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News Articles, with Rus Bowden


News at Eleven

He wanted poets to rival priests and poetry readings to replace Sunday sermons. His parents named him Irwin Allen, but he called himself Allen Ginsberg, and he wrote poetry with a passion. Fifty years ago, on October 7, 1955, at the Six Gallery, an avant-garde art gallery located at 3119 Fillmore St. in San Francisco, he performed Howl for the first time in public and brought American poetry back to life.

from Common Ground: Howl at fifty

It so happened that while the Florentine ambassadors were in Rome, the Blacks seized power, and had executioners working around the clock. That's how some political disputes were resolved back then. Dante himself was sentenced to die, but since he was in Rome, he was condemned in absentia, which meant that if he had returned to Florence his head would fall. However, as a preliminary measure, his house was razed to the ground.

from Tandem: Dante, the poet who made Italians

When the Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka fled Nigeria in 1994, and was sentenced to death in absentia by the military regime of Sani Abacha in 1997, he likened the "liminal but dynamic" state of the writer in exile to a parachutist's free fall.

His limbo was ostensibly ended by Abacha's sudden death from a heart attack in 1998 and Nigeria's steps towards democracy.

from The Standard: Wole Soyinka: Ousting the monsters against freedom

"Little did I know a little tsunami was in the offing for us in New Orleans. I've never seen water that dirty, that fast, that aggressive."

In the deluge, [Niyi] Osundare--perhaps Nigeria's greatest living poet--lost two manuscripts of his poetry, plus a book of essays on which he had been working.

from The Union Leader: Washed out by Katrina, poet finds silver lining

"There were a lot of pieces, period, but most of it was poetry," said Mr. [Philip] Gourevitch, noting that Jesse Ball, one of the poets featured in the current issue, had been one of Mr. Howard's choices. "Everything was reconsidered by the poetry editors; some of it will be published, some of it we can't. I wrote to everybody and explained this. It was the most painful thing I had to do, to be the source of disappointment on that."

from The New York Observer: Gourevitch Moves/The Paris Review/To Terra Tribeca

Fans of rhyme and meter will find it thriving in poems from Garret Keizer, Richard Wilbur and the late Anthony Hecht. Poems by Lyn Hejinian and James Tate, meanwhile, should satisfy more elliptical tastes. Credit [Paul] Muldoon's international eye, perhaps, for representing the breadth of contemporary American poetry rather than endorsing one aesthetic over another.

from The Plain Dealer: Poetry compilations good place to start

As it was noted by the scholar on Persian Literature, late Professor Edward Browne: "There can be no doubt that Sassanid courts were filled with music and with poems and songs and that the trend was, at the least, reflected in post-Sassanid era. No matter how drastically the change to a metric system may have affected the syllabic poetry of ancient Iran, at least superficially, the quatrain and the ode are Iranian in origin. Although Persian Poetry reached its highest point in the 10th century in Khorasaan, there evidences that indicate its existence at the Sassanid courts".

from Persian Journal: First Iranians Who Introduced the Art of Poetry

[Alice Fulton] reads an antiwar poem called "Our Calling" that contains the lines: "It's our conspiracy to see/Iraqi Freedom/the world our way/the code name for the U.S./empire by which we pledge/invasion."

But she also makes a point of thanking Laura Bush "for celebrating books today." It's important not to turn each other into monsters, the poet says.

from The Washington Post: Chapter and Verse

Awhile ago, she [Naomi Shihab Nye] received a letter from a Pakistani girl who had been in a class with Ms. Nye years before in Karachi. Ms. Nye had praised a poem the girl had written. In her letter, the girl said: "What you didn't know is that I hated America. But you liked my poem and talked about it, and I never felt the same about the United States."

from The Dallas Morning News: Poet builds bridges, line by line

[Alice] Oswald clearly knows her botanical science, but scientific accuracy is not the goal. This plant is conscious in its "longing for light" and, later in the poem, the new leaf becomes a hand into which "the entire object of the self" (presumably, the self of the plant) is "coldly placed".

from The Guardian: Mysterious nature

Goethe's words bring to light the thirst and impatience of such search, "I am dependent on words, language and image in their proper meaning and completely incapable in any way of operating with symbols and numbers that a highly talented individual easily understands." The talent Goethe so readily recognizes here is a talent of another kind than his own; perhaps it is the power of abstraction science nurtures in its pupils and practitioners.

from California Literary Review: Goethe and Tagore--Unexpected Interests

Great Regulars

The arson and the shootings in old Detroit seem pretty primitive, Wild West stuff compared with what [Lawrence] Joseph calls the "technocapital war" that is going on right now, even if we only wake to it during days like 9/11 to blink wildly for a moment and then sink back into our luxuries.

