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News Articles, with Rus Bowden


"We had to create it. We were on those plantations, we were not allowed to marry, we had to find a way to live together, we had those babies and we had to find a way to give them enough love that when they were snatched from us to be taken to God knows where to do God knows what, we'd have given them enough to hold on to themselves. We are a phenomenon. What we have done in this world, nobody else has done. And as Earth contemplates the 21st century, and we think about what is our job, our job is to go forward. We're gonna have to come to black America and say: How did you do it?" [Nikki Giovanni]

from Fort Worth Star Telegram: Poet to the people

Noted Indo-Anglian poet Adil Jussawalla once described her [Rukmini Bhaya Nair's] craft so: "She uses words as some folk dancers use sticks, to suggest both confinement and/or open space, depending on how the sticks are angled."

But Nair's craft is much more than the poise of words and a felicity of feelings. Her poetry is also characterised by a multi-layered exploration of gender politics. In her verse resides an awareness of the woman.

from Calcutta Telegraph: "Feminist poetry is everybody's poetry"

Our poet for this edition of the "Lyrical" is the late Ron Schreiber. Schreiber was a founding editor of the "Hanging Loose Press," a U/Mass professor, a Gay activist, and for a long time a Somerville resident before he moved to Cambridge. The poem we selected "Somerville Saturday Night," was from the anthology "Present Tense: Poets In The World," (Hanging Loose Press, 2004).

from The Somerville News: Lyrical Somerville

The poem has been displayed in the Missouri governor's office. It's raised thousands of dollars for charity as bidders snatch up framed copies at fundraising auctions. It's earned Heindselman thank-you notes from four presidents and a proclamation from the Legislature naming him an "Outstanding Missourian."

And now, it's poised to be the official state poem of Missouri.


from Los Angeles Times: Heartfelt Verse or Something Worse?

In "Cold-Water Flats," neglected tenants survive a brutal winter even as "the zinc-lidded bathtubs in their kitchens swarm/with gravid, amber-bellied roaches." With a housing inspector's precision, she [Anne Winters] ticks off a series of grinding frustrations, ending with the flow of water from heatless taps: "at faucet-mouth, numbed lips, unceasing arrival, the water/which later, I think, will seem to have been/most precious--being useful, humble, chaste."

from The New York Times: 'The Displaced of Capital': Unassisted Living

All the while, [Edwin Garnet] Riley was writing.

Many of his poems focused on local people, places and events. They ranged from a story about two once-rich maiden sisters from Titusville who were forced to sell household goods in the face of poverty to a tale about Patsy Foy, a one-horse taxi operator, to an eccentric female string musician and a failed but charming city salesman.

from Oil City Derrick: Museum's first all-electronic exhibit has Black History Month theme

"Through 'Sacred flame', my most outstanding feelings are of space. I listen to the loneliness around, I stand on the observatory of the soul, looking at the boundless world and have a deep sadness which spreads to eternity. Feeling the boundlessness, Huy Can produces poems full of universal sadness," wrote Xuan Dieu.

from Thanh Nien Daily: Famous Vietnamese poet dies at 86

If a book ends up resembling real Alaska, but wasn't at all intended to, what then? In Alaskaphrenia, [Christine] Hume uses only the myth of Alaska, but makes an imagined reality that's strikingly real because she emphasizes the myth's dark side, the loneliness and isolation (which can feel very real). What is most frightening about Alaskaphrenia isn't all the death and disease, of which there is plenty, but how close the book ends up resembling this real place.

from Anchorage Press: Rubbing Icicles, Making Flames

"How", [Alastair] Fowler concluded, "did the intelligent [Stephen] Greenblatt come to write so 'sloppy' a book?" The answer was left for the reader to supply. Money. Rumour (which probably, as always, exaggerates) whispers that Greenblatt got a million dollars for Will in the World, which makes it the highest paid work of scholarship ever (Guinness Book of Records take note). Greenblatt may be innocent of British history, but he is clearly no dunce where the Greenblatt finances are concerned.

The American publishers, Norton, put huge promotional effort into Will in the World.

from The Guardian: Where there's a Will there's a payday

Some question whether John Milton, a difficult poet to read, should remain on the list. His fellow 17th-century poets Robert Herrick and Henry Vaughan may be candidates for removal. Congreve could also go.

