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News Articles, with Rus Bowden


And even now, in retirement, she has become a guiding presence to a new generation of poets in the hip-hop movement, the link between past and future.

"Sonia Sanchez is the spiritual mother," declares Danny Simmons, executive producer of Def Poetry on HBO. "She's got a young spirit, and she makes herself available. She's the conduit."

Retired since 1999 as the Laura Carnell Chair in English at Temple University, Sanchez has written 16 books, most of them poetry, including Homegirls and Handgrenades, Under a Soprano Sky, and Does Your House Have Lions?, which was nominated for the 1998 National Book Critics Circle Award.

from The Philadelphia Inquirer: The expansive Sanchez

The other version was immortalized by the 19th-century poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier, whose poem "The Palatine" appeared in The Atlantic Monthly in 1867. In it, Block Islanders recall the wreck--and some islanders' roles in causing it by igniting false signal lights to draw the ship aground.

Then, according to the poet, they plundered the ship "like birds of prey/ Tearing the heart of the ship away,/And the dead never had a word to say/And then, with a ghastly shimmer and shine/Over the rocks and the seething brine,/They burned the wreck of the Palatine."

from Quad-City Times: Christmastime shipwreck sparked ghost ship legend

And Burns' most popular song, 'Auld Lang Syne', is sung on the strike of midnight of New Year's Day by millions of revellers around the world.

The poet John Stuart Blackie best summed up the importance of Burns to his homeland. He wrote: "When Scotland forgets Burns, then history will forget Scotland."

from Scotland on Sunday: Our heritage in ruins

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

I was first introduced to Frost's poem many years ago. While I wasn't much of a poetry fan then, this poem struck a chord. It wasn't until a snowy night years later, however, that the words took on a much deeper meaning.

It was late on a Christmas Eve.

from St. Paul Pioneer Press: Nature praised in poetry, appreciated in person

So go away before I ask to know
what you mean about wanting to go
Terrified of being first?
of being dirt?
Of being ambushed or embossed? Personally
I want to batter my way out of this cage of psychology
and get to the longing I really know about

[Fanny] Howe's most distinctive characteristic involves her "intense stations of belief," and her abiding sense of the spiritual. In an essay titled "Bewilderment," Howe writes that "one definition of the lyric might be that it is a method of searching for something that can't be found. It is an air that blows and buoys and settles. It says, 'Not this, not this,' instead of, 'I have it.'"

from The Philadelphia Inquirer: Visions by a lyric poet who sees her art as a spiritual search

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.

Five lines with "ing" endings! Where would that get you in a workshop? How and why does Eliot choose to do that? Read the lines aloud and note what happens to those ing words, how "breeding" grabs on to "dead land" with its d -- how "stirring" laps into "roots" and "spring rain." How the voice lifts over the -ing ending and runs into all those l's of lilacs, dull, little. Remember, Eliot is turning a tradition inside out. He's in an argument with Chaucer and the entire tradition of "Aprill with his shoures soote" -- and he's doing it while utilizing the sounds of the tradition.

from Melic Review: Don't Quit Your Day Job

But here's the surprise: while Threepenny represents the triumph of the bookish little guy in the age of publishing giants and gossip magazines, it is a behemoth in a landscape crowded with 1,000 literary magazines. That is more than at any time in history. Most of the magazines are geared toward specific audiences, with average readerships of 2,000 and annual budgets under $10,000.

from The New York Times: A Little Journal for Nearly Every Literary Voice

But what has happened to the voice of Canadians who dared to differ with both the Beat and Black Mountain traditions? Robin Mathews reminds Canadians that there are other ways of being poetic. [Gary] Snyder knows little of the Canadian way, and Mathews has given his life to challenging both the obvious and more subtle ways that Canadians can be colonized by the empire. If Snyder were to read his poetry on the Canadian west coast, there would be a good turnout. If Mathews were to do a public reading, the numbers would be much fewer. Why is this the case? Most of Snyder?s books, like Noam Chomsky's, can be found in Canadian bookstores. It is virtually impossible to find a book by Robin Mathews. When Canadians turn to Snyder as their map and true guide, and ignore Mathews, they speak much about a way of being colonized.

from Vive le Canada: Gary Snyder, The Beats and Robin Mathews: danger on peaks and Think Freedom

