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News Articles, with Rus Bowden

4/26/2005


"What kind of spring is this," he [Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost] whispered in verse as Badr approached, "where there are no flowers and the air is filled with a miserable smell?"

Badr said he gaped in disbelief. Even in prison, his brother was composing poems.

But Badr said he gained new appreciation for Dost's talent after they were shipped to Guantanamo in May 2002.

from The Washington Post: In a Jail in Cuba Beat the Heart of a Poet



One stanza from [Wilfred] Owen's Strange Meeting encapsulates the waste of 1914-18:

For by my glee might many men have laughed,
And of my weeping something had been left,
Which must die now. I mean the truth untold,
The pity of war, the pity war distilled.

To read it at Craiglockhart is to encounter genius where it blossomed.

from The Sunday Times - Scotland: Where patients turned to poetry



In the 1980s and early '90s [Thom] Gunn saw dozens of friends die from AIDS. In his collection "The Man With Night Sweats" (1992) he memorialized those friends and relied, as [Wendy] Lesser wrote, "on rhyme and meter to organize an experience that would otherwise be incomprehensibly, uncontrollably painful."

from San Francisco Chronicle: A Poet's Life: Part Two
also San Francisco Chronicle: A Poet's Life: Part One



This was especially true for him during the AIDS epidemic, he [Mark Doty] said. "There was much suffering and people were dying from a disease that was despised, basically, demonized, not mentioned by our president for two terms in office, seen as a kind of social ill. And so it was very important for me to be in an affirmative position toward that suffering and to name the dignity and the beauty that I saw arise in the face of it."

This will to affirmation, he said, can be a trap for an artist.

from Pride Source: Heaven can wait



Various NGOs including Human Rights Watch and the International Helsinki Federation have protested the late February decision by Niazov - known as Turkmenbashi, or father of all Turkmen - to shut down the libraries. His explanation at a meeting of cabinet ministers was simple, "No one goes to libraries and reads books anyway."

from International Relations and Security Network: Turkmen hit by library ban



Similarly, the late poet and Northampton resident Agha Shahid Ali liked to tell a story about being detained at the Barcelona Airport on the way back to the United States. "Are you carrying anything that could be dangerous to the other passengers?" he was asked. (This was even before September 11, 2001!) With a characteristic twinkle in his eye, he responded, "Oh, just my heart."

from Valley Advocate: Poetry Survives: It's April and the poets are back



It asks us not to reduce our lives but to enlarge them, and to find surprise in the quotidian. It is an art of details, which requests that we lead considered lives, that we pay attention to things as seemingly simple as the human breath, that we choose our words properly and engage in being fully aware.

from Port Townsend & Jefferson County Leader: April is National Poetry Month



Julie Rawe, a senior at Beechwood High School, won an American Voices award - one of only 14 nationwide - in this year's Scholastic Writing Awards competition. Here is one of her winning poems.

from The Cincinnati Enquirer: Student poet captures national honor



None of us can fix the past. Mistakes we've made can burden us for many years, delivering their pain to the present as if they had happened just yesterday. In the following poem we join with Ruth Stone in revisiting a hurried decision, and we empathize with the intense regret of being unable to take that decision back, or any other decision, for that matter.

from American Life in Poetry: Column 004



"All this fiddle"--that is the cunning concluding phrase of Marianne Moore's sentence that begins with the more famous "I, too, dislike it." A fiddle, after all, produces music.

from Slate: Poems Against Poetry



Some honor Cummings as the granddaddy of all American innovators in poetry and ascribe to him a diverse progeny that includes virtually any poet who considers the page a field and allows silence to be part of poetry's expressiveness. Ferlinghetti and Creeley, Olson, Jack Spicer, Louis Zukofsky, and Marianne Moore?all would be among his many stepchildren.

from Slate: Is That a Poem?



Some years ago [Robert] Creeley brought beatnik poet Allen Ginsberg to Waldoboro.

"Ginsberg read this poem that I found absolutely repugnant," said [John] Morris. "And this at the Waldo Theater with all these little old ladies. This was a scene!"

Creeley, a keen observer of human interactions, enjoyed the contrast. "Don?t you love Allen," he laughed.

from The Lincoln County News: Poet Robert Creeley Found Inspiration in Waldoboro



Only We Tenriabeng could save him and the Middle Kingdom. She was as perplexed as others why her brother was so obsessed with her.

