E-BOOK will contain 3 files:. Special Edition , E-Book. Description Additional information Description Once upon a galaxy, a spaced-out writer launched a script for a starry TV episode set in a universe much like a certain trek we know and love. Please Share This. Do you love fantasy, horror, humor, mystery, science fiction, super-heroes, or thrillers? The Pie Press library features all these and more! And everything we publish has a very special twist that you won't find anywhere else The Penny Poet of Portsmouth is not simply an amassed collection of anecdotes and stories about Robert Dunn as told by the author.
Dunn is very much alive and speaking throughout the entire memoir in his own words via actual spoken dialogue between he and Towler, between the quotation marks. Towler manages also to reveal to us the full spectrum of how a writer must live in order to produce a lasting and valuable body of work, the daily balancing act of securing the critical alone time to write while having to accomplish the necessary mundane chores and still find the time for spouse, family, and community friendships.
It should be stated here that Dunn, though an amazingly gifted poet and genuine fey presence in his own right, was not a saint.
A Grain From a Balance: An Unfilmed Trek Screenplay - Pie Press Pub
He could at times be very demanding and passive aggressive, and that in turn imposed an ongoing burden of guilt upon Towler, who was not only a friend but took on the role of errand runner and caretaker to Dunn during his last few years, as his health began to rapidly decline. From the notebooks of Robert Dunn:.
Dunn was a throwback, a modern day Basho, and a Luddite of sorts. One can only imagine how many poems died with the man, poems that were never captured on paper. Dunn was amazingly tough as well, having stoically survived through COPD, a collapsed lung, pneumonia, a broken hip, and congestive heart disease before passing away in at the age of The Penny Poet of Portsmouth includes many excerpts from poems, complete poems, and notebook entries.
Butts understands. One influence is the post — WII period, with its well — earned nostalgia for home life and its attachment to honest living, dignity, and tradition, which makes for a poetry highly reflective and quietly infused with the language of his Catholic upbringing, ever reaching at earnestness, and given over to a lower — case truth — telling. A second influence is the s, with its inherent tensions, upheavals, and mad rush into experiment and text — distrust, resulting in a heightened engagement with the world, more questioning, and even some strands of ambivalence and disillusionment — though all of it tempered by a Near — Eastern economy of gesture and preoccupation with the thought — ordinary image, this idea of writing — as — practice or inquiry, and an almost noir — ish nod to the past with a loosening up of his diction and lines.
Eventually, he would combine the two strains into a lyric — narrative hybrid that is remarkably thoughtful and wise, clear — eyed and urgent, and mightily concerned with humanity and its shaping, ongoing push towards the ideal. Yes, grief figures in some way, in all of these poems, how the letting go of things, living, is both sired and resisted in the telling of it.
Butts Jr. And so, let us all say it now. Alistair Noon is a native Brit who has lived mainly in Berlin for the past twenty years or so, and along the way mastered not just German but Chinese, Russian, and good bits of several other languages. Now pour. The tenor of all this is conveyed in exquisitely wrought sonic patterns. These assonances also are not accidents.
He published his first works at age 23, and proceeded, with great regularity, to produce numerous slim volumes of poems over the following fifty years. During that time, he balanced writing with his work as a psychologist and his family life. He also found time to become an accomplished pianist playing concerts and recording a CD and an amateur entomologist. He continued writing, with great and increasing difficulty, publishing two more books of poems and a memoir, and trained himself to play piano with only his left hand.
Always crossing and re — crossing, his was a restless intelligence that challenged supposed dichotomies of space and time, the conscious and unconscious, penetrating barriers and rendering them much more murky and mysterious than previously assumed and, in a sense, less clear and more gray, in the way we know life really is. The poems contain countless occurrences of dreaming and waking, thresholds between life and death, and boundary markers in the human and natural landscape: the edge of a forest, a half — open door, a window.
Vehicles in the poems transgress and move through these boundaries: trains, cars, vans, and boats carry the speaker and reader through liminal spaces. Translation, too, is a process that crosses spaces and challenges borders. It expands and deepens our world, our consciousness, in countless, indescribable ways.
And nowhere is that understanding more prevalent than for the translator herself. The differences between these translations are not small, and have to do with when and how the action is occurring — verb tense — as much as with sentence construction or word choice. One of the real delights of the Crane translation is the accompaniment of the Swedish text on the facing page.
But often this sort of complication belies a fidelity to the text, a direct translation. And then, in the beautiful, transcendent last stanza, translated identically by both Fulton and Crane, he surprises us:. The clear sky has leaned against the wall. And the emptiness turns its face to us. It is often said that a great poet deserves many translators. See his translation of For the Living and the Dead. It is my impression that through multiple translations, a community of readers learns a poet and his poems, deepening our understanding of the qualities of a unique intelligence.
