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News Articles, with Rus Bowden


Clearly understanding that I was heading toward an F in this class, I took off on a suicide mission. I approached the lit stage where these “poets� sat warmed by applause and proudly waiting for more compliments.

"Don’t you think,� I asked, “it is pathetic to perform in this anti-war circus now that Saddam has been captured? How do you feel about his capture?�

“It’s great that they got him,� one of the guys on the stage answered.

“But how,� I asked, “could it have happened without a war?�

The instructor flew at me like a vulture, “Tatiana! Stop this immediately!�

from FrontPage Magazine: Hate America Poetry Class

The first draft of "Howl" poured out of him. But for nearly a year afterward, Ginsberg revised, reorganized and reshaped it, section by section, word by word. When he was done, he knew he'd created the great American poem he'd set out to write. It was a personal coming-out, and to the hipsters of the 1950s it announced the liberation of an entire generation.

"Howl" was overtly antiwar and anti-capitalist.

from Common Dreams: Something to 'Howl' About: Ginsberg's Icon-Busting Poem Resonates in the Patriot Act Era

Translated into political terms, Yeats’s tendency is Fascist. Throughout most of his life, and long before Fascism was ever heard of, he had had the outlook of those who reach Fascism by the aristocratic route. He is a great hater of democracy, of the modern world, science, machinery, the concept of progress — above all, of the idea of human equality. [--George Orwell]

from Daily Times: Purple Patch: William Butler Yeats --George Orwell

What is it about sex crimes, or charges thereof, which riles not men, defending each other in an old-boy stylie, but other women?

It's partly that the dangerous predator in question is often characterised not as an individual who behaved badly, but as a symptom of the rottenness at the core of all of society. For instance, [Harold] Bloom's behaviour "devastated" [Naomi] Wolf's sense of "being valuable to Yale as a student rather than as a pawn of powerful men".

from The Guardian: Always the victim: Naomi Wolf's belated charges about being sexually harassed as a student don't do feminism any favours

The real Plath, however, strikes out in her poetry. In her 1962 poem “The Applicant�, Plath satirises the institution of marriage:

Here is a hand
To bring teacups and roll away headaches
And do what ever you tell it
Will you marry it?
A living doll, everywhere you look. It can sew, it can cook,
It can talk, talk, talk
My boy, it’s your last resort.
Will you marry it, marry it, marry it?

Plath never shows such insight in the film.

from Green Left Weekly: So who was Sylvia Plath?

All poets are mad

Despite Plato’s warnings, thousands of young men and women have willingly been lured by the muses to follow this “ill fated, unsound� profession. And history is an eye-witness to the fact that hundreds and thousands of poets have suffered, both in body and in spirit as they chase after creative mirages. A happy poet thus, is a rarity.

from The Indian Express: Poet, Where Art Thou

Frederick Morgan, a founder and for 55 years the editor of The Hudson Review, one of the nation's most prestigious literary journals, and the author of more than a dozen books of poetry, died on Friday at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He was 81 and lived in Manhattan.

from The New York Times: Frederick Morgan, 81, Editor and Poet, Dies

And so, with knees pressed painfully on the frayed pati, if you spotted something that caught your fancy, you asked for it, whereupon with a sigh redolent of barely imaginable hardship, of the stinking lanes of the Geneva Red Cross camp, of bootleg liquor in bicycle tires, the Bihari bookman would pull it out from among the stack and hand it to you.

And right there in the din of the marketplace, among lungi salesmen and runny pigeon droppings, in between rotting chicken feathers and elaborately hawked-out gobs of rust-red paan spit, I would come upon Pirsig and Penguin New Writing, Isaac Deutsher and Evelyn Waugh, Gogol, Barbara Pym, Ibsen and Henry James.

from The Daily Star: Literary Life in Dhaka: of an anti boi mela and Auden

[St. John] doesn't just say a lot of fish, which is how I'd remembered it, he says 153 fish. Then later he mentions that there was a fire on the beach, which I took to be a kind of barbecue.

