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News Articles, with Rus Bowden


This sonnet seems technically perfect to me, you can count the metre out on your fingers. My reservation, such as it is, has to do with that final word, 'startle' - which we scan as a feminine or weak ending, as opposed to a strong, masculine one-syllable stop (this distinction has nothing to do with gender or sex!). The weaker ending lightens the poem, and to my ear the 'prattle', 'startle' rhyme detracts from your father, who is after all the poem's subject.

from The Guardian: 'Many fine sonnets'

John Ashbery would have given us dozens more poems as thrilling as his jeu d'esprit about Daffy Duck if he had never been raised to the combined status of totem pole and wind tunnel, in which configuration he produces one interminable outpouring that deals with everything in general, with nothing in particular, can be cut off at any length from six inches to a mile, and will be printed by editors who feel that the presence in their publication of an isotropic rigmarole signed with Ashbery's name is a guarantee of seriousness precisely because they don't enjoy a line of it. [Camille] Paglia, commendably, refuses such cargo-cult status even to Shakespeare.

from The New York Times: 'Break, Blow, Burn': Well Versed

First, [George] Grant was Canadian, and he had a concern and commitment to Canadians and the way Canada is being colonized by the USA. [Allen] Ginsberg was American, and he had little or no interest in the Canadian political tradition. Lament for a Nation deals with Canadian-American relations in a way Howl does not. When, as Canadians, we know more about Ginsberg than Grant, it speaks much about a way of being colonized.

from Vive le Canada: Allen Ginsberg and George Grant

Meanwhile, [Tzvetan] Todorov noted, Russia has totally embraced her [Marina Tsvetaeva]. "There is a real cult around her," he said. "The nail she used to hang herself has become a relic. The places where she stayed have become museums, almost shrines. She was the victim of two totalitarianisms and her destiny has become the embodiment of the tragic destiny of the Russian people."

from International Herald Tribune: Reviving Russia's 'first woman-poet'

"Thirteen-year-old girls, including my own, know exactly what they want to do: study abroad," she [Nimah Ismail Nawwab] said over lunch in Washington last month. "Just the fact that I became the first woman to appear publicly at a book signing means there is some kind of a thaw in attitudes."

from The Washington Post: Breaking Free

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the detention of dissident journalist Zheng Yichun, whose arrest on 3 December for writing articles for publications and websites based abroad has only just emerged.

from Reporters without borders: Journalist and cyber-dissident Zheng Yichun held on subversion charge

Like the Athenian Pericles, David Ben-Gurion--according to [Haim] Gouri--had the ability to shut one eye while aiming at the target. Yet a poet, he says, cannot examine the world with one eye shut.

"Why do we have to uproot olive trees and destroy houses unnecessarily? Why didn't we understand that you can't ask an elderly man to take apart a road barrier and move the building blocks in front of his grandchildren's eyes? That kind of unnecessary humiliation, the trampling of human dignity, is a recipe for four shahids."

At the same time, Gouri is vehemently opposed to service refusal, as a form of protest.

from Jerusalem Post: To be a civil war

Washington was in turmoil when [Walt] Whitman arrived in December 1862, searching for his younger brother George, a wounded Union soldier, in one of the city's many makeshift hospitals. Like poets past and present, Whitman had kept day jobs--teacher, journalist, printer, government clerk--throughout his life. But in finding George (slightly injured on the front lines in Virginia), Whitman also found an important calling: nursing.

from The Washington Post: Walt Whitman

But surely not everything [Philip] Larkin wrote or said can be worth resurrecting. And since it's as a poet that he wished to be remembered, the publication of poems he outgrew, disowned and chose not to publish is particularly hard to justify. Why do people associate adding with increase, he once asked? "To me it was dilution." Quite so.

from The Guardian: Larkin around (risqué language)

[Milton] Bates says there are two schools of thought on this issue. "One is to ignore the evidence and not commit yourself," he explained, in the same way most scholars ignore [Wallace] Stevens' Republican politics.

