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News Articles, with Rus Bowden

12/26/2006


News at Eleven

Soldier suicides in Iraq are hardly endemic, but that makes the numbers no less tragic. Here's [Brian] Turner's poem, eulogizing PFC B. Miller, who took his life in Iraq on March 22, 2004. He was 24.

Eulogy

from Electronic Iraq: Soldier Suicides



well mi dhu day wok an mi dhu nite wok
mi dhu clean wok and mi dhu dutty wok
dem seh dat black man is very lazy
but if yu si how mi wok yu woodah seh mi crazy

LKJ [Linton Kwesi Johnson] has helped legitimize a language previously dismissed as the "pidgin" English of people too uneducated or lazy (or both) to grasp proper English, introducing it to the world in poetry.

from In These Times: Dread Beats



If we're not yet convinced, a dictionary's visual description of these fish being "like shad but stouter, more compressed," with the "sh"sound bringing to mind Muldoon's great precursor and contemporary, Seamus Heaney; then "stouter, more compressed," linking the two poets through allusion to their native island's most famous libation, should give us evidence enough to believe we're . . . well, we're at least on to something. Have I gone too far? Very likely.

from The Globe and Mail: Muldoon: playful and profound



There's little narrative, scant punctuation, no prescribed continuity and few lines (if you could call them lines) more than three or four words long. Occasionally the words disintegrate altogether into stray strings of letters or sounds ("ssssss," "tta ttattatta," "aiiiiii!").

from Los Angeles Times: Rants, raves, Futurist poems



Where in "Easter," a child's shame receives full, scrupulous representation, in "Sully: Sixteen Months" the child has merely tripped on a toy only to be comforted immediately by his mother and grandfather. There are hazards to being around one's grandchildren, and one of them is that a person's poems will suffer. (Williams's early poems about his children, by contrast, were dispassionate, honest and grave.)

from The New York Times: False Consolations



On the CD that accompanies this collection, [Galway] Kinnell prefaces the poem "Shelley" by saying: "There's a theory that goes around that I've heard many times that it doesn't matter how many wrecked lives lie behind us, the important thing is to get that brilliant painting, that amazing sonata, that great poem, and all sins are forgotten. But I really don't believe this. I think, actually, on the contrary, it's the absence of the feelings for others, for one's loved ones, that damages the great work."

from Los Angeles Times: 'Strong Is Your Hold' by Galway Kinnell and 'The Poems of Robert Lowell'



Here is how [Craig] Raine handles the matter (there's no other way to demonstrate his technique than to quote at length):

"These are very difficult poems. Yet [Anthony] Julius is prepared to preface hostile readings of Eliot's poems thus: 'While the poem cannot be reduced to a resolvable riddle, its hostility to Jews is instantly recognizable'; 'whatever its interpretative obscurities . . .' In other words: 'I do not understand this poetry but I know for a certainty it is anti-Semitic.'"

from Jewish Exponent: 'Underneath the Lot'



Purchasing The Ellsworth American in Ellsworth, Maine, in 1971, opened a new chapter in [James Russell] Wiggins' life as a poet. Every week for nearly 30 years, he wrote a poem for the editorial page of the paper. (Since his death in 2000, the American has continued to print a poem each week, recycling the hundreds written over several decades.)

from The Ellsworth American: The Poetry of James Russell Wiggins



The Times Colonist has invited six renowned poets, all living on Vancouver Island, to offer a special poem for the season to readers of this newspaper. Lorna Crozier's poem is the first, and over the rest of the week we'll present the works of five more poets.

Midnight Watch

from Victoria Times Colonist: Poems for the holiday



[Thomas Hardy] remembers sitting with other children by the fireside at midnight, listening wide-eyed to the adults tell them that the animals are kneeling now in their "strawy pen." You're there. You can see it. As a child, Hardy believed it completely.

from The News Journal: A contemporary Christmas poem



[Percy Bysshe Shelley] tore off "a surprising quantity" of bread, piled it in a bowl and poured on boiling water. Then he strewed it with nutmeg, which made it look interestingly gory. "I lap up the blood of murdered kings!" screamed the poet, applying the spoon. And then the finishing, irresistible touch: a sprinkling of loaf sugar, the blood of slaves.

from The Economist: Sugar: Sick with excess of sweetness



Great Regulars

The announcement, which was made on the website of JK Rowling's UK publisher, Bloomsbury, puts an end to months of internet speculation, with guesses ranging from Harry Potter and the Pyramids of Furmat to Harry Potter and the Graveyard of Memories.

from Sarah Crown: The Guardian: Final Harry Potter title revealed



"I think it's important to send material out constantly once it's in presentable form," [Noel] Sloboda says. "And while waiting for response, it's best to keep writing, to work on the next thing rather than to focus energy on what's in the mail. For every acceptance, I have at least half a dozen rejections. I have had some poems returned more than 20 times. Eventually, though, most good writing finds a home."

from Bill Diskin: The York Daily Record: Poetryork: Penn State York instructor practices what he teaches



In short, then [on Denise Low], she's a good ambassador for verse, and I think that's what any state's poet laureate is supposed to be.

So there's the nice little present, all dolled up with ribbons and bows. Now for the lump of coal: Where, oh where, is Missouri's poet laureate?

from John Mark Eberhart: The Kansas City Star: Show Me a Poet Laureate



I want you to think, "I'll be a happier person if I read a little poetry before going to sleep."

I want you to be inspired to say to your partner at the end of the day, "Sit down and let me read you this poem before supper."

What Sign?

from Elizabeth W. Garber: Village Soup: A Year of Poetry from a Wealth of Maine Poets: At the end of a year of poetry



"Marks" means grades, and each family member has his or her own system of grading the mother: the husband uses letter grades, giving his wife an "A/for last night's supper." She gets and "I"--incomplete--for ironing, because no doubt she didn't finish and probably left some of his clothes unironed.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Suite101.com: Linda Pastan's 'Marks': A Playful Poem



And my husband finally said he was tired of hearing what a good poet I would have been if I hadn't gotten married. Let's do something about it. [--Linda Pastan]

They obviously did something about it quite well.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Suite101.com: National Treasure--Linda Pastan: No Angel Speaks to Me



The speaker continues metaphorically comparing nature to God, when he says, "In the arteries of leaves/I see Thy blood flowing." Everywhere the speaker looks, he sees aspects of God.

from Linda Sue Grimes: BellaOnline: Paramahansa Yogananda's "Leave Thy Vow of Silence"



Poem: "Benediction" by Stanley Kunitz, from The Collected Poems. © W.W. Norton.

