Poetry

Zeppo’s First Wife shortlisted for Los Angeles Times Book Prize

March 10, 2006
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Zeppo’s First Wife shortlisted for Los Angeles Times Book Prize

Yesterday, nominees for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize were announced. We are happy to report that Gail Mazur’s Zeppo’s First Wife: New and Selected Poems is a nominee in the poetry category. Winners will be named on April 28. Widely acclaimed for expanding the stylistic boundaries of both the narrative and meditative lyric, Gail Mazur’s poetry crackles with verbal invention as she confronts the inevitable upheavals of a lived life. Zeppo’s First Wife, which includes excerpts from Mazur’s four previous books, as well as twenty-two new poems, is epitomized by the worldly longing of the title poem, with its searching poignancy and comic bravura. Mazur’s explorations of "this fallen world, this loony world" are deeply moving acts of empathy by a singular moral sensibility—evident from the earliest poem included here, the much-anthologized "Baseball," a stunning bird’s-eye view of human foibles and passions. Clear-eyed, full of paradoxical griefs and appetites, her poems brave the most urgent subjects—from the fraught luscious Eden of the ballpark, to the fragility of our closest human ties, to the implications for America in a world where power and war are cataclysmic for the strong as well as the weak. Gail Mazur’s books include Zeppo’s First . . .

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Author event: Gail Mazur, Zeppo’s First Wife

March 2, 2006
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Author event: Gail Mazur, Zeppo’s First Wife

Gail Mazur will read from Zeppo’s First Wife: New and Selected Poems on March 4 at 8 p.m., at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA. Yesterday, the Provincetown Banner featured an article about Mazur. Sue Harrison asked Mazur if writing poems about her husband was off limits: "I’m unsentimental and I don’t write love poems," she says, adding that if she does there is usually some wry twist. An exception to that is "Air Drawing" from They Can’t Take That Away From Me, which was a National Book Award finalist. In that poem, Mazur takes a roundabout, unsentimental way to deal with love by recalling Mike’s brush with death. In the poem, the narrator is reading a mystery book and watching her husband sleep. I watch his right hand float in our bedroom’s midnight, inscribe forms by instinct on the air, arterial, calligraphic figures I’m too literal to follow… Is this the way it has to be — one of us always vigilant, watching over the unconscious other, the quick elusory tracings on the night’s space. That night two years ago in the hospital, tubes in his pale right hand, in his thigh, I asked myself, . . .

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Be my surreal valentine

February 13, 2006
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Be my surreal valentine

If you believe that love is better described as “the drunken kisses of cyclones” than the predictable cheesiness found in a Hallmark card, then you’ll be cheered by the paperback release of Surrealist Love Poems, edited by Mary Ann Caws. This collection from such luminaries as André Breton, Robert Desnos, and Paul Eluard celebrates the irrational, obsessive, impassioned, and erotic states of love, demonstrating throughout the truth of Breton’s words, that “the embrace of poetry like that of the flesh / As long as it lasts / Shuts out all the woes of the world.” The book also includes fourteen alluring photographs from the likes of Man Ray, Lee Miller, and Claude Cahun. Read three poems from the book. . . .

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Three years after the Columbia accident

February 1, 2006
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Three years after the Columbia accident

Howard Nemerov (1920-1991), many of whose books were published by Chicago, wrote two poems about the space shuttle. “On An Occasion of National Mourning” was written after the Challenger accident. “Witnessing the Launch of the Shuttle Atlantis” was written for NASA, during the time that Nemerov was poet laureate of the United States. . . .

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Twenty years after the Challenger

January 24, 2006
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Twenty years after the Challenger

A piece by John Noble Wilford in the New York Times is occasioned by the anniversaries of the destruction of the space shuttles Challenger (twenty years ago on January 28, 1986) and Columbia (three years ago on February 1, 2003) and the fire that killed three Apollo astronauts (thirty-nine years ago on January 27, 1967). Ten years ago we published The Challenger Launch Decision: Risky Technology, Culture, and Deviance at NASA by Diane Vaughan which put forth the view—now widely accepted—that the Challenger accident was not the result of bad engineeering but of a management culture that normalized deviance: that flew missions even when presented with evidence of serious problems. The Columbia accident showed how difficult it is to change the patterns of organizational life. Another author brought a different sensibility to the shuttle; you can read Howard Nemerov’s two poems on the space shuttle. . . .

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Press release: Mary Ann Caws, Surrealist Love Poems

January 21, 2006
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Press release: Mary Ann Caws, Surrealist Love Poems

Love poetry includes, yes, descriptions of the beloved. And images of a fantastic idyll complete with falling stars, the sound of the sea, and beautiful countryside. In the hands of Surrealists, though, love poetry also includes gravediggers and murderers, dice and garbage, snakeskin purses and "the drunken kisses of cyclones." Surrealism, the movement founded in the 1920s on the ashes of Dada’s nihilism, embraced absurdity, contradiction, and, to a supreme extent, passion and desire.… Read the press release. Read three poems from the book. . . .

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