Another school of thought says the deathbed conversion "dramatically revolutionizes" our understanding of his poems. "So even poems that appear satirical of religion are really underneath a suppressed nostalgia for religion," he said of this school.

from The Greyhound: Bates speaks about late poet

In Chicago, he is one of the city's most beloved antiwar poets, an author of two books and a congregation leader at a West Side church. But in Massachusetts, he is notorious for executing a clerk at a Saugus clothing store in 1960, aiding in the murder of a Middlesex County jailer in 1961, and then escaping from a Norfolk County correction center in 1985.

Yesterday, his past and Massachusetts authorities caught up with Norman A. Porter Jr.

from The Boston Globe: Murderer's arrest ends fugitive life as Chicago poet


There is no outrage, say, at the fusillés pour l'exemple or pity for the victims of gas. Instead, he [Guillaume Apollinaire] gurgles at the beauty of the Very lights, the shells explode like fireworks at a private party, the flares are pink, evoking his mistress's nipples, the shape of the shells her breasts, the haunches of his artillery horse her hips.

from The Guardian: Conflicting emotions

The deities of these places "are not ontologically distinguished from the physical environment that constitutes their abodes. The great saints and meditators of the past who are mentioned are also thought of as still present at the sites of their former dwellings." (Huber 72)

To the Tibetan poets the path the pilgrim takes through consecrated natural places is, at every turn, a reflection of the path within.

from Phayul: Spiritual Insights of the Human Ecology of Tibet

"It is poetry written by another part of the human psyche," he says, "not the personality," but something beyond it, transcendent. "He has a theology of laughter," says [Coleman] Barks, citing Rumi's Sufic tradition, adding that, in Rumi's view, "it may be that God is the impulse to laugh. . . .Just to be in a body and sentient is a great joy," and that "he was talking of the core of the religious impulse, which is to praise--and maybe to laugh."

from Patriot News: Persian Poet Rumi Conquers America

More often, Kerouac exhorts himself, treating writing as almost a religious discipline: "I will eventually arrive at a simplicity and a beauty that won't be denied--morality, beauty, a real lyricism."

Any struggling writer can identify with Kerouac's labors: "Sometimes my effort at writing becomes so fluid and smooth that too much is torn out of me at once and it hurts."

from Daily News Tribune: Exploring the heart and mind of an icon: Journals of Jack Kerouac reveal the man behind the myth

"Philip Lamantia's poems are about rapture as a condition," the poet Tom Clark wrote in a review of Mr. Lamantia's "Selected Poems, 1943-1966" (City Lights, 1967) in The New York Times Book Review. "They are spiritual and erotic at the same time. Bright and dark, the enclosed polarities of devotion. St. Teresa and Rimbaud."

from The New York Times: Philip Lamantia, 77, Surrealist Poet, Is Dead

"I write verse because I am sad. My father taught my brothers about poetry, and I listened and learned," she [Anh Tho] once said.

After Buc Tranh Que, Tho wrote Rang Den (Black Teeth), a novel about the plight of women in 1942.

After 1945, she continued writing descriptive, delicate poems.

from Viet Nam News: Viet Nam mourns loss of female poet Anh Tho, 86

Phoebe Hesketh was a distinguished nature poet whose work was neglected by critics during her 60-year career. Her lucid and emotionally powerful verse was influenced by Emily Dickinson, but there was also an affinity with Edward Thomas and, as she matured, her outlook became "less flowery and happy and more bleak".

from The Times: Phoebe Hesketh

Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage today at the travesty of justice in which dissident journalist Shi Tao appeared before the state prosecutor in the southern city of Changsha in a secret, two-hour hearing on 11 March and was found guilty of "illegally divulging state secrets abroad."

from Reporters Without Borders: Outrage over travesty of justice for journalist Shi Tao

On the first anniversary of the arrest and detention of Ali al-Domaini and Matrouq al-Faleh, International PEN's Writers in Prison Committee renews its call for the writers' release.

from International Freedom of Expression eXchange: Writers Ali al-Domaini and Matrouq al-Faleh still in detention

The poem suggests, [Helen] Vendler said, "how ardently we would want to come back, as ghosts, in order to recognize and relish the parts of life we had insufficiently noticed and hardly valued when alive." But it is only when the arts mediate for us "that the experiences of life can be reconstituted and made available as beauty and solace, to help us live our lives."

from Harvard University Gazette: The centrality of the arts

The aim, for [André] Breton and [Pablo] Picasso, was to bypass literal meaning and sweep the unconscious for unexpected riches of expression. A Picasso entry dated May 4, 1935, begins, "All the shredded shadows peel off the bodies with haste of the start of a journey and faithful to their appointment with light. . . ."

from The Christian Science Monitor: The poetic side of genius


Like philosophy, poetry is a contemplative form, but unlike philosophy, poetry subliminally manipulates the body and triggers its nerve impulses, the muscle tremors of sensation and speech.

