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News Articles, with Rus Bowden

10/28/2003


Purna Biram, a poet and journalist with the monthlies Mulyankan and Dishabodh and formerly with the Maoist weekly Janadesh, was arrested in Kathmandu on 29 August by security forces as he was reading poems at a demonstration. Security police deny they arrested him.

from Reporters without borders: Government urged to stop arrests, murders and kidnappings of journalists



The comparison is beautifully simple: As the barometric pressure of air falls, a storm is unleashed; as controlling psychic pressures fall, primeval violence in the mind is released. Robert Bridges was born in 1844 and died in 1930. (Interesting to compare with the dates of Sigmund Freud, 1856-1939.)

from Slate: Low Barometer by Robert Bridges



While it seems like people in the Lower 48 have given up lives in favor of careers, Alaskans still tend to value building a life rather than a resume. Joseph Enzweiler is a prime example. He is a poet, carpenter, photographer and stone mason with a master's degree in physics.

from The Anchorage Daily News: Well-rounded in life and in writing



Gregerson's poem is defined by two extended metaphors or conceits. One describes the body's possessing a "versatile logic," producing "error" and functioning as a "system." And the other speaks to the ways in which we "learn" our relationship to the body, whether it is "willy-nilly" or by "rote."

from The Baltimore Sun's SunSpot.net: Inevitably, we become aware of our mortality



The particular poem is more contentious, for it is not the best-known of his [Leon Gellert's] World War I poems, published in 1917 as Songs from a Campaign. Apparently staff at the Australian High Commission in London recommended The Last to Leave after reading it in From Gallipoli to Gaza, a recently published work on World War I poets by Australian author Jill Hamilton.

from The Sydney Morning Herald: War poem echoes down the years



Cicero said in his essay on divination, "Thus, in the beginning the world was so made that certain signs come before certain events." Shelley said cryptically in his "Defence of Poetry": " Poets are the heirophants of an unapprehended inspiration; the mirrors of the gigantic shadows which futurity casts upon the present."

from CounterPunch: Plotting Pre-emptive Strikes: "The Readiness is All"



In a letter to the Queen, Ghalib wrote that the kings of Persia "would fill a poet’s mouth with pearls, or weigh them in gold, grant them villages in fief or open the doors of their treasuries to...him". Ironic that a man who enriched Persian and Urdu literature remained a beggar all his life.

from Outlookindia.com: Poet Bon Viveur: Wine, women and . . . mangoes: these were a few of Ghalib's many loves



On what would have been the poet's 89th birthday, biographer and local resident George Tremlett delivered an astounding 28-page lecture at Laugharne Memorial Hall.

It revealed for the first time how Dylan's life and wealth were hijacked by the "Old Boys of the City of Swansea" who persuaded his widow Caitlin to make them trustees of his estate.

from ic Wales: How Dylan's life and wealth were hijacked



She not only bore him four children, but also coped magnificently with the enormous strains placed upon their relationship by Graves's belief, which survived their marriage in 1950, that domesticity was the enemy of creativity and that all true poetry derived from the relationship between the poet and a woman temporarily inhabited by the Muse, or "White Goddess", of whom Keats had written in La Belle Dame sans Merci.

from telegraph.co.uk: Beryl Graves



Nevertheless, just to think of the kit bag is to be reminded of the thousands, perhaps millions of soldiers, who packed a volume of poetry in it as they went off to the front. It is to be reminded also of the soldiers of the second world war who would have packed their Rosenberg and their Owen. And of the soldiers of other wars since then who packed perhaps a poem written by their child or their spouse. And to be reminded of this, of the value attaching to intensely expressed human feeling, however frail, is to be reminded of what is perhaps the most important truth concerning the teaching of poetry.

from Guardian Unlimited: Bags of enlightenment


10/21/2003


Among those reportedly taken by plainclothes officers in Kathmandu, the capital, at the end of August are Balaram Sharma, a writer and poet, and Ram Hari Chaulagain, a journalist.

There is a "widespread pattern of 'disappearances' perpetrated by agents of the state," Amnesty says, highlighting "hundreds of alleged extrajudicial executions, thousands of arbitrary arrests and numerous reports of torture".

from Guardian Unlimited: Fears as Nepalese disappear



The drama of enclosure was just reaching Northamptonshire as Clare was writing. Much of his poetry assails the landowners who claim beloved landmarks as private property, eroding traditions. Clare hates the railway that is soon to bisect a favorite field. He damns those who have fenced in a local spring where generations of children gathered to drink sugar water.

from Slate: Man Out of Time: John Clare was once as famous a poet as John Keats. What happened?