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: For the week of December 25, 2006



But you can probably get a better idea of funk by watching your Aunt Tilda take the dance floor at a bar mitzvah party while the band pumps out James Brown's Papa's Got a Brand New Bag.

from David Kirby: Sun-Sentinel: From the Stones to funk grooves



How many of us, when passing through some small town, have felt that it seemed familiar though we've never been there before. And of course it seems familiar because much of the course of life is pretty much the same wherever we go, right down to the up-and-down fortunes of the football team and the unanswered love letters. Here's a poem by Mark Vinz.

Driving Through

from Ted Kooser: American Life in Poetry: Column 091 (pdf)



[Frank] O'Hara's Christmas poem is as secular as can be--personal, artfully irreverent and saucy. The poem is also a sincere celebration of the holiday and his city. It is a passionate, good-humored embrace and a love song to Manhattan.

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



[Shri Srinivasa] Rangaswami's poetry is a conversation with the World. It is a conversation with the words on the page in which he allows those words to speak back to you. Indeed, his poetry is a timeless conversation with himself and yourself.

from V Sundaram: News Today: A tribute to a poet



You need to say it aloud. In fact, it is best to memorize it, so that you can just say it and shape it as you would a musical composition. Consider the magical precision of the words--"a draught of vintage," "a beaker full of the warm South," "beaded bubbles winking at the brim . . ."

from Frank Wilson: Philadelphia Inquirer: Books Inq.: I have been reading . . .



Being now resolved to be a poet, I saw every thing with a new purpose; my sphere of attention was suddenly magnified: no kind of knowledge was to be overlooked. I ranged mountains and deserts for images and resemblances, and pictured upon my mind every tree of the forest and flower of the valley.

from Daily Times: Purple Patch: Enough! --Samuel Johnson



Literature does not simply refresh us so that we can return to non-literary work, it helps us to do the work of deciding what we do and do not know. Literature, to repeat, renders all knowledge hypothetical, it pretends to affirm when it is not affirming.

from Daily Times: Purple Patch: If you say so --Michael Wood



Though authors are touchy about their productions and inclined to resent unfavourable criticism they are seldom self-satisfied. They are conscious how far the work on which they have spent much time and trouble comes short of their conception, and when they consider it are much more vexed with their failure to express this in its completeness than pleased with the passages here and there that they can regard with complacency.

from Daily Times: Purple Patch: Of Human Bondage --Somerset Maugham



[Rosie King's] first book, "Sweetwater, Saltwater," is forthcoming from Hummingbird Press in February.

The Blue Sky at Pinnacles Again

from Good Times Weekly: Poetry Corner



In winter, they say, the earth rests, animals sleep, and humans reflect. Here we offer some poems of reflection

'Snow'

from Kansas City Star: Solstice songs



By Dan McCarthy

Reasons to Celebrate an Early Yugoslavian Spring Day

from Lawrence Journal-World: Poet's Showcase



[John Garton Wharton] wrote this poem after reading about the war in Iraq. "War is a horrible thing that can tear at your mind and your heart even when you're not involved. I've heard that we rid Iraq of a tyrant. True tyrants do not hide in holes."

from The Philadelphia Inquirer: Reader Poetry



"Of Country I Know"
for David Ferry

from Slate: "Of Country I Know" for David Ferry



Poetic Obituaries

[Linda Bain] was an accomplished photographer and poet. She was also an exceedingly generous patron of a wide variety of projects, causes and institutions, not the least of which was The American-Scottish Foundation Inc., on the board of which she served for a number of years, and of which her husband was president.

from The Suffolk Times: Linda Miller Bain



[Yesenia Nungaray Becerra] liked to write poems and kept a journal.

"She was a very caring kid--loved her younger brother, loved her older brother. Baby-sat. Worked very hard for her mother. Very respectful, pretty much was raised by her grandparents," [Sgt. Scott] Dudek said. "Her grandparents worshipped her."

from Contra Costa Times: No longer 'Jane Doe:' 2003 murder victim finally named



Renowned poet John Heath-Stubbs has died at a nursing home in west London at the age of 88.

Mr Heath-Stubbs, who lost his sight completely in 1978, was also a translator, critic and anthologist.

from BBC News: Poet John Heath-Stubbs dies at 88



Being a literary figure, he [Hakim Manzoor] wrote books both in Urdu and Kashmiri and gained recognition for his poetry. Through his poetry, he highlighted the pain and agony of Kashmiris and the suppression they have had to face, said Zareef.

from Greater Kashmir: Hakim Manzoor dies at 69



Vivian Pierson Ramsey, a longtime newspaper columnist and poet whose works often centered on her beloved Greenfield, died Sunday after having a stroke.

She was 90.

from The Indianapolis Star: Vivian Ramsey was newspaper columnist with a big personality



Ellen S. Tifft, a poet and novelist whose work was published by the New Yorker and other national magazines, died Sunday at the Skilled Nursing Facility at St. Joseph's Hospital in Elmira. Tifft was 90.

from Star-Gazette: Elmira writer will be missed in her beloved hometown



Despite the calls for his arrest, the doctor, Mario Riccio, an anesthesiologist, said he was "serene" that he would not be prosecuted.

"The case of Piergiorgio Welby is not a case of euthanasia," he told reporters here. "It's a case of refusing treatment."

from The New York Times: Italian Poet Dies With Help From a Doctor


12/19/2006


News at Eleven

And in despair I bowed my head,
"There is no peace on earth," I said.
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

The U.S. Civil War was still raging when [Henry Wadsworth] Longfellow wrote those words. Over 600,000 died (some estimates are closer to 700,000), more than half due to disease and primitive medical care.

from Southwest Farm Press: Peace still an elusive goal



[Mevlana's] tolerance and humanism were best expressed in the lines that so many people know:

Come, come whoever you are,
An unbeliever, a fire-worshipper, come.
Our convent is not of desperation,
Even if you have broken your vows a hundred times,
Come, come again.

from Turkish Daily News: Mevlana: on the 733rd anniversary of his death



"There can be no living culture in the world if you cannot criticize its foundations--the religion.