The sacred remains latent in poetry, which was born in ancient ritual and cult.

from The Telegraph: Rhyme and reason

Mark Doty was 16 when his mother tried to shoot him. She was drunk, despairing, and she didn't like the fact that her son was gay. Gun in hand, she stood at one end of the family hallway while Doty stood at the other, fixed in her sights.

from The Herald: Just call me Mr Lucky

[Win Tin] had to write his poems in a makeshift ink created from the red powder from the bricks of his cell mixed with water, using a long thin piece of wood.

Prison is not a place where poets should be.

from Democratic Voice of Burma: Mr. Pinheiro message for U Win Tin’s 75th Birthday

With its separate entrances for men and women, Taatr-e Shahr Theater was not only staging the life and poetry of a revolutionary woman; it also served as the stage of an ongoing drama that is revolutionizing Iranian society. This bloodless and nonviolent revolution is reorganizing Iran's cultural and political landscape.

[Forugh] Farrokhzad had predicted such a day.

from The Washington Post: A Poet Who Pointed the Way to a New Iran

"After Vietnam, after Korea, Kuwait, Somalia, Haiti, Afghanistan./After the towers. This late in the life of our haplessly orbiting world/let us celebrate whatever scraps the muse, that naked child, can pluck from the still-smoldering camps," [Maxine] Kumin writes in "Women and Horses," which celebrates the joyous messiness of life as opposed to the desolation of death and war.

from The Kansas City Star: Poet's words affirm life via death

Even artists who disliked [Gertrude] Stein's work got its musicality. When Katherine Mansfield reviewed "Three Lives" in 1920, she complained: "it is writing in real rag-time." It was. Stein was finding her voice by listening to the syncopated rhythms of African-American speech and (to a lesser degree) the sturdy beats of German immigrant talk.

from The New York Times: The Mother of Us All (All of Us Modernists)

The poet must somehow capture this paradox, to make a poem that is not a verbal artifact but a kind of living system. What's important is not art, per se, but "The way music passes, emblematic/Of life and how you cannot isolate a note of it/And say it is good or bad/. . . .one cannot guard, treasure/That stalled moment. It too is flowing, fleeting."

from Slate: The Instruction Manual: How to read John Ashbery

[Ted] Kooser and two student assistants spend some days in the professor's spacious new office, picking out short contemporary American poems they believe everyone can read and understand.

The nation's newspapers soon will have the chance to run one of these poems each week--with a short introduction by Kooser--if they so desire.

from Lincoln Journal Star: Poet laureate unlikely new face of UNL

"It's growing, and it's been growing for quite a while, maybe since the Beats," [Billy] Collins said. "I think that besides just the number, a salutary thing that is happening now is that the audience for poetry is including people who don't write poetry.

"It's a very good time to be a poet. There are lots of prizes and opportunities to read, which wasn't the case until pretty recently."

from Denver Post: "It's a good time to be a poet," says ex-laureate

[Tim Kendall] writes of a time, more recent than you'd guess, when poetic reputation grew so skewed by market visibility, a poet might make it almost by image alone, by twofold possession of a fine voice and a face fighting for the camera. As Kendall has it: "It was a carnival, with party-hats/masks, music, fancy dress, clowns, acrobats,/and smiles on every face".

from The Guardian: The long game

"Muki" (or haiku without kigo) therefore is not allowed. Simple nature words or references are not allowed in place of kigo unless they are presented as kigo by the author. "Tsu-ki" (all-year-round words) are not allowed.

from The Daily Yomiuri: Go-Shichi-Go/Obligatory and fixed-form verses can still be flexible


I'd be inclined to cut the second stanza--a bit portentous. But I do really like:

That stretch for miles like
Clowns at a convention.