"It is your beauty, your face, the curve of your back, the glow of your skin," he told her. Politely she told him, if it was her body he desired, there was a cousin by the name of We Cudaiq, who was her exact double. She resided in China.

from New Straits Times: Point Blank: Bugis epic is world?s longest written poem


4/19/2005


The first key couplet line is a strong one - "moment wrapped in light" captures the essence of mimetic painterly skill. The second couplet line allows us into the woman's psyche: she is aware of the (male) gaze and in the fourth and fifth verses especially she works to take control of her situation, by writing, by becoming the creator rather than the object of another's creation.

from The Guardian: 'The poets show an appreciation of the form . . .'



[Julia] Darling used her writing as a means of conceptualising and dealing with her illness; Sudden Collapses In Public Places, which received a Poetry Book Society recommendation, was followed by a second collection, Apology for Absence. She herself said "poetry gave me a voice to express the comedy and tragedy of my illness."

from The Guardian: Poet Julia Darling dies of cancer



Like [Emiliano] Zapata before him, [Rodolfo "Corky"] Gonzales would help to transform a community that had been exploited and treated as inferior for over a century into a proud and spirited people who demanded their rights as U.S. citizens and citizens of the world. In his influential poem "I am Joaquin," Gonzales wrote: "Clamoring voices / Mariachi strains / Fiery tequila explosions / The smell of chile verde and / Soft brown eyes of expectation for a Better life."

from CounterPunch: Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales: The Passing of a Legend



The poet visits Mount St. Helens again in 2000 to view the blast site of the 1980 eruption.

The book ends with poems for the Buddhas of Bamiyan Valley, who were attacked by the Taliban, and the World Trade Towers.

[Gary] Snyder talked with Talking Volumes host Kerri Miller about his latest work. To listen to their interview, choose the audio link in the right column.

from Minnesota Public Radio: Gary Snyder, eco-poet



For [Sylvia] Plath, "The blood jet is poetry," and readers who might know little of the poet's private life can nonetheless feel the authenticity of Plath's recurring emotions: hurt, bewilderment, rage, stoic calm, bitter resignation. Like the greatest of her predecessors, Emily Dickinson, Plath understood that poetic truth is best told slantwise, in as few words as possible.

from The New York Times: 'Uncensored'



In a world ruled by memory-free materialism and grinding geopolitics, [Camille] Paglia says, poetry can light the spirit and feed the soul. America's academic world is failing, she argues, to keep that connection alive. But, poetry, she says, belongs to us all.

Hear a conversation with Paglia on rescuing Western culture through its poetry.

from On Point: Break, Blow, Burn



No, the sentence that brought tears to my eyes was [Camille] Paglia's comment on line three of the poem, in which the chimney sweeper says his father sold him to a master before the child could say "weep weep weep weep." I always thought that the unhappy little fellow was simply obsessing on his misery, but Paglia reminds the reader that, in their approximation of the words they are learning, young children often drop the first consonant; a child might say "neaker" for "sneaker," for example.

from St. Petersburg Times: Paglia's Poetics



From these 8 lines and 16 words, [Camille] Paglia offers dazzling commentary. On structure, she discerns "each of Williams's neat, tiny stanzas has a recessive wheelbarrow shape: the first line is the wheelbarrow's long handles, while the daringly terse, one-word second line mimics the sloping cart."

from Rocky Mountain News: Paglia's criticism pure poetry



In the following poem by the late Marnie Walsh, just a few words written as if they'd been recorded in exactly the manner in which they'd been spoken tell us not only about the missing woman in the red high heels, but a little something about the speaker as well.

from The Spokesman-Review: Poem says much in few words



"A foolishwise / proudhumble citizen of ecstasies", Cummings is above all childlike - and it is perhaps this faux-naive innocence which appeals, both to children who can enjoy the anarchic puzzles of his poem-paintings, and to adults yearning for childhood's simpler visions; nature versus man, the sensitive individual against the deadening social mass.

from Telegraph: making a case for ee cummings



[Scofield] Thayer suggested she have an abortion. [E.E.] Cummings noted that he "wanted E[laine] as a mistress". He then added, "I was not interested in her having a child - in fact, I advised her, like Thayer (following his suggestion) to PREVENT the child, with an operation." Elaine [Thayer] balked at the idea.