from David Kirby: The New York Times: 'Codes, Precepts, Biases, and Taboos' and 'Into It': The Double

Emily Dickinson said that poems come at the truth at a slant. Here a birdbath and some overturned chairs on a nursing home lawn suggest the frailties of old age. Masterful poems choose the very best words and put them in the very best places, and Michigan poet Rodney Torreson has deftly chosen "ministers" for his first verb, an active verb that suggests the good work of the nursing home's chaplain.

from Ted Kooser: American Life in Poetry: Column 025

In these two poems, both completely indelible for me, the difference between nature and humanity is made haunting yet distinct--partly by entertaining fictional similarities between the two.

from Robert Pinsky: The Washington Post: Poet's Choice

Of the 12 poems shortlisted, this one alone seems to have a positive take on domesticity and the day-to dayness of life. The woman is luxuriating in simply turning over in bed and watching her man shower and ready himself.

from The Guardian: Poetry Workshop: 'A strikingly urban feel'

A vice president and dean at Lewis and Clark College in the 1960s, Anthony Ostroff (1923-1978) published poems in numerous magazines, including The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker and Harper's. "Letter to Town" appears in "Salt: A Collection of Poetry on the Oregon Coast," edited by Amanda Deutch (Nestucca Spit Press; 2005).

from The Oregonian: Poetry Corner

Poetic Obituaries

[Yuri] Kapralov suffered greatly following the brutal rape and murder of his daughter Faith, an up-and-coming actress and folk singer who was living in Seattle--a shocking act from which he never really recovered.

But he remained a "warrior poet" and vibrant soul, and all those who got to know him were greatly enriched by his wisdom, and the glee that would peak out of his eyes when he got caught up in a good story or joke long enough to forget his sadness.

The Villager: Yuri Kapralov, a 'grandfather' of E.V. counterculture

I'd known Denis [Kevans] for 24 years and first heard his poetry in support of Bobby Sands and his fellow Irish hunger strikers in 1981. I can't think of a struggle (whether it was defending Aborigines or the East Timorese), a cause (such as when Tim Anderson was framed for the Hilton bombing) or strike that Denis didn't write about.

Green Left Weekly: Peter Denis Kevans 1939-2005: the battlers' poet

Levin M. Dawson, 64, was a poet, a Buddhist and a vegan. He practiced yoga, did not own a car and used his bicycle to go everywhere. Each day, Mr. Dawson biked from his sister's vacation home in Waveland, where he lived year-round, to read to his 94-year-old mother at a nursing home.

The New York Times: Portrait of Mississippi Victims: Safety of Home Was a Mirage


News at Eleven

Dear Mrs. Bush,

I am writing to let you know why I am not able to accept your kind invitation to give a presentation at the National Book Festival on September 24, or to attend your dinner at the Library of Congress or the breakfast at the White House.

from The Nation: No Place for a Poet at a Banquet of Shame

Nearly 620 years after his death, a period spanning myriad political upheavals, traumatic foreign invasions, dynastic changes and revolutions, Hafez remains this polarised nation's most popular figure, a role model who can unite all Iranians.

from The Guardian: Bigger than Elvis

Since the mass scale of journalism and movies and pop music undermine the criteria of evaluation in our culture, its important to emphasize that a singular value of poetry is the freedom, complexity, and depth that derives from its small scale, the fact that it has few readers, that it is difficult to access, that its not a mass art form. [--Charles Bernstein]

from All About Jewish Theatre: What does it mean to be a poet in our time: Interview with Charles Bernstein

I want everything.
Everything is a naked thought that strikes.
A foghorn sounding through fog makes the fog seem to be everything.
Quail eggs eaten from the hand in fog make everything aphrodisiac.
My husband shrugs when I say so, my husband shrugs at everything.
The lakes where his factory has poisoned everything are as beautiful as Breughel.

These are the first lines in a poem called Ode to the Sublime by Monica Vitti [by Anne Carson]. Beyond what the lines actually say, there is a carelessness to them.

from The Globe and Mail: More ambition than execution

A: What makes me the writer I am today is 45 years of writing poems and thinking about poetry and reading the poetry of others. [--Ted Kooser]

from Argus Leader: Poet 'stunned' to be named laureate

But people began asking, "How do you write a sonnet?" or "How do you write blank verse?" Some people take to it. Some people complain all semester. [--Mark Jarman]

from The Commercial Appeal: Poet struggles with faith, 'wishing to believe'

"I never wanted to be a hero," [Bei] Dao said.