Any move to "cull" pre-20th century authors is likely to be opposed by [Andrew] Motion. In an interview yesterday he said he wanted the curriculum to "find ways of preserving the past" and children should be introduced to the Bible and other key works. "It would seem to me to be a deep crime to never come across things such as (Milton's) Paradise Lost," he said.

from The Sunday Times: Schools may ditch literary classics

But the songs served a dual purpose, in [Duke] Ellington's vision--they were also a smokescreen to hide their true feelings from white masters:

A silent slave was a brooding slave . . .
A brooding slave was a dangerous slave . . . .
Too many masters found dead . . .
Or not at all. . . .
So! SING, you black bastards. . . . SING!

from The Washington Post: In His Own Words: Ellington's Ode to Black History


The newsletter's lead editors--Tashi Gyaltsen, Tsultrim Phelgyal, and Jhamphel Gyatso--received three-year sentences, while Tsesum Samten and Lobsang Thargyal were handed two-year jail terms, the sources said.

The government argued that the newsletter contained poems and articles in praise of three other monks from the same monastery who are now completing their own jail terms.

from Radio Free Asia: Five Tibetan Monks Jailed in Western China

So I am ashamed for the black poet who says, "I want to be a poet, not a Negro poet," as though his own racial world were not as interesting as any other world. I am ashamed, too, for the colored artist who runs from the painting of Negro faces to the painting of sunsets after the manner of the academicians because he fears the strange un-whiteness of his own features. An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he might choose. [Langston Hughes]

from The Nation: The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain

Perhaps lines from the first--"I feel like a baby, bodiless and strange: a man is nothing if he is not changing. Father, is that you breathing?"--sketch out the landscape; perhaps lines from the second--"In the semidarkness of the mountain, small things loomed large: a donkey urinating on a palm; a salt-and-saliva-stained boy riding on his mother's back; a shy roaming black Adam. I was walking on an edge"--juxtapose the promise and the pitfalls of one who dares seek hope.

from The William and Mary News: Writer-in-residence Cole extracts hope from poetic struggle

[Nikiforos] Vrettakos was born in a small village near Sparta. "Taygetos isn't a mountain" I didn't/discover it, but found it beside me/when I was born, It stood by. Later/I dreamt of it as a kind of church--/as the center of the earth./Its bells chiming, scattering/petals over the nations" (from "Stone Petals".)

from Hellenic News of America: Thirty Years in The Rain: Vrettakos in English

A revered figure in London literary life, the writer and publisher Bernard Stone held court for more than 30 years at his famous Turrett Bookshop.

from The Times: Bernard Stone

While [Seamus] Heaney's "Digging" grounds his poetics in the contested soil of rural Ireland, the "cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap/of soggy peat", [Nick] Laird's poem, an equally deliberate declaration of intent, takes the opposite direction, cutting free rather than digging down, disarming rather than threatening to declare war, trusting to deliverance from above (that "meteor shower" the father is waiting for), rather than excavating the traditions and grievances of history.

from The Guardian: Waiting for meteors

Without Marlowe's example, especially his masterful use of blank verse as a dramatic medium -- what poet and playwright Ben Jonson dubbed "Marlowe's mighty line" -- there may never have been any Shakespeare, or at least not as we know him today.

from Houston Chronicle: Genius, rogue, scholar or spy?

[Xue Di's] "Valentine's Day" begins: "A loveless childhood/makes a man contageous all his life." And ends: "The illness creeps from body/into mind. Its symptom is this itch//to write these poems, poems/of love, of life, of that proud,//high-strung youth, who first became detached,/and went too far in search of happiness."

from The Providence Journal: Among the great love poets

My mistress' eyes are like the stars plucked from heaven.
Her hair, like flaxen gold, gilds her back.
And her lips, coral-stained, do invite thee closer.

Blah, blah, blah.

The Lawrence poets performing on Valentine's Day at the Bourgeois Pig want nothing to do with this chivalric sap.

from Lawrence Journal-World: Hearts of darkness

[Denise] Duhamel had known from childhood that she wanted to be a writer, "so it would really have been a disaster if I'd married someone who was a failed poet or miserable or never got anything published and hated me," she says. "Of course, we didn't know what was going to happen, but I think I knew I wouldn't marry a bad writer. Plus, I fell in love with Nick's poems before I fell in love with Nick."

from The Miami Herald: 'How do I love thee?' With lovely poems, of course

In honour of today's date, Chris [Greenhalgh] has based his exercise around the theme of love. All together: aaaah . . .