Cummings did all he could to ignore Elaine's pregnancy.

from The Guardian: Friends and lovers



"I deeply regret that I missed what I missed," he said. "Certainly those omissions were not happy ones for me.

"But while I clearly missed a few citations," [Christopher] Sawyer-Laucanno said, "I am not willing to admit to plagiarism."

But Harper's spokeswoman Giulia Melucci said the plagiarism was "clear cut."

from The Boston Globe: e.e. cummings scholar accused of plagiarism



From these facts we can conclude either that today's critics are much wiser and more reliable than their equivalents of the past, or that criticism is a decidedly imperfect art. Possibly, today's critics and their choices are as unreliable as those of the past.

In the 18th century, the brilliant young poet Alexander Pope wrote a poem about critics and criticism in which he suggests that as awful as bad poetry is, bad criticism is even worse.

from Slate: Poems Against Poetry



[Anne Bradstreet] learned from the harsh object lesson of Anne Hutchinson's banishment ("To speak in public like this - to 'publish' - was to usurp the role of men and trespass into a world where a woman did not belong").

Mistress Bradstreet instead invented other ways to disarm her potential critics and still take up the important issues of the day.

from The Christian Science Monitor: America's first published poet raised 8 children too



What no one realized was [Tennessee] Williams had penned a poem during that fateful Greek exam. Tucked near the back of his blue test booklet were 17 lines laying out just how bad he felt.

"It speaks to everybody who has ever flunked an exam or felt their life was at a complete and utter standstill," said Henry Schvey, who discovered the unpublished piece.

from St. Louis Post-Dispatch: WU chairman discovers Tennessee Williams' lost poem



Speaker A: . . . gobbling the whole, sharpening the flashing iron.

Speaker B: And the helmets are shaking their purple-dyed crests, and for the wearers of breast-plates the weavers are striking up the wise shuttle's songs, that wakes up those who are asleep.

Speaker A: And he is gluing together the chariot's rail.

These words were written by the Greek dramatist Sophocles, and are the only known fragment we have of his lost play Epigonoi (literally "The Progeny"), the story of the siege of Thebes. Until last week's hi-tech analysis of ancient scripts at Oxford University, no one knew of their existence, and this is the first time they have been published.

from The Independent: Decoded at last: the 'classical holy grail' that may rewrite the history of the world


4/12/2005


The furore surrounding the wedding of Camilla Parker Bowles to Prince Charles is dealt with by poet laureate Andrew Motion in his poem for the occasion.

from BBC News: Poet laureate marks royal wedding



But although this royal occasion might seem trickier than most to immortalize, all present their own particular problems, said Robert Potts, an editor at The Times Literary Supplement who until recently was editor of Poetry Review magazine.

"Every single time, it's an impossible job," Mr. Potts said of poems celebrating royal weddings. "One's not entirely clear why anyone bothers to do it."

from The New York Times: A Poet Laureate's Royal Call: Dreamy Ode to Ridiculed Love



"a true revolutionary poet can not help defying every appalling social and political instrument that has been the cause of death and exploitation in the capitalistic societies of the earth. If he is one for the transformation of the world, as he should be, and if he is not stupid, in relation to to a method of approaching these vital issues, the poet will not be opposed to the surrealist attitude . . .

To rebel! That is the immediate objective of poets! . . .The poetic marvelous and the 'unconscious' are the true inspirers of rebels and poets!"
[--Philip Lamantia]

from Infoshop News: Poetry as Revolutinary Praxis: Philip Lamantia & the Surrealist Movement in the United States



But when Creeley read the poem he put the long caesura after "drive," so what the friend said was "for/christ's sake, look/out where yr going," just what anyone might say to someone who was walking beside him on the street, mouth running a mile a minute about the darkness surrounding them and getting a car and driving somewhere to keep it at bay, and in the process of talking maybe missing the curb, maybe not seeing a lamppost or garbage can or steel grille sticking up around the base of a tree.