Those two details struck me powerfully because this story is profoundly to do with transcendence but in its midst, we have these two very beautiful, practical, humanising and, in a sense, earthing details. Those two things were really the trigger for the poem.

from Andrew Motion: Why I chose to speak of God in the simplest words

In the winter of 1920, Esther Raab decided to undergo her baptism as a poet. To this end, she invited two men - the writers Asher Barash and Yaakov Rabinowitz, the "old men," as she called them - to come for a walk through the Streit brothers' almond grove in Petah Tikva. "It's the month of Shvat and the almond trees are in full bloom," Raab later described it. "We head out. The scents of the flowers and a soft sun, and the virginal white of the almond tree is sweetly intoxicating and the two old men become young, kidding and laughing and finally sitting down on a hilltop covered with groundsels, and I laughingly say, `Do you want to hear a poem?' and I pull out a piece of paper that I'd hidden under my foot in my shoe. They look at me wonderingly and I ask: Shall I read it?[. . . .]"

from Haaretz: Letters of Light and Haaretz: Letters of Light (2 of 2)


The memorial service proved a study in numbed, dignified restraint.

Reetika Vazirani was so warm and open, so brilliant, so beautiful, a procession of mourners said, taking the lectern to share their recollections. Reetika, the gifted, painstaking poet; the encouraging but rigorous teacher; the magnanimous friend. And her son, Jehan, such a captivating 2-year-old. A sprite attending a grown-up friend's party in a wizard's cape. A wonder, learning his colors in Spanish -- azul, amarillo, verde. In the photos displayed at the entrance to the room -- in which he rode a carousel, perched atop a slide, or nestled on Reetika's lap -- he was always beaming.

from The Washington Post: The Failing Light: Why did a rising young poet plunge into despair, taking her own life and the life of her 2-year-old son?

[Elizabeth] Barrett’s father, who for some reason did not want any of his children to marry, was so angry with his daughter that he never spoke with her again.

Elizabeth, however, carried on quite nicely, thriving in Florence and bearing Robert a son. The marriage lasted only 15 years, as Elizabeth died in 1861. But the romance, as immortalized in her poem at right, endures, just as she said it would.

from Cook County News-Herald: A true story about true love

First Minister Jack McConnell told how a short, stark poem by a Scots poet inspired him when he read it at the age of 14.

The poem was by Edwin Morgan, named today by Mr McConnell as Scotland’s national poet – “The Scots Makar�.

from The Scotsman: Stark Poem That Inspired 14-Year-Old Mcconnell

O hoo can you keep in the air sae lang
Muckle black craw, fleein' dooble like that?
Craw and shadow, no' to lay haud o',
A lass may doot if you'll ever be caught.

Decisions about whether to publish a poet's leavings are tricky. Recently, there has been disagreement over the estates of Philip Larkin and William Empson, with the poet's wishes being ignored in the first instance, and relatives refusing to release an erotic poem in the second. [Hugh] MacDiarmid published a lot of work of debatable quality in his lifetime, yet his disregard of some 300 poems suggests that he aspired to keep his oeuvre trim.

from The Guardian: Lost and found: James Campbell on The Revolutionary Art of the Future, a posthumous collection by the troublesome Hugh MacDiarmid

An excerpt from "Beyond the Masks"

"I walk with you to look beyond the masks,
to see us as we were before The Fall,
before we lost the ears to hear the gods
in everything, before we lost the eyes
to see the gods, the sense to know their worth.
[. . . .--Harvey Stanbrough]

from The Indianapolis Star: Sampling of local poetry

Damascus’ decision to deport Osman, who is known by a single name, came after the Chinese government published a blacklist of what it calls Islamic terror organizations working for independence in the northwestern Muslim region of Xinjiang.

Speaking to RFA’s Mandarin service in Ankara, where he arrived last week, Osman said his prominence in the world of Arabic poetry meant that Beijing was wary of the influence he might exert for the Uyghur cause in the Middle East and among Uyghurs in exile.

from Radio Free Asia: Uyghur Poet Expelled by Syria Seeks Refugee Status: Arab poets protest his deportation after 15 years’ residency

Journalist and poet Raul Rivero, 58, perhaps the best known of the dissidents, has lost 71 pounds in the first year of his 20-year sentence, said his wife, Blanca Reyes. "Every day I feel more helpless and indignant," she said.

[Oswalso] Paya said state security agents had threatened other Varela supporters recently. He said 25,000 signatures had been submitted to the government, and Varela supporters are organizing a series of grass-roots meetings around the country to discuss "how the Cuban people can build their own justice, democracy and liberty." He said the government is threatened by growing participation in the Varela Project.