"We lack the courage to ask any question about any religious issue.

"For example, as a Muslim, I cannot say a single word about the Prophet Moses.

"The Prophet Moses did not say anything to me as a Muslim, whereas the Israeli Jew can criticize Moses and all the prophets in the Torah, and he can even question the divinity of the Torah."

from The Middle East Media Research Institute: Renowned Syrian Poet 'Adonis': 'We, In Arab Society, Do Not Understand The Meaning Of Freedom'



Syrian poet Abid Ismail sought to find reasons for this estrangement between Arab writers and the unfolding events in Iraq, he says: "Indeed, with the exception of Iraqi writers, no one seems to care! You find yourself trapped in a lose-lose situation; if you condemn the war [the resistance], you will be accused by the majority of Iraqis as advocating the oppressor, and if you support the war, you will be supporting the occupation! The Iraqi issue is obscure--unlike the situation in Lebanon."

from Asharq Alawat: Where is the Iraqi War Literature?



The "Still Standing" event at Gold Mine Saloon went long into the night despite a curfew, an early sign the storm did not wash away the city's love for the written word.

"We just closed the doors and let things keep going," Brinks, 39, said at the bar one recent morning. "It was a beautiful exposition of how everyone felt at that moment."

from Reuters: New Orleans writers struggle to pen rebirth story



This poem reminds us that the powers that be have appropriated the terms of our common language with a nihilistic disregard for meaning that makes what gets called postmodernism seem innocent. They have done this so often and with such sociopathic abandon that, like the boy who cried wolf, their cries of terror ring hollow even when, as now, they might refer to acute dangers requiring a full measure of response.

from The Brooklyn Rail: The Weatherwomen's Terror



Sixty years after the swing, a lofty half-dead tree
drops branches on the grass. I call tree people
to tear out dead limbs for next year's sake,
fearing the wind and ice storms of winter,
dreading broken trees, and bones, and cities.

Hall and the maple and the fate of the world converge in this poem. In its last sentence his fears for the sick tree become his fears for himself and for civilization.

from St. Petersburg Times: The poet . . .



The mental templates on which are formed such things as metaphor, the very ways we understand and interpret our experience, are based on the ways our bodies move around in the world and interact with other physical entities.

A dog starv'd at his Master's Gate
Predicts the ruin of the State

from New Statesman: An English visionary



The only time I felt last night's supper rising towards my mouth was when he sliced open the gut and out dropped a big dollop of steaming green grass. The farmer gave me a running commentary on all the bits and pieces, especially those which crop up in the poem, such as the knot, the chine and the slot. The only term he couldn't help me with is "numbles".

from The Guardian: The knight's tale



One Muddy Hand may be a kind of inventory of the possibilities inherent in a particular moment of our literary history, but [Earle] Birney's poetry also anticipates what has now become a characteristic triumph of current Canadian poetry: its collision of linguistic registers, its non-conformist energy and its shifting, plural wordplay.

from The Globe and Mail: The return of Earle Birney



Professor Philip Davis, who led the study at the university's department of English, said: "The brain appears to become baffled by something unexpected in the text that jolts it into a higher level of thinking.

"It suggests that literature is not just some stylish add-on but is important to encourage more lateral thinking and learning.

"The study and the enjoyment of classical literature should become important again and not just a specialist activity."

from The Telegraph: The music of Shakespeare is food for thought



Great Regulars

On May 19 1536 Anne Boleyn was executed, possibly within sight of [Sir Thomas] Wyatt's cell. The stunning poem Who List his Wealth and Ease Retain is supposed to record this experience:

The bell tower showed me such sight
That in my head sticks day and night.
There did I learn out of a grate,
For all favour, glory or might
That yet circa Regna tonat.

from Charles Bainbridge: The Guardian: theblogbooks: Through the eyes of a poet



The poem is uninterested in certainty. Instead, the poem is a sort of ecumenical exultation, with the premise of asking being all the blood and flesh, all the mystery and mysticism that's needed or available.

Question
[by May Swenson]

from David Biespiel: The Oregonian: Poetry



They are key to the story because another creature, recognizing that there is a life worth saving, literally spins a web of words to convince others that this is so. How utterly marvelous!

In many ways [E.B.] White's book built a road for me to even more authors who didn't draw a firm line between animal and human.

from John Mark Eberhart: The Kansas City Star: Web feat, after 50 years Charlotte's Web: E.B. White's children's classic spins grown-up insights



Discover as you read this poem two stories, one the portrait of a remarkable woman, which is paralleled in contrasting lines with images of milkweed seed scattering in winter, in a masterful, point-counterpoint interweaving of the images and story, which grow richer with each reading.

Blissed-out Woman

Gladys Runnels Pease, 1912-2005

from Elizabeth W. Garber: Village Soup: A Year of Poetry from a Wealth of Maine Poets: Winter elegies



If the family of Henry Livingson is correct, the most famous Christmas poem in the United States was not written by Clement Clarke Moore; although Moore has been credited with it since 1844, when he included it in his book of poems. The author of this poem may instead be Major Henry Livingston, Jr.

from Linda Sue Grimes: BellaOnline: Who Wrote 'The Night Before Christmas'?



"Romped" is too playful a word for an emotionally and physically traumatized adult to use in looking back at a childhood event. And if the father were actually beating and abusing the child in an alcoholic rage, the child would not be clinging the father's shirt, he would be trying to run away from him.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Suite101.com: Misreading 'My Papa's Waltz'



To underscore the macho nature of their masculine wrestling-match, the speaker reports that his mother, who had probably just placed those pans on the shelves where they belong, did not approve of their disruptive behavior. Although she did not try to stop them by nagging at them, she did show her disapproval by a constant "frown."

from Linda Sue Grimes: Suite101.com: Roethke's 'My Papa's Waltz'



It is thought that Yehuda Amichai has been "the most widely translated Hebrew poet since King David." His influence was strong in the United States, where his readings drew large audiences.