Through this collective project, the translations get better. Each new word choice, each grammatical moment challenged and fussed over, brings us closer to the meaning inhabiting the work. That history is in the not — so — distant past; also in the not — so — distant past are my many years of vegan — and vegetarianism. There are many of us out there, plugging the holes in our conscience with organic sliders and free — range beef pups. I am among the guilty, and let it be said that I feel appropriately shamed. And yet, this is a poetry review. Eyeballs rolled back in heads; sighs escaped with obvious force.
What indeed is this book about? I told my student it was about slaughterhouses and animal rights. In retrospect my answer was rather stupidly reductive, but I chalked that up as yet another failed moment in the teaching of poetry. What can we do? This book is about many, many things. Maybe something like.
Gudding is a seriously skilled poet. All ova will forever bang for me from now on. Body parts and functions litter the text, but I suppose one would have to find these funny, as I do, to consider it humor. Three times? That too much? Each one causes puckering. But I have a feeling that this is exactly what Gudding is going for. He wants us attuned to our bodies so that we cannot so easily dismiss the bodies of our nonhuman brothers and sisters.
That, indeed, is exactly the line this book walks. Such conceptual poetry, as described on the Harriet Blog by K. The book pulses with energy. In a highly entertaining and informative section about clocks and pocketwatches, Gudding writes:. Praised be the escapement, a device which through repetitive. It feels measured in its passions because it needs to be. Otherwise, primal rage rarely sways a reader. Then I collected all first lines, shuffled, and read them aloud, mixing in the real first line, and asked my students to vote. ISBN — 0 — — 1 — 6. Her resounding concerns are with what humans do to the world, in our quest to explore, to conquer, and to exploit.
For that, the thrust of this collection makes clear, is what humans have done through time: discovered new worlds, and then systematically destroyed them. In the opening sections of her book, the poet writes to and about the scientists Gerardus Mercator the creator of the Mercator projection map and Samuel Bowditch whose Bowditch Navigator revolutionized ocean navigation. Yet Vlasopolos circles her subjects warily: Could these men have known what their work would lead to? The violence Mercator has perhaps done to the world by metaphorically flattening it for the rest of human exploration becomes more obvious as Cartographies widens in scope.
Vlasopolos writes of what the world has lost as humankind willfully tramples it underfoot. The natural world of insects and birds with which the speaker has a natural affinity has been displaced, then lost. It is the language of both beauty and despair, the plenty set in juxtaposition with the tatters left as the butterflies disappear from their habitats.
Structure, for Vlasopolos, is a favorite tool to support meaning; the readers get the that sense that for her, the world is open, save for when human progress closes it down — and for her, the danger of the world closing down entirely is imminent. Mercator and Bowditch, Vlasopolos argues with layer upon layer of painstaking detail, opened the world for us. But rather than marvel at the wonders, we have destroyed them, and, as a result, are destroying ourselves. We are, she implies, blind in our arrogance, and in this collection, the poet always the messenger who is scorned, or worse, ignored hauntingly warns readers that.
It is a summer afternoon in October. Seen twice it seemed a truth was being told. This compilation becomes an extended metaphor for and meditation on living in a place for a long time. That place, an historic house in which Ferry lived for over half his life, is the focus of this consciousness of living in a place. Ferry and his late wife, Anne Ferry, were not the first poets to live there. Ellery Street was a house in Cambridge where Margaret Fuller had once rented a room, and where Emerson came to visit. The whole collection retains the view of living in a house next to others in a neighborhood, and perhaps even more interestingly, the poems in the collection become the rooms in the house and the areas surrounding the house.
Once we are thoroughly at home with the place of Ellery Street, inside and out, Ferry invokes classical figures — for example, Eurydice at the bus stop or Lazarus in his makeshift backyard camp — and thereby integrates ancient and modern figures into everyday roles. These allusions and translations, far from being off — putting, bring us more deeply into the life of the place and its surroundings. Many times over again it has survived. Instead, he approaches loss as a spiritual initiation through which one is broken open and transformed.
The poem opens with ritualistic images, the speaker vacillating between acceptance and denial:. The first stanza speaks to the impermanence of love and life itself; the image of fire in the chest is stunning in this metaphor. Many of the poems end with stark images that seem to encapsulate the felt sense of loss in the body yet remain stubbornly mysterious in their literal meaning, the effect of which can be quite awesome. The longing and betrayal evoked in these images are at once wonderfully real and dreamlike.
By embodying the absence of the lover, the speaker is transformed and becomes something else entirely. Similar tropes used less effectively in some of the shorter poems in the collection feel more like rough sketches than finished drafts. Your lipstick strapped tightly to my chest. While I appreciate the imaginative figuring of lipstick as grenade, the unfortunate pun in the title does not help clarify what the speaker is hypothetically doing when he plugs in the tube of lipstick. Assuming that a clip must be removed from a grenade, rather than plugged in, in order to explode, is the speaker imagining himself blowing up the restaurant or plugging into an electrical socket?
Luckily, though, these missteps are the exception to the rule. The transfixing elegy in the last section of the book exonerates all previous sins. The most surreal and wild section of the book, it contains short pithy poems, long chants, and non sequiturs. We like to write on things. Mostly on paper, but. I once got in a bit of trouble in college when I got a little carried away while chalking the campus quad for a student activist group.
