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News Articles, with Rus Bowden

1/27/2004


In the summer of 1822, the Courier, a leading Tory newspaper in London, carried a brief obituary that began: "Shelley, the writer of some infidel poetry, has been drowned: now he knows whether there is a God or no." From this moment on, the dramatic death of Percy Bysshe Shelley in the Gulf of Spezia was set to become one of the most powerful of all Romantic legends. And also perhaps the most misleading.

from The Guardian: Death and destiny



Sexton explored the intimate, hidden details of life; her poetry is so confessional that it is sometimes hard to tell whether she is writing fact or fiction. She dealt with personal subjects that many in her day thought inappropriate: abortion, menstruation, drug addiction, sex, religion, suicide and other taboo topics.

To her detractors, mostly men, who felt she was treading on unsuitable territory, Sexton once said: "I can invade my own privacy. That's my right."

from Chicago Sun-Times: Mixing poetry and emotion



The poems collected in Ariel capture this paradox through vital portraits of a self in the throes of what Freud called the death drive. "There's a sense that in Ariel, Plath is finally speaking in her most authentic voice," says Schultz. Plath's words drip with violent, nearly melodramatic metaphors, as in the poem "Death & Co": "He tells me how sweet/The babies look in their hospital/Icebox, a simple/Frill at the neck/Then the flutings of their Ionian/Death-gowns."

from Psychology Today: Dying for Melodrama



Her [Erica Jong's] Sappho is a poet, mother, wife and embattled noblewoman who, even at the end of her life, wants to have it, and them, all: "I can still make someone love me – if only for a little while."

Sappho lived on the isle of Lesbos in the seventh century bc. It's fairly certain that at some point she was exiled and went to Sicily. There is a legend that she died by jumping off a cliff, driven mad for a boatboy called Phaon - she is poised for this plunge at the beginning of Jong's novel.

from telegraph.co.uk: Sapphic slanders



"He [Pedro Pietri] captured that social death and the hope that there is recourse to humanity in the Puerto Rican culture that people had cut themselves off from," said Juan Flores, a professor at Hunter College who is helping Mr. Pietri compile an anthology of his work. "It was not just about the poverty, but about the crass materialist culture that leads us all into illusions about ourselves."

Martin Espada, a poet and English professor at the University of Massachusetts, said "Puerto Rican Obituary" inspired him at a time when washing dishes was looming as a career choice.

from The New York Times: When Life Is Art, Dying Is Simply Not an Option



In "Late Snow" she [MR Peacocke] writes of:

An end. Or a beginning.
Snow had fallen again and covered
the old dredge and blackened mush
with a gleaming pelt; but high up there
in the sycamore top, Thaw
Thaw, the rooks cried,
sentinel by ruined nests.

This is Larkin's trees crying to "Begin afresh, afresh, afresh" and Shakespeare's "bare, ruin'd choirs".

from The Guardian: An end and a beginning: Small presses are breathing new life into poetry publishing. David Morley salutes the discrimination and talent behind MR Peacocke's Speaking of the Dead



She [Linda Schandelmeier] prefers to do her listening in the kind of quiet places the rest of us just pass through--the woods in winter, a deserted cabin, an old relationship.

from Anchorage Daily News: Schandelmeier writes of woodlands she loves



[Robert] Wrigley hears what he says, listens not only to what he hears in the woods but what he hears in the house, to the sound of the words he is setting down as well as to the ideas and sensations he wants them to carry: ''And now the snow I could smell/has married the wind, my face/feels sandblasted. Even when I stop/to listen, I hear nothing of my passage,/no heart thump or lung rasp . . ." Listen to the play of the senses in those lines.

from The Boston Globe: Rich records of the senses



On the day of his burial, more than 10,000 people came to pay their respects. He is well remembered today all over the world. On the anniversary of his birth, Scots at home and abroad celebrate Robert Burns with a supper where they address the haggis, a favourite Scottish dish made out of a cow’s stomach and filled with oatmeal and spices!

And here, so close to St. Valentine’s Day, we have included Robbie’s poem about love. We aren’t sure which of his “luves? he was writing about, but we assume (and hope) it was his faithful wife!

from The Community Press Online Daily: Robbie Burns Day celebrates a hard-working ploughboy



Churchill’s name came up after the embarrassed jury had to admit at the last minute that the three literary profiles short listed among the 25 nominees that year were not worthy of the prize.

The three were US poet Robert Frost, British novelist and poet Walter de la Mare and Icelandic author Halldor Laxness. These had already beaten the competition, which included Graham Greene and Ernest Hemingway.

from Khaleej Times: Churchill won Nobel Literature Prize by default, documents reveal



1/20/2004


"It is considered one of the world's most perfectly constructed poems, and it has to be one of the world's most recognized poems," says Mr. [Jeff] Jerome. "But he [Edgar Allan Poe] was never satisfied with it."