As far as Clare was concerned, Enclosure meant the end of the world he had known from birth. He could still breathe the air of paradise in Helpston, but he felt pushed out - an "alien" at the centre of his own universe.

In this sense we can see his poetic impulse as something born of the wish to preserve, as well as to celebrate; even the most simply joyful pieces are soaked in the same regret and unsatisfied longing that we find in later and more candidly mournful pieces like "The Moors".

from Guardian Unlimited Books: Sharp seeing, deep feeling: A sympathetic biography of John Clare by Jonathan Bate puts his tragic life in perspective, says Andrew Motion



The last entry Pavese made in his diary, Il mestiere di vivere ("The Craft of Living"), would seem to support Rudman's view: "All this [introspection] is sick. Not words. An act. I won't write any more." But the act that was to replace the words of his diary was suicide. On August 26, 1950, at the age of forty-two, Pavese killed himself with an overdose of sleeping pills in a hotel room not far from his apartment in Turin. Much of his work can be read as an attempt to justify that decision or, rather, to establish a vision where justification is unnecessary, where suicide is destiny.

from The New York Review of Books: The Outsider's Art



In its keynote poem, "The Offers," the ghost of Sylvia Plath appears to Ted Hughes three times. On each visit she tests him; on the last visit she warns, "This time don't fail me."

That startling phrase sends a pulse of light back through every page Hughes had published since Plath's death. It points our attention to the theme in Hughes's work of how marriages fail, or how men fail in marriage.

from USA Today: Excerpt from 'Her Husband'By Diane Middlebrook: Introduction: Becoming Her Husband



Listen to All Things Considered audio

Hear a recording of Plath reading 'The Ghost's Leavetaking,' 'November Graveyard' and several other works (courtesy HarperCollins.com).

Hear a recording of Sylvia Plath reading 'Daddy' and other poems (courtesy Learner.org).

from NPR: Remembering Sylvia Plath: New Works Recall Life and Legacy of Confessional Poet



He [Geoffrey Graham] talks to Jonathan Ridnell, saying that kids take naturally to the rhymes and rhythms of bush poetry.

"Look at your nursery books," he says. "They're all in rhyme. It's easy for kids to learn things in rhyme. I've got three kids - nine, 11 and seven - and they love rhyme. So we grow up with the rhythm."

from ABC Central Victoria: Movement at the station classroom



Gluck declined to sit for an interview, and during a brief telephone conversation, said she preferred not to act as an intermediary for readers' experience with her work.

"I have no concern with widening audience," said Gluck, who prefers her audience "small, intense, passionate."

from The Barre-Montpelier Times Argus: America's poet laureate has her own style



Walcott says he chose Soufriere because "the mysterious nature of the setting seemed suitable as a backdrop for the story." Located near the island's southern tip, Soufriere is a place where history hangs in the air. A major trading port in the 18th century, it is now mostly a settlement of decaying homes and impoverished locals.

Walcott, not surprisingly, sees poetry there. "The narrow streets and thick vegetation give it a dark feeling," he said, "and in that darkness there is mystery and a lot of power. You feel superstitions there in the way that you feel in Haiti or Tobago."

from The Washington Post: Derek Walcott: A Poet's Ode to St. Lucia



So day after day, I wrote, sometimes too absorbed to even stop for lunch and often sitting with my family in a stupor, mulling over a phrase or a set of lines for almost hours, hypnotized, under a spell, often a bad spell. Now out of this, I have seven poems and seven translations, just about a book when added to what I had before. Now I say to myself, "Out of jail!"

from The New York Review of Books: Founding The New York Review: Two Letters from Robert Lowell to Elizabeth Bishop


10/14/2003


That is the story he tells himself on his better days. On other days, bad days, he wonders whether emotions as monotonous as his will ever fuel great poetry. The musical impulse within him, once so strong, has already waned. Is he now in the process of losing the poetic impulse? Will he be driven from poetry to prose? Is that what prose secretly is: the second-best choice, the resort of failing creative spirits?

The only poem he has written in the past year that he likes is a mere five lines long. [JM Coetzee]

Guardian Unlimited: Lost in London



The first part of the series rather prominently mentions "a clerk in the attorney general's office. His age is but 52, despite his venerable beard. For the present it seems to be his fate to be neglected by publishers, insultingly slurred by critics and sundry official magnates in his own country, but welcomed with admiration and applause both as person and poet by the best authorities abroad."