"I would like to make an appeal to the world's conscience," Paya said. "It seems like there is a lot of indifference about the reality of human rights in Cuba."

from The Washington Post: 'They Are Killing These People': Imprisoned Cuban Dissidents Said to Be Seriously Ill, Living in Inhumane Conditions

The weedling thoughts that blossomed in John Clare's madness were often brilliant, in the startlingly direct manner of ''Lines: I Am'' or, perhaps even more disturbingly, ''An Invite to Eternity'': ''Say, maiden, wilt thou go with me / In this strange death of life to be, / To live in death and be the same, / Without this life or home or name.'' This is amazing stuff: gorgeous and heartbreaking and, thanks to the insistent balladlike rhythm (a feature of many of Clare's best poems), unnervingly memorable. It's hard not to feel that in his final years John Clare was a skylark endlessly circling in the air, singing and singing, because he couldn't find his nest in all the weeds.

from The New York Times: 'John Clare': Nature Boy

On the other hand, her [Anne Carson's] impulse to disclose is less a confessional outpouring than an icily penetrating inquiry into the impasse between the mind and the animal life of the body that encloses it: "Everything I know about love and its necessities/ I learned in that one moment/ when I found myself/ thrusting my little burning red backside like a baboon/ at a man who no longer cherished me." What is notable about these lines is the utter absence of complaint. They're not about a search for sympathy or solace.

from Slate: Hermetic Hotties: What is Anne Carson doing on The L Word?

That talent is evident in "Little Brown Brother," a poem in which [Nick] CarbĂł imagines he is the Filipino boy befriended by John Wayne in the 1940s war film Back to Bataan.

CarbĂł seems always to have his radar up for references to Asians in U.S. pop culture -- even when they're not there. For years, he misunderstood the lyrics to the 1960s hit song "Secret Agent Man" --- a mistake that fueled the premise of his second book of poems, Secret Asian Man.

from National Public Radio: Intersections: Nick CarbĂł, 'Secret Asian Man'


To emphasize his point, [Amiri] Baraka writes, in the tone of an owl, "who, who, who."

The piece has raised controversy because of some of Baraka's comments about Israel. Some say the poem is anti-Semitic. It seems, however, as so often happens, that the people complaining the loudest did not read the poem in its entirety, for Baraka writes clearly about terrorism perpetrated on the Jewish people.

from The Virgin Islands Daily News: African-American poet, activist Amiri Baraka visits St. Thomas for Black History Month

While in Spain GĂłmez de Avellaneda is recognised as one of the authentic voices of romanticism and as a precursor to modern feminism, on this Caribbean island where she was born she has been the target of severest criticism.

"She was too much woman for her era, and that fact was assimilated in Spain, where she had greatest success, but not in Cuba," says [Roberto] Méndez, winner of the Nicolás Guillén international poetry prize in 2001.

He quotes one of GĂłmez de Avellaneda's contemporaries, who said: "That woman is a lot of man."

from Inter Press Service: Poet's Sullied Reputation Recast

"Mrs. D, do you intend to live under the stairs permanently? Are you listening to me, Hillé? Look, I don't want to upset you, but the answer isn't under there, do you hear? It's not under the stairs nor up here, on the top landing, can't you understand there is no answer? No, I didn't understand then and I don't understand now, in someone's wisp of air, in a breath, in a more convulsive eye, in a scream, in a misstep, in the smell who knows of dry things, in cow dung, some day, some day, some day [….]" [--Hilda Hilst]

from Brazzil: Brazil: Farewell to a Cursed Poet

"First draft is you scribbling it on a notebook, or a paper, or a napkin and you read it there. And if you make mistakes, man, it makes the poem much more interesting and exciting, and that’s when history started being made. At the time, it was the decline of the Beat Generation, and poetry went back to the universities and became an academic thing, but here come these street poets, man, and we pushed academia out of the way and took over the scene." [--Pedro Pietri]

from New California Media: Battling Cancer, Nuyorican Poet Still Believes in the Power of the Word

For years he [Sinan Antoon] was wrecked with guilt over being in America in the first place. “I would look at how much dog and cat food there was, and think, if people in Baghdad could only have the life of dogs here.�

It wasn’t until he moved to Cairo in 2002 that Antoon began to feel revived. It was the first time he had lived in an Arab city outside Iraq.

“In Cairo, I could see the world in a poetic way and I was happy. I could see the world in metaphors again,� he said.

from The Daily Star: Expatriate Iraqi poet returns home to find his calling: Sinan Antoon emerges as one of the leading poets of his generation, pushing boundaries of the acceptable