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more."

from The Washington Times: Cloaked visitor, like raven, by Poe's side



In his lecture, Mr [Kofi] Annan explained why he was eager to take part in the event.

He told the audience: “At first glance, one might think there is an ocean of distance between the hard-nosed give-and-take of international diplomacy as it is practised here in New York, and the lyrical verse that emanated from rural Scotland two centuries ago.

“But look closer and I think you will see why I am here.

from The Scotsman: National Bard Hailed by UN Chief



Poetry’s detractors often worry away at the thought of what possible use poetry can have. The poet himself questions its value in a world saturated with suffering. Keats’ Nightingale ode reaches out for a possible solution in consolation for the sadness of the past and a readiness to discover less tangible, yet riskier and possibly more dangerous worlds in his oft-quoted phrase: ‘the foam of perilous seas in fairy lands forlorn.’

from Daily Times: In defence of poetry



[Iain Finlayson] recounts how Thomas Carlyle informed Browning that his wife Jane had read the poem Sordello with great interest but wished to know whether Sordello was a man, a city or a book.

Douglas Jerrold - another friend of Dickens - read the same poem when recuperating from illness. "My God!" he is reputed to have said, "My health is restored, but my mind's gone. I can't understand two consecutive lines of an English poem."

from telegraph.co.uk: A poet in an age of novelists: Jonathan Bate reviews Browning: A Private Life by Iain Finlayson



These bafflements weren't enough to prevent [Robert] Browning becoming widely praised in his lifetime, but they left many people feeling uneasy about his poems. Jane Carlyle was notoriously suspicious of their depth, and John Churton Collins said that he was "a man eager to be of a grade to which he did not belong". It wasn't only the lack of connectedness that bothered them. They were also troubled by his obscurity, and by the roughness of his versification.

from The Guardian: The noisy poet: Andrew Motion searches for new insights into the life of an eminent Victorian in Iain Finlayson's Browning




[Don] Paterson is a poetical all-rounder who will roll out a matey stanza but who is never afraid to steepen the slope for his readers; at the same time he has a sense of humour and fun. Witness his second collection, God's Gift to Women, with its textless poem "On Going to Meet a Zen Master in the Kyushu Mountains and Not Finding Him".

from telegraph.co.uk: A poet who steepens the slope: Tibor Fischer reviews Landing Light by Don Paterson



[Don Paterson] works as a writer, editor and musician. He has also written drama for the stage and for radio, and worked as a reviewer and columnist for several national newspapers. As a jazz guitarist, he works solo and with the ensemble Lammas, with whom he has recorded five albums.

from BBC News: Scottish poet wins £10,000 prize: Scottish poet Don Paterson has won the prestigious TS Eliot Prize for poetry for the second time in six years



Writer Annie Dillard describes [John] Morgan's poems as "strong and full of carefully controlled feeling." His poems tell stories about the people he has met in Alaska and the places that have become signposts along his inner journey.

from The Anchorage Daily News: Fairbanks writer Morgan describes his Alaska journey



Cynthia Huntington has been nominated as New Hampshire's next poet laureate. These poems are from one of her collections, The Radiant.

from Concord Monitor: Cynthia Huntington, NH's next poet laureate



The objective is to make each of the beebees come to rest in each of the holes, thereby completing the star. The game is easy at the start, but after the first beebees are placed, it becomes harder, since in trying to get the remaining beebees into their holes, one often dislodges the others. The patience learned from worrying those beebees is also taught by the poem, which asks that we keep a steady hand throughout its many comings-apart.

from Poets & Writers Magazine: Indirect Entry: Notes on Poems in Progress


1/13/2004


Take, for instance, this poem in which Man defiantly address God on the ground that Man has proved the better artist of the two:

Thou didst create night and I made the lamp,
Thou didst create clay and I made the cup,
Though didst create the deserts, mountains and forests,
I produced the orchards, gardens and groves;
It is I who turn stone into a mirror,
Ad [sic] it is I who turn poison into an antidote!

from Daily Times: Purple Patch: Mohammed Iqbal



One morning it's a world without "Easter 1916" or "Sailing to Byzantium" or "Long-Legged Fly", and next morning there they are, in almost illegible longhand, as the seemingly abstracted poet [W.B. Yeats] continues to go about his business of pursuing first Maud and then Iseult Gonne in Normandy or residing with Lady Gregory in Coole, lingering with a bare-breasted Edith Shackleton Heald in the gardens of Chantry House or philandering with Lady Dorothy Wellesley in Penns. And in each case [Roy] Foster is as attentive to the poetics as he is to the erotics of the situation.

