Specimen Days: October 9
1892 – Marina Tsvetaeva, Russian poet, was born (d. 1941).
1906 – LÃ©opold SÃ©dar Senghor, Senegalese poet and politician, was born (d. 2001).
1908 – Harry Hooton, Australian poet, was born (d. 1961).
1920 – Jens Bjorneboe, Norway, poet/writer, was born.
No one, digging in our letters,
Understood in all depth
How we’re sacrilegious – that is
How we in each other have faith.
â€”Marina Tsvetaeva (1892â€“1941)
Hereâ€™s theÂ twitter feed for the Dodge Poetry Fest being held this weekend (It started Thursday).
And Sunday, October 10, from 2:30-5:30 EST there will be a live webcast of U.S. Poets Laureate Billy Collins, Rita Dove, Kay Ryan, and Mark Strand.
Founder marks 1st Dead Poets Remembrance Day
Dead Poets Society of America founder Walter Skold, seen in Eastern Cemetery in Portland, Maine, in April, is inaugurating the first Dead Poets Remembrance Day on Thursday. (Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press)
The man behind the Dead Poets Society of America is inaugurating what he hopes will one day be a widespread literary holiday to honour and remember poets.Â Walter Skold is kicking off the first Dead Poets Remembrance Day with readings scheduled to take place across six towns in Maine on Thursday â€” the death anniversary of macabre poet and author Edgar Allan Poe.Â Read more atÂ CBC News.
Poet David Rowbotham’s late flowering crowned a life’s work
David Rowbotham in his Brisbane home after winning the Patrick White Award in 2007.
OBITUARY: David Rowbotham. Poet, writer, journalist, theatre critic. Born Toowoomba, Queensland, August 27, 1924. Died Brisbane, October 6, aged 86.
David Rowbotham was one of a small group of Queensland poets who made a big impact on 20th and early 21st-century Australian poetry. Along with the likes of David Malouf, John Blight, Val Vallis, Judith Wright and Bruce Dawe, a Victorian who has spent most of his career in Queensland, Rowbotham was nationally respected, much anthologised and still writing up until his death.Â Read more atÂ The Australian.
Poet-activist Carolyn ForchÃ© returns to Provincetown to read and write
When we caught up with poet Carolyn ForchÃ© last week over the phone, she was rushing around a parking garage outside of Washington, D.C., trying to find her car so she could have some peace and quiet in which to talk.Â But that is pretty much what her life is all about, rushing here and there, trying to maintain a hectic schedule that is never finished at the end of the work day. When so many others might take a moment to sit down to read the paper or enjoy a cup of tea, ForchÃ© is busy brewing new offerings in her mind to please her followers or pondering her social advocacy causes. She is a woman on the go and her travels make a difference. Read more atÂ Wicked Local Truro.
Poet Zach: Israel apartheid state
Leading Israeli poet says he wishes to join Gaza flotilla; ‘if I were better swimmer, I would swim to Gaza,’ he says.Â The Knesset is on the offensive as one of Israel’s leading poets has announced his intent to join the next flotilla to Gaza.Â Natan Zach condemned the government and said he was willing to join activists attempting to reach Gaza via flotillas. He added that while visiting Germany, he witnessed a huge rally where Israel was labeled as an “apartheid state.” Read more atÂ Ynet News.
Kurup, new young poets bring Malayalam poetry to centre-stage
Poetry is making a comeback to the mainstream Malayali literature with more youngsters writing, reading and appreciating poetry.Â The conferring of the Jnanpith award, one of the highest literary honours, upon veteran Kerala-based poet O.N.V Kurup has come as a shot in the arm for the genre across the state – with new poets emerging from their literary cloisters, writers said. Read more atÂ Sify News.
Poetry without set rules
Zakariya Amataya pushes the boundaries of traditional Thai literature.Â Despite its title, the 2010 SEA Write poetry book, Mai Mee Yingsao Nai Bot Kawee (“Poems Without Maidens”) does parade a handful of women – an old lady waiting for her lover who never arrives, prostitutes and miniskirted secretaries scrambling for a seat on the BTS, the princess of Palestine forever in exile. Between the lines on paper and inside the labyrinth of the poet’s mind, they even seem to thrive so well there. Read more at theBangkok Post.
Poetry Africa 2010 Opens not Cautiously, but with Cautions (Galleries)
Peter Rorvik, director of the Centre for Creative ArtsÂ Â (CCA), opened Poetry Africa 2010 with a sombre warning, reminding the audience that SAâ€™s excellent constitution does not protect its citizens from censorship, such as is threatened by the governmentâ€™s proposed Protection of Information (“Secrecy”) Bill. He encouraged people to sign theÂ â€˜Right to Knowâ€™ petition, emphasising that a collective effort is more powerful than individual voices in fighting silencing of any kind. Read more atBook Southern Africa.