"OFAC [Office of Foreign Assets Control] is still acting like they have the authority to grant permission and that interferes with our fundamental right to freedom of expression," [Representative Howard] Berman says in a statement on his Web site. He also argues that the agency erred by offering general licenses only to publishers rather than to all segments of the artistic community. "Why should it be okay for a publisher to commission a book from an Iranian dissident, but not for a film studio to work with a Sudanese filmmaker, or a recording studio to collaborate with a Cuban musician?" asks Berman. "This makes absolutely no sense, and reflects the fact that these regulations were issued in a desperate attempt to head off mounting legal and political pressure--not as part of a serious effort to rationalize an indefensible and counterproductive policy."

from The Boston Phoenix: Art confronts politics:

[Antonieta] Villamil delivered a strong, impassioned, and engaging recitation, utilising song and second voice to add dynamics. However by the time the three NZ readers (middle-aged, Pakeha, and male) had finished I held nothing but contempt and scorn for such bored, boorish, self-indulgent wank.

The first kiwi poet read a poem about drinking coffee on the grass in Geneva perving at women in bikinis. The second was stilted Buddhist-inspired twaddle about sliding down the side of volcanoes and picking lemons. And the third had the redeeming value of being slightly funny, but remained set in what appeared to be a 1960s kiwi catholic boy's boarding school experience, hardly a human rights violation though some may argue otherwise.

from Aotearoa Dissident Voice: Rhymes of Resistance or Poems of Privilege?

Melek Ivrendi did not loose her determination of being educated and addressed to her father wrote a 40-section-poem entitled ''Please Daddy, Make It Possible for Me to Be Educated."

'I could not fulfill my wish'

Ivrendi stating she was not sent to school by her family on ''shameful grounds'' says: ''Half of my class was female when I was attending school. Only 3 of them continued to the second stage of primary education. Most of my friends were not given chance to be educated. Girls' going to school is shameful here.[. . .]"

from Roj TV: 40 section-poem from the young girl who is not to sent to school to her father


That's why she [Pauline Michel] insists that over the next two years of her tenure, promoting Canadian poetry will only be part of her job.

"Above all, I want to use my position to represent not just poets, but all Canadian artists," she says. "For me, poetry isn't just published. It can be transmitted orally, or you can have poetry in songwriting or in theatre. My career has always been multidisciplinary and I want my time as poet laureate to reflect that."

from Ottawa Citizen: Bound by the beauty

" . . . But the important thing is the feeling the book gave me--it was a creature, with a life all its own, you thought it was going to move or make a sound. Since then I've always had the feeling that things are creatures, with their own spirit, their own emotional life. It' something sometimes expressed in one's occasional, but very serious attachment to a shirt or a pair of shoes--you unconsciously chose to wear it all the time, without really knowing why. Such was the case with Jacket : I used to wear this jacket every day for two years. It was only much later that I realised I was not wearing it to go out in, but going somewhere with it, in its company." [--Girgis Shoukri]

from Al-Ahram Weekly: Of knives and jackets

The poem [by Pinhas ha-Kohen] dwells not on the anagnoresis but on Joseph's knowledge of the brothers' secret past. Stanza by stanza, Joseph parcels out bits of information about their wicked treatment of the boy Joseph and their betrayal of their father, while they stand terrified, listening as this knowledge is revealed. Not knowing who this vizier is, they must think him a god or the right hand of God to know what they have managed to keep hidden for so long. "There are no secrets before God or me," he seems to say--calling God not by any of His numerous traditional names but by the ominous epithet, "the Revealer."

from The Forward: Portion: You Sold Your Brother For a Pair of Shoes

Dr. [Roy] Nuzzo wondered how someone so young, with such limited experience, could write with such limitless insight? Was his genius somehow born of his disability? The doctor couldn't say, but he was certain he had to save this child's life.

Ekiwah Adler-Beléndez is the son of an American father and a Mexican mother. In a native dialect, "Ekiwah" means "warrior." He's been battling cerebral palsy ever since he was born in 1987, 10 weeks early, weighing less than two pounds.

from MSNBC: To save the body and voice of a poet: American doctor intervenes to help a gifted Mexican teenager

Tuesday and I am still in the coils
of this serpent masking as a vein.
It has swallowed so much. I am the half-
swallowed toad still kicking in the throat.

[Ruth] Stone's diction has also ripened with age: spare, elemental, intrinsically rhythmic. Her poems sound the depths of everyday experience but resonate with a dreamlike intensity.

from The Wichita Eagle: Seeing inthe dark: At 89, going blind, Ruth Stone deepens her poetic vision.