Maybe it was my inner Jody Gladding coming out. Whatever it was, I now regret my callow chalk self, but in that dusty moment of chalking, there was such a rush to write upon the unexpected. The poems in Translations from Bark Beetle are playful, limited and desperate. Let me explain. These hark back to the declaratory act of chalking a sidewalk, such a physically satisfying medium, the concrete page, and then the poems transform the pedestrian into the poetic, surpassing my petty college act and moving into the realm of art.
What Gladding is doing is devilishly fun, and more than a little subversive. Such an experiment also feels necessarily limited. We place confines around us to give us structure with the hope that within restriction we find freedom, and thus surpass our limitations. Sometimes these experiments feel epigrammatic and easy to dismiss. And yet, sometimes these limitations allow for true flights of beauty well beyond the physical. That poem crackles. I most feel these poems are an act of desperation. Gladding, in these poems, wants to bring the invisible onto the visible, to make tangible the ethereal.
How could this be anything else but a desperate attempt to make sense of a cruel, dumb world? Poetry as insurance against overwhelm. What else has poetry ever been in the history of the word? Jody Gladding takes our collective desperation — and my chalky regret — makes it hers, and gives it substance. As the book notes, the public was recently reminded of the heliopause when the Voyager spacecraft crossed it in on its way to deep space.
The metaphor of a transition zone remains a striking presence throughout Heliopause, in which, against the backdrop of a dismantled space program, Christle makes record of personal and national loss. The resulting sequence is a fascinating meditation on fear and falling, as well as the limits of structure and structures.
There is fear the baby when it arrives will be wrongly or poorly loved that the world is no place for helpless things You will see reading this through your good beard how neatly I have left myself out though I understand come spring such grammar tricks will no longer work. Each line asserts itself with a subtle elegance, reminiscent of Rae Armantrout, and an openness that allows the simplicity of life to be reflected in the lines: this morning worthy of significance as readily as meditations on the nature of mortality.
Rather than seeking to dampen the impact of fear, these poems offer a nimble portrait of its daily iterations. This is the heat that seeks the flaw in everything and loves the flaw. Graham moves from using language to describe delay and its accompanying desire in her early work, toward creating the conditions of a delayed arrival for her reader in the structure of the poems themselves in later work. The later poems elicit a breathless haste in their desire to arrive at new meaning. There is a feeling the body gives the mind of having missed something, a bedrock poverty, like falling.
Instead the real is crossing you,. And somewhere in between these geese forever entering and these spiders turning back,. Your sleep beside me is the real, the loom I can return to when all loosens into speculation. Silently, the air is woven. The poem unfolds in a series of twenty-three numbered sections that provide occasion. In this poem, she begins to ask readers increasingly to fill in the gaps, to enter the text and engage the delays, to engage in the stitching and unstitching themselves.
The breaks between sections, and the leaps in content and meaning, again create the conditions for great intimacy and exchange within the text. The final page and a half of this poem are tightly packed with phrases previously uttered in the eight-page poem. I saw clearly the impossibility of staying. Acceleration in the poems is created through techniques such as listing and anaphora, and structurally, through the shape the poem takes on the page.
Through all the poems, there is an impulse to look with greater precision, deeper and longer, to not look away, but to engage war, climate change, our mortality, our gods and, too, to question our very presence on the planet. In this dialogue — this discourse — between self and other, real and metaphor, between known and unknown, history and the present, between fox and heart, geese and spiders, there is a constant desire for connection and to stitch together meaning, some kind of a garment we can wear, even if full of holes.
And that garment seems to be made of language. In it, he explains what sense is, how it differs from logic, and what nonsense entails, while illuminating the concept of theory of mind in relation to poetry. It was a strange game of literary translation. Simone Muench blurbs on the cover that the poems operate as a game of telephone to filter the sense of poems by John Berryman through Cavallaro and Hazelton.
As you might expect, just like in a game of telephone, the message at times becomes garbled well beyond lyricism, crossing into true nonsense. Nothing worked. To me, it smacks of a writer who, though having nothing to say, nevertheless seeks an audience.
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And was that what was happening in NGNT? No, but I was having a hard time figuring out what was happening. The meaning had to be in there somewhere. Then, once I saw it, how had I not seen it? I suspect my initial blindness to this came from holding too tightly to the game of telephone concept. I kept trying to understand it through that lens, however figurative, despite my deepening frustration. While I can certainly see how it was relevant to the composition of the book, it put me on false footing to assume this would be the most fruitful way to read the poems.
This misstep was admittedly my own fault. That the method of composition does not imply the method of interpretation may be self-evident to others, but this was a learning moment for me. Not in the way of aphorism or analogy, or any of the pleasant methods through which I expect to encounter a lesson in most poems, but by frustrating my understanding and then composing sense in a manner I had never before experienced.