Best New Poets 2010: 50 Poems from Emerging Writersedited by Claudia Emerson
[Paperback] UVa Press, 160 pp., $11.95
“This collection stands out among the crowd claiming to represent emergent poets. Much of the editing and preliminary reading was done by emerging poets themselves, which results in an anthology that’s fresh and eclectic, and may actually represent a significant portion of the best new poetry being written by the next generation….Â [Best New Poets] assures the reader that poetry, even in a generation of text messaging and MP3 players, is still alive and well. The youthfulness of the anthology, combined with the wide scope of its contents, is apparent in the poems, which are edgy and daring.”" â€”Virginia Quarterly Review
Flash Cards: Selected Poems from Yu Jian’s Anthology of Notes (Chinese Writing Today) by YuÂ Jian, translated by Wang Ping and Ron Padgett
[Paperback] Zephyr Press, 144pp., $15.00
Flash Cards is a primer of modern Chinese life, constructing a complex philosophical vision from swatches of daily events and observations. As Yu Jian has written about his own work: â€œIt is possible to see eternityâ€”to see everythingâ€”in a teacup or a sweet wrapper. Everything in the world is poetry.â€
Into These Knots: Poems by Ashley Anna McHughÂ Â (Winner of the New Criterion Poetry Prize)
[Hardcover] Ivan R. Dee, 80 pp., $22.50 (and worth every cent)
The poems ofÂ Into These Knots, Ashley Anna McHugh’s debut collection, glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven, interrogating and elucidating in elegant and supercharged speech ultimate questions and intimate foibles. With equal parts intelligence and passion, Ms. McHugh can quarrel with scripture or riff on the amorous pleadings of Andrew Marvell or the stark musings of Baudelaire.
The Poets Laureate Anthology edited by Elizabeth Hun Schmidt
by Paul Holler
It is difficult to know precisely when poets, who often conferred honors to the Olympians of their day, began to be honored in their own right. What we know is that the first English Poet Laureate was Ben Jonson, appointed by King James I. The position was conferred for life and required the poet to compose poems for state occasions. The office of Poet Laureate still exists today in England, largely unchanged from its original form.
But the story of the American Poet Laureate is quite different. According to Elizabeth Hun Schmidtâ€™s introduction to the newly published Poets Laureate Anthology, the office has its roots in the Franklin Roosevelt administration. Archibald MacLeish, who served under President Roosevelt as the Librarian of Congress, is largely responsible for what has come to be known as the â€œLibrary of Congress Consultant in Poetry.â€ The first holder of the office, Joseph Auslander, was appointed in 1937, held the official title of â€œPoetry Chair at the Library of Congressâ€ and saw his role as part of larger effort to build a national library. Read more atÂ Book Slut.
Why I Am a Member of the Christopher Middleton Fan Club
by John Yau
[Christopher Middleton has a new book coming out October 15,Â Poems 2006-2009. This omnibus review does not refer to it, however.â€”Ed.]
This is my list of the essential books of Christopher Middleton, the ones I believe you should read if you want to learn what he has been up to for the past 60 years:Â Collected Poems (Carcanet, 2008);Faint Harps and Silver Voices: Selected Translations (Carcanet, 2000):Â Jackdaw Jiving: Selected Essays on Poetry and Translation (Carcanet, 1998);Â Crypto-Topographia: Stories of Secret Places(Enitharmon, 2002); In The Mirror of the Eighth King (Green Integer, 1999);Â Palavers, and A Nocturnal Journal (Shearsman Books, 2004); If From The Distance: Two Essays, with an Introduction by Alan Wall (Menard Press, 2007). These seven books contain examples of all the genres and forms Middleton has written over the course of his career: poems, concrete poems, translations, prose (which cannot be categorized), essays, and journals. Ideally, there should be a selected prose that brings together all the different kinds of writing he has done; an up-to-date, comprehensive collection of his essays; a selection of his collages (The Troubled Sleep of Americaâ€”40 collages with textsâ€”was exhibited at the Laguna Gloria Museum, Austin, Texas in 1982); and a selection of his journals (none of which he wrote for publication, but which he now seems to be willing to publish). As it is, my list of published works adds up to around 1,500 pages, a formidable achievement by anyoneâ€™s standard. Read more atÂ The Brooklyn Rail.
by Eva Salzman
White Egrets by Derek Walcott
Last yearâ€™s election for the Oxford Poetry Professorship prompted the kind of media coverage the literary world covets. Ruth Padel resigned from the post within days when evidence suggested she had strategically timed and primed a third party to dredge up the sexual harassment cases that had blighted the teaching career of Derek Walcott, her rival nominee. The initial reports on the alleged charges had already given Walcott the benefit of the doubt. So Walcottâ€™s walking away from the dÃ©bÃ¢cle with dignity spared him uncomfortable questions. The accounts opponents drew attention to claimed that Walcott had previously been shielded by institutionsâ€™ sophisticated mechanisms for defending their reputations. Apart from the entertainment of a refreshingly earthy scandal within the ivory towers, such episodes remind us what we already know from reading the diaries and letters of Woolf, Wagner and Larkin; we may love the art yet be uncomfortable with the artist. Read more atÂ Poetry London.