And "parping" is a great word, I think. The witty "arse-crack and yellow hats" detail and whole tone of the poem reminded me irresistibly of an old Heath Monk poem I heard a few years ago.

from The Guardian: 'The endings were what made them ... '

Since this is an exercise, I'd like you write at least one sonnet in which, using contemporary language to express some aspect of life today, you conform to the rules set long ago either by Shakespeare or Petrarch. Then, if you wish, you can experiment with a second poem of 14 lines in which you freely bend the rules.

from The Guardian: Anne Stevenson's workshop

Of poetry's audience, she [Muriel Rukeyser] thought that most people fear poetry and won't let something so foreign enter their daily lives. And yet: "Everywhere we are told that our human resources are all to be used, that our civilization itself means the uses of everything it has," she said. "But there is one kind of knowledge infinitely precious, time-resistant more than monuments, here to be passed between the generations in any way it may be: never to be used. And that is poetry."

from The Oregonian: What could be less poetic than focus group for poets?

The publication of [John] Ashbery's "Selected Prose"--reviews, essays and occasional pieces written over the last 50 years--is a reminder that from the beginning he set out to be different and not too easily understood. "A poem that communicates something that's already known to a reader is not really communicating anything," he said once, and he was referring not just to content but to voice and tone.

from The New York Times: Mapping the Unconscious

[Bin] Ramke also believes language to be a collaborator. When you pluck things here and there, and try them out in new, unfit spaces, you really have language to thank for the lovely results. Language carries with it all sorts of allusion, illusion, delusion. It is, by no means, a controlled variable. In fact, the only control in Bin Ramke’s grand experiment is the fact of reading. Poet as wordsmith. Tinkerer. Time-bender.

from Bookslut: Matter by Bin Ramke

"Support your local poets!” can be heard almost anywhere in Richmond that poetry is spoken, recited, read or sung. It’s the battle cry of local poet Shann Palmer, who maintains not just the mission to bring poetry to the people, but also the more difficult task of bringing the people to the poetry.

from Style Weekly: Poet Extraordinaire: Shann Palmer’s mission is to get poetry to the masses.

The older I've become, the more I've felt part of a community, with a responsibility to it . . . It matters less who gets an award, and it matters more that the interests of literature are served, that we encourage a diversity of American voices. We're caught up in this view that we're separate from the rest of the world, and separate one group from another. [--Kathryn Stripling Byer]

from Asheville Citizen-Times: Poet Laureate: Kathryn Stripling Byer shares her vision for her term

"The beauty of poetry no longer has anything to do with people’s everyday lives," says [Apti] Bisultanov. "People say that poems could no longer be written after Auschwitz. The same now applies to Chechnya." Of the one million Chechens that were alive before the war, some 200,000 have been killed in the conflict. Yet, says Bisultanov, there is still more poetry in Chechnya than in the West.

from Islam Online: A Conversation With Chechen Author Apti Bisultanov

Atmospheres of Spain--specifically, Andalusia, Lorca's home region--mix with an intoxication of symbols. You get the tang of folk lyric (this is one of Lorca's cantes jondos, or "deep songs," based on traditional material from Andalusian and flamenco sources).

from The Philadelphia Inquirer: Lorca's poems of Spain, with fresh perfume

[Sadako] Kurihara was at home, about 4 kilometers from ground zero, when the Aug. 6, 1945, nuclear flash became part of history.

That night, huddled in a dark basement with dead and dying people, a woman gave birth to a girl. The mother was assisted by a wounded nurse who died before dawn.

from The Asahi Shimbun: Sadako Kurihara, A-bomb poet, dies

A hundred years ago, when Japanese literature was first translated into English, there was very little understanding of, and almost no differentiation between, these closely related poetic forms. Now all that has changed, and the differences are clear. McClintock's introductory essay describes the slow absorption, and the varied experiments in English, from the cinquain that Adelaide Crapsey invented, to the generally freer forms today.

from The Japan Times: New Western poetry from an old Japanese tradition

From Nanaimo, B.C., to Tyne Valley, P.E.I., more than 160 hockey fans set aside their sticks, picked up their quills and entered the National Post's hockey poetry contest as a way of filling the emotional void created by the NHL lockout.

from National Post: Ode to Hockey: Gordie Howe, Do I Love Thee?