His style is considered accessible like Robert Frost, while also including the use of many poetic devices in Hebrew that are untranslatable.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Suite101.com: Yehuda Amichai



A scorned lover imagines her partner in the drama of an abstract geometric painting in one last anguished message

The Last Postcard
(after Malevich)
by Lavinia Greenlaw (Minsk, Faber & Faber)

from Frieda Hughes: The Times: A lover's parting shot



The Six Comeuppances
by Simon Armitage (Tyrannosaurus Rex Versus the Corduroy Kid, Faber)

from Frieda Hughes: The Times: Monkey business



Poem: "An Old Man Performs Alchemy on His Doorstep at Christmastime" by Anna George Meek, from Acts of Contortion.

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: For the week of December 18, 2006



Anyone can write a poem that nobody can understand, but poetry is a means of communication, and this column specializes in poems that communicate. What comes more naturally to us than to instruct someone in how to do something? Here the Minnesota poet and essayist Bill Holm, who is of Icelandic parentage, shows us how to make something delicious to eat.

Bread Soup: An Old Icelandic Recipe

from Ted Kooser: American Life in Poetry: Column 090



And here--my favorite passage in the poem--is the moment when ever dutiful Aeneas, with his exhausted, despairing father at his side, balances the awesome burdens of past and future:

So I resigned myself, picked up my father,
And turned my face toward the mountain
range.

([Robert] Fitzgerald)

So I gave way at last and
lifting my father, headed toward the
mountains.

([Robert] Fagles)

from Brad Leithauser: The New York Times: Wars and a Man



Kevin Young has written a book, Black Maria (an old term for a police wagon or a hearse), that lovingly uses the hyper-metaphorical tough-guy style of classic American detective fiction and movies. Part of his subject is male loneliness and selfishness, and connected to that subject are all sorts of poses and stereotypes.

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



Can religion and science join forces to save the Earth?

Especially now, when the two are, shall we say, barely speaking?

It's a question very much of the moment, and I hope the answer is yes.

from John Timpane: Philadelpia Inquirer: For the Sake of the Planet



[Michael Creagan] has found plenty to say, not least from having to face every day a measure of suffering most of us cannot begin to imagine. Take, for instance, "In the Hospital: Watching People Die": "At first I expected them to go in anger,/or fear and trembling maybe . . . But there is no desperate calling on God or the devil . . . No, in fact, they seem not at all worried,/only disappointed, and very, very tired."

from Frank Wilson: Philadelphia Inquirer: Mining medicine, striking upon beauty



Nachtmusik
by Michael Kelleher

from The Brooklyn Rail: Nachtmusik



you were vast unto others--
by Jen Bervin

from The Brooklyn Rail: you were vast unto others



There really is no such thing as Art. There are only artists.

from Daily Times: Purple Patch: Art and Artists --Eh Gombrich



Yet something like faith in the transforming power of literature is surely requisite for the teacher who would teach with passion and conviction. It is a faith expressed uncommonly well by Emerson some thirty years before Arnold:

Literature is a point outside of our hodiernal [present-day] circle through which a new one may be described. The use of literature is to afford us a platform whence we may command a view of our present life, a purchase by which we may move it.

from Daily Times: Purple Patch: The decline and fall of literature --Andrew Delbanco



Tantrum by CK Williams

from The Guardian: The Saturday poem: Tantrum by CK Williams



[J. P. Dancing Bear] is host of "Out of Our Minds" a poetry show on public radio KKUP, he's the editor of The American Poetry Journal and Dream Horse Press. His poems have appeared widely in the United States and internationally.

Auricle

from Good Times Weekly: Poetry Corner



'A Prayer and a Wake' (for Jack Low)
by Denise Low

from The Kansas City Star: Poet's Corner: 'A Prayer and a Wake' (for Jack Low)



By Tom Mach

Well, if you insist, then come,

from Lawrence Journal-World: Poet's Showcase



My Lucky Number
[by Jules Boykoff]

from The Oregonian: Poetry



I had in mind that the poem ["Why Regret"] is addressed to all readers, including myself, reading it over to tell us to remember the pleasures and the confidence we gain from engaging ourselves with the common acts, the ordinary things, the other creatures, and to remind us in this holiday season, when we get reports everyday of the most horrible killings, that nevertheless we have very much to be thankful for.

from PBS: Newshour: Galway Kinnell on the Pleasures of Ordinary Things



"Old Newspaper Clipping in an Old Novel"
By Michael McFee

from Slate: "Old Newspaper Clipping in an Old Novel" By Michael McFee



Fifty Christmases ago (on December 28, 1956), the TLS published Christopher Logue's "Singing Prayer" (written in the aftermath of the Suez crisis), from which this extract is taken. Since the 1960s, Logue has been occupied with "War Music", his acclaimed modern "version" of the Iliad. His Selected Poems was published by Faber in 1996.

For Christmas, a Singing Prayer

from The Times Literary Supplement: Poem of the week: "For Christmas, a Singing Prayer", by Christopher Logue (1956)



Poetic Obituaries

Waiting to take my turn at the shovel heaping dirt on Howard Chenfeld's casket on Sunday, I got to thinking about one of his poems and had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing:

If I should die while choking on an egg roll
In a so-so Chinese restaurant
Across the street from K-Mart,
Please remember that I was born
Under the sign of the rabbit.
A very lucky sign.

from The Columbus Dispatch: Poet who bloomed late lived with zest



[Golam] Kuddus shot to fame with his novel 'Mariam', which won the Bankim Puraskar. His anthology of poems 'Ila Mitra' was well appreciated by readers.

from The Hindu: Poet Golam Kuddus dead



[Dr. Jim] Pictor was chairman of the English department for most of the time he was with the Saint Francis, [Steve] Sullivan said. He also loved to "dabble in poetry" and was an accomplished musician, able to play the piano and organ.

from The Journal Gazette: Retired Saint Francis professor dies at age 65



Rabbi [Laurence] Skopitz wrote poetry and children's books and was skilled in Hebrew and English calligraphy. He composed klezmer, jazz and classical music and played several instruments, including clarinet, saxophone and guitar.

from Rochester Democrat & Chronicle: Rabbi leaves a legacy of caring



[Ruth Webb's] first publication of poetry took place in her teenage years. Many additional works were published over the years. She had recently completed her outrageous autobiography, "Welcome to My Web."

