Poetry

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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John Keats, Fanny Brawne, and “Bright Star”

September 25, 2009
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John Keats, Fanny Brawne, and “Bright Star”

Bright Star, the new film written and directed by Jane Campion, opened in the Chicago area yesterday. Bright Star weaves a story of the romantic love and poetic longing of John Keats and Fanny Brawne during the last three years of Keats’ too-short life. Campion’s script was, according to today’s review in the Chicago Tribune, “inspired by the exceptional Andrew Motion biography Keats,” which we published in paperback in 1999. Motion’s biography is an interesting choice for a filmmaker. Andrew Motion is a poet above all; he served as Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1999 to 2009. He has numerous books of poetry to his credit, as well as criticism and several other biographies. Keats is a poet’s biography of a poet; it is steeped in the words of the poet, shaped primarily by Keats’ letters and punctuated by Keats’ poems. It is as textual as you can get. Keats has come down to us, Motion writes, as a poets’ poet: the champion of truth and beauty, a sensualist, the archetype of the Romantic poet, who poured out words in a frenetic rush, writing all the poems we know him for in the space of a month or . . .

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Review: Mann, Breakfast with Thom Gunn

September 23, 2009
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Review: Mann, Breakfast with Thom Gunn

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Mathematics + Poetry + J. M. Coetzee

August 18, 2009
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Mathematics + Poetry + J. M. Coetzee

We’re used to seeing, usually in the New York Review of Books, J. M. Coetzee’s frequent book reviews. And we have first-hand experience (pdf) of what a great job the Notices of the American Mathematical Society does with its book reviews section. Still, it was a surprise to learn from the complete review that these two reliable patterns of the book reviewing world had combined in such an unexpected way. But perhaps it shouldn’t have been surprising at all, because the book Coetzee reviews in the new issue of Notices (pdf) is all about a similar sort of well suited yet not wholly expected pair. About Strange Attractors: Poems of Love and Mathematics, Coetzee opines that “there are a priori grounds for thinking of poetry and mathematics together, as two rarefied forms of symbolic activity based on the power of the human mind to detect hidden analogies. In other words, an anthology like Strange Attractors, which brings together a hundred and fifty poems with some degree of mathematical content, makes more a priori sense than, say, a collection of famous speeches with some mathematical content.” Well worth reading for reasons beyond its novelty, the review (along with the small matter . . .

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Press Release: Weiner, At the Barriers

July 14, 2009
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Press Release: Weiner, At the Barriers

Maverick gay icon of poetry Thom Gunn (1929—2004) and his body of work have long dared the British and American poetry establishments to either claim or disavow him. To critics in the UK and United States alike, Gunn demonstrated that formal poetry could successfully include new speech rhythms and open forms. Along the way, Gunn’s verse captured the social upheavals of the 1960s, the existential possibilities of the late twentieth century, and the tumult of post-Stonewall gay culture. The first book-length collection of essays on this major poet, At the Barriers surveys 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. This landmark volume traces how Gunn, in both his life and his writings, pushed at boundaries of different kinds, be they geographic, sexual, or poetic—and how his influence has only grown since his death. Read the press release. . . .

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Peg Boyers reads “The Fate of Pleasure”

June 25, 2009
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Peg Boyers reads “The Fate of Pleasure”

Just a quick post to point you towards Slate magazines’ weekly poem, which is currently featuring Peg Boyers, author of Hard Bread and more recently Honey with Tobacco, reading her poem “The Fate of Pleasure.” Each week Slate‘s poetry editor Robert Pinsky chooses a poem to be featured on their site and added to the audio archive at Slate‘s Poetry Podcast. So in the spirit of full disclosure it should also be mentioned that Pinsky has recently released a new book with the Press as well: Thousands of Broadways: Dreams and Nightmares of the American Small Town. Though not a poetry book Thousands of Broadways does offer up some of the fascinating literary insights of its author as he examines the history and character of America’s small towns, including reflections on his own time growing up in one. Find out more about Pinsky’s new book and Boyer’s poetry on the press’s website. . . .

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