This, Murray quickly concluded, was Whitman writing about himself, anonymously expressing the frustration of a master who was unrecognized in his home town.

The Washington Post: Whitman Sleuth Digs Up Gems in Pages of History



What bliss it must have been for John Close (1816-1891) to write the following crisp quatrain:

Around the gods, each seated on a throne,
The poets, crowned like royal kings they sat.
Around their heads a dazzling halo shone,
No needs of mortal robes, or any hat.
("Haloes, Not Hats")

Close, the editors tell us, "bombarded" the local gentry with poems until, to the public's bafflement, he was awarded a pension of 50 pounds. But it was posterity's pension he no doubt sought, with his Promethean yoking of gods to men and haloes to hats.

Slate: Bad to the Bone: An anthology of verse offers up the banal, the bathetic, the bloated.



Citing an elegant, eloquent 1864 love letter from Washington Roebling, builder of the Brooklyn Bridge, to his fiancée, [John] McWhorter concludes that today "writing to women in language like this would all but ensure his dying alone."

He also has a long chapter on the disappearance of formal poetry as an important part of American culture. He concludes that it has been largely replaced by spoken, informal almost-poetry, significantly devoted to protest or self-indulgence, and bereft of intellectual complexity or ambition. The ultimate and most insidious manifestation is rap.

The Baltimore Sun: SunSpot: Is the degredation of language destroying culture in the U.S.?



The hum of the Kirby vacuum cleaner in a nearby display booth and the drumming of rain on the tin roof make a perfect background for reading that will amaze, delight and even sometimes shock you. In any case, it will renew your faith in the world of the imagination, where children still dream about dragons, delight in snowflakes and describe the world as they see it -- no rhyming couplets barred.

Anchorage Daily News: A fair dose of good poetry



And in the vivid and startling "My Holocaust," inspired by a visit to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., [Rodger] Kamenetz envisions something a bit different from what stands before him. "In my Holocaust Theme Park you will see/ a river of blood, a mountain of gold crowns. Here in the Fun House/ it's a scary ride down into the tunnel/ of broken teeth and children's shoes." Kamenetz makes the reader feel the burn of the blue tattoo, the only appropriate souvenir.

The Times-Picayune: J is for justice: 'The Lowercase Jew' gives us poet Rodger Kamenetz's finely crafted view of history, identity and humanity



[Ciaran] Carson, 55, the first winner of poetry's other top award, the TS Eliot, 10 years ago, won with Breaking News, a collection of verse as unsettling as the crack of an Armalite rifle. The book is haunted by the eerie normality of post-ceasefire Belfast.

The chairman of the judges, Sir Peter Stothard, said both Carson, and the winner of the best first collection, AB Jackson, had written "powerfully about war and politics - taut, truthful poems that the judges agreed would long outlive their topicality".

Guardian Unlimited: Triumph for 'breakfast' poet and a comic rival for Blake's Jerusalem



This thought is echoed in what he referred to as the "war poem," called "Winter."

I am entrenched
Against the snow,
Visor lowered
To blunt its blow
I am where I go

Yet Mr. Menashe rejects the notion of the "poète maudit," the suffering poet. "It's very important not to present me as a grim person because I'm not," he said.

The New York Times: A Shoe That Fits: A Bohemian Poet's Life



Faiz has said that poetry is not only seeing, it is also struggle and in this struggle, one’s participation according to one’s ability is not only a demand of life, it is also a demand of art. And Faiz prays:

“Let us too lift our hands,
We who do not remember the customary prayer,
We who do not remember any idol except love.?

This agony of love is not only a part of the human condition but it is a relationship which extends from one end of the world to another. Faiz’s love for humanity is free from the prejudices of race, colour or nationality, making him the voice of the people.

Times of Oman: A tribute to Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz



The poet is not a “little god?. No, he is not a “little god?. He is not picked out by a mystical destiny in preference to those who follow other crafts and professions. I have often maintained that the best poet is he who prepares our daily bread: the nearest baker who does not imagine himself to be a god. He does his majestic and unpretentious work of kneading the dough, consigning it to the oven, baking it in golden colours and handing us our daily bread as a duty of fellowship. [Pablo Neruda]

Daily Times: Purple Patch: Towards the splendid city


10/7/2003


Evie died on July 31, six weeks after she was diagnosed with the inoperable brain tumour.

