Poetry

Audio: Gabriela Mistral’s mad poems

May 13, 2008
By
Audio: Gabriela Mistral’s mad poems

Gabriela Mistral was the first Latin American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1945. Madwomen: The “Locas mujeres” Poems of Gabriela Mistral is the first appearance in English of all twenty-six poems of the “Locas mujeres” series, including those left unpublished at her death. Randall Couch edited and translated Madwomen and he recently gave a reading of seven poems from the book (together with a reading of the Spanish texts) at the Kelly Writers House at the University of Pennsylvania. The complete one-hour reading can be downloaded from the Writers House site. . . .

Read more »

Marilyn Hacker on the FSG poetry blog

April 25, 2008
By
Marilyn Hacker on the FSG poetry blog

Marilyn Hacker, award winning poet and translator of over twelve books of contemporary French poetry including Guy Goffette’s recent Charlestown Blues: Selected Poems, a Bilingual Edition, has posted a piece on the art of translation to the recently launched Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux poetry blog this week. In her post she discusses her intimate engagement with the works she translates and her constant struggle to remain true to the original. Hacker writes: “The translator must be faithful to the text’s linguistic valence, its connotations, to its music as well as its meaning.” And perhaps nowhere else does the translator develop this synergy between sound and sense than in Georgetown Blues where her selection of Geoffette’s work all center around the notion of “blue”—the color and the emotion, as well as that quintessentially American style of musical performance. From Charlestown Blues: “Blue Gold” No, tears don’t stop flowing on earth, nor cries resounding. Hills and walls only protect us from bodies that come with and come undone and the wide, peaceful rivers, and thunderclouds carry grief away. But as soon as the house is closed up like a handkerchief on its square of bitterness how heavy the scalding cup of coffee . . .

Read more »

Southern exposure

April 11, 2008
By
Southern exposure

The Shelf, a literary blog associated with the Canadian magazine The Walrus has just posted an interview with Elise Partridge discussing her new book of poems, Chameleon Hours. Partridge, who splits her time between Vancouver, BC, and Washington State, talks with Jared Bland about the reception of her work in the U.S. and, alternatively, how she sees it fitting into a Canadian literary tradition: Much of your work has been published in the States, including in the New Yorker, and this new book is being simultaneously issued by the University of Chicago Press. In other words, you have more southern exposure than many Canadian poets. Does this effect the way in which you see your work fitting into a Canadian poetic tradition? Not to force you into any immodest comparisons, but what strain of poetic thought do you see your work coming out of? I think writers inevitably belong in some way to their native countries and languages, but are also often hybrids of their own making, based on their sensibilities, influences, and so on. As an English-speaking North American (a dual citizen of Canada and the United States) I’ve been influenced by all kinds of literature in English—British, American, . . .

Read more »

Press Release: Voisine, Rare High Meadow of Which I Might Dream

April 8, 2008
By
Press Release: Voisine, Rare High Meadow of Which I Might Dream

Haunted by the afterlife of medieval theology and literature yet grounded in distinctly modern quandaries of desire, Connie Voisine’s female speakers reverberate with notes of Marie de France’s tragic heroines. For Voisine, poems are occasions for philosophical wanderings, extended lyrics that revolve around the binding and unbinding of desire, with lonely speakers struggling with the impetus of wanting as well as the necessity of a love affair’s end. With fluency, intelligence, and deeply felt emotional acuity, Rare High Meadow of Which I Might Dream navigates the heady intersection of obsessive love and searing loss. Read the press release. . . .

Read more »

Press Release: Partridge, Chameleon Hours

April 8, 2008
By
Press Release: Partridge, Chameleon Hours

Whether writing poems about North American life and landscape; or love poems; or elegies for family and friends; or poems on serious, debilitating illness and the transformations it can effect—Elise Partridge offers in Chameleon Hours words forged by suffering and courage. Full of wit and empathy, Partridge’s poems draw inspiration from sources as whimsical as tortoises and pontoons, as poignant as a homeless woman taking shelter inside a post office on a winter night, and as deeply personal as her own cancer diagnosis at a young age. Chameleon Hours is a book about the rewards of being reminded of one’s own mortality and the lyric expression of life in all its intensity. Read the press release. . . .

Read more »

Press Release: Schwartz, Blessings for the Hands

April 8, 2008
By
Press Release: Schwartz, Blessings for the Hands

Blessings for the Hands follows various speakers—often disabled speakers, who never once figure themselves as objects of complaint or self-pity—through the haunted dreamscape of “normalcy.” Indeed, dreams are continuous presences in this unusually subtle and elegant debut collection that juxtaposes physical circumstances with the vast interior life of the imagination. The subjects of Blessings for the Hands are real and imagined confrontations—and reconciliations—between family members, friends, strangers, and animals. Matthew Schwartz’s quasi-autobiographical verse complicates and clarifies the emotions waiting just underneath the patterns and expectations of the speakers’ daylight lives, where anger, joy, corporeality, and mortality all seem to collide. For Schwartz, poetry is a sleight of hand that keeps the reader guessing through nearly imperceptible shifts between present vision and absent reality. Blessings for the Hands is a lyric reckoning of the tension between the life we are given and the life we are determined to lead. Read the press release. . . .