"Are words actually any use to describe what pain (or passion, for that matter) really feels like? Words only come when everything is over, when things have calmed down. They refer only to memory, and are either powerless or untruthful. No general theory about pain. Each patient discovers his own, and the nature of pain varies, like a singer's voice, according to the acoustics of the hall." [--Alphonse Daudet, tr. Julian Barnes]

from Haaretz: Pen Ultimate/Hurtful, heartful

But isn't the idea of a book called Shakespeare and Scotland ridiculously parochial? Shouldn't Shakespeare be left in Stratford and London where he belonged, instead of being forced to answer to some Scottish agenda? Isn't Neil Rhodes on to something when he writes that such a discussion "will inevitably be shaped by the developments of the 1990s" in the fields of nationalism and identity politics? You'd be laughed out of town if you called a book Shakespeare and Falkirk, so why take Shakespeare and Scotland seriously?

from The Herald: To be or no’ to be

The renowned Arab poet and playwright Mamdouh Edwan has died at the age of 63, the official Syrian news agency SANA reported Monday.

Edwan died of cancer at al-Assad Hospital in Damascus on Sunday, reported the state newspaper Al-Thawra.

from Lexington Herald-Leader: Mamdouh Edwan, Famous Syrian Poet, Dies

Copper Canyon Press Editor Sam Hamill, the Port Townsend literary firebrand who famously irked the White House last year by rallying hundreds of fellow poets against the Iraq War, has announced he is leaving the publishing firm he helped start 32 years ago.

from The Seattle Times: Copper Canyon founder to leave publishing firm

The trio's lead attorney, Abdulrahman Al-Lahem, was also absent—he had been arrested and jailed a few weeks earlier for his criticism of judicial practices.

At their opening trial in August the three activists—Ali Al-Demaini, Matrouk Al-Faleh and Abdullah Al-Hamed—were accused of issuing "statements and collecting signatures" as well as "using Western terminology".

Ali Al-Demaini is a poet and novelist who has written extensively on the modernist poetry movement in Saudi Arabia.

from Socialist Worker: State clampdown on the 'Saudi Spring'

Send appeals to authorities:
- expressing serious concern about the arrest of Shi Tao and calling for his immediate and unconditional release
- noting that he is being detained solely for the peaceful expression of his opinions, and therefore in contravention of Article 19 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory
- seeking assurances that he is not being ill-treated in detention, and urging that he be given access to family visits, legal representation and any necessary medical care while he is detained

from International Freedom of Expression eXchange: Writer Shi Tao reported to have been formally charged

The charges against Notes on Tibet have mainly centered around my points of view on religion and Tibet's reality. Asking me to "jump the hurdle" is to demand that I state that my believing in Buddhism is false, that I should not have used my own eyes to observe Tibet's reality, and that in my future writing I must renounce religion and keep in tune with official directives to describe Tibet . . . Regarding all of these demands, I can only say that I am unable, and also unwilling, to jump this kind of "hurdle." From my perspective, to cooperate is to violate the calling and conscience of a writer. [--Woeser]

from Tibet Facing Imperialism of Two Kinds: An Analysis of the Woeser Incident


Mr. [Jackson] Mac Low's poems, like his musical compositions, did not so much blur the boundary between language and music as render it invisible. He prized words not simply for their meaning (he worked as an etymologist as a young man) but as movable fragments of pure sound.

Sprung from their sentences, shuffled and reassembled, Mr. Mac Low's words became layered acoustic collages, meant to be performed aloud. Constantly shifting, always evolving, rarely the same twice, his poems laid bare the machinery of poetry-making itself.

The New York Times: Jackson Mac Low, 82, Poet and Composer, Dies

[Jackson Mac Low's] first interest was music, but by 1938, he was already writing poems with lines such as "Gay cake gotta gay cake go gotta gay cake," and later he sometimes described himself as a "composer of poetry."

Besides poetry and music, Mac Low was actively interested in theater and had a close association with the experimental Living Theatre in New York City during the 1950s and '60s. And in doing so, he didn't so much break genres as ignore them altogether.

The Seattle Times: Mac Low challenged poetic convention by performing his work

Milton, in Piedmont, beseeched God: "Forget not: in thy book record their groans/who were thy sheep and in their ancient fold/slain by the bloody Piedmontese that rolled/mother with infant down the rocks. Their moans/the vales redoubled to the hills."