The poems were the first time Evie had attempted to write in verse, and covered topics including MRI scans, the indigestion caused by medication, her identical twin sister, her pets and even a wobbly tooth.

from Sky News: Parents Release Poems



Writing tame exercises for English class, he thinks:

"What he would write if he could . . . would be something darker, something that, once it began to flow from his pen, would spread across the page out of control, like spilt ink. Like spilt ink, like shadows racing across the face of still water, like lightning crackling across the sky."

This exactly captures the Gothic quality of an early Coetzee novel like “In the Heart of the Country,? but John has years to wait till the writing of books.

from The New Yorker: The Story of Himself



His last will and testament combined Buddhist purity with proletarian reality.

My Will is easy to decide
For there is nothing to divide
My kin don't need to fuss and moan
'Moss does not cling to a rolling stone.

'My body?--Oh!--If I could choose
I would to ashes it reduce
And let the merry breezes blow
My dust to where some flowers grow.

Perhaps some fading flower then
Would come to life and bloom again.
This is my last and final Will.
Good luck to all of you.
Joe Hill.

The cardinal significance of Joe Hill is that he sang; the capital importance of him is that he was shot.

from CounterPunch: Rhymsters and Revolutionaries: Joe Hill and the IWW



"There are those moments when you read a poem and it takes over," he [Billy Collins] says.

The poem becomes the reader.

"When you read a poem, it's not the voice of the poet you hear," he says. "It's your voice reading. It's like when you are driving a car and singing along with the Supremes, and you aren't listening to Diana Ross, but you become the Supremes."

from The Arizona Republic: Rhyme and reason: Poetry is gaining in popularity; several writers offer ideas why



In "Poet's Work," Lorine Niedecker needs only 19 words to evoke both her dedication to writing and her hardscrabble life:

Grandfather
advised me:
Learn a trade

I learned
to sit at desk
and condense

No layoff
from this
condensery

That word "condensery" - a place where condensed or evaporated milk is made - suggests both Niedecker's Wisconsin home and her process of creating through concision.

from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Celebration puts state poet's work in spotlight



When Henry David Thoreau died of tuberculosis at age 44, his good friend Louisa May Alcott penned a verse in his memory. "For such as he there is no death," she wrote, and went on to say:

O lonely friend! He still will be
A potent presence, though unseen,
Steadfast, sagacious, and serene,
Seek not for him, — he is with thee.

Alcott would join Thoreau in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery some 26 years later. By then, two more of her friends and neighbors had also been laid to rest there: Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne.

from Deseret News: Write of passage: Homes of authors bring literary pilgrims to Massachusetts towns



Surely Joyce was merely being polite when he regretted that Yeats didn’t put the ‘colossal conception’ of A Vision into ‘a creative work’. There is nothing colossal about A Vision except its waste of time. Except, of course, that Yeats didn’t think so. Genius has to be forgiven its foolishness.

from The Spectator: Slogging to Byzantium



The title poem, "In Montgomery," written after Brooks went South on assignment for Ebony magazine, was originally published in its pages in 1971.

It reads in part:

I came expecting
the strong young —
up of head, severe,
not drowsy, not in-bitten, not
outwitted by the wiles of history.
For the old tellings taught me
that all of Before was rehearsal,
that the true trends, the splendors, the splurges
were to be lit by the young
(who would give up life, limb and the length of a
morrow for the Necessary Dream)

from The Louisville Scene: Readings, anthology celebrate poet Gwendolyn Brooks



The sheikh telling the epic adopts a Koranic tone when he is talking in classical Arabic prose. There is great resemblance between the sound of musical prose used by Shiites in Husseiniyya and the manner by which Orthodox Christians read through the Bible on certain occasions. Then, when the sheikh comes to poetry, the tone changes, expressing great pain. Sometimes the sheikh himself would burst into tears along with the audience.

from The Daily Star: Performance integral to story of Hussein’s death: Work wrapped up in religious duty



"A very few -- a Bird or two --" has long been one of my favorite Dickinson lines. I love the way that the line's meter, with the interrupting dashes, mimics both the birds' hopping and the way we suddenly notice "a Bird or two" around us. As she does here, Dickinson often invokes the figure of the child in her poems. It is, I suppose, a way of drawing us into the nature of poetry -- to observe ("witness bear") with wonder and delight the mysterious and complex "emblems" of living.

from The Oregonian: Dickinson: eccentric, enigmatic, intensely original


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