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Dean Rader
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Earlier this week, I was invited to participate in a reading with Anne Barrows and Chana Bloch that acknowledged Kristalnacht. So, I dug out some translations I did back in the early 1990s of some lesser-known Paul Celan poems. Here is one of them: There was earth inside them, and they dug. They dug and dug, and their day passed, their night. And they did not praise God, who, so they heard, wanted all this, who, so they heard, knew all this. They dug and heard nothing more; They did not grow wise, invented no song, created no language. They... Continue reading
Posted Nov 14, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
So, today is my son Gavin's birthday--dude turns 2. Armistice Day seems like an apt holiday for celebrating entrance into the world. An acknowledgment of peace; a remembrance of violence. It's all there. Here's hoping my guy veers toward the former . . . On Tuesday, I gave a reading at the fabulous Albany Library Series and I was asked by two different people if I had written poems about my son. I confessed that for two years now, I'd thought about it a lot, even tried a couple of times, but had, in my mind at least, failed miserably.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 11, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
In his op-ed piece in the New York Times earlier this week, Nicholas Kristof admitted that he would likey a little poetry: Please, Mr. Obama! The prose needn’t be as dry as the Harvard Law Review. And we wouldn’t mind being lifted by an occasional verse of poetry. I love the fact that the de facto genre for lifting Americans is poetry. I couldn't agree more. For the past few days, I've been thinking about what poems or snippets of poems the American public would like to hear. If I were chief poetry advisor to the President (and shouldn't such... Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
The work being done by a new generation of Native American poets is among the most exciting in American poetry. One of my favorite recent collections is Heid Erdrich's National Monuments. Her poem "The Theft Outright" is a fantastic response to Robert Frost's famous inaugural poem, "The Gift Outright," read at John F. Kennedy's inauguration. As I suggest in a post at The Weekly Rader, Frost's poem is a swan song for the chauvinism and ethnocentrism of Manifest Destiny. Suffice it to say that when in the first line the speaker says, "The land was ours before we were the... Continue reading
Posted Nov 9, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
Earlier in the year, a student in my Contemporary American Poetry class asked me if there were any "great" contemporary American poems. I told her there were many great ones, including, for example, everything on her syllabus. Yeah, yeah, yeah, she said. Why, she asked, did anthologies of contemporary American poetry have different selections of poems, when pretty much every anthology agreed on what 19th and early 20th century poems were "great?" I told her greatness was a tough thing to define, especially in the present. When I pressed her, though, she admitted that what she meant was more like... Continue reading
Posted Nov 8, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
No city in America is producing more good poetry right now than San Francisco. Its older generation of poets altered poetry's landscape, and its newer crop of writers, who seem to be winning every possible award, are shaping poetic terrain as well. New York might stake out a claim as the country's fiction center, but San Francisco has planted its flag as the poetry capital of the United States. Continue reading
Posted Nov 7, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
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Nov 4, 2010