[Bob] Dylan, too, was channelling his indignation into poetics, this time at the death of a young African-American, Emmett Till: "Then they rolled his body down a gulf amidst a bloody red rain/And they threw him in the waters wide to cease his screaming pain/The reason that they killed him there, and I'm sure it ain't no lie,/Was just for the fun of killin' him and to watch him slowly die."

The Age: Like a rolling tome

And far from reducing [Sylvia] Plath to a pathologized victim--a sick woman--[Ted] Hughes' version arguably dared to present Plath's raw power as even she did not, in its full-fledged, authoritative self-knowledge.

The real problem with Hughes' interference is that we can't separate the emotional relationship from the intellectual, artistic relationship--and we don't trust Hughes to, either.

Slate: Ariel Redux: The latest chapter in the Sylvia Plath controversy

"Now you are in a new world, the world of invisible powers, the world of literature, of poem and story. These do not force their powers upon their subjects, who freely choose to submit to them. You cannot contradict, challenge, manipulate or humiliate them. They work invisibly--they widen and deepen the human imagination, they increase empathy (without which no being is truly human), they train the emotions to employ themselves with more appropriateness and precision, they change or modify the very language in which human thought is formed[. . . ." --Mona Van Duyn]

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Voice of first female poet laureate 'impinges enduringly'

In "On Having Mis-identified a Wild Flower" he [Richard Wilbur] writes:

A thrush, because I'd been wrong,
Burst rightly into song
In a world not vague, not lonely,
Not governed by me only.

Precisely because we don't govern it, the world is not vague. Wilbur has a gift for humility without obsequiousness, piety without self-righteousness--which links his vision not only to Transcendentalists like Ralph Waldo Emerson, but also to such skeptical Christians as T.S. Eliot and W.H. Auden.

Weekly Standard: The Form of Poetry:

Human nature being what it is, it would probably be fair to assume that most non-fiction-publishing poets might regard these fellow-travellers as either deserters or dilettantes, in much the same way as classroom assistants and unlicensed minicab drivers are regarded by many of their certificated peers: as either an embarrassment or a threat to the profession.

[Muriel] Spark is neither.

The Guardian: All in the dinkety details

He not only loved nature as a true innocent, but he commiserated with it. When a violent storm batters the Goken Woods, a copse near Hanamaki, and "a blanket of blind black haloed cloud drops over the face of light," Kenji [Miyazawa] implores the forest:

be still be still, Goken Woods
be still though your trees have been cut
out of you

The Japan Times: Revealing 'The Japanese Sensibility': Innocence

But to say that a work of art "is about me" can mean many things. It can mean something narcissistic. Or, in the case of Pov Chin, the young woman who says that "Minstrel Man" by Langston Hughes "is about me"--that's actually a spectacular example of the way a work of art has an urgency that goes beyond individual circumstances. Hughes was male and black and died before Chin was born. So in her case, "it's about me" means an act of imagination--sympathetic imagination.

B.U. Bridge: Pinsky on poetry and politics, his latest anthology, and Bush's effect on the arts

Becoming the recognized voice of a generation takes more than conjuring up a gratuitous screamer, and [Günter] Grass has been an outspoken circuit rider and controversial political commentator from his earliest literary celebrity. He has an inestimable talent for finding an anniversary in every occasion, a starter's pistol in every banquet and a finisher's line in every toast. In recent years, he has taken to standing at a podium when he writes.

New York Press: The Günter Grass Reader

"You mention 'intellectuals.' I say that intellectuals are not truly intellectual enough, because if their exclusive interest in what they call 'intellectual' matters . . . renders them blind to what they might call 'non-intellectual' matters . . . they are of limited intellect, period." [--Jack Kerouac]

Muhlig handled the details of providing a "provenance"--the authenticity and background of the letter--and he soon had it sold for more than $5,000.

The Desert-Mountain Times: Adam Muhlig finds a literary treasure right next door


"The private aspects of the wild and the unique are saved for the poems," she [Mona Van Duyn] said. "Iconoclasm is saved, hoarded, for language--for forms on the page."

Although she disliked the term, Ms. Van Duyn often was called a "domestic poet" because of the relatively small canvas on which she worked.

from The Washington Post: Poet Laureate Mona Van Duyn Dies at 83

The sense of joyful intimacy that Akiko [Yosano] was bringing to Japanese life was seen as an embarrassment to her husband, an inferior poet who was a pillar of the late-Meiji Era literary establishment. Akiko, Japan's greatest female poet of all time, was obliged to play second fiddle when in the presence of the man who was seen as her conductor. Even today there are literary critics who blame her for crimping his style.

from The Japan Times: Revealing 'The Japanese Sensibility': Intimacy

[Sheila Cussons] was blinded in one eye, lost a leg and some fingers on both hands and was badly scarred all over.