The Ruth Webb Agency will continue her legacy, headed by her longtime friend and partner, Sherri Spillane under the guidance of Webb's friend and business manager for the past two decades, Harold J. Levy.

from BroadwayWorld: Broadway, Film and TV Talent Agent Ruth Webb Dies at 88



I have many fond memories of Brad Will, especially his participation in activist and poetics events around Boulder and during the summer sessions of The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University in the early 1990s. He was a much appreciated "honorary student," a student of Allen Ginsberg's and myself and others.

from The Brooklyn Rail: Will Power


12/12/2006


News at Eleven

"In Iran, the Canadian-Iranian journalist Zahra Kazemi is brutally tortured by the Iranian police and then murdered in detention--[all] for writing her articles.

"2004, Iran: The musician and poet Ahmad Bayat Mokhtari is abducted and run down by a car in Chiraz because of his artistic activities.

"On October 30, in Damascus, researcher and writer Nabil El-Fayadh, author of many books banned in Syria and other Arab countries, is arrested by the intelligence service . . .

"On November 2, Dutch film maker Theo Van Gogh is murdered in Amsterdam by a Moroccan Islamist because of his film Submission, which portrays the submissiveness of Muslim women. . . [."]

from The Middle East Media Research Institute: Censorship and Persecution in the Name of Islam: A Tunisian Weekly Counts the Ways



O' prettiest fits of my madness
ya ahla nawbaati junooni

for your sake I set free my women
min ajliki a'ataqtu nisaa'i

and effaced my birth certificate
wa shatabtu shahadata meeladi

and cut all my arteries,
wa qata'atu jamee'a sharaayeeni.

[--Nizar Qabbani, from Poem of Balqis]

from Global Politician: Spare us the words, and spare us the letters



You are crying for something in the past.
Fair enough. Your mother is dead here.
A praying mantis eats through a leaf.
They've changed over the streetlights
to the safer, apricot-hazed ones.
Bang your fist on my heart if you understand.

This is powerful. This is Gontarek at his best. The narrative voice is so distanced from the grieving person that the two can only communicate through a desperate physical gesture.

from The Philadelphia Inquirer: A slight volume of poetry nonetheless is heavy going



The "three blows" that fell on her [Emma Hardy] are the primary, secondary and tertiary stages of luetic disease. The poet [Thomas Hardy] says that he himself got off lightly, not aware of any progress beyond the primary stage. Can we view this poem as autobiographical?

from Times Literary Supplement: Emma Lavinia Hardy: A retrospective diagnosis



"I think the 'Aeneid' should have been burned and Kafka's works should have been burned, because personal fidelity is more important than art," she [Helen Vendler] said in her quiet, direct manner.

from The New York Times: The Closest Reader



[Samuel Taylor] Coleridge's surprising response to [Anna Letitia] Barbauld's criticism regarding the poem's lack of a moral is perhaps instructive. "I told her in my judgment the chief fault of the poem was that it had too much moral, and that too openly obtruded on the reader."

from The Guardian: Lost at sea



Like the Irish poets of the last half-century, they mix fragments of Ancient Greek mythology with the realities of modern life; as soundbites from [Adam] Simmonds show--"Apollo hides his WMD" and "Paradise paved with a disposable nappy"--these three are attempting to outline the relationship between eternality and insignificance and blend them into a novel style, all the while avoiding pretence and pretentiousness.

from Varsity: Perdika Poetry



2007 marks the 800th anniversary of the great spiritual and literary Muslim figure, Rumi. Born in Balkh, Afghanistan, in 1207, Rumi was a conservative cleric in his youth but upon his meeting with wandering dervish Shams Tabriz in 1247, he metamorphosed into an entirely different personality and from then on preached the message of Islam.

from The Daily Times: UNESCO names 2007 'Year of Rumi'



Both books, therefore, underline the variety of grape in the Australian vineyard, so much so that it is impossible to generalise about the poets' styles and concerns, except perhaps to say that the lyric is alive and kicking and that Australian urbanities, as expressed in poetry, are cosmopolitan and open to the rest of the world.

from The Australian: The Best Australian Poetry 2006/The Best Australian Poems



Last spring, driving to work on 1A, I watched masons build a wall--each day as I traveled they progressed with their work. Watching them was reminiscent of the stonework of my brothers and dad at the house where I grew up. [--Phoebe L. Guarnaccia]

from Portsmouth Herald: 2006 Random Acts of Poetry Anthology



"I think that you could read a lot into the herbarium if you wanted to," says [Leslie A.] Morris carefully, pointing out that the first specimen on the first page is jasmine, a plant [Emily] Dickinson was fond of. "Jasmine has as one of its nicknames 'poet's jessamine'; it can also mean 'passion' in the language of flowers. Did she choose that specimen because it represented poetry to her?"

from Harvard University Gazette: HU Press publishes poet Emily Dickinson's childhood herbarium



Great Regulars

[George] Venn thinks it is simplistic to dismiss the surrender speech as a clever fabrication; better to see it as Wood's "most imaginative, enduring and articulate dissent," one that "elevate[d] Chief Joseph to the status of a military genius" while defending [Gen. O.O.] Howard.

from Jeff Baker: The Oregonian: C.E.S. Wood and Chief Joseph: an eloquent empathy



Just last week I bemoaned the lack of a decent UK short story award, and behold: days later, the Guardian first book award has gone to Yiyun Li for her exquisite short story collection, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers.

from Sarah Crown: The Guardian: Arts Blog: The triumph of brevity



Ridgewalking
[by Dave Grill]

from Bill Diskin: The York Daily Record: Poetryork: One poet's beautifully pointless pursuit of housebroken obsessions



Winter is a good time to settle in and read a captivating sea story in the evening.

Here is a narrative poem set right off the coast, written in the 1930s by poet Wilbert Snow.

from Elizabeth W. Garber: Village Soup:: A Year of Poetry from a Wealth of Maine Poets: A winter's lobstering tale



[Anne Bradstreet's] brother-in-law, John Woodbridge, sailed to England taking her manuscript with him. Without Anne's knowledge or consent he had it published in England in 1650 under the title, The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America: By a Gentlewoman of Those Parts.

