Poetry

Delayed Justice for Hernández?

July 19, 2010
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Delayed Justice for Hernández?

In 1939, Miguel Hernández, one of Spain’s greatest modern poets, was sentenced to death under Franco’s regime for his left-wing sympathies. Though the sentence was commuted to 30 years, the poet never saw freedom again and died of tuberculosis in a Spanish jail in 1942. Last week, the poet’s family filed a lawsuit in the Spanish Supreme Court, asking that Hernández’s guilty verdict be expunged from the record. As The Independent explains, “In March, the family had a posthumous ‘declaration of reparation’ from the Spanish government. But they are not satisfied. ‘We want something more, that they void the death sentence, so we can take away that burden,’ his daughter-in-law, Lucía Izquierdo, said. ‘That’s why we are asking that justice be served, that they hand down a ruling of innocent.'” In the U. S., Hernández’s name remains less well known than that of Federico Garcia Lorca, despite Hernández’s renown as a poet of equal distinction, in part because he was a victim of artistic oppression exercised during Franco’s totalitarian regime. For many years, complete and accurate versions of his work were difficult to obtain even in Spanish. Yet despite this, Hernández went on to achieve legendary status in his home . . .

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Press Release: Gibbons, Slow Trains Overhead

April 29, 2010
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Press Release: Gibbons, Slow Trains Overhead

Few people writing today could successfully combine an intimate knowledge of Chicago with a poet’s eye, and capture what it’s really like to live in this remarkable city. Embracing a striking variety of human experience—a chance encounter with a veteran on Belmont Avenue, the grimy majesty of the downtown L tracks, domestic violence in a North Side brownstone, the wide-eyed wonder of new arrivals at O’Hare, and much more—these new and selected poems and stories by Reginald Gibbons celebrate the heady mix of elation and despair that is city life. With Slow Trains Overhead, he has rendered a living portrait of Chicago as luminously detailed and powerful as those of Nelson Algren and Carl Sandburg. Gibbons takes the reader from museums and neighborhood life to tense proceedings in Juvenile Court, from comically noir-tinged scenes at a store on Clark Street to midnight immigrants at a gas station on Western Avenue, and from a child’s piggybank to nature in urban spaces. For Gibbons, the city’s people, places, and historical reverberations are a compelling human array of the everyday and the extraordinary, of poverty and beauty, of the experience of being one among many. Penned by one of its most prominent writers, . . .

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Press Release: Riley Romey’s Order

April 20, 2010
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Press Release: Riley Romey’s Order

Romey’s Order is a charged sequence of poems voiced by an invented (and inventive) boy called Romey, set alongside a river in the South Carolina lowcountry. Intently visceral, aural, oral, Atsuro Riley’s poems bristle with musical and imaginative pleasures, with storytelling and picture-making of a new and wholly unexpected kind. “Romey’s Order is the world of a young boy growing up in backwoods South Carolina. His father is an ex-soldier, his mother the Japanese wife the father brought home from his time as a soldier. Thus the radical dichotomies in the young boy’s world, rendered in a dense and beautiful, intensely expressive and inventive language. This language is indebted to Hopkins as well as Heaney, full of a child’s invented word-play trying to capture the smells and textures and country-speech he is constantly assaulted by. The boy is obsessed with language, words that save the dense world from extinction. Words confer almost a magical immediacy to experience, but also wound: half-Asian, at the fair he finds a stall with a game called ‘Shoot the Gook Down.’ The author frames all this as his heritage: ‘This is the house … I come from and carry.’ The result is amazing and indelible, . . .

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Press Release: Yuill, Medicine Show

April 15, 2010
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Press Release: Yuill, Medicine Show

In Medicine Show, inner conflict is wonderfully realized in the clash of down-home plain speech and European high culture utterances. Tom Yuill’s book mirrors an old-style hawking of wares, with all the charm and absurdity that results when high culture meets pop, when city meets small town, and when provincialism confronts urbanity. ”Medicine Show lives up to both halves of its title: a vivid, exhilarating imagination show that is also strong medicine. Tom Yuill examines the grief and desperation underlying postures and ruses of self-deception. The book’s brilliant adaptations and imitations of Hikmet and Villon cast a raking, skeptical light on Texas versions of the quasi-Byronic hero. Yuill’s sardonic, clear-eyed comedy is humane and antic: a born talker on a serious mission.“—ROBERT PINSKY “This is strong medicine: tough, dysphemistic at times, at times brilliantly rude, Yuill is a poet of praise but also a poet of the lowdown and the takedown, cutting in where other writers fear to go: ‘Your dead are real,’ he warns, ‘They’re on your shoulders, picking at your meals.’ Yuill is ready to see disgust, or violence, but even more ready to praise where praise is deserved. He’s tough on himself but kind to his great . . .