Take a look at Chris's exercise, which he has called 'Journey poem, with the theme of love'

Think of a journey to a loved one.

from The Guardian: Chris Greenhalgh's workshop


And it leads to the question, thinking of my earlier example: Why does it give us pleasure to imagine love as a red, red rose? A question for another day, I think. For now, think of lyric poetry as something that isolates a poet's experience and connects the solitary voice of the speaker to anyone willing to listen.

from The Oregonian: Lyric poetry: rhythmic speaking, without music

The moral is always tempted to censor, occlude, to prefer what ought to be the case to what actually is the case. All good writers are Nietzschean in that sense. This is Kipling again, in Something of Myself : "(Also, by pure luck, I had sight of the first sickening uprush and vomit of iridescent coal-dusted water into the hold of a ship, a crippled iron hulk, sinking at her moorings.)" Not a thought for the owners, the loss, the insurance. "By pure luck ... " The true morality of art is its accuracy.

from The Guardian: Word power

And yet, even as it carries the reader on its meandering quest, this poem becomes its own place with its "gliding blocks of stanzas", "the line of the plain" the "exclamation of the belfry", the "commas of crows". Language is its own land. It is interlocked with identity. And "what was altered by the journey", Walcott writes, "was something more profound than geography, it was the self. It was vocabulary."

from The Times: The Prodigal by Derek Walcott

I don't like music; I try to listen to as little of it as possible. Anybody who reads poetry can see the ubiquitous self-doubts poets evince regarding the validity/value of their art. Compare that to the eternally smug self-satisfied attitudes exhibited by the advocates and practitioners of music. They take it for granted that music is the highest art, the universal art, the only art that transcends all borders and babels. [--Bill Knott]

from Bookslut: An Interview with Bill Knott

[Alan Feldman] finds it difficult to shift from the economic universe where time is money to the universe of poetry writing where time and money are insignificant. "Thoreau was very conscious of having to get away from commerce and get into contact with spiritual time or timelessness," said Feldman.

He believes he's holding up a banner for poems rooted in personal experience and insight in an age that tends to prefer highly crafted and linguistically clever poems that banish the poet as a person.

from Daily News Transcript: Giving poetry a voice: Framingham State prof reads from prizewinning volume

In the prefatory statement, "An Open Letter," [Tim] Seibles decries the "hobbled poetry" that perpetuates the marginal role of the medium, and in its place invokes a poetry of "ravishing hunger." "Why not [write] a sublimely reckless poetry," he asks us, "when the ascendant social order permits nearly every type of corruption and related hypocrisy?" Seibles is blunt: He has a problem with "the American Predicament" and he means his poetry to confront, discuss and embody this dilemma: "Writing poems in SUV-America can feel like fiddling amidst catastrophe, but if one must fiddle shouldn't one play that thing till it smokes?"

from Bookslut: Buffalo Head Solos by Tim Seibles

Exactly. Who talks Spender? Though cruelly arrived at, this is the rub. No one talks Spender, just as no one talks Esperanto. Until we are firmly rooted in our strange selves, we cannot begin to speak to others meaningfully. Conversely, if you start from that lovely ideal, of culture as a universal idiom, you quickly find yourself softened into a nonentity.

from Slate: Stephen Spender, Toady

Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage today at the charge of "illegally divulging state secrets abroad" that was brought against journalist and poet Shi Tao on 28 January for posting an official document relating to the June 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre on a foreign website. Shi, who has been detained since November, faces a sentence of between three years and life imprisonment if convicted.

from Reporters Without Borders: Journalist faces possible life sentence for posting Tiananmen document on website

The wife of Nyein Thit, Daw Khin Malar who went to see her husband at Moulmein Prison recently, told DVB that her husband is suffering severe headache that he could not touch his head with water. He sustained the injuries on his head during the severe beatings he received at the beginning of his detention.

from Democratic Voice of Burma: CPJ demands the release of Burmese journalists

If you want to meet the most popular poet in the United States, you must board a plane and fly to Konya, Turkey, where you'll find the mausoleum of Jalal al-Din Muhammad Balkhi, who is better known by his Westernized name, Rumi.

from San Francisco Chronicle: Islamic verses: The influence of Muslim literature in the United States has grown stronger since the Sept. 11 attacks

It's only in the last ten or 15 years that I've discovered that the finest, leanest, most steely Arabic prose that I have either read or heard is produced by novelists (not critics) like Elias Khoury or Gamal El-Ghitany, or by two of our greatest living poets, Adonis and Mahmoud Darwish, each of whom in his odes soars to such lofty rhapsodic heights as to drive huge audiences into frenzies of enthusiastic rapture, but for whom each of which prose is a razor-sharp Aristotelian instrument the elegance of which resembles Empson's or Newman's.

from Nawaat: Living in Arabic, by Edward Said


[Anne Spencer] scorned the racism and condescension of white editors.)