Read more »

Vicki Hearne in Poetry

March 13, 2008
By
Vicki Hearne in Poetry

Vicki Hearne’s (1946-2001) posthumously published Tricks of the Light: New and Selected Poems has received a positive review in this month’s issue of Poetry magazine by critic Joel Brouwer. Praising her work for transforming her practical knowledge of the dogs and horses she trained into a unique philosophical exploration of “language and the mind,” Brouwer writes: Nearly all of Hearne’s writing, regardless of genre or audience, drew upon her work as a professional horse and dog trainer. But to think of this poet in those terms alone would be as misguided as thinking of E.O. Wilson as an entomologist. Communicating with animals helped Hearne to think through a variety of philosophical concerns, particularly questions of representation. What stories do we tell ourselves about our relationships with the animals we live and work with, feed and eat, love and fear? What really happens, and what do we imagine happens, when two species with fundamentally differing consciousnesses and languages—people and dogs, say—attempt to communicate? Above all, how might our investigation of such questions lead us to more general insights about representation and reality? The review concludes: “Hearne’s verse is … rigorously intelligent, rhetorically supple, wholly unafraid of complexity, formally deft, and, … . . .

Read more »

Review: Rector, The Executive Director of the Fallen World

February 25, 2008
By
Review: Rector, The Executive Director of the Fallen World

This month’s Boston Review is running a nice piece on Liam Rector’s The Executive Director of the Fallen World—the last book of poetry Rector would publish before taking his own life in late August of 2007 after battling both colon cancer and heart disease. But as reviewer Robert Schnall notes, though the poet may be gone, his poetry continues to have a profound effect upon its readers with its “hard-won insight and incandescent gallows humor… intermixing pathos with practical wisdom, tragedy with relentless sass.” The review continues: Often his mordant irony and slang diction prove to be his best defenses against despair, as in “So We’ll Go No More,” which presents a dying speaker’s valediction to his lover: “Cancer, heart attack, bypass—all // In the same year? My chances / Are 20%! And I’m f—g well / Ready, ready to go.” For Rector’s speakers, the past is a looming presence. “Now” presents a tender, comic, and ultimately beautiful overview of life as a lesson in disheartenment from early childhood to death, while “First Marriage,” “Beautiful, Sane Women,” and “Our Last Period Together” all document failed relationships with a humor so delicate that it can barely conceal the vulnerability it seeks . . .

Read more »

Robert Pinsky on Elise Partridge

February 14, 2008
By
Robert Pinsky on Elise Partridge

Robert Pinsky’s “Poet’s Choice” column in Last Sunday’s Washington Post featured a nice review of Elise Partridge’s new book of poems, Chameleon Hours. Pinsky’s column quotes several of Partridge’s poems and praises her unique vision that allows her to transform even her darkest hours into cause for linguistic celebration. Pinsky writes: Some readers will recognize Partridge’s name and recall her poems about cancer treatment that appeared in the New Yorker in recent years, including “Chemo Side Effects: Vision.” That poem, collected in this book, begins by saying how printed words “fizzle” as “gnats in dervish clouds.” Those phrases about temporarily impaired vision have so much energy that the feeling is almost gleeful, as if to say that even this deterioration can occasion the thrill of language. The same poem contains the lines: Eyes that have brought me so many words, are you too dim for the world to keep courting? Days, lay out your wares in the honking bazaar! The “wares” of daily, physical experience are humdrum and desired, gaudy and precious. What an ironic word “dim” is for the sharp, bright way this poet sees. In their ample, embracing, nuanced appetite for sensory experience, her poems achieve an ardent, . . .

Read more »

Found in translation

January 17, 2008
By
Found in translation

Another review from the Times Literary Supplement: in the January 4 edition Peter Hainsworth takes on two recent translations of twentieth century Italian poetry, The Selected Poetry and Prose of Andrea Zanzotto and The Selected Poetry and Prose of Vittorio Sereni—both are the first substantial translations of these masters of Italian poetry for English speaking audiences. In the review Hainsworth delivers an enthusiastic appraisal of the two works: Sereni and Zanzotto … embraced negatives and contradictions more wholeheartedly and more energetically than … the poets of the previous generation.… The result in both cases is a particularly adventurous and exciting body of work, constantly in evolution, sometimes (especially in the case of Zanzotto) on the edge of flamboyant avant-gardism, but somehow generally able to keep its poetic balance. What also gives both poets and others of their generation substance is the fact that they have something to say. Sereni’s mature poetry is constantly probing issues of commitment, choice and understanding, often through a multiplicity of voices, criss-crossing and overlaying each other, with back references to his favorite poets or his own previous work.… They represent and enact the often dramatic confrontation of differing, often irreconcilable viewpoints and constantly changing perspectives. . . .

Read more »

Search for books and authors