from Buffalo Report: On the Subject of Company



The poetry of [Robert] Burns is taught in Russian schools alongside their own national poets. Russia, not Scotland, was the first country in the world to honour the man with a commemorative stamp in 1956. Burns societies flourish from Volgograd to Vladivostok. There have even been Burns nights held in the Kremlin Palace with television channels across the nation cover it.

from Scotland on Sunday: From Rabbie with love



In "Becoming a Monk," the poet [Sook Young Lim's] draws on images of serenity and mind-over-body common to Korean culture. With a marvelous economy of language, she juxtaposes them with other strongly associative images from Korean Buddhist culture. The result is an inside view of the emotional reality that can lay behind the stereotypical "inscrutability," ascribed to Asian cultures.

from The Washington Times: Poetry that crosses cultures



The indifferent white glare of the drinks fridge opened at night: this is [Raymond] Carver's light, not the high blue light of the ocean. The reek of cigarette ash: this is Carver's smell, not the resiny tang of a pine wood.

Yet, as those who have read Carver's late work will know, during the last 10 years of his life he wrote poem after unexpected poem about river, sea and forest.

from The Guardian: Back to the source



Instead, the speaker concentrates on the unlikely beauty that surrounds her, such as the scum on the water that looks like lace and the fact that, though it may stink where she is, it's always the worst-smelling places that draw the prettiest birds: the hawk, the kingfisher, the heron that swallows something half rotten ''as if this were a meal for kings.''

from The New York Times: 'Luck Is Luck': Intimations of Mortality



We all know that the manner in which people behave toward one another can tell us a lot about their private lives. In this amusing poem by David Allan Evans, poet laureate of South Dakota, we learn something about a marriage by being shown a couple as they take on an ordinary household task.

from The Roanoke Times: American Life in Poetry



Never mind that Milton and Wordsworth wrote their long ambitious poems without end-rhyme. Nor was rhyme used by ancient Greek or Latin poets (except for occasional comic effect--a deliberate grotesquerie). You could argue that the most serious writers of Shakespeare's time considered rhyme a bit low or less than serious--a folk-art technique.

from Slate: I, Too, Dislike It: Slate celebrates poets who don't like poetry



Everything that makes more of you than you have ever been, even in your best hours, is right. Every intensification is good, if it is in your entire blood, if it isn't intoxication or muddiness, but joy which you can see into, clear to the bottom. Do you understand what I mean?

And your doubt can become a good quality if you train it. It must become knowing, it must become criticism.
[--Rainer Maria Rilke]

from Swans Commentary: Letters to a Young Poet (Letter Nine)


4/5/2005


"We were looking at Ted's book," Joseph Bednarik, marketing director of the nonprofit press, said Monday. "And we said: 'You know, is this a good use of $50?'"

It was. On Monday, "Delights & Shadows" received the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

from Lincoln Journal Star: Kooser wins Pulitzer



I think all poems are records of discovery of one kind or another. It's something I discover outside or a memory or fooling around with language. . . .And the poem becomes a record of that discovery. Then I present it to you, in hopes you'll discover something as well. [--Ted Kooser]

from USA Today: Poet laureate writes in open spaces



The people at the top now, people from my generation, who are in the Ivy League, from coast to coast, to Berkeley, their work is mediocre. They have not done what they claim to do, and what they've done is driven out talented people.

I meet them everywhere, people who started graduate school and left it, OK? They're in publishing, they're in media, they're in all kinds of jobs, because they couldn't stand it. [--Camille Paglia]

from Bookslut: An Interview with Camille Paglia



[Camille] Paglia is explicit on this point in her introduction: "Poets are fabricators and engineers, pursuing a craft analogous to cabinetry or bridge building. I maintain that the text emphatically exists as an object; it is not just a mist of ephemeral subjectivities. Each reading is partial, but that does not absolve us from the quest for meaning, which defines us as a species."