It is not chiefly by those poems that Anne is remembered, but by later revisions and volumes that appeared after the poet's death.

from Linda Sue Grimes: BellaOnline: America's First Poet--Anne Bradstreet



Such days of unfathomable horror motivate poets to express their musings. Poet/professor Walt McDonald's poem, "The Winter They Bombed Pearl Harbor," subtly invokes the Pearl Harbor attack as almost an after-thought.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Suite101.com: Pearl Harbor poems



Consisting of one sentence, Tagore's simple prayer for his country, India, prior to her gaining independence from Britain, has become one of the most quoted poem/prayers by political activists. The universality of this prayer allows it to transcend both time and space, as all great poetry does.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Suite101.com: Tagore's Patriotic Prayer



Poem: "Crusoe" by George Bilgere, from The Good Kiss.

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: For the week of December 11, 2006



Loss can defeat us or serve as the impetus for positive change. Here, Sue Ellen Thompson of Connecticut shows us how to mourn inevitable changes, tuck the memories away, then go on to see the possibility of a new and promising chapter in one's life.

from Ted Kooser: American Life in Poetry: Column 089



Romantic at first, the whole drill--lugging the logs upstairs, hauling the ashes down, waking in the morning to see your breath in front of you--quickly grew old, and we rediscovered what people have known for centuries: that the fireplace is not, in truth, a very efficient heating device.

from Charles McGrath: The New York Times: Tending the Fire, and the Woodpile



The unresting turbulence of human life, its violence and eroticism commingled, makes the poet say, "Not leaves then"--we are more endlessly disturbed than the leaves in the wind. Running through the poem, along with that despairing perception of pointlessness, is the counter-energy of meaning, animating the words themselves.

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



It has been a privilege to join Newspaper Tree and its contributors in a celebration of the great mezclaje of opinions, esthetics and experiences we call la cultura fronteriza I look forward to its resurrection. At NPT's invitation, here are a few of my own poems. [--Donna J. Snyder]

from Donna J. Snyder: Newpaper Tree: Poetry



[Thomas Edison] realized that Walt Whitman, the greatest American poet of his time, was in the last phase of his life. Edison sent his agents to record the voice of Whitman in 1889. Likewise he sent his agents to England in 1889-90 to record the voices of the British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladston (1809 - 1898) and English poets like Lord Tennyson and Robert Browning.

from V Sundaram: News Today: Edison's recordings of great poets



Spleen by Jacob Polley

from The Guardian: The Saturday poem: Spleen by Jacob Polley



'Shady Lady'
By Carolyn Hall

from The Kansas City Star: Poet's Corner



By Xin Liu

Layers on fragile skin, akin to forsaken burns

from Lawrence Journal-World: Poet's Showcase



To be sure, the verset is not the form of Baudelaire's poetry, and while Baudelaire was among the first to pen a modern prose-poem, none was included in Les Fleurs du Mal. And yet, looking at some of Waldrop's phrasing in The Flowers of Evil, we can quickly move past such a summary judgment. Consider a stanza (or paragraph) from "The Possessed":

I like you that way! Still, if today you prefer, like an eclipsed star coming out of the penumbra, to strut the places Madness stocks, all right! Charming dagger, sprung from its case!

from Powells: Review-A-Day: The Flowers of Evil (Wesleyan Poetry) by Charles Baudelaire



"At the Window"
By Linda Gregerson

from Slate: "At the Window" By Linda Gregerson



[Kingsley Amis] continued to write poems intermittently: "Matin", which appeared in the TLS in 1990, and recalls the "Aubade" of his friend Philip Larkin, was one of the last he offered for publication.

Matin

Or: Homage to Mogadona

from The Times Literary Supplement: Poem of the week



Poetic Obituaries

[Moshe Bernstein] "is perceived as the kind of Jewish artist that gives sentimental expression to the memory of a Jewish culture that is gone forever. He also illustrated books of Yiddish poetry. He did the typography by hand, in black ink; and in his decorations around the sides there appeared that same figure of a Jewish girl, with a black braid and big eyes, and the houses of the town." [--Galia Bar-Or]

from Haaretz: Moshe Bernstein, painter and illustrator, dies at 86



Longtime Missoula playwright, performer, poet, journalist and community advocate McCarthy Coyle, 67, passed away at Community Medical Center Sunday, Nov. 26. You may not have heard the news--a single line appeared in the Missoulian the following Wednesday--but in a sense that sort of deflected attention defined Coyle's wide-ranging impact on the community.

from Missoula Independent: Remembering McCarthy Coyle



[Jeremiah Duggan] "said, 'Mum I'm in deep trouble. I'm under too much pressure. You know this Nouvelle Solidarité? I'm not strong enough for this. I can't do this. I'm frightened'."

Then the line went silent.

from Mirror.co.uk: Was British Student Killed by a Sinister Political Cult



There was one trick to writing about kari--kari didn't like you to use pronouns except to refer to yourself, because pronouns in English invariably register gender and kari's position as a gender activist (kari's term) was that there was no way to go about this that wasn't wrong.

from Silliman's Blog: kari edwards died of heart failure on Saturday.



"I am thankful for my family," [Thomas] Fogarty wrote. "If I didn't have a family I wouldn't be able to cook anything other than kid cuisines. Who would tell me when to get out of bed? I wouldn't have my brother to play with."

from Union Leader: More than 500 say goodbye to Greenland boy



After dinner each night, [Margaret Grace] Francisco would sing songs with her children until their father would come home.

She loved poetry and would write a poem for each of her children on their birthdays.

from The Flint Journal: Woman shared her love of reading with children



[Kailash Gautam] had authored over a dozen books, some of which had been honoured by the Uttar Pradesh Hindi Sansthan.

He was also the president of Allahabad-based literary organisation, the Hindustani Academy.

from Hindustan Times: Renowned poet Kailash Gautam passes away



[Matt] Gille's ex-girlfriend, WSU junior Lindsay Thomas, said Gille wrote poems better than Hallmark and cared deeply for people.

