Poetry

Q & A with Poets Ahmad Almallah and Graham Barnhart

October 1, 2019
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This fall, the Phoenix Poets series features debut collections by two poets: Ahmad Almallah and Graham Barnhart. We spoke with these poets about their new books, the process of writing and assembling their collections, and their experiences of war, central to both of their works. This fall, each of you will publish your first book of poetry as part of the Phoenix Poets series (congratulations!). Could you both talk a little about your process of organizing your work into a collection and how you decided on the theme and scope for your book? Graham Barnhart (GB): I started writing these poems while I was in the MFA program at Ohio State. I’d been active duty for six years and just transferred to the national guard, so it was a strange time. I was still in the Army but also kind of not. I didn’t think of the poems as a book until later, but at the time I just followed the stories and experiences that most interested me—that sparked poems. I knew the theme of the book in very general terms would be war and my military experience, but the scope or focus didn’t emerge until I started trying to . . .

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5 Questions for Connie Voisine, Poet and Author of The Bower

April 25, 2019
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In honor of National Poetry Month, we sent Phoenix Poet Connie Voisine a few questions to delve into her writing and reading life and her thoughts on poetry today. Describe your ideal reader. My ideal reader never changes (ideal is ideal), but the person I write to is quite specific and variable. My old mentor, James McMichael, recommended directing a poem to a specific person, to make it rhetorically focused, urgent. I have some writer friends who represent the best of poetry with their rigor, intelligence, wit, and devotion to craft, and to each I have addressed poems and whole books to. My last book, however, was for the reader my daughter will be some day . . . to thank her. Do you see poetry as having a “moment” right now? And if so, why? I can’t answer that question. Probably. But I am more curious about what the moment produces than what generated it. I used to teach a group of women writers whose average age was perhaps 80. Those women could really read poems because they had done it all their lives. I could throw anything at them—language poetry, conceptual poetry, spoken word, as well as John . . .

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Yves Bonnefoy (1923–2016): A Tribute from His Translators

September 9, 2016
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Yves Bonnefoy (1923–2016): A Tribute from His Translators

  The French poet and critic Yves Bonnefoy, who died on July 1, 2016, was unusually well served by his translators, who shepherded many of his books into publication in English. Thanks to their devotion and talent, readers in the English-speaking world can appreciate why Bonnefoy was, as the New York Times described him, “France’s pre-eminent poet of the postwar era.” The two most prolific publishers of Bonnefoy’s work in English have been Seagull Books and the University of Chicago Press. Seagull’s Naveen Kishore and Chicago’s Alan Thomas invited Bonnefoy’s translators to recall their collaborations with the poet. ***  Richard Pevear I first met Yves Bonnefoy at a lunch organized by Jonathan Galassi, who was then an editor at Random House and the poetry editor of The Paris Review. Galway Kinnell, translator of Bonnefoy’s first book of poems, Du mouvement et de l’immobilité de Douve, joined us. He and Galassi had formed a project for translating the four books of poems Bonnefoy had published up to then . The first two were to be published by Ohio University . . .

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Peter Balakian’s Ozone Journal wins the 2016 Pulitzer Prize

April 20, 2016
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Peter Balakian’s Ozone Journal wins the 2016 Pulitzer Prize

Congrats to Phoenix Poet Peter Balakian—his latest collection Ozone Journal took home the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for poetry, noted by the Pulitzer committee in their citation as, “poems that bear witness to the old losses and tragedies that undergird a global age of danger and uncertainty.” From a profile of Balakian at the Washington Post: “I’m interested in the collage form,” Balakian said. “I’m exploring, pushing the form of poetry, pushing it to have more stakes and more openness to the complexity of contemporary experience.” He describes poetry as living in “the speech-tongue-voice syntax of language’s music.” That, he says, gives the form unique power. “Any time you’re in the domain of the poem, you’re dealing with the most compressed and nuanced language that can be made. I believe that this affords us the possibility of going into a deeper place than any other literary art — deeper places of psychic, cultural and social reality.” From the book’s titular poem: Bach’s cantata in B-flat minor in the cassette, we lounged under the greenhouse-sky, the UVBs hacking at the acids and oxides and then I could hear the difference between an oboe and a bassoon at the river’s edge under cover— trees breathed in . . .

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2016 PEN Literary Award for Poetry in Translation Longlist

December 10, 2015
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2016 PEN Literary Award for Poetry in Translation Longlist

Congrats to Swan Isle Press and Anthony Geist for their translation of The School of Solitude: Collected Poems by Luis Hernández, which was just announced as one of the longlist candidates for the 2016 PEN Literary Award for Poetry in Translation. The book collects the prolific work of the legendary (and legendarily troubled) Peruvian poet Luis Hernández, who published three collections of poetry by the age of twenty-four, not to publish again until his untimely death in 1977 at thirty-six years-old Drawing upon the numerous notebooks he kept in the interim, The School of Solitude is the first book of Hernández’s writing to appear in English. To read more about The School of Solitude, click here. . . .