Consequently, she is serious about wanting the unique pleasures and insights of poetry available to as many people as possible.

from The Globe and Mail: Paglia's poetry primer pure pleasure



To find a poet who focuses instead on moments of import in the lives of others, who uses her lyric gifts to bring history to life, who steps back and allows the story rather than the self to take center stage is like suddenly hearing, after years of tinny transistors, full stereo. Linda Bierds is such a poet.

from The Anchorage Press: Wary awe



[Charles] Simic is not, clearly, a poet you turn to for vast variations in the literal or metaphorical landscape: he has a certain view of the way the world is, and each of his books illustrates this view, whether it be some versified tale of a rat being bludgeoned to death at a school nativity play ("Note"); a vision of a madwoman marking Xs with a piece of chalk "On the backs of unsuspecting / Hand-holding, homebound couples" ("Early Evening Algebra"); or the "Millions of empty rooms with TV sets turned on" in "Hotel Starry Sky".

from The Guardian: Smelling of mice nests



In 1874 an opening occurred for a professor of English at the fledgling University of California. Two candidates stepped forward: [Edward Rowland] Sill and Bret Harte. When Sill was chosen for the job, no one felt the University had settled for second best. In Berkeley, Sill came into his own. He was tall and slender, a romantic figure, with a rich and flexible voice. His dramatic flair helped make him an inspiring teacher. He became, as George Stewart wrote, "a loved and conspicuous figure" as he rode around the small town on a handsome black horse.

from Berkeley Daily Planet: First Berkeley Poet Spoke for His Time



Much has been written about 8th century Chinese poet Li Bai's weakness for the bottle, many of the accounts strangely exquisite, such as the legend of his dying: Drunk in a boat, he fell overboard and drowned while trying to embrace the moon's reflection. That's certainly more romantic than the probable cause -- cirrhosis of the liver.

from The Oregonian: Drunken Chinese poet Li Bai poured out his heart for his art



"Reading the Danish stories I was shocked and came to realize that there were so many poems and philosophies of life in the fairytales. The English and French versions that I had read before merely showed Andersen as an eloquent storyteller," he [Ye Junjian] said in the preface of the first edition of his "Complete Works of Andersen's Fairytales," published by the Shanghai New Arts and Culture Publishing House in 1978.

from China Daily: Fantastic fabler remembered



Psychologists at Dundee and St Andrews universities claim the work of poets such as Lord Byron exercise the mind more than a novel by Jane Austen.

By monitoring the way different forms of text are read, they found poetry generated far more eye movement which is associated with deeper thought.

from Scotland on Sunday: Verse broadens the mind, the scientists find



Our thought and feelings are drawn to its unique weaving of words, its mantra-like key couplet. That couplet, formed by the first and third lines, is thereafter kept apart by the second line's rhyme for another five trios, until, with a flourish, the poem concludes with those two lines brought together as the couplet we'd always known them to be. It's a dance of words, two lovers parted and meeting again at the end of the film.

from The Guardian: Tony Curtis's workshop



Special Section: Robert Creeley


Like the jazz riffs of Charlie Parker, Miles Davis or Keith Jarrett, his poems were impressionistic and improvisational. [C.D.] Wright described him as an "essentialist as far as language is concerned."

"I believe in a poetry determined by the language of which it is made," Mr. Creeley wrote in 1960. "I look to words, and nothing else, for my own redemption. . . .I mean the words as opposed to content."

from The Washington Post: Robert Creeley, 78; Postmodern Poet, Professor



Listen to him reading two poems: "Whatever" and "Thinking." They show both the difficult and the easy Creeley.

from Blogcritics.org: Creeley Remembered



Creeley never forsook his liking for the English Jacobean lyricists such as Thomas Campion (to whom he was introduced by Ezra Pound), or for Coleridge or Burns (from whose poetry he made a selection in 1989). Yet he was a consistent rebel against the tradition in which those poets wrote, much as the Anglophobic William Carlos Williams had been, without ever feeling the need to explain the contradiction implied by this.

from The Times: Robert Creeley:



Although associated with both the Beat and Black Mountain poets, Creeley "didn't get stuck there (in the '60s)," Gander said. "He was always at the forefront of the mutual arts, and in two short years he totally infused Brown with a larger dialogue about art and community."

from The Brown Daily Herald: Beat poet and Distinguished Professor Creeley dies at 78



He belonged to a group of poets--beginning with Modernists like Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams and continuing through the Beats and the Black Mountain poets like Charles Olson--who tried to escape from what they considered the academic style of American poetry, with its European influences and strict rhyme and metric schemes.

from The New York Times: Robert Creeley, 78, Groundbreaking Poet, Dies


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