by Jason Guriel
A review ofÂ Selected Poems ofÂ Frederick Goddard Tuckerman(John Harvard Library) by Frederick Goddard Tuckerman edited by Ben Mazer and Stephen Burt
Frederick Goddard Tuckerman (1821â€“73) wrote poems too weird to be much appreciated in his own milieu, the United States of the nineteenth century, and not weird enough to distinguish the poet for many of his later readers who, failing to squint, saw little more than an accomplished sonneteer. Those contemporaries of Tuckermanâ€™s who might have otherwise enjoyed his work tended to quibble and find his handling of form a bit â€œrough.â€ Nathaniel Hawthorne, an admirer of the 1860 edition of Tuckermanâ€™s Poems, a privately printed affair, appears to have had a grasp of the problem. â€œ[I]f you could be read twice,â€ Hawthorne wrote to Tuckerman, â€œthe book might be a success; but who reads (in a way that deserves to be called reading) so much as once, in these days?â€ Hawthorne reminds us that holding the attention of the distracted is a social problem that predates the hyperlinked webpage. Read more atÂ The New Criterion.
“Oh, I am sure you are the poet of this generation!”
By Anthony Thwaite
Monica Jones met Philip Larkin in 1946, when she was a lecturer in English literature at Leicester University, and he was a librarian there. They were both 24. Over the 40 years that followed, they fell in love â€“ and corresponded. She was his muse and his critic â€“ both literary expert and lover (one of the unmarried Larkinâ€™s many, although Monica, according to another of his lovers, Betty Mackereth, was his â€œsoulmateâ€). Read more at theÂ Telegraph.
Philip Larkin and Monica Jones holidaying in Paignton, Devon, in the late 50s (picture taken by Philip Larkin with delayed-action camera)
Does poetry need a special day?
By Tim Masters
It’sÂ National Poetry Day (7 Oct) – and this week has seen a flurry of activity in the world of poetry. At the start of the week, Roger McGoughÂ wrote two Tube strike poems. Since then, the winners of theForward Poetry Prizes and theÂ Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award have been announced.Publisher Faber hasÂ made four short films with writing tips from poets, including this Â National Poetry Day poet-in-residence Daljit Nagra.
We asked six poets about their thoughts on National Poetry Day, and about their latest work. Read more at the BBC.
A plea for old poetry
by Ju Shardlow
No, I’m not going to get all tweed-suited about the “arse-dribble”,Â as Stephen Fry called it, of modern verse. Quite the contrary: new-fangled slam competitions and free verse open mics can be inspiring. There is clearly a market for the non-traditional: comedic performance poetry, rap, and verse devoid of rhyme or metre. Just look at the success of Wendy Cope, whose witty ditties made her BBC Radio 4 listeners’ choice to succeed Ted Hughes as Poet Laureate. Kevin EldonÂ enjoyed huge fringe successwith his social-commentator-poet creation Paul Hamilton. When Ross Sutherland asked for comedic spin-offs of Tom Cruise’s Last Barman poem last month, he wasÂ overwhelmed by submissions. Read more at the Guardian.
The Cost of Poetry
by Jonathan Farmer
Not so long ago, aÂ minor shitstorm broke out in the literary outposts of the internet.Â The New England Review had announced that it would start charging for online submissions ($2 for poetry, $3 for fiction), and many rallied to condemn the magazine for making money on the backs of writers, aspiring and otherwise. To a large extent, the criticism seemed uninformed, even bizarre at times; some went so far as to accuse the editors of greed, as though they were getting rich off the magazine (they werenâ€™t) and would be getting richer now (they would not). Most neglected to note that the NER was still accepting submissions free of charge by mail (aside, of course, from the existing costs of printing and shipping, which the costs of online submissions were meant to resemble), that $1 of the fee went to the online submission serviceÂ NER was using, that subscribers could use the online option at no cost and, most importantly, that the magazine had no moneyâ€”Middlebury College, its longtime benefactor, was following the lead of other universities and cutting off all funding for its literary magazine. Read more at Zeitgeist NYC.
Creating a Beautiful Wedding with Beautiful Wedding Poetry
“Words crafted in a poem can tell such beautiful stories. This is true for wedding poetry and getting a poetry reading at your wedding. The wedding poetry can leave a great and lasting impression, but there is a right way and a wrong way of going about wedding poetry.Â If you have been thinking that you have no creative poetry that you can come up with, rest assured that there are many people who can help you with getting the right wedding poetry for the occasion.Â Offline you have many options in finding wedding poetry. Checking in the yellow pages, asking friends and family can provide you with the wedding poetry writer that can create great poetry for your wedding.” Read more at Dior Girl (if you haven’t already).
On first blush, I thought, snarkily, â€œWell, this is a pretty bit of poetry fluff.â€ But the more I thought, it dawned on me that it wouldnâ€™t be out of line to ask a musician to compose a piece for a wedding, or a painter to paint a portrait of the happy two. Why then should it seem far-fetched or even old-fashioned to ask a poet to write a poem to celebrate such an occasion? After all, why not get paid for the use of oneâ€™s skills, instead of waiting for some editor to offer you five bucks a line for something the editorial board found of redeeming literary quality, which will be read and then the page turned? At least this way the poem will be cherished, appreciated, and become a keepsake that will lastâ€”who knows?â€”maybe longer than the marriage itself.
Call me old-fashioned.
â€”David Sanders, editor