The first thing that comes to my mind is wasteland, but what about office the opposite of park? This way of thinking can work as a lever for the imagination. For instance, what if the opposite of plant is not animal, but something that thrives on moonlight and vodka? Overall, my experience of reading NGNT was non-recreational but rewarding. And it has me thinking I perhaps ought to mail my copy to Mr. Poetry has replaced religion for me as a sustaining force in my life.
Often when I go to the Grolier Poetry Book Shop on a Friday night, there are flashbacks to the Chicago synagogue that sustained me through my eighteenth year. Poets like Marge Piercy and Ed Hirsch — not the synagogue or the Bible — are now the places that I go for spiritual refreshment. Thanks to poets like the aforementioned and my focus on poetry, I have come to believe that there are high tides and low ebbs in every spiritual tradition.
All should be respected, and none should be taken for granted. Gabriel: A Poem, by Edward Hirsch, has taught me more about the unconditional love a parent must always have for a child than I thought I had learned while teaching and raising children. Full disclosure: I graduated from the same small college as Ed, who is about ten years younger, so he has always been in my rear view mirror. The poem is so powerful that I can write to Ed again, and say, I think I understand. Even though you have a broken heart, you are a fine father. I can say that his poem is completely accessible to any parent who has reached, with a child, impasses that can be overcome with unconditional love.
In the book-length poem, Hirsch mourns and looks for solace in the act of writing. I peered down into his face And for a moment I was taken aback Because it was not Gabriel. Hirsch reaches the point he describes by immersing himself in the poetry of grief. Another clue of how Hirsch feels for his son comes in his glimpse back to the Humanities class in which a young Grinnell teacher named Carol Parssinen led him to discover the healing power of The Iliad. Dressed up for a special occasion He liked that navy-blue suit And preened over himself in the mirror.
Hey college boy the guy called out On the street in Northampton You look sharp in those new duds. I was wounded by its truth. And I was also healed by it. It is the late s. Our family has recently moved to a four-bedroom home amidst the tree-lined community of Palmer Woods on the outskirts of Detroit, where doctors, lawyers, and college professors of color have resided for many decades. My father, a college instructor and real estate broker, uncharacteristically wearing blue jeans and a sweatshirt, is seated on a bench facing the backyard gardens, smoking a pipe.
Three middle-aged white men, who work for the company he has hired to repair the leaky lawn sprinkler system we inherited, are surveying the landscape. The book is the first to be nominated for two categories for the National Book Critics Circle Award, poetry and criticism.
Through her words, we learn how words, spoken in the classroom, in the supermarket, on television and the radio, and in corporate settings, define a person from outside the color of their skin. She elaborates:. Certain moments send adrenaline to the heart, dry out the tongue. You assume you two were the only black people in her life. Eventually she stopped doing this but she never acknowledges this slippage. And you never called her on it why not? Though primarily focused on racism against African-Americans, it is possible for, say, women, gays, the disabled and the aged to visualize themselves in similar scenarios.
You are in the dark, in the car watching the black tarred street being swallowed by speed; he tells you his dean is making him hire a person of color when there are so many great writers out there. Sitting there staring at the closed garage door you are reminded that a friend once told you there exists the medical term John Henryism — for people exposed to stresses stemming from racism.
They achieve themselves to death trying to dodge the buildup of erasure. You hope by sitting in silence you are bucking the trend. This poem in its entirety takes us well beyond a simple awkward moment. These are experiences unique to black people and occur largely because of their skin color. It tells us that a racial divide persists in American culture regardless of how close relationships may be. Rankine also alludes to the psychological confusion and frustration created in the minds of the recipients by these seemingly thoughtless words and actions.
The media does their ample share of perpetrating color divisiveness. The implication is that being angry about racism is somehow immature and ungracious, and that the best way to confront injustice is to do so without emotion, and certainly without making a scene that embarrasses white people.
The title Citizen: An American Lyric is not accidental. Her book is a muscular confirmation of the effects of racism on both the individual and our collective society in a so-called post-racial country, and yet it still exudes optimism for a better world. Though making sense of racism is not the goal of this collection, it does give us warnings signs about the danger of merely accepting racism as a given in American culture, to the extent of passively doing nothing to change destructive mindsets. Her book of meditations on racially charged encounters reminds us of countless current events, including when politicians and other public figures have made outrageously offensive statements about people of color and, instead of acknowledging the tragic.
When my father was confronted by the lawn sprinkler man, he turned and walked into the house, then later returned dressed more formally to go to his real estate office. The expressions on those three faces made a perfect tableau of a wake-up call. Together, they bridged an ethnic chasm. Citizen: An American Lyric is a collection of extraordinary social commentary that helps us see our lives more clearly through the suffering we both inflict and allow, thereby making it possible to see a path toward reform.
This is how I can best describe these poems: the words morph into one another to create a new narrative — sometimes familiar and sometimes disorienting. They contain threads of love and danger; they feel new at the same time as they feel known. These are poems to live with until they are in your veins, like songs. Thinking about process took me into the making of a book, which includes the finishing. Here, Coach House delivers a book as well-crafted as the poems on the page. First, I am taken by the texture of the paper and the texture of words and space.