Louis Untermeyer, a white editor, included her work in "American Poetry since 1900," published in 1923. She and poet Claude McKay were featured under the head "Aframerican." Untermeyer acknowledged the intellectual complexity of her work, but added that there was a "racial opulence, an almost barbaric heat in the color of her lines."

"He put us in the Jim Crow section," Spencer is quoted as saying.

from The News & Advance: Poet, visionary left a legacy

This was a time when poets like Haki Madhubuti (formerly Don L. Lee) could sell poetry on the streets of Chicago's Southside, and [Dudley] Randall would receive orders for books written on sheets torn from notebooks and brown paper bags. There was a politically aroused African American proletarian audience for Black political poetry.

Randall risked all he had on that audience, on the idea that Black folks would support not just Black writers but poetry.

from The Black World Today: Poet at the Eye of the Storm: Recovering Dudley Randall

The Eliot letters still linger in the flat in Kensington, and it's said that it is unlikely that more will be published during Valerie Eliot's lifetime because there are vital gaps, letters of Eliot's that must be found before the work can be finished. I'm not only puzzled but impatient, because the letters in the second volume were the most moving of all the hundreds I worked on.

from The Guardian: Dear Mrs Eliot . . .

[Lucien Carr] tied his hands and feet together with shoelaces, filled his pockets with stones, and shoved him in to the river.

He then went to find [William] Burroughs, who told him to get a good lawyer and make a case for self-defence against an unwanted homosexual advance. At dawn Carr went uptown to wake up [Jack] Kerouac, who took him on a walk and told him to drop the knife through a subway grate.

from Telegraph: Lucien Carr

Greg Watson finds poetry in the small moments around him, the details that build his world. The men walking down Grand Ave., the coffee at the Bad Habit Café, the girls at the Uptown diner.

Watson is a security guard and doesn't make much money. He's never been published by a local press and he doesn't expect to be -- but he keeps writing. He says it's how he gets through winter.

from Minnesota Public Radio: Book review: "Cold Water Memory"

But [W.H.] Auden continued to be politically engaged, and to great effect. It was from New York that he wrote September 1, 1939, expressing the despair and flickering hope of his generation. Didactic in the best possible way, and framing penetrating insight with an almost religious devotion to truth, it is a poem with a modest, but genuinely public mission: 'All I have is a voice/To undo the folded lie/ The romantic lie in the brain/Of the sensual man in the street'.

from Oxford Student: A political poet

It is said that when heavily in debt, he would not stir out of his house. But once, he was summoned to be physically present at court. The presiding judge asked Ghalib if he had anything to say in his defense. Ghalib replied:

"Indeed I drank on credit but also knew for sure my spend-thrift poverty one day, my ruin would procure".

The judge smiled, decided the suit against Ghalib, but paid the money due from his pocket. This was, however, a rare instance of official magnanimity.

from The Independent: Mirza Ghalib: The great Urdu poet

The move's effects are made clear in the poem "On Leaving the Cottage of My Birth," which begins as more dirge than elegy: "I've left mine own old home of homes,/Green fields and every pleasant place;/The summer like a stranger comes,/I pause and hardly know her face." This distress was not merely poetic. Soon after moving, [John] Clare began to manifest the uncontrollable symptoms of mental illness that would land him in asylums for the rest of his life.

from Christianity Today: The Lost World of John Clare

[Larisa Rogozina] said: "We have two expert analyses that say the [Alexander Pushkin] book series is erotica. If the Ivanovo regional prosecutor charges us, we will defend our position in court." And the nation’s literary establishment has reacted with horror to the move.

Alexander Gavrilov, editor of the literary review magazine Knizhnoye Obozreniye, said: "When barbarians take over, the first thing they do is look with horror at the statues of naked bodies in the main square of the empire. They are making decisions that show Russia is turning its back on its culture."

from Scotland on Sunday: Russian literary giant Pushkin labelled as a peddler of porn

[Robert] Crawford comments on what he considers one of Burns's best poems in English: "I think it's timely when Scotland is debating how to treat its artists."

He elaborates: "It can be read in terms of how important Burns thought it was for society to honour and reward its artists."

from The Herald: On Fergusson

"People who are writers are really kids who sat under the dining room table listening to people," [Grace] Paley said Friday in an interview with The Dartmouth. "I'm interested in how people talk--it's like listening to music for me."

In her writing, Paley draws on the rhythms of speech from her childhood, such as the sound of parents' voices.

from The Dartmouth Online: Paley brings candor to campus as visiting writer


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