"I lived in the United States for many years and among other things I used to translate Polish poetry into English. In doing so, I discovered something that American critics later dubbed 'the Polish school of poetry.' These are mostly writers whose texts embrace a certain historical experience, although they don’t necessarily need to depict any particular historical or political events. For instance, Seamus Heaney, the Irish poet and Nobel Prize winner, found in the poetry of our part of Europe--in Zbigniew Herbert’s and mine, for example--many stimuli for his own work." [--Czeslaw Milosz]

from Central Europe Review: Milosz: Optimistic Catastrophist

When Mangan died of cholera in 1849, he had witnessed a period as darkly turbulent as any other in Ireland's history. The last two decades of his life, when most of his poems were published, saw Catholic Ireland get the vote, saw the revolution of 1848 and saw, most traumatic of all, the great famine. In that time and, to a certain degree, in Mangan's own poems, the roots of the Celtic revival and the modern Irish state can be traced.

from The Guardian: The man in the cloak: John Redmond revels in an introduction to the surprisingly modern poems of the 19th-century Irish nationalist James Clarence Mangan

The change in him [Keats] was wonderful, and continued even after our return to the ship, when he took a volume (which he had a few days before given me) of Shakespeare's poems, and in it he wrote me the subjoined sonnet, which, at the time I thought the most enchanting of all his efforts. [Mr Joseph Severn, 1846]

from The Guardian: Last lines: Keats's last sonnet, from the Guardian, February 7 1846

"It's really important to not disregard your passions, your leanings," [Louise] Gluck said. "If you want to watch videos, watch videos. You don't know really, or determine, what will feed you."

from Yale Daily News: Poet Gluck will guide, inspire students in fall

"Maninbo" ("Ten Thousand Lives"), a work he [Ko Un] vowed to write while in prison, is a series of poems dedicated to making a record of everyone he has ever known. The work has reached 15 volumes so far. "The project itself, just the idea of it, should be enough to put him on the short list for the Nobel Prize," says Robert Hass, former poet laureate of the United States.

from Washington Times: Korean poet-activist 'cries out' for voiceless


The marvellous sonnet "And Change, with hurried hand" shows [Frederick] Tuckerman at his best in its vividness of image and unresolved emotion:

And Change, with hurried hand, has swept these scenes:
The woods have fallen; across the meadow-lot
The hunter's trail and trap-path is forgot;
And fire has drunk the swamps of evergreens!
Yet for a moment let my fancy plant
These autumn hills again, - the wild dove's haunt,
The wild deer's walk. In golden umbrage shut,
The Indian river runs, Quonecktacut!
Here, but a lifetime back, where falls tonight
Behind the curtained pane a sheltered light
On buds of rose, or vase of violet
Aloft upon the marble mantel set, -
Here, in the forest-heart, hung blackening
The wolf-bait on the bush beside the spring.

The attentive reader may have got a hint already of a technical peculiarity, which informs each individual poem but can only be fully appreciated in the abstract.

from The Guardian: Intimacy with a stranger: Reclusive and driven by grief for his dead wife, the 19th-century American poet Frederick Tuckerman offers intriguing glimpses of a curiously modern confessional, writes Alan Hollinghurst

Shaken by criticism of his epic poem Maud, which was published in the same book as the Charge in 1855, Tennyson proposed removing almost half the famous account of the Crimean war tragedy.

Among lines struck out in black ink in the poet's firm hand were "Theirs not to reason why/Theirs but to do and die" and "Someone had blunder'd".

from The Guardian: How Tennyson thought he might have blundered

For [Anne] Carson, what matters is Sappho's poetry, not her gender or her sexual orientation. But Sappho's words themselves are not gender-neutral. Carson's translation of Fragment 31 does not make clear what is clear in the Greek: the beloved and the first-person speaker are both female. "It seems that she knew and loved women as deeply as she did music," Carson remarks in her introduction. "Can we leave the matter there?"

The answer, obviously, is no.

from The Guardian: Lady of Lesbos: Poet, courtesan, bisexual, victim... Emily Wilson looks beyond the labels for the essence of Sappho (Contains "adult" language.)

In 1912, he [Ezra Pound] coined the term ''imagism'' to describe the clean, visual, minimalist poetry he championed, and had the sense to jump ship when the movement got precious. His tart pronouncements -- ''Use no superfluous word,'' ''Go in fear of abstractions,'' ''Don't be descriptive,'' ''Every literaryism, every book word, fritters away a scrap of the reader's patience,'' ''Only emotion endures'' -- still belong on index cards above every writer's desk

from The New York Times: Ezra Pound's Black Jacket

Brutal Imagination, [Cornelius] Eady's most recent collection, begins with a remarkable series of 30 poems in which the poet assumes a fascinating persona: that of the black kidnapper invented by Susan Smith in her unsuccessful attempt to deny responsibility for the 1994 murders of her two sons. Smith's concocted tale fueled racial tensions in Union, S.C.

from Kansas City Star: Riffing on the words: Cornelius Eady inflects poems with Brutal Imagination

Barry from the Bush, the poet "as Australian as a slouch hat", died doing what he loved most.