The text creates a sense of wandering into the gaps between intimacy and secrecy. She asks:. What could make this aesthetics. What could make me feel that. Make me many. Make me better. What could make me sexless and sexual. Make me feel we. Make me feel made. Make me feel us. Make me feel matter. Make me feel this, for one. What could make me feel this commotion, this relationship to energy.
What could make me feel this way. We come through the first section of the book feeling a little bit wooed by the words. This is a fragile kind of adventure. We want to keep feeling this way, so we turn the pages over and over, keep being that somebody who is reading. We get sentimental. We get dreamy. We want to tell someone else how we feel.
And so do the poems. Later, the book moves into darker spaces. The text juxtaposes sunshine and beaches with house fires and graves. The spaces between words create more deliberate disorientation. The feeling of not knowing where you are, where the burial is taking place, comes over you. These poems will keep you company at night, and remind you simultaneously of our interconnection and our isolation. Down offers intimacy and asks you to do the work that is required to maintain it. This is a book of relationship and revelation, surrender and devotion.
Read Down — let it sing to you. Hold your finger out in front of you, close one eye, then quickly open it and close the other. Rapidly switching back and forth, you will see your finger shift from left to right and back again. This displacement, or shift in apparent position of your finger seen from different points of view, is parallax.
Parallax is measured by the angle of inclination between these two points of view and the object. Astronomers use the principle of parallax to measure the distances to closer stars, and photographers know parallax error as the difference between what is seen through the viewfinder and what is captured by the lens in a single-lens reflex camera.
Eliot Prize. The poems are replete with photography and film, with television screens and early viewing devices, with blindness and light. It lasts a minute, their having-been-written onto light. This rhythmic coming to light, and to life, is repeated throughout the volume, often in contrast to a reciprocal darkening. In the latter poem, the actor David Niven flickers across the film of the same title, ascending a giant stairway to heaven as the speaker in the poem gives birth and recalls the recent death of her grandmother.
The poems navigate these exits and entrances, and questions of perspective, through masterful poetic form. Throughout Parallax , in addition to poems that regard photography and film, there are other poems that explore Russia from differing perspectives. Metaphorically and philosophically, parallax can also be considered a literary tool by which an author presents the same story from different points of view.
Because our eyes have different and overlapping fields of vision, parallax is what allows us, through stereopsis, to perceive the world in three dimensions. This effect is what the poems in this volume full of electricity offer us: more seeing, more revelation and doubt, greater depth. The ancient form of the cento provides a beautiful excuse for us to revel in the poetic line and in the craft of our literary forbears: named for the Latin word for a patchwork cloak, the cento calls for its creator to piece together individual lines from the works of other poets. In Wolf Centos, Simone Muench assembles an entire collection of these patchwork poems, all in service of one common, evocatively wild object of meditation: the image and symbol of the wolf.
Do the patches not only create a new whole, but transcend their piecemeal sum? The theory of light is broken: the room dark as black mullein, a clutch of burnt paper. Every face a stain. Over the progression of her four sections, Muench offers a range of variations on what the wolf might mean to us. Call us. In a project of such singular focus, some missteps and weaker moments are inevitable. But at its best, Muench transcends the centuries and continents she spans.
The result is sometimes diffuse, dizzying, not to be read for literal coherence. Read these poems instead like meditative mysteries, as one reads the cumulative couplets of a ghazal. Delight in this evidence that our works and days — and our best lines — can be woven and rewoven into so tangible a pleasure. Praise the luxury of inheriting so many good ones. Castellon, from Nicaragua, manages in the eleven poems collected here to be both political and lyrical. Blanca Castellon certainly gives us the personal in Cactus Body.
Of her absent self, she says:. Blanca, come down I need you and a sudden breeze brought tears to my eyes. Yet Castellon does not fail to do her Latin American duty. In Part IX, Castellon tells us:. The sense of menace here is amorphous and not identified with any one war, coup, or despot, but in Part IV she writes:. Yet the volume does not end with the sense of defeat that Carlos Fuentes once identified as a distinctly Latin American affliction. There is no repression or imminent violent death in sight.
How can we properly cherish the beauty in the world while also embracing its harsh realities? Whether re-writing a Brothers Grimm fairy tale, painting a portrait of a burnt-out gambler, or reconciling feelings over the loss of a parent, Sholl offers a rich tapestry of insight and humanity. But with great quads, Princess, and a tongue quicker than flies.
Not your marble halls and canopied bed. Another element consistently present in this collection is that of wind as a visceral image to depict life itself and its never-ending changes. But the lyric soon builds. The kiss of mist demonstrates how even a whisper can make an impact and set off a flurry of thoughts and emotions, and as the poem continues, the speaker frets over whether she or her partner will die first:.
But to limit the value of these poems to their spiritual message would be a disservice. Earlier this year, poets Dawn Potter and Robin Merrill both came out with new books. They write very different poems. She uses, as any skilled public speaker, a range of rhetoric techniques to heighten the intensity of the poem and to press it toward its conclusion. Notice how quickly these lines read:. Her parallelism is used to set a scene:. Here the two subordinate clauses are packed with elaborate details and with activities that ask us to dwell on an image.