from Financial Times: Filial closeness at work



One of the things I'm addressing in those two poems in the front of the book, "The Lowercase Jew" and "Allen Ginsberg Forgives Ezra Pound on Behalf of the Jews," is that the modernist poets, Eliot and Pound in particular, were virulently anti-Semitic. The general acceptance of their work and the propagation of it in the period before World War II really made it difficult for Jewish poets in that time, the 20s and 30s. It was felt if you were writing poetry in English, you couldn't be a Jew. It was something to be ashamed of.

from Beliefnet: The Poetry of Rye Bread: Rodger Kamenetz explores contemporary Jewish poetry, anti-Semitism in Eliot, & why his own poems are an homage to King David



Somehow all our poems sound alike. And barring the poems of a few, these poems exhibit a one-dimensionality that reveals their meaning, straightaway. Missing are the many levels of meaning that give strength and intensity to a poem. Do our poets ever attempt, in Hardy's phrase, "to touch our hearts by revealing their own?" May be they don't do that.

Sadly, Indian poetry in English does not touch us in our deepest, most enduring self.

from The Daily Star: Of the Lowly Potato: Indian English Poetry Today



For three-and-a-half years in England, the poet [Nissim] Ezekiel lived a bohemian life of poverty and poetry. He was a clerk and dishwasher. He lived in a basement room that would appear frequently in his poems. From 'Background, Casually':

Twenty-two: time to go abroad.
First, the decision, then a friend
To pay the fare. Philosophy,
Poverty and Poetry, three
Companions shared my basement room.

from Rediff.com: 14 attempts at a tribute



Q: What was the inspiration for your award-winning work?

[Irma] Bettancourt: If I were to summarize it in a few words I would say that "From the Loom of Time" and other poems I have written, have arisen from a real situation: on one hand, my extreme weakness, and on the other, the certainty of the existence of another immutable and transcendent reality that our physical senses can barely perceive--after a sunset, the warble of a thrush, the aroma of a wave, the unfolding of a flower or the moisture of dew when walking on grass. And, all of a sudden, as a gift, after the presence of any human being.

from ZENIT News Agency: Suffering as a Creative Experience for a Poet: Irma Bettancourt, Recipient of Rielo Award for Mystical Poetry



Basho was born in 1644 in Ueno, Iga Province, and was originally named Matsuo Munefusa. He served in a samurai household of his master, Yoshitada. Once Yoshitada died, Basho left behind his samurai name and position. In 1672, he reappeared as an editor of the poetry anthology "Kai Oi" ("The Seashell Game"). In 1687, he left for Edo (modern-day Tokyo), and there he took a job at a waterworks company in order to care for his nephew, Toin. He continued establishing a name for himself in haiku contests and with collaboration of other poets. Before long, Basho had gained a following and disciples of his poetics.

Although he wrote haiku, Basho's most famous writings mix haiku and prose in a form called "haibun."

from Oregon Daily Emerald: Basho's poems reign near top of haiku genre



Since suffering a major stroke in 1983, the writer [William Meredith] whose circle of friends once included such literary greats as Robert Frost and W.H. Auden has been a prisoner of his own mind--able to understand, but barely able to respond.

Right after the stroke, a simple "yes" or "no" was the most Meredith could muster, a cruel irony for a man who measured his life in language.

And yet, 20 years later, mind, eye, ear and that "great sloth heart" have moved.

from The Palm Beach Post: Poet Meredith to read verse at Kravis



Think up a grand, long-term, world-changing project -- something like Mr. Casaubon's ''Key to All Mythologies'' from ''Middlemarch,'' or that old reliable, the Great American Novel -- and in your mind invest it with such life-defining importance that everything you do that doesn't contribute to realizing it becomes a waste of time. As long as meeting this week's deadline is a way of avoiding the really big thing that you ought to be doing instead, it becomes much easier. A pretty feeble ruse, perhaps, but it works.

from The New York Times: Just Do It



"As an aside, though," he continued, "if it could be authenticated . . . I'd predict that many, many people might react with irrational denial, vituperation, or both. The daguerreotype has become such an icon, an object of near veneration, for so long, that a ‘new’ image of ED might take some time for people to get used to." For a century, Dickinson’s admirers had treasured the one extant daguerreotype and raised it to iconic status. Most would not readily accept the possibility that, after all these years, another image had surfaced.

from Common-place: How I Met and Dated Miss Emily Dickinson: An Adventure on eBay


1/6/2004


The Paltrow representation of Sylvia is of a self-obsessed introvert such as I have never fortunately met. The real Sylvia did look inward and did write confessional poetry, but she was also a listener and observer, interested in the world about her, wanting to learn, experience and discover. She reached out, wanting perhaps more from the world than anyone can reasonably expect.

from The Scotsman: This is not my Silvia



Likewise, the rather grand house in Devon, which the two young poets laboured so hard to modernise and make shine, is turned into a bleak, dilapidated Cold Comfort Farm, sinking remorselessly into the mud.

