" label that Ray's chosen; academic discourse these days has developed something of an allergy to the term [...]

Not that there's really a good alternative. Ron Silliman uses the term "progressive" to headline his "Philadelphia Progressive Poetry Calendar" (although I originally thought this was meant to suggest people going to each event in succession, like a progressive dinner). For Ron this label is pointedly political--progressive poetics as progressive politics--but no one else really seems to have adopted it, and I can't say "post-avant" with a straight face. If anyone needed evidence that "experimental" as a label is dead, just look at recent arguments on the Poetics list, which suggest that "experiment" has become an empty gesture, a mere label of value. Even Chicago Postmodern Poetry's own about page just complicates things further, declaring itself "firmly rooted for lack of a better term in the innovative 'avant garde' tradition".

So what's left? Well, working on my dissertation has convinced me that "avant-garde" still hasn't outlived its usefulness as a label, in part because it avoids the merely formal connotations of "experimental" and "innovative" and the critical baggage of "postmodern"; it suggests not just an aesthetic but a social formation, a community of writers making its own way. Hope I'm right.

K. Silem Mohammad on the recent “Is Poetry enough? Poetry in a Time of Crisis” conference.
My own thoughts on the “is poetry enough?” question: I read it as “is poetry-as-usual enough?” with "poetry-as-usual" pointing both to dominant media representations and traditions of poetic practice (MFA workshop models, etc.) and to the pre-existing popular conception of the poet as a de facto opponent of war and political oppression. Heriberto’s statement spoke especially effectively (and bitingly) to this liberal fantasy. (Heriberto, any plans to post it on your blog?) Also, “enough” as “enough of what it could/should be” in the hands of the communities that are concerned with the topics addressed at the conference. One idea that almost threatened to emerge once or twice during the course of the day was the question of how we might take our politically-charged experimental practice out of what is sometimes its quasi-academically impenetrable box and make it more available/legible/desirable as a form of public discourse—a medium geared toward “inundation,” to use Eileen Myles’s term.

Born Magazine Spring 2004 is out.
Born Magazine is an experimental venue marrying literary arts and interactive media. Original projects are brought to life every three months through creative collaboration between writers and artists.