"For the time that I was with him, he always went out of his way to make sure that I knew he loved me," she said.

from Winona Daily News: Cause of death unknown: WSU classmates mourn loss of 'amazing' friend



[Jawdat] Haidar received a papal medal from from Pope John XXIII, the French Republic awarded him the Medal la Croix de Grand Officier, while the Lebanese Republic gave him the Gold Medal of Merit and the Order of the Cedars.

from The Daily Star: 'Prince of Poets' Jawdat Haidar passes away at 102



Eminent poet and Sahitya Academy award winner Benoy Majumder died at his Bongaon residence today in North 24 Parganas district after a protracted illness. He was 75.

from The Hindu: Poet Benoy Majumder dead



For 37 years, [Michael] Novak taught American literature, creative writing and other courses at the University of St. Mary. Though he retired a few years ago, he went to his campus office almost every day.

from Kansas City Star: Michael P. Novak: Beyond gruff exterior, a teacher who cared



[Eileen Pelt] had been living with her mother in Auburn and was taking general classes at Sierra College in Rocklin. She worked at Applebee's Restaurant in Roseville.

Family members said they remembered her for her love of family, friends, dancing and writing poetry.

from The Union: Woman with local ties slain



Merle Rubin, a book critic who was a regular contributor to the Los Angeles Times as well as the Wall Street Journal, Washington Times and Christian Science Monitor, has died. She was 57.

Rubin died of cancer Nov. 30 at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center in Hollywood, according to her husband, Martin Rubin.

from Los Angeles Times: Merle Rubin, 57; longtime book critic for Times, others



A renowned poet, he [Anwar Shaikh] had deep interest in Urdu language. He served this language diligently. His academic and literary tastes had insatiable appetite for excelling.

from Organiser: A tribute to Anwar Shaikh



Leonardo Suaste was described as a good kid with a passion for art and poetry.

A $5,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to an arrest and charges in this case.

from Click2Houston: Family Pleads For Help Finding Killer


12/5/2006


News at Eleven

"As an award winning poet and fiction writer, Mr. Steffler has been a highly-regarded ambassador of Canadian writing for many years," said Speaker of the Senate, the Honourable NoŽl A. Kinsella. "His career-long interest in the interaction between people and the places they inhabit will lead to some insightful poetic reflections on the Canadian experience."

from News@Concordia: Concordian named Parliamentary Poet Laureate



"It's ironic that you're here (interviewing me) while I'm freezing to death. And we're talking about the world heating up so there's something odd about that. At any rate, why I had the world heating up I do not know, because nobody had mentioned it then. It was before it had been acknowledged as a possibility. Creativity is a very funny thing, it does what it wants." [--P.K. Page]

from Victoria News: At home with P.K. Page



What would [Truman] Capote have said about Smallwood's attempt at this re-creation?

". . . just grinning as much as he could because he always wanted to be famous for a long time and I think he's achieved that," [Robert] Smallwood offered. "And the sign of a true artist is one that gets more popular as time goes on and it looks like he has done that."

from Townhall.com: Big Easy Recreates Capote's Masked Ball



In the tradition of the PEN Association, there was a vacant seat in the hall in honor and memory of an absent imprisoned writer. This particular seat was dedicated to Chinese writer U Win Tin, from Myanmar, who is 76-years-old and has already spent one-fifth of his life in prison for his peaceful opposition to the ruling military authorities, and his contributions to the defense of human rights and freedom of expression.

from Asharq Alawsat: Arrested Words: PEN Association Celebrates Imprisoned Writers



"I, for many, many years have felt not just that the personal becomes political," she [Adrienne Rich] says, "but that the political becomes personal."

It is a remarkable statement from a poet who worked so hard to get the message across the other way around--that women?s bodies were battlegrounds, that their voices had been silenced.

from The Times: The political is personal



In "Carina," [Elaine] Terranova captures the queasy feeling of a very young woman's vulnerability in the world, telling us that the girl's name, Carina, "could be a cognate of careening." As Terranova writes so vividly, "Things walk in the halls/of a word." Oh, they do.

from The Philadelphia Inquirer: 'Not To' collection reveals poet playing with permutations



[CS] Lewis argues that 'the imaginative man' underpins them all: 'It was he who made me first attempt . . . to be a poet. It was he who, in response to the poetry of others, made me a critic, and, in defence of that response, sometimes a critical controversialist. It was he who, after my conversion, led me to embody my religious belief in symbolical or mythopoeic forms'--by which Lewis meant The Chronicles of Narnia and other fictions.

from The Guardian: Last lines of a lion in winter



One of my favorites "Advent" poems comes from the wonderful collection, Gitanjali, of the Indian poet, Rabindranath Tagore:

Silent Steps

from dotCommonweal: Er kommt, er kommt



Hakim Abolghasem Ferdowsi Toosi (935-1020): Ferdowsi has been considered as the first Iranian poet of national epics. Most Iranians regard Ferdowsi as the greatest of their poets and for many years they have continued to read and to listen to recitations from his masterpiece, the Shahnameh, in which the Persian national epic found its final and enduring form.

from Persian Journal: First Iranian Kings of Persian Poetry



"So I said I am Ezra" begins the poem by that title in this collection of 31 poems, a line as well-known now to many readers of contemporary American poetry as any I can think of--like T.S. Eliot's "Let us go then, you and I" from "Prufrock"--both authoritative and uncertain. Where will Ezra/Ammons find help, lost and saying farewell?

from Relish: A Poet of Our Own: Works by North Carolina writer find new life, new interest



"This project could almost be a continuation of the poem," [Joe] Milutis says. "Its residents are a continuation of the poem. It's literary and a way to interact with a place I wouldn't normally interact with."

from Herald News: Paterson object of his desire



Great Regulars

Sometimes the poet's voice doesn't seem to live up to the poem on the screen, sometimes what feels bland written down takes on immense power when we hear it, sometimes voice and word are so closely intertwined that it is difficult to read the poem again without "rehearing" that performance.

from Charles Bainbridge: The Guardian: Arts Blog: When spoken word is mightier than written verse



[Siegfried] Sassoon, who already featured on the website reading 'The Dug-Out', can now be heard reading 'Everyone Sang', a poem celebrating Armistice Day which ranks among the best-known of his works.

from Sarah Crown: The Guardian: Poetry Archive unveils lost voices



Drum roll please . . . the category shortlists of the Costa book awards have been announced. No doubt you're all now thinking "Spare us, for the love of god--how many awards do these people need?"

from Sarah Crown: The Guardian: Arts Blog: Costas produce more froth than buzz?



For C.G.R. Shepard of Blue Hill, poetry became a close friend at an early age. Her time to write came late but has been very rewarding. She has three books in print, a trilogy: Past Imperfect, Present Tense, Coming Into the Wind.