Dao is associated with the "Misty School" of poetry in China, which is sometimes characterized as obscure, oblique or elusive, said Frances Sjoberg, the literary director of the Poetry Center.

from Arizona Daily Wildcat: Poetry center welcomes exiled poet

The poet [Nancy Agabian], who lives in New York, tells about a day, in 2002, when she brings her lesbian girl-friend of Armenian decent to an Armenian church where "all I wanted to do was kiss her, to swish my lips and tongue around hers."

from ArmeniaNow: Poet Priest?: Swiss-sponsored festival challenges Armenian traditions

A good example of this obliquity is a short early piece [of Piotr Sommer's]translated by Douglas Dunn and called "Domestic": "A woman drags herself from bed./You know I think I ought to make myself some dinner./But she doesn't have time/and dies between/two gestures, her mother's/and her child's, never discovering/who, or whose she was/more."

from The Guardian: Between two gestures

[Carlos Bulosan] became bitterly disillusioned, started getting involved in union organizing and taught himself to read and write. He wrote of Filipino workers putting in 12 hour-days--picking fruit, washing dishes, cutting fish and cleaning houses--for less than $1 per day. Many were exploited, beaten and robbed of their meager wages.

from Bradenton Herald: Writings of Carlos Bulosan resurrected

It was during her time in Vermont that [Barbara] DeCesare wrote the poem "Still Life With Metaphor."

"Until I moved here to York, I lived in Westminster, where I had lived my whole life," DeCesare explains. "I was raising three kids on my own and working and going to school. As much as I felt I needed to write, I always questioned if pursuing art was something that 'mattered.'"

from York Daily Record: Thunder on the page

Great Regulars

In this poem by New York poet Martin Walls, a common insect is described and made vivid for us through a number of fresh and engaging comparisons. Thus an ordinary insect becomes something remarkable and memorable.

from Ted Kooser: American Life in Poetry: Column 024

This time, the personal "I" is in the first line, and the hinge comes before the last five lines, with the surprise of addressing us readers about "this poem" and then addressing "Jennifer."

from The Washington Post: Poet's Choice

Poetic Obituaries

[Stanley] Burnshaw not only published and edited work by Frost, he wrote a biography of him that was published in 1986.

He also famously feuded with the poet Wallace Stevens, whom he described in a review as "a man who, having lost his footing, now scrambles to stand up and keep his balance." Stevens returned the favor with a poem titled "Mr. Burnshaw and the Statue."

from Dateline Alabama: Obit-Burnshaw


News at Eleven:

[Suheir] Hammad recently wrote two poems about Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath. The first reprinted here, "A Prayer Band", was performed at an event organised by Hammad called "Refugees for Refugees" in New York City on September 9th, which raised $5,000 for hurricane relief.

The Electronic Intifada: "A Prayer Band": Palestinian poet Suheir Hammad on Hurricane Katrina

[Susan] Salisbury points out, for instance, that in the final stanza, the girl in the poem addresses the "Riva'" as "River" (including the final "r"). "She wants to be sure her enemy understands she's won," Salisbury explains. ". . . and she and the flood waters don't always speak the same language."

York Daily Record: Hurricane tragedy inspires poets

According to [Ciaran] Carson's introduction, however, his real inspiration was the 6/8 rhythm of Irish jigs, which as a fiddler himself [Brian] Merriman would have known well:

'Twas my custom to stroll by a clear winding stream,
With my boots full of dew from the lush meadow green,
Near a neck of the woods where the mountain holds sway,
Without danger or fear at the dawn of the day.

The Guardian: Fairies and bondage fantasies

But there is more: Each has been his people's national poet. Pinsky was poet laureate of the United States from 1997 to 2000, and he brought an energy unmatched in the job before or since. David, a poet king, ruled his people by the sword, but he commands the respect of Jewish posterity with his words.

Forward: A Laureate and the King Who Shared His Love of Verse

"Once I understood that the plays describe contemporary events that Shakespeare was living through, I actually learnt a lot of history from them - and a lot about Shakespeare's own life."

It is quite possible, of course, that much of what she [Clare Asquith] has written simply does not prove that the Bard was Catholic.

The Independent: Was the Bard a Catholic?

Anstett delivers an unusual and unconventional collection of poems that range the gamut. He employs luscious ideas that speak satirically, yet universally. [Philip] Levine writes, "Aaron Anstett's 'No Accident' is here for anyone who needs to replenish the belief that American poetry is as healthy and useful as it ever was."