The Devon squalor, I suppose, is there for a purpose. It suggests that Sylvia was a household drudge, chained down by babies and domestic chores, while Ted was free to write and gad around as he wished. That is not how I remember her in Devon or anywhere else.

from The Guardian: Ted, Sylvia and me: In a uniquely intimate portrait of Sylvia Plath, The Observer's former poetry editor recalls being her confidant and mentor and tells of the strange experience of seeing himself portrayed in the new film of her life



". . . .The stakes had become too high to do nothingI [Carl Rakosi] took very literally the basic Marxian ideas about literature having to be an instrument for social change, for expressing the needs and desires of large masses of people. And believing that, I couldn't write poetry, because the poetry that I could write could not achieve those endsmy Marxist thinking had made me lose respect for poetry itself. So there was nothing to hold me back from ending the problem by stopping to write. I did that. I also stopped reading poetry."

from CounterPunch: Poet Carl Rakosi Turns 100



He [R.T. Smith] re-creates a world that resides in his memory and, like the visitor to the store, gives breath to dead voices. In the tug of war between past and present, Smith finds wise questions for readers to ponder. That's art. That's transcendent.

from The Advocate: Smith's poetry confronts Southern, universal issues



The words that come to mind to characterize the language of the opening stanzas -- sexy and erotic -- are words not usually associated with this famously conservative poet [Robert Frost]. But expressions of youthful ecstasy insist on their own rhetoric. Lines like "Love at the lips was touch/As sweet as I could bear" or "I had the swirl and ache/ From sprays of honeysuckle" are nothing if not unambiguously carnal.

from The Oregonian: Robert Frost poem depicts love scarred with pain



Philip Schultz was born in Rochester, N.Y., in 1945, a child of Russian Jewish immigrants. "Mr. Schwartzman" is an excerpt from "Living in the Past," which Harcourt will publish in April 2004. In the book, which is described as an autobiography in verse — though the poet adds, "much of it is made up" — we see the year leading up to a boy's bar mitzvah and his interaction with Holocaust survivors, displaced persons, from Eastern Europe. "My neighborhood was overwhelmed by DPs in the 1950s, and there was someone like Mr. Schwartzman then, but the rest is invented," he told the Forward.

from Forward: Mr. Schwartzman



"I would like to believe that a careful reading of my book . . . would improve the way people think. The poems would make their thinking more agile, make the way they pay attention to language more significant," he says.

[Timothy] Donnelly's poems are playful, dynamic, cryptic. A poem such as "Pansies Under Monkhood: A Folly" transforms language into song; the force of sound and rhythm overtakes the logic of grammar and narrative.

from The Salt Lake Tribune: Poet enjoys his modest taste of fame



This New Year's Day brings questions about war and peace in the world; hundreds of our young men and women in the service, and thousands of Iraqis, have died. They are still dying. Our young people have struggled to grasp the meaning of war and death in the following poems [. . .]

from The Boston Globe: From America's youth, verses for peace



Here is the 55-year-old [Heather] McHugh imagining suicide: "I'm watching the final sunset,/ I'm listening to the last bird's note./ I'm leaving nothing to no one." Or here is McHugh, past her youthful exuberance, considering the waning sparks of creativity: "A single gray would suit me fine --/ instead I'm shot to green-red smithereens. If just/ to have a salvo dry (for what's in store --/ the big shebang) I cannot weep. I keep/ my head. I do not make a scene."

As McHugh commented this week in an interview, "Voltaire says life is a comedy for those who think and a tragedy for those who feel. I'm trying to think. But it ain't easy."

from Seattle Post-Intelligencer: McHugh faces down aging with her usual wit and wonder



[Marianne] Moore moved by leaping back and forth between the physical and the abstract, as in the conclusion to ''Nevertheless'':

The weak overcomes its
menace, the strong over-
comes itself. What is there

like fortitude! What sap
went through that little thread
to make the cherry red!

If she ultimately espoused spirit over body, heaven over earth, this allegiance is all the more remarkable given how brilliantly she paid tribute to the planet's flora and fauna, its stones and seas and storms.

from The New York Times: 'The Poems of Marianne Moore': Digesting Hard Iron


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