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“The Susan Sontag of the Venetian Ghetto”

March 26, 2010
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“The Susan Sontag of the Venetian Ghetto”

Most of the books in The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe—a series from the Press that explores the role of women in early modern European culture—don’t usually receive a whole lot of attention from non-academic reviewers. So it seems reasonable to take a minute to note when they do. Benjamin Ivry has recently written a blog post about Don Harrán’s translation of the poetry and prose of Sarra Copia Sulam in Jewish Poet and Intellectual in Seventeenth-Century Venice for the Forward magazine blog, The Arty Semite. In his post, Ivry frames the 17th C. Italian-Jewish luminary as the “Susan Sontag of the Venetian Ghetto,” and cites her unique ability to overcome the dual obstacles of her gender, and her religion, to produce the body of work that established her as the first Italian-Jewish public literary figure in Europe. Check it out online at The Arty Semite blog then take a look at some of the other titles in our OVIEME series featuring the fascinating poetry and prose of some of the best, though, less well known female voices of the early modern period. . . .

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Randall Couch recieves Corneliu M Popescu Prize for Poetry Translation

January 14, 2010
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Randall Couch recieves Corneliu M Popescu Prize for Poetry Translation

Last November we were pleased to note that Randall Couch was the recipient of Corneliu M Popescu Prize for Poetry Translation for his translation from the Spanish of Mad Women by Chilean Gabriela Mistral. The award—named after the translator of the work of one of Romania’s leading poets—highlights the important, but unfortunately relatively scarce, contributions of literature in translation to the English speaking world. The award was announced by judges Elaine Feinstein and Stephen Romer on Thursday, 19 November 2009 in an event at London’s Romanian cultural center, the Ratiu Foundation, which has recently posted some photographs of the event on their website. For more on the award navigate to http://www.romanianculturalcentre.org.uk/. About Madwomen: A schoolteacher whose poetry catapulted her to early fame in her native Chile and an international diplomat whose boundary-defying sexuality still challenges scholars, Gabriela Mistral is one of the most important and enigmatic figures in Latin American literature of the last century. The Locas mujeres poems collected here are among Mistral’s most complex and compelling, exploring facets of the self in extremis—poems marked by the wound of blazing catastrophe and its aftermath of mourning. From disquieting humor to balladlike lyricism to folkloric wisdom, these pieces enact a . . .

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Chicago through the eye of a poet

January 8, 2010
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Chicago through the eye of a poet

The Tribune‘s Julia Keller recently penned an article about a man who knows the city “like the back of his hand,”—and is one of its most prominent writers—Reginald Gibbons, whose evocative collection of writing about our fair city in Slow Trains Overhead: Chicago Poems and Stories comes out April 2010. Though a native of Houston, Gibbons’ new collection reveals that his muse is clearly the city of Chicago, where he has lived and taught for many years as a professor of English at Northwestern University. As Keller writes: It was coming to Chicago—a place in which, to Gibbons’ eye, the past and present commingle in rackety yet luminous profusion—that truly set fire to his imagination, he says. “I got such a powerful feeling in Chicago, a feeling I’ve never gotten in New York—the historical echo of the spaces downtown, the feeling that everyone who has ever worked here is still here. There’s a profoundly good feeling of being connected with the generations.” And in Slow Trains Overhead Gibbons combines this connection to the city of Chicago with his inimitable command of language to capture what it’s really like to live in this remarkable city. Embracing a striking variety of human . . .

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Thom Gunn at the University of Maryland

October 19, 2009
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Thom Gunn at the University of Maryland

In July, the Press published At the Barriers: On the Poetry of Thom Gunn, the first book-length study of this major poet. For the book, editor Joshua Weiner gathered together an all-star cast of contributors—including Eavan Boland, David Gewanter, Wendy Lesser, Paul Muldoon, John Peck, Robert Pinsky, and Tom Sleigh&mdash to survey Gunn’s career from his youth in 1930s Britain to his final years in California, bringing together some of the most important poet-critics from both sides of the Atlantic to assess his oeuvre. Now the University of Maryland Library has launched a new digital exhibit, “‘Well, I wanted a new vision…’: Thom Gunn and ‘Misanthropos,'” to celebrate the book’s publication. In crafting his essays for the collection, Weiner relied heavily on Maryland’s collection of Gunn’s papers. My making these materials available, the library offers a rare glimpse into the process of research. . . .

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Press Release: Miller, Watch

October 14, 2009
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Press Release: Miller, Watch

In Watch, Greg Miller describes a fresh purposefulness in his life and achieves a new level of poetic thinking and composition in his writing. Artfully combining the religious and secular worldviews in his own sense of human culture, Miller complicates our understanding of all three. The poems in Watch sift layers of natural and human history across several continents, observing paintings, archeological digs, cityscapes, seascapes, landscapes—all in an attempt to envision a clear, grounded spiritual life. Employing an impressive array of traditional meters and various kinds of free verse, Miller’s poems celebrate communities both invented and real. Read the press release. . . .

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Press Release: Bogen, An Alegbra

October 13, 2009
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Press Release: Bogen, An Alegbra

An Algebra is an interwoven collection of eight sequences and sixteen individual poems, where images and phrases recur in new contexts, connecting and suspending thoughts, emotions and insights. By turns, the poems leap from the public realm of urban decay and outsourcing to the intimacies of family life, from a street mime to a haunting dream, from elegy to lyric evocation. Wholeness and brokenness intertwine in the book; glimpsed patterns and startling disjunctions drive its explorations. An Algebra is a work of changing equivalents, a search for balance in a world of transformation and loss. It is a brilliantly constructed, moving book by a poet who has achieved a new level of imaginative expression and skill. Read the press release. . . .

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