Barry, christened Fred Homburg, is believed to have had a heart attack at his kitchen table, a pen in one hand and an unfinished poem in the other.

from The Herald Sun: Bush Barry's final verse

"Yemeni women's poetry tends to be very, very personal . . . almost like hanging your dirty linen in public," [Najwa] Adra said. "As a consequence, it's dying out, and with it, a major channel of women's voices is also dying out. We think of modernity as liberating for women, but in the villages of Yemen, it's almost the opposite. You don't hear [poetry] on television sitcoms."

from National Geographic: In Yemen, Fighting Illiteracy Through Poetry

He [BW Vilakazi] is very clear as to what he means by Bantu literature:

'By Bantu drama, I mean a drama written by a Bantu, for the Bantu, in a Bantu language. I do not class English or Afrikaans dramas on Bantu themes, whether these are written by Black people. I do not call them contributions to Bantu literature. It is the same with poetry.' And then follows a statement that is really a celebration of his refusal to be subjected to the linguistic perimeters of European memory: 'I have an unshaken belief in the possibilities of Bantu languages and their dramas, provided the Bantu writers themselves can learn to love their languages, and use them as vehicles for thought, feeling and will.

from Consciousness and African Renaissance: South Africa in the Black Imagination (2)

[Nissim Ezekiel's] hilarious, and slightly controversial, poems in Indian English are said to be based on what he actually jotted down of the speech of Gujratis speaking imperfect English, among them the Principal of Mithibai College, the source of "Goodbye Party for Miss Pushpa, T. S." Also somewhat controversial are what I would describe as the poems of womanizing, like "Nudes 1978." Then there are the 'found' poems, derived from newspaper reports, and the 'poster' poems, which are more like collections of aphorisms. All in all, Ezekiel was undoubtedly the first major figure in Indian English poetry who found a resonant, authentic Indian voice.

from The Daily Star: Placing Ezekiel

I met History once, but he ain’t recognize me,
a parchment Creole, with warts
like an old sea bottle, crawling like a crab
through the holes of shadow cast by the net
of a grille balcony; cream linen, cream hat.
I confront him and shout, “Sir is Shabine!
They say I’se your grandson. You remember Grandma,
your black cook, at all?� The bitch hawk and spat.
A spit like that worth any number of words.
But that’s all them bastards have left us: words.
[Derek Walcott]

from The New Yorker: The Islander

Special Section: Janet Frame Died

The desperately shy and insecure Frame, who had been dreading this moment, greeted the inspector politely, and waited for him to sit down at the back of her hushed classroom of expectant children.

"Then I said to the inspector, 'Will you excuse me a moment please?' I walked out of the room and out of the school, knowing I would never return," she wrote many years later.

Frame ran away from Arthur Street School – and towards a long and brilliantly successful life of literary achievement, turning her life of terrible suffering and shyness into New Zealand's greatest literary legacy.

from The Australian: Nation loses its voice

"I believe there is a reasonable amount of unpublished work . . . I've seen shoeboxes of unpublished poems," Elizabeth Alley, a friend and former Frame literary executor, said.

Frame would have been aware of the interest generated by unpublished work in the event of her death, she said. "One has to remember that Janet didn't publish because she didn't feel she was writing to the standard she wanted to write to. That was her own judgment.

from Stuff: A literary legacy left in shoeboxes

Until the release of Jane Campion's film An Angel at My Table Janet Frame was an enigma to most New Zealanders. That adaptation of her autobiographical work made her a household name where she had once been acclaimed by a more select section of society who had long recognised her worth.

from The New Zealand Herald: Frame's extraordinary talent

In 1952, she was on the surgical list at Seacliff Hospital in Otago for a prefrontal leucotomy (more commonly known as lobotomy) to make her "normal", after she had been wrongly diagnosed as schizophrenic. When told of the decision, made with the support of her confused mother, Frame later said her reaction was a "swamping wave of horror".

She was saved within days of an operation that would have destroyed her creativity by winning a literary prize for her first book, Lagoon and Other Stories.

from The New Zealand Herald: A literary angel mourned

Janet Frame received many honours. She was a Burns Scholar, a Sargeson Fellow and was awarded the New Zealand Scholarship in Letters. A later book, The Carpathians (1989), won the Commonwealth Literature Prize. In 1983 she was appointed CBE. Last year she was shortlisted for the Nobel Prize for Literature.

from Janet Frame


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