Like a fine musician of words, she lets each word note sound its distinct tone to create its full harmony. You need to get their attention and, in quick order, set up a situation, a narrator, and some tension that, after some elaboration, can be resolved quickly. So her poems tend to jump at you the way a salesman on the phone launches into a spiel. She crouches, hogging the feeder tray, pebble-eyed and jaunty despite the ice cube that, for two arctic days, has encased her pink left foot like an elegant cement overshoe. Such description, finely hewn, is filled with delight.
But as for this woman? I know that: It was a woman who followed Jesus around, sleeping in caves. It was woman who stayed at the cross when the men grew faint.
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And it was women who returned to find an empty grave. The spoken word demands that the poet grab her audience and speak to the point. And Merrill does. And Potter does. They both have much to offer the reader, and, in comparison, much to tell of their different poetic forms.
Have you ever cringed with your whole body? Been so filled with shame. Sexual desire, from both the male and female perspective, as a means both of alienation and validation, is a primary concern here. Your husband is upstairs, your child sleeping. There are dishes in the sink with your name on them. A dark sedan pulls up to the curb of your mind. The last line here reflects the acceptance that many of these male voices arrive at as the cuckold poems continue. McDaniel does some of his best work in describing the emasculated male.
He shuffles towards me, mumbles something about a jump. My loins ignite like a furnace. Welcome to my world , I think, attaching cables under the sprung hood, revving the juice. All of this sounds rather pessimistic, these poems about the fading power of the aging man, unable to maintain either an erection or a relationship. He ends the collection. Many of the poems in Churches , by Kevin Prufer, are full of fire, smoke, and broken glass. Their speakers often find themselves in a world figured as a womb of violence, forced to face—without the solace of religious abstraction, and often under the harshest of conditions—human mortality.
Out of these wombs is born, for the reader, a necessity to contemplate the role of faith in our attempts to survive and understand the harm done to us by circumstances, or by others, but also to consider that the harms we suffer are often of our own doing. These poems frequently illustrate the failure of the coping mechanisms that we have come to rely upon in a post-Nietzschean world where religious faith is either absent, or, even worse, destructive.
A porter lying in the snow, a victim of the explosion of a bomb planted on board a train, thinks of the infant son he and his wife had lost to fever. If religious faith can no longer be of any consolation, then where do we seek solace against a harsh world? One replacement for faith, portrayed as largely ineffective and even harmful, is the numbing power of medication. The little white paper pill cup is ubiquitous throughout the book, a grail in which the speakers of the poems often seek solutions. That white cup looks bright against a backdrop of black smoke, but it is a brightness, the poems seem to argue, that obscures rather than reveals—its promise of cure seems as unreal, as unattainable as heaven.
Churches approaches the existential problem of the death of God primarily in order to illustrate both the insufficiency of our answers and the effects of this failure. After making some perceptive observations of the scene, the speaker wistfully, and tragically, declares,. How I love a cool Sunday morning high above the park after a rain.
If I could, I would jump right through this window. These lines are tragic largely because they illustrate real human potential, struggling, however unsuccessfully, against terms of confinement that, unlike mortality, are not necessary. It requires a God neither to blame for it, nor to solve it. The Gorgeous Nothings volume finally collects the poems that Emily Dickinson wrote on the backs of envelopes. This effectively presented text holds myriad clues for present day readers, poets, and scholars, as these odd, almost unclassifiable scraps of paper provide an amazing window into the way Dickinson worked.
The volume also includes a scholarly apparatus consisting of a preface by poet Susan Howe, an introduction and visual index by visual designer Jen Bervin and, at the back of the book, an essay, formal listing and bibliographical description of the envelope manuscripts by scholar Marta Werner. For example, the first poem, about an inner shipwreck, unfolds in two dimensions, in text and on paper:. On the paper level, you can watch how Dickinson, like a builder, uses the space, folds, and boundaries of the envelope.
Even though Dickinson would never have suspected that her envelopes would be read by her readers in this way, The Gorgeous Nothings presents her work with such simplicity and intimacy that the reader feels almost as if Dickinson were there at the same small table, allowing the reader to look over her shoulder as she drafts.
The co-authors Marta Werner and Jen Bervin deserve enormous credit, as does poet Susan Howe for her thoughtful introduction. New Directions editor Christine Burgin, in association with Granary Books, has produced a thoroughly agreeable volume that yields new surprises every time the reader opens the covers.
Once the reader has made these discoveries in the poems themselves, there is time to turn attention to and admire the generations of scholars whose work lies behind this volume, the Amherstites vs. Calendars of Fire , by Lee Sharkey. The poems often take the form of elegy, prayer, or vision. If you walk the same path everyday through the woods clearing the way in your coming and going. Each branch downed has a trace of the wind of descent vibrating through it. Desolate images of war proliferate throughout the second section of the book, with many poems formed in sequences of one- and two-line stanzas whose emotional and thematic strength resembles that of a ghazal.