Lincoln Journal Star: Jim Reese: Award-winning poetry collections are zany, raw

"Padre Tanswell" (below) is indicative of [Gerald Arthur] Moore's wry wit--not to mention his pursuit of women at any cost--but he also demonstrates his serious side in "I Walk Past Violence" and "The Burial of Helen Moore" (to name but two examples).

BellaOnline: Book Review - The Winter Croquet & Cocktail Society

Three of her companions were injured, Safia Seddiqi told Pajhwok Afghan News of the attack that came while she was campaigning in Wazir-wa-Pirakhelo.

"It was around 2:00pm when we were fired at from a distance of 100 meters," said Safia, a prominent Pashtun poet.

Pajhwok Afghan News: Woman candidate escapes unhurt in attack

Yahoo ! Holdings (Hong Kong) gave Communist China state security authorities information that helped identify, convict and sentence a Chinese writer who?d highlighted press restrictions, says Reporters Without Borders.

In April, the man, Shi Tao, 37, was jailed for 10 years for allegedly illegally providing state secrets to foreigners.

p2pnet: Yahoo: 'China police informant'

Now the main attraction in this southwestern Kentucky town on the Tennessee border is the house where [Robert Penn] Warren was born on April 24, 1905.

Warren lived there for "four or five" years and in Guthrie until he left for college at 16, according to local historian Jean Moore.

Chicago Tribune: Robert Penn Warren's Kentucky

Ryan Scariano recently graduated from Portland State University. His poetry has appeared online at Premiere Generation Ink, among other places.

Submit poetry to Poetry, The Oregonian, 1320 S.W. Broadway, Portland, OR 97201.

The Oregonian: A Better Sounding Word

Great Regulars:

The three men are trekking up the mountain toward what [William Butler] Yeats calls a "little half-way house." But I imagine that little house to be a temple. Yeats interprets the edifice as something resembling an Irish pub, where the men will stop for a drink, listen to some mournful melodies and then trek on. I think the men are Buddhist monks who will stop at the temple to worship; the musical instrument will be used in chanting.

Linda Sue Grimes: BellaOnline: W. B. Yeats' "Lapis Lazuli" - Transcending Tragedy and Chaos

In this fine poem about camping by Washington poet E. G. Burrows, vivid memories of the speaker's father, set down one after another, move gracefully toward speculation about how experiences cling to us despite any efforts to put them aside.

And then, quite suddenly, the father is gone, forever. But life goes on, the coffee is hot, and the bird that opens the poem is still there at its close, singing for life.

Ted Kooser: Lincoln Tribune: American Life in Poetry: Column 023

Brand names, popular music, sports logos and such can make us seem united, but emergencies and calamities reveal divisions. What if victims and thugs, large numbers of the bereft and the violent, are who they are because in some deep way they are not part of our society?

Robert Pinsky: The Washington Post: Poet's Choice

Poet la Mode by Georg Heym

The Guardian: Original poetry: Poet la Mode by Georg Heym

I want to ask you to write a poem about any aspect of the association of love with a shared place: how you link a certain room or house with someone you love or have loved, how a house seems to absorb or exude the presence of daily affections or maybe how a passion deepens in the ordinariness of a lived-in space.

The Guardian: Poetry workshop: Micheal O'Siadhail's workshop

Poetic Obituaries:

Hasan Abidi could arguably be described as a literary face of Karachi as the late journalist-poet contributed a lot to the city. Karachi?s literary scene therefore owes a lot to him. Journalists, poets and writers are witness to the life-long contributions this feeble-looking man, who never looked tired, has made.

Daily Times: Senior journalist and poet Hasan Abidi dies


by Pier Giorgio Di Cicco, Toronto's poet laureate.

from Riri's Brain Dump: New Orleans to the Cities

Whenever she [Emily Dickinson] heard of a death, she was very interested to hear what the person said or did while dying. She heard her dying eight-year-old nephew utter words that she interpreted as indicating that the child saw angels coming to escort his soul.

from BellaOnline: A Spinster?s Spirituality

Maggie was written by a Canadian teacher George W Johnston who married an ex-pupil--Maggie--in 1865. They settled in Cleveland, Ohio, but sadly Maggie died shortly afterwards.

from Belfast Telegraph: The Ulster log: Haunting lament of a Canadian teacher

"I want to avoid that thought," she [Carol Ann Duffy] says. "It is about deep feeling. I could not feel more deeply than I have in these poems--but these are not journals or diaries or letters, they are works of art. A transformation takes place--it has to, if the feeling is to be revealed to others. Intensity of emotion is only the beginning--I have to do something with it."

from The Times: 'It's not facts, it's emotion'

In an essay, [Joan] Houlihan wrote, "The Billy Collins poem . . . is also a Mary Oliver poem, a Rita Dove poem, a David Lehman poem, a Maya Angelou poem, among other contemporary poets, because it is a poem we can understand. Immediately. We feel no drive to delve. It is not a poem we need to analyze. There are no pesky layers of meaning. What you see is what you get."

from The Salt Lake Tribune: Poetic injustice: Poets spare no words in arguing whether 'approachable' poetry

[Camille Paglia] is sensitive to the latent form in words, from a "sagging, extended vowel", to a word such as "adamant", which is "massively resolute in sound".