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Alan Shapiro: Pulitzer Prize finalist

April 21, 2015
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Alan Shapiro: Pulitzer Prize finalist

Hearty congratulations to Alan Shapiro, whose collection of poems Reel to Reel was recently shortlisted for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in poetry. Shapiro, who teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has published twelve volumes of poetry, and has previously been nominated for both the National Book Award and the Griffin Prize. The Pulitzer Prize citation commended Reel to Reel‘s “finely crafted poems with a composure that cannot conceal the troubled terrain they traverse.” The book, written with Shapiro’s recognizably graceful, abstracting, and subtle minimalism, was one of two finalists, along with Arthur Sze’s Compass Rose; Gregory Pardlo’s Digest won the award. From the jacket copy for Reel to Reel: Reel to Reel, Alan Shapiro’s twelfth collection of poetry, moves outward from the intimate spaces of family and romantic life to embrace not only the human realm of politics and culture but also the natural world, and even the outer spaces of the cosmos itself. In language richly nuanced yet accessible, these poems inhabit and explore fundamental questions of existence, such as time, mortality, consciousness, and matter. How did we get here? Why is there something rather than nothing? How do we live fully and lovingly as conscious creatures in an unconscious universe with no . . .

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2015 PROSE Awards

February 20, 2015
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2015 PROSE Awards

Now in their 39th year, the PROSE Awards honor “the very best in professional and scholarly publishing by bringing attention to distinguished books, journals, and electronic content in over 40 categories,” as determined by a jury of peer publishers, librarians, and medical professionals. As is the usual case with this kind of acknowledgement, we are honored and delighted to share several University of Chicago Press books that were singled-out in their respective categories as winners or runners-up for the 2015 PROSE Awards. *** Kurt Schwitters: Space, Image, Exile By Megan R. Luke Art History, Honorable Mention *** House of Debt: How They (and You) Caused the Great Recession, and How We Can Prevent It from Happening Again By Atif Mian and Amir Sufi Economics, Honorable Mention *** American School Reform: What Works, What Fails, and Why By Joseph P. McDonald Winner, Education Practice *** The Public School Advantage: Why Public Schools Outperform Private Schools By Christopher A. Lubienski and Sarah Theule Lubienski Winner, Education Theory *** Earth’s Deep History: How It Was Discovered and Why It Matters By Martin J. S. Rudwick Honorable Mention, History of STM *** The Selected Poetry of Pier Paolo Pasolini: A Bilingual Edition By Pier Paolo . . .

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Free ebook for October: Thirty Years of Phoenix Poets

October 1, 2013
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Free ebook for October: Thirty Years of Phoenix Poets

In 1983, the University of Chicago Press published David Ferry’s Strangers, the first book of poems in its Phoenix Poets series, to critical acclaim. The New York Times Book Review lauded Ferry for his “short, sparse lyrics are as perfectly and simply composed as Japanese haiku,” calling them, “a rare accomplishment in poetry written in English.” Thirty years later, the Press is still publishing a robust list in American poetry, from young poets pushing forward their first books to those still engaged masters, like Ferry, at the peak of storied careers. Our free ebook for October, Thirty Years of Phoenix Poets, 1983–2012: An E-Sampler, presents some of the best poets and poems from those three decades, beginning with that first book by David Ferry and ending with his latest, the National Book Award–winning Bewilderment. The selections in between reveal the changing landscape of American poetry, though all are distinguished by keen awareness of the history and possibilities of poetry, as part of the mission of the Phoenix Poets series. Those poets included: Elizabeth Arnold, Peter Balakian, Turner Cassity, Dan Chiasson, Michael Chitwood, W. S. Di Piero, David Ferry, Kenneth Field, Christine Garren, Reginald Gibbons, Susan Hahn, Mark Halliday, Ha . . .

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Seamus Heaney (1939-2013)

August 30, 2013
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Seamus Heaney (1939-2013)

Implicit in those lines is a view of poetry which I think is implicit in the few poems I have written that give me any right to speak: poetry as divination, poetry as revelation of the self to the self, as restoration of the culture to itself; poems as elements of continuity, with the aura and authenticity of archaeological finds, where the buried shard has an importance that is not diminished by the importance of the buried city; poetry as a dig, a dig for finds that end up being plants. ‘Digging,’ in fact, was the name of the first poem I wrote where I thought my feelings had got into words, or to put it more accurately, where I thought my feel had had got into words. Its rhythms and noises still please me, although there are a couple of lines in it that have more of the theatricality of the gunslinger than the self-absorption of the digger. I wrote it in the summer of 1964, almost two years after I had begun to ‘dabble in verses.’ This was the first place where I felt I had done more than make an arrangement of words: I felt that I . . .

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Recalculating (“Poetry is beautiful and important”)

May 10, 2013
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Recalculating (“Poetry is beautiful and important”)

From Josh Cook’s review of Recalculating by Charles Bernstein, in the May issue of Bookslut: With translations, imitations, and homages, and with poems of poetry’s motion, and manifestos of politics and poetics, Bernstein has gone beyond a personal anthology of poetics to write a book I struggle to categorize. If you could remove all the term’s negative connotations, all the personal and cultural associations with boredom and restriction, if you could extract the term from the worst of academics and education, you could call Recalculating a textbook. It is the syllabus, the required reading, the example, the supplemental critical exploration, and the challenge. It is a shiv tearing at the fabric of poetry for a glimpse of the poetic future. It is the wall, the empty cans of spray paint, and the graffiti. It is the schematics for every part of the bomb but the fuse; the reader is the fuse. But as explosive as Recalculating is, the image of a bomb isn’t right, for, ultimately Bernstein is not a destroyer but a motivator. At the end of Recalculating, Bernstein wants you to believe poetry has not met its potential. The “recalculating” moment happens when we go off course, miss . . .

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