Desire is the snake that courses the body The mouth is one door of its house, the vagina another When you lie down you lie with the snake When you rise up you rise with the snake. To insert a shape-shifting, sexualized being at this point in the book seems, at first, an odd choice.
Indeed, Sharkey introduces a new strength with the sensuality and prophetic perspective of Tiresias, who, unlike humans, can see beyond the grip of war. Violation rises like a planet its own sound something quiet like sliding bodies into water. Her lyric becomes most clear and beautiful in section III, which presents the aftermath of war, the ruin of sacred places, charred and broken musical instruments, psychic demoralization, grace, and the rebuilding of lives.
What is it that I love when I form the letter with an arc and a down- stroke. The curve of your head, my hand rounded to stroke it, habitat, sphere of a new planet. Indeed, with her keen vision, Sharkey honors the brutal suffering of the human world while still managing to seed hope for a new, more whole one.
Can ordinary lives be written simply? Too much mundane detail, and readers drown in trips to Walmart for cat litter, or must grapple with prose poised like safety pins on used clothing, as if literature is a Goodwill bin of the past. Listen again. You missed it the first time. Your thoughts were elsewhere. We say, enough of love, and we mean it. We say, enough of money, and we mean it. You neither? The lightning bugs are as bright as your eyes. The night is as young as the world. Their observations are given to readers in a bright, colloquial tone that often contains undercurrents of irony or despair, creating poetic tensions.
A man is happy with his gun, his boat. A man is happy with his lawn, his dog. Just think. A childhood full of light and shadows permeates the book, as well as the keenly observed movements of birds. Their cruelty is noted, such as their raiding of nests, but birds also serve as quirky, unpredictable metaphors that imply transcendence. Idealism is never entirely destroyed, even in adulthood. Grief: that child in cold weather without a coat. It sings dirges. It writes elegies. We with half our noses in shadow, half in light.
We with our bodies soaped and scrubbed. The dark houses. Conversations in other rooms. A fireplace. Of two doves both will forage. Neither will wait. Perhaps solitude begins to be valued in childhood as well, clarifying perceptions that often conflict. In my dream, moths are pursuing me the same way they always have to touch us in real life. Daylight brings the dream to an end. I am close to my bed. I am close to my book. I am close to my chair. And my silence lights the room.
This poet understands how the world works — or at least how America works. In the introduction, publisher RD Armstrong calls normal a spoken word italics his poet before the phrase existed. Some of the longer poems in particular would seem to fit this description. Spoken word or not, no one can doubt that normal is a reader. It would be easy to typecast normal as another post-beat iconoclast tossing barbs at everything coarse, crass, and greedy about America, but this volume also contains some very tender and compassionate poems.
This tough guy from Passaic can do more than shoot salvos. It concludes:. The place has survived: A supreme testimony to the Genius of a hammer — Long ago, when the world was Still trying to live a simple life. The Messenger , by Stephanie Pippin. In this clarion collection, which was awarded the Iowa Poetry Prize, Pippin meditates on the liminal boundaries and relationships between the human and the wild. As if to break my wrist, or will, she foots the glove — makes me know my bones.
And I the cage that keeps her from it.
We make notes. Your existence, inexplicable — a hellish magnificence, a message from the dead. Or just a lonely animal. This projection of human meaning into the wild is a recurring notion in these poems. Elsewhere, nature offers now a spiritual balm, now a welcome respite from it. After gutting a doe, Pippin muses,. Life and death are inextricable in these poems, and Pippin mourns the eventual loss of the bird she once tethered and half held, half found herself held by.
It comes to this — warm egg, my palm made momentary cradle. The Boss , by Victoria Chang. Was Bruce Springsteen who Chang meant as her ubiquitous boss? Probably not. However, the spirit feels right. The boss is everywhere. To write about the boss we all have, yet want to be, is to expose our power-hungry, power-deficient, masochistic selves. Chang is careful about how she doles out The Boss. One could find this irritating, but for the most part, I found it pleasing. I recommend any potential reader to try this.
So, who is the boss? Who indeed. One boss becomes many. She the boss. In her third full-length collection, As Long as Trees Last, Hoa Nguyen is still challenging expectations of the lyric voice in poetry. This last phrase, offset as parenthetical, provides a distinction between the initial voice and the aside, a kind of internal monologue or stage direction, adding another layer and complicating the speaker s therein.
In these poems, Nguyen prefers multiplicity over a single authority, the demotic over the omniscient, and incorporates an uncensored world, clunky and inelegant as it can be. With an unorthodox syntax, Nguyen creates her own space. Often, she arranges a poem on the page as a beautifully set pillar, using minute and irregular spacing. Here, the mystery is more provoking and perhaps more central than any answer. The zip and immediacy of this public. This last phrase closing the poem is offset as a quotation, making it, perhaps, a phrase overheard, one that cannot be unheard or forgotten.