Her sudden likening of Shakespeare's Sonnet 29 to a "modern business graph" creates an instant swoop in our minds: an arc that underlies future readings of the poem.

from The Age: Poetry's language true to type

The Poetry Society launches an online poll today for Britons to vote for the poem they would most like to see sent on a space mission. People can pick from eight poems shortlisted by the society, or suggest their own favourite.

from The Guardian: UK asked to pick space-trip poem

The files, which cover the years 1932 to 1943, tell how [Hugh] MacDiarmid, whose real name was Christopher Murray Grieve, was closely monitored by the security services because of his strong Scottish nationalism and his brief membership of the Communist Party, amid fears he may have been a spy.

from The Scotsman: MacDiarmid was Soviet secret agent (or so MI5 reckoned)

Former Cape Town journalist and poet Sandile Dikeni is in a coma in a Bloemfontein hospital after he was involved in a horrific car crash that left four people dead.

from Cape Argus: Poet in coma after car crash horror

This pressure is inevitably relaxed with a long poem, which can't exist at a single intensity, but it still obtains. The trick is to figure out how the smaller formal decisions--this section, this voice, this line--fit in with the larger one.

from The New York Times: 'The Sugar Mile': Poet at the Bar

"The business has evolved in such a way, they count on the agent being the first reviewers," Ms. [Gail] Ross says, adding that writers who send their work directly to a publisher appear to not know much about the business.

from The Washington Times: Chapter and verse

Great Regulars

First, take it slowly. Try covering a single poem with a piece of paper, then slide the paper down to reveal the first line -- get a sense of that line -- then slide the paper down to reveal the second line, and so on.

from David Biespiel: The Oregonian: Teaching students poetry's 'salvation'

In this short poem by Vermont writer Jean L. Connor, an older speaker challenges the perception that people her age have lost their vitality and purpose. Connor compares the life of such a person to an egret fishing. Though the bird stands completely still, it has learned how to live in the world, how to sustain itself, and is capable of quick action when the moment is right.

from Ted Kooser: American Life in Poetry: Column 022

Rita Dove's most recent book, American Smooth, takes its title from a style of ballroom dancing where the partners are free to release each other from time to time and improvise. We might conclude that the dancers are lovers, but often these poems cunningly involve a different kind of freedom to separate, while remaining together, and a different kind of couple: poet and reader.

from Robert Pinsky: The Washington Post: Poet's Choice

What distinguishes great men like [Rabindranath] Tagore is the spiritual climate they create in their souls and the world outside them. Daily they make room for the feelings and the thoughts of infinity, whether in love or prayer. Daily they seek the reflection of the boundless and the sacred in the menial and the repetitive, transforming their measured words into a devotional exercise of symbolic grandeur.

from V Sundaram: News Today: Dr Radhakrishnan and Rabindranath Tagore

For the artist works entirely upon honour. The public knows little or nothing of those merits in the quest of which you are condemned to spend the bulk of your endeavours. Merits of design, the merit of first-hand energy, the merit of a certain cheap accomplishment which a man of the artistic temper easily acquires--these they can recognise, and these they value.

from Purple Patch: Daily Times: A career in art--Robert Louis Stevenson

Poetic Obituaries

I wanted to leave a message on her cell like Angela I hope the news of your demise isn't true, if it is why didnt you call me--a neighbor stuck his head out the window and told me to quit knocking because the people moved.

from Pirate Enclave: Angela Elizabeth Boyce

Barbara died Friday afternoon, August 12. By Providence, I was privileged to have been home and holding her when she passed into eternity. Though she had weakened considerably in recent months, neither she nor I thought that Friday was to be her last day.

from Desert Moon Review: Barbara Ostrander

Arnold Weinstein, the poet, playwright and librettist who wrote works performed on and off Broadway, taught playwriting at Yale and Columbia, and collaborated with composers from William Bolcom to Henry Threadgill to Philip Glass, died Sunday at Cabrini Hospice in Manhattan. He was 78.

from The New York Times: Arnold Weinstein, 78, a Poet and Collaborator on Operas, Is Dead


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