Found Love

from Elizabeth W. Garber: Village Soup: A Year of Poetry from a Wealth of Maine Poets: Scattered patchwork of objects in November



This little poem expresses Dickinson's continuing love affair with the spiritual level of being. She begins by claiming that to make a physically large item, "a prairie," all one needs is two small physical items, "a clover and one bee."

from Linda Sue Grimes: Suite101.com: Dickinson's 'To Make a Prairie'



The reviewer for The North American Review writes, "We are indebted again to Mr. Whittier, as we have been so often before, for a very real and very refined pleasure. It is true to nature and local coloring, pure in sentiment, quietly deep in feeling, and full of those simple touches that show the poetic eye and the trained hand."

from Linda Sue Grimes: BellaOnline: Whittier's 'Snow-Bound''--A Winter Tradition



untitled
Nurit Zarhi

from Tsipi Keller: Zeek: untitled: Nurit Zarhi



Poem: "On the Subway Station" by Grace Paley, from Leaning Forward.

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: For the week of December 04, 2006



This wistful poem shows how the familiar and the odd, the real and imaginary, exist side by side. A Midwestern father transforms himself from a staid businessman into a rock-n-roll star, reclaiming a piece of his imaginary youth. In the end, it shows how fragile moments might be recovered to offer a glimpse into our inner lives.

My Father Holds the Door for Yoko Ono

from Ted Kooser: American Life in Poetry: Column 088



[Maurice Bowra] was referring to [John] Betjeman's well-known habit of infidelity, indulged even in the earliest days of his marriage, and to [his wife] Penelope's serial embrace of causes. She was a premature New Ager who studied Sanskrit, flirted with mysticism, turned the house into an animal sanctuary and died while on a pilgrimage to the Himalayas.

from Charles McGrath: The New York Times: The Nostalgist



The dawning, quickly expanding consciousness of the baby who gurgles at the shapes overhead, kicking with excitement ("on his back, on the run"), finds an expression in verse. But not only an expression.

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



My head is full of shadowy characters
In whom I ponder similarities
Of restlessness and longing and a quest
For peace . . .

This idea of the poet as bearer of culture is an important one. Yet for a contemporary British poet to place himself in a canonical context--even by thinking through it, as [John] Fuller's poet-guide does here--is unexpectedly flamboyant.

from Fiona Sampson: The Guardian: Love remembered



And last spring, there appeared in the journal Boulevard, this by yours truly:

Advent

from Frank Wilson: Philadelphia Inquirer: Books Inq.: Today is the first day . . .



Wilderness by Patti Smith

from The Guardian: The Saturday poem: Wilderness by Patti Smith



This is an ominously exact little piece, with skillful management of the quatrains: it gives us a glimpse of urban madness, reinforced by the references to Bosch and Dante; it gives us a glimpse of a journey out of the safe and ordinary world, and is suitably urgent.

from The Guardian: Poetry Workshop: Hard rhymes



'For Mbembe'
By Steve Paul

from The Kansas City Star: Poet's Corner: 'For Mbembe'



Elk Medicine By Denise Low

from Lawrence Journal-World: Poet's Showcase



(subtle construction)

you don't bother to explain your techniques.
the unconscious system of translating
yourself to skin and bone, oscillating

from Lawrence Journal-World: Matthew Porubsky Poems



One Life
[by Kelly Sievers]

from The Oregonian: Poetry



after elegies
[by Arthur Durkee]

from The Philadelphia Inquirer: after elegies



Humor is often an effective way to get our attention and convey a serious societal message, as Lindsay Brown illustrates in this poem read at the November Hoot:

Berkeley's Trees

from Portsmouth Herald News: Spotlight Poems from the Hoot:



Again [Anne] Carson concerns herself with sleep as a link to death, but one that disguises itself as a barrier. "Keats ascribes to sleep an embalming action. This means two things: that sleep does soothe and perfume our nights; that sleep can belie the stench of death inborn in us."

from Powells.com: Review-A-Day: Getting the Self Out of the Way



"Update"
By Cody Walker

from Slate: "Update" By Cody Walker



Broyer as with Centuries or Meat
Nathalie Stephens

from Zeek: Broyer as with Centuries or Meat: Nathalie Stephens



"Rav Kook," [Itzchak] Marmorstein says, "who often integrates Torah passages into his writings - to whom Eliezer Ben Yehuda looked for guidance as he was doing his work with contemporary Hebrew! - offers the most amazing expression of the language since the Tanach."

The following are Marmorstein's translations of two of Kook's poems.

from Zeek: Rav Kook: Poet of Renewal



Shulamith Speaks
Jehanne Dubrow

from Zeek: Shulamith Speaks: Jehanne Dubrow



Poetic Obituaries

In 1951, he [Albert Frank Gegenheimer] began his 37-year run as editor of the Arizona Quarterly, a literary journal that published scholarly research, short stories, book reviews and poetry.

At the Quarterly, he worked with T.S. Eliot, Stephen Spender and Eudora Welty, and was the first to publish the work of Joyce Carol Oates, Paul Gegenheimer said.

from Arizona Daily Star: Editor, English professor A. Gegenheimer dies at 96



But for [Stephen] Heywood, the dream of a life-saving cure ended Nov. 24 at his home in Newton, Mass. As he slept, the ventilator that helped him breathe became disconnected, leaving him legally brain dead. He was 37.

For two days, his body remained alive, and during that time his organs were harvested and donated.

from Los Angeles Times: Stephen Heywood, 37; strove for ALS cure



Ricardo Krauel, an emerging scholar of modern Spanish poetry and gender studies, died Nov. 22 in Princeton at age 40 after a battle with cancer.

Krauel had been an assistant professor of Spanish and Portuguese languages and cultures at Princeton since 1998.

from News@Princeton: Promising scholar Ricardo Krauel dies at age 40



[To "Miss Ellen," Ellen Montgomery,] the aftermath was an unfortunate circumstance, to be sure, but it was almost paradise. Imagine a day, a week, a month--a whole season--with nothing to do but read dusty old novels, write poems about the weather and nature and tend to her magnificent brood of felines, her family, some affectionate and playful, some aloof and nocturnal, all of them beloved and cared for with the patience and attention of a mother.

from The Times-Picayune: Miss Ellen deserved better


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