Nguyen, engaged with the world, is interested in poetry of warning. Her ecopoetics begin with language; though she writes of contemporary events and the concerns of a consumer society, her style challenges ownership and authorship, and makes the reader question who, exactly, is the voice? In these poems, questions and thoughts self-interrupt. This leap is another way to make meaning. In As Long as Trees Last, these short poems manage to be multi-tonal, commanding, strange, full of verve.
They force the reader to listen, to question, and to pay attention. Glaser speaks with a voice that is both pondering and affirmed by its purpose, alternately resigned and vigorous. Surprising and intricately paradoxical, his poems express vivid and ecstatic prophecies and musings that develop the concepts of love and transcendence.
Glaser crawls through the dirt on all fours in search of these answers, proselytizing as he goes. Glaser speaks in a contemporary voice that uses luscious language without becoming verbose: each poem is filled with hooks that will catch in the mind. Sometimes I feel afraid for it, my heart like a mouse in a windmill, in an avalanche of grain.
As I delved deeper, I found myself wondering what else could inspire these stormy lines other than a private life filled with disaster, and additionally, what else could be more provocative and engaging? The title of the book serves aptly to introduce the recurrent association of the intellectual and the physical spheres. Each new child Struggles out, bloody and stunned, one more last chance to get it right. For the reader seeking ideas of universal order in poetry, the gravity of this stanza is especially poignant.
I found great beauty in his tenacity in the face of the inevitable. His latest poetry collection, The Trouble Ball, has plenty of his familiar punch. Then somebody would smack the back of my head and dance around me in a circle, laughing…. Bio notes in earlier Espada volumes have listed the variety of low-level jobs he held before obtaining a law degree.
I once removed the perfect turd from a urinal, fastidiously as an Egytologist handling the scat of a pharaoh. The beggars cannot swim to the private islands of Lake Cocibolca. Instead they wander through the plaza in Granada, trailing after the investors in paradise. Isabel, his bride, has a boyfriend. It gets complicated. Eventually Isabel takes off on her own; later the sister calls to say that Isabel is dead from an apparent brain tumor. We lived in a city hidden from the city.
If Espada fans have any complaints about The Trouble Ball, it might be the title. Most English speakers have probably not heard of Srecko Kosovel or hundreds of other poets who wrote in their native tongues, who spent their lives struggling to bring light and justice to a primarily imperialist world. It has been the work of translators to bring these voices into our hearing and our hearts, re-building them carefully and gently so that poets like Kosovel, a Slovenian, live for us again.
As the translators say in their notes:. One of us climbed the wall and, balancing just so, reached up for a few plump figs and handed them down to the other. You must wade through a sea of words to arrive in yourself. Then alone, forgetting all speech,. Speak as solitude speaks with unutterable mystery. Kosovel died in He was 22 years old. Growing into his voice at a turbulent time in European history, he wrote in a wide range of styles: traditional pastoral poems that evoked his deep ties to his homeland, political poems that stoned the impenetrable walls of nationalism, experimental work that included mathematical symbols, unorthodox word placement, and other avant-garde experiments, while including stunningly lyrical moments.
Here is the voice of a poet coming of age at an earth-shaking time. His work spins on a wheel of changing politics, social upheaval, new technologies, and alternative spiritualities.
- Harry O. Hoyt's The Lost World Is Found Anew.
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Kosovel gave voice to an age even as he stretched his work to include all these changes. His vision was local and global, personal and universal. Poems are chosen to represent the whole body of his work, not merely the comfortable. It is only the work of dedicated and sensitive translators that allows us to hear him.
They deserve great thanks. In this case, I can only say that I feel fortunate to have spent some time with the translators in Slovenia a few years ago and the beauty of the place is deeply haunting. Through these poems I will return there again and again:. I wish I could say one word just like the spring wind softly enters your heart. I wish I could say one word. But look, I have nothing else, my heart is an altar cracked in half. My words are like wounds, each one of them bleeds. But still there is, there is still one word—one word at least!
Come, you night-wounded man, So I can kiss your heart. Keith Flynn is a direct heir of the Beats in that he questions surface realities, often harshly, yet also creates empathy within readers for human frailty. On the face of it, the landscape bore an astonishing nostalgia for lies. The tapestries cried; the gates of Paradise opened and shut like the jaws of a shark in the frenzy of chum. With an intuitive heart, Flynn takes us all over the world, back and forth in historical time, and uses as his pivotal metaphor the sickness and disappearance of almost half of American honeybees, and the death of bees rapidly spreading to other countries.
Handsome warlocks, strapped to strip malls, and mauled by the perfection drop poison pellets from their raven beaks onto the lips of sun-streaked Meth-pocked blondes in the windy parking lots of ritualistic pawn shops and close-cropped itchy trigger teeth. An elastic, fluid language permeates each poem, often with staccato bursts like a trumpet solo pointed towards the stars. But Flynn takes a quieter mode in several of the poems; deeply reflective, willing to look long and hard for a hidden shaft of light, a clue from a fragmented history that will speak to him.