Cussons had become a Roman Catholic when she married [Juan] De Saladrigas, although spiritually she'd been moving in this direction for many years before that. She described her conversion as a "coming home". Now, she converted the experience of being burned into a robust Catholic mysticism which informed all her poetry from then on.

from Sunday Times (Johannesburg): Sheila Cussons: Creator of Passionate And Profound Poetry

For instance, "Butterfly Valley: A Requiem," from which the following poem is selected, is a 15-part sonnet cycle on the theme of life arising from death. As if to dramatize her "blurred understanding" of life and death, [Inger] Christensen reuses the last line of each sonnet as the first line of the next. Then, at the end of the sequence, she recycles all of the 14 first lines to construct the 15th and final poem. A complex design to match a complex idea--one that details the limits of human understanding and confronts the transforming shock of mortality.

from The Oregonian: Butterfly sonnet cycle has elegant complexity

Here is the candle-and-mirror ritual at the opening of "The Year Nineteen Thirteen" [by Anna Akhmatova]; first, in transliterated Russian:

Ya zazhgla zavetnye svechi,
Chtoby etot svetilsya vecher,
I s toboi, ko mne ne prishedshim,
Sorok pervyi vstrechayu god.

Literally, this reads, "I lit the precious candles,/So that the evening would be illuminated,/With you, who have not come to me,/the year '41 I celebrate." Svechi ("candles") and vecher ("evening") rhyme approximately, with svetilsya ("lit up") producing an internal rhyme with both words. There is also much alliteration, as in zazhgla zavetnye. Part I is mostly written in rhyming tetrameter couplets, but lines 3 and 4 are an exception, the noun god ("year") standing apart from the second-person verb prishedshim above.

from Bookforum: A Poet Without a Hero: Anna Akhmatova's Late Works

Entire thought processes with complicated references live in the smallest spaces you can find on the page. This might be part of Komunyakaa's game.

In the aforementioned interview, [Yusef] Komunyakaa says this: "Within the context of a poem you can have a lot of things going on side by side. You can have different senses of language. You can have the street alongside the more sophisticated colloquial. All those things that help define our individual lives." These packed lines then, are the result of hard distillation.

from Bookslut: Taboo by Yusef Komunyakaa

The invitation is touching not because the city is in ruins and the civilization has been destroyed - this is not an ironic "Ozymandias" moment - but because in our imagination we can climb the ancient stone staircase and observe the lush gardens and orchards, the palaces and temples, the shops and marketplaces, the houses, the public squares, and share the poet's amazement and pride in his city.

from The Denver Post: Gilgamesh by Stephen Mitchell

National security bureau police from Changsha in the south, arrived at his [Shi Tao's] home without official authorisation, arrested him and seized his computer and some personal files.

Before taking him away, they told his wife, Wang Huan, not to tell anyone about the arrest and certainly not the media, or her husband would be mistreated.

from Boxun News: Arrest of poet and journalist Shi Tao

As is known, prominent representative of the Azerbaijan literature, State Prize winner, People's Poet of Azerbaijan Mammad Araz has passed away. On 2 December, the public of country, men of art, science, culture and literature, representatives of state and non-governmental bodies, MPs, lovers of poetry have come to say farewell to the great poet.

from AzerTAj: Renowned Poet of Azerbaijan Passed Away

Americans read, on average, a mere 24 minutes a day, while spending more than four hours in front of the TV and more than three listening to the radio. But, [Dana] Gioia writes, thanks to "the wide-scale and unexpected reemergence of popular poetry--namely rap, cowboy poetry, poetry slams, and certain overtly accessible types of what was once a defiantly avant-garde genre, performance poetry . . . verse has changed into a growth industry."

from Philadelphia Inquirer: Editor?s Choice: A serious poet praises popular poetry, including rap

The poet laureate of Nevada, a Las Vegas lounge legend who has held the post for nearly 40 years, is fighting an attempt to replace him with a "real poet".

Norman Kaye, 82, who has written songs for Perry Como, Johnny Mathis and Vicky Carr, admits he has never published a poem. But he says the seven state governors he has served never asked him to write "diddly doo".

from Telegraph: The Las Vegas laureate seeks poetic justice


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