"[Mario] Luzi's greatness was due to the fact that he kept growing," said Mario Specchio, a professor of German literature at the university of Siena who said he met Luzi when Specchio was an 18-year-old student in Florence. "And that's something that the other hermeticists did not do."

from San Jose Mercury News: Italian poet Mario Luzi dies at 90

This haunting question, with his strong Catholic faith, led to the writing of a number of powerful poems published shortly after the war, and to the first in a series of novels which, for a time, were considered the most original being written, anticipating in several ways the more radical works of Samuel Beckett and Alain Robbe-Grillet which would later overshadow his achievement.

from The Times: Jean Cayrol

Like so many of his compatriots, he was politically engaged, joining, briefly, the Communist Party (later recording his disillusionment in a contribution to the 1950 anti-Communist collection, ''The God That Failed''), traveling to Spain during the civil war and in 1968 visiting the student rebels in Paris and New York. In 1965, he became the first--and only--non-American to serve as poetry consultant at the Library of Congress, and he spent much of the second half of his life in America: lecturing, teaching and writing.

from The New York Times: 'Stephen Spender': The Poet of Autobiography

[Langston] Hughes visited Ukraine in August 1932, before the winter of starvation set in. The writer and his companions made no mention of seeing evidence of the terrible starvation that would reduce the Ukrainian people to eating rodents and bark.

[Henry] Morgan said there is no evidence that Hughes had any knowledge of the scope of the horror that Stalin was inflicting upon his people.

from The Joplin Globe: Controversy lingers decades after Joplin-born poet's death

Looking over the demonstrators, I realized that few ordinary people would be willing to entrust them with any business or surgery, nor did the demonstrators seem capable of managing any organization, let alone a city, state or country. I wondered how someone who spends the day protesting but does not keep his apartment or fingernails clean could be entrusted with cleaning up the environment, let alone write a halfway correct sonnet.

from American Daily: Poetry And The Left: A Mistaken Aesthetics And A Mistaken Politics

Last November [Harold] Pinter was among a group of celebrity campaigners who called for the prime minister's impeachment. He has called Tony Blair "a war criminal" and the US a "country run by a bunch of criminals . . . with Tony Blair as a hired Christian thug".

But Pinter had a crumb of comfort for fans of his work. "I think I've stopped writing plays now, but I haven't stopped writing poems," he said.

from The Guardian: Pinter takes final bow

[Charles] Bukowski had certain clear interests in life: booze, women, the ponies, classical music - and writing:

all I need now is... a desk lamp,
the typer, the bottle, the radio, classical
music, and this room
on fire.

He wrote the way he drank: steadily, every day.

from Philadelphia Inquirer: Poems from a bibulous 'bum' tell the long and the short of it

In one of the 1810 letters [Percy] Shelley, who was 18 at the time, wrote: "Christ never existed . . . the fall of man, the whole fabric indeed of superstition which it supports can no longer obtain the credit of philosophers."

The letters were part of a campaign by Shelley and [Thomas Jefferson] Hogg that led to their expulsion from Oxford University.

from Telegraph: Found, the lost letters of Shelley the atheist

They let the tsunami victims speak, write, draw about their loss, traumas, shocks suffered from the tsunami. ?The Land on the Dark Side?, is this weeks featured poem dedicated to tsunami victims written by Farah Didi, a Maldivian economist and the most prominent contemporary poet and writer.

from Yemen Times: The Maldives and the post-Tsunami era

Ms [Joan] Michelson beat off 1,500 entries in a Valentine's Day competition run by London

The event, named The Art of Love, was judged by Poet Laureate Andrew Motion, and all entries had to be on the theme of love.

from Muswell Hill Journal: Poet Laureate loves Joan's prize poem

[Fairy] Pardiwalla wrote her junior paper on constraint poetry, a form of experimental poetry, specifically focusing on the one-word poem "lighght."

"With constraint poetry, authors just have a particular restraint," Pardiwalla said. "The writing is expanding within limits. Language can do really surprising and exciting things within limits."

from The Daily Princetonian: Finding their way


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