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The Best American Poetry
Welcome to The Best American Poetry blog. We launched this blog in January, 2008, to create a place where we and friends can exchange, discuss, and argue about poems and poetry. We soon discovered that it would be even more fun to post about anything that fuels our passions, be it movies or sex or baseball or ballet or cocktails or finance or music, because these are, after all, the same subjects that generate poems. Then we flung the doors open and invited others to join in. And we decided that contributors to the blog need not be poets as long as they share a love of good writing and poetry. The only things we ask our regular and guest bloggers to avoid are personal attacks. You'll find enough of that stuff elsewhere. We celebrate freedom of expression. The opinionS of our contributors are their own and not necessarily those of the blog's editorial team or of other contributors. We welcome comments as long as they keep within the bounds of civil discourse. Our roster of correspondents is always changing. We are large! We contain multitudes! Please visit often.Our roster of correspondents is always changing. We are large! We contain multitudes! Please visit often.
Interests: music, food, finance, cocktails, movies, baseball, sex, poetry, mad men.
Recent Activity
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David Lehman has picked a winning stanza for the Next Line, Please contest hosted by The American Scholar. But it's not over yet: you're writing a sestina so there are plenty of opportunities to flex your formal muscles. Here's what Lehman has to say about the winning entry: My compliments. Virtually every entry had something going for it, and I loved the enthusiastic way people threw caution to the wind in playing with the sestina form. For best opening stanza I choose this by Diane Seuss for the coherence of the narrative and the spectacular reiteration of “cave” as a synonym for “capitulate”: Finally the veins give out and they stick in a port for the blood draws. Veins cave before the spirit. Spirit caves before the voice stops the sing-song of moan and groan that tolls all night like a book of hymns without words. After a while even fear caves, like a dress without a body or an address. —Diane Seuss Diane Seuss has given us a setting and situation (medical), with an air of resignation that gets abruptly corrected when “even fear / caves, like a dress without a body.” That is a lovely simile and a brilliant turn for the stanza to take. Continue reading and find out how to enter your stanza as the sestina continues . . . Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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Photo Credit: The Amazing Ashley Ziegler Hi friends - thanks for sticking with me throughout this series. I've loved exploring the connections between fitness and writing, and loved hearing your feedback even more. This will be my second-to-last installment. This week, I finally decided to delve into running, something I probably won't be able to do for the rest of this week if the predicted storm comes sweeping in. So happy reading, happy running, and happy cabin fevering for anyone in the Northeast! * Despite the fact that I do it almost every day, I’ve been putting off writing about running. I’m not particularly adept at it, for starters. I’m faster than I used to be but I have leftover insecurities about being one of the slowest girls in sixth grade. Many of my writer friends are astounding, “real” runners who do marathons like I do brunch - that is to say, regularly and with little pre-planning. Not to mention that running and writing is well-tilled soil: Joyce Carol Oates has written beautifully on the subject, Haruki Murakami has many essays and an entire book about it, just to name a few. And while I’ve found kinship in many of these pieces (or in great fictional characters who run), I haven’t found that passage on running and writing that makes me say yes, that is how it feels to me. Oates, for one, is overly ebullient in her praise of the sport: “In running the mind flies with the body; the mysterious efflorescence of language seems to pulse in the brain…” Conversely, Murakami is mind-numbingly moderate not only about his running but also his writing, speaking as if both are easy pursuits that, if one puts one’s mind to it, can be mastered. On writing, he says: “I had no concrete image of what I wanted to write about—just the conviction that I could come up with something that I’d find convincing.” And, on running, even more florid: “So, like eating, sleeping, housework, and writing, running was incorporated into my daily routine.” I’m somewhere between these two extremes. I love running and it has a clear connection to the writing constitution. As opposed to dance or yoga, which drain me too deeply to leave anything left for the page, running fuels my writing. Running feels the same as writing, even - the discipline, the solitude, the ease of beginning and struggle to persist, that addictive high at the end. * Some of the first documented group running was during the Roman festival Lupercalia, partly in honor of a she-wolf named Lupa who breastfed Romulus and Remus. Men would dress in the skins of sacrificial goats and run, en masse, around the city, whipping the exposed skin of girls and women who willingly crowded near. The lashes were meant to increase fertility. I imagine the wild euphoria of this festival - these bloodied, able-bodied men probably half-drunk on whatever 100 proof sludge Romans called wine, high on endorphins and lashing the... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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The Homecoming the true south and the upland grass the bright glade and the fallen lintel the driving rain and the sudden calm the fiddle tune and the rowan berries the ruined chapel and the black water the hard road and the steady light the heat haze and the peat smoke the pebble bed and the yellow flag the grey song and the fault line the dog rose and the meeting place the keen air and the pine needles the furze blossom and the brown trout the far hills and the broken boat the bleached bones and the summer dwelling the slack tide and the raised beach the blue sky and the summit cairn the hanged crow and the sheep dip the bracken fronds and the healing pool the lobster pots and the teasel patch the old fort and the malt whisky the scree slope and the circling buzzard the lonely glen and the heather fire the sphagnum moss and the golden lichen the bladder wrack and the shell mound the west wind and the last harebell the lark notes and the ripe brambles the tweed jacket and the grouse moor the barbed wire and the holy island the standing stone and the loud burn the wild goats and the bog myrtle We begin with Scotland as observed by one of its most attentive poets. Born in 1944, Thomas A. Clark lives in a small fishing village on the east coast of Scotland, and his affinities lie with poets such as Robert Creeley and Lorine Niedecker. He publishes small books and cards through his own Moschatel Press, in collaboration with the artist Laurie Clark, while Carcanet Press has published The Hundred Thousand Places (2008) and Yellow & Blue (2014). Clark’s work is spare and meditative, taking its rhythm from the pace of long-distance walking. As Peter Riley remarks, ‘The language doesn’t just advise patience, it enacts it.’ To hear Clark read is to fall under the spell of his phrases, where the seeing ‘I’ is rarely present. ‘The Homecoming’ evokes rural Scotland, her sea, streams and hills, wild life and history; amongst these, malt whisky takes its place as part of a palette of gold tones. What is manmade in this landscape is dissolving back into the land. See http://thomasaclarkblog.blogspot.co.uk/ Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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Sholeh Wolpé, Photo By Bonnie Perkinson This week we welcome back Sholeh Wolpé as our guest author. Sholeh was born in Iran, and spent most of her teen years in Trinidad and the UK before settling in the United States. A recipient of the 2014 PEN/Heim Translation Fund award, 2013 Midwest Book Award and 2010 Lois Roth Persian Translation prize, Wolpé is the author of three collections of poetry and two books of translations, and is the editor of three anthologies. Her most recent publications are: Keeping Time with Blue Hyacinths, and Breaking the Jaws of Silence: Sixty American Poets Speak to the World. Her poems, translations, essays and reviews have appeared in scores of literary journals, periodicals and anthologies worldwide, and her poems have been translated into several languages. She lives in Los Angeles. For more about Sholeh visit her website www.sholehwolpe.com. Follow her on twitter at @Sholeh_Wolpe. In other news . . . We're pleased to announce that beginning this week – appropriately enough, on Burns Night when Scotland’s most famous poet is celebrated round the world – Robyn Marsack will be curating a weekly series featuring poets from Scotland. Born in New Zealand, she left for university in England and moved to Glasgow in 1987 with her Scottish husband. After a stint at Carcanet Press, she worked as a freelance editor for various publishers until taking up the post of Director of the Scottish Poetry Library (in Edinburgh) in 2000. She has written critical essays, edited texts, and co-edited several poetry anthologies, including Intimate Expanses: XXV Scottish Poems 1978-2002 (2004), and After Lermontov: translations for the bicentenary (2014). You can read more about Robyn Marsack here. Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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The poet Mark Strand at 192 Books in Manhattan, July 11, 2012 Splash News/Corbis Mark Strand, who died in November at the age of eighty after a long battle with cancer, is the first among my oldest friends to go. Having known him for forty-six years, I’ve come to realize since he passed away what a huge presence he was in my life and still continues to be. Every time I read something interesting, hear some literary gossip, have a memorable meal, or take a sip of truly fine wine these days, I want to get in touch with him and tell him about it. It’s not that we talked every day when he was alive, but he was often on my mind as I went about my life and it was the same with him. I happened to see him one day just hours after he got back from Italy. After showing me the beautiful socks and shoes he bought in Rome, he said he had something exciting to tell me. When he was in Sicily, he discovered that there were magnificent old palazzos in Siracusa selling for peanuts. He thought he and I should buy one, move our families there and commute back to the States, he to his job at John Hopkins and I to mine at the University of New Hampshire. First we’d drive to Palermo and catch a flight to Rome and then he’d fly to Washington and I to Boston and we’d fly back every couple of weeks or so. I burst out laughing, but he kept after me for weeks about those cheap palazzos, until I was just about convinced that we could pull it off. That’s what made being with Mark so much fun. He was a restless man, always ready to start a new life and obsessed with money-making schemes. One time he and I were making plans to import Australian and New Zealand wines, which were then little known in this country; another time we were thinking of opening a restaurant in Inverness, a town fifteen miles or so away from Drake’s Bay north of San Francisco, where the waiters would be well-known poets of our acquaintance who’d work there for a week or two and then be replaced by other poets. He thought the public would go for it and our place would be a great success. “Imagine having a Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award winner bring you a plate of cheese and a glass of wine,” he said. Even our wives loved the idea at first, until they discovered that they were the ones who were going to do all the cooking, while Mark and I took turns serving as hosts and chitchatting with customers. Continue reading at the NYRB . . . Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at The Best American Poetry
On my usual walk to class there is this woman walking in front of me, sun warping the bedazzled cross on her shirt. All rail legs and cheekbones, she could be a model. She is yapping on her phone to some guy named Henry, presumably her significant other. Poor, sweet Henry, forever waiting on the other end for his chance to speak. I am just about to pass this woman when a chunk of her hair hits the ground in front of me. I think the mass looks like a tangled octopus. I watch her massage her scalp where the octopus once was, completely silent, and I will Henry to use this as his chance to speak. She considers picking it up off the ground but immediately thinks better of it and keeps walking. I wonder to myself if this is a statement about women and how we go through some ridiculous shit to look pretty but never want to admit to the world just how ridiculous it is, or if this woman had dropped herself somewhere along the way and was too embarrassed to get up. I was about to ask her when she picked up where she left off, with “Henry, are you even listening?” -- Daryl Sznyter Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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Diego Velázquez, An Old Woman Cooking Eggs. 1618, Scottish National Gallery. Edinburg. © Trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland A Masterpiece in Texture and Culinary History Diego Velázquez (1599-1660) was in his late teens when he painted the masterpiece, “An Old Woman Cooking Eggs,” now on view at the Frick Collection, together with other paintings on loan from the Scottish National Gallery. Art lovers and culinary historians can benefit from multiple viewings of this stunning achievement. The painting depicts an old woman doing precisely what the title claims while a young boy stands by holding a flask in his left hand and cradling a rope-wrapped melon in the crook of his right arm. It is an example of the bodegón, paintings of humble kitchen and tavern life, at which Velázquez and his contemporaries excelled during the Spanish Golden Age. Continue reading at The Inquisitive Eater. . . Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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Karen Resta at Goldman Sachs. To read more go here. What We Think of When We Think of Servers: 1. Slave girls peeling us fat green grapes. 2. Houseboys pouring champagne for us while flicking a bit of bubbly foam delicately onto our blandly waiting necks. 3. The butler and the maid who don’t really exist aside from being a butler and a maid in dense black wool and gleaming white cotton. 4. Not our mother. Never our mother, even if we hate her. Unless of course it’s a wife. A wife can remind us of our mother when we’re thinking of servers, whether we hate our mother or not. 5. The “Tough Waitress with the Heart of Gold”. Her stockings will necessarily have a bad run in them. 6. Is there a Tough Waiter with a Heart of Gold? Why or why not? What is the Most In-Your-Face Hierarchal Activity in the World? (Apart from being a Sex Worker) Someone in a uniform rushing to carry food items to someone not wearing a uniform then carefully placing the food on a table in front of the un-uniformed person who will then enjoy the food at their leisure while the uniformed person waits to bring the seated person more food should they desire it. This small drama ends when the person at table chooses to end it by standing up and leaving the table. Arbitrary Facts about Waiters and Waitresses: I used to be the manager (“manager” is not a preferred word in today’s workplace, “leader” is, but somehow I can’t think of myself as being The Server’s Leader) of a number of waiters and waitresses. Once I found a waiter with a waitress together underneath a large table, apparently having a moment of passion with their clothes still on - or somewhat still on, anyway. The best servers I ever hired were German women aged 50 to 60 years old. They did everything to perfection and loved doing it. I’ve never been a server, though I’ve served tables. I’ve been a chef. When you “serve” a table as an Executive Chef, you carry with you a soaring untouchable power that meets or exceeds the power of those at table, no matter who or what they are on any kind of playing field. Why this is, I can’t imagine. It’s not that you insist upon it, actually the people at the tables do. To discern whether an applicant for a server job would be a good candidate, ask them if they’ve ever served a Baked Alaska. How they respond will show the level of heartfelt investment they have for the job – even if they don’t know what a Baked Alaska is – and heartfelt investment in being a server is the ultimate predictor of vocational success. If their eyes gleam at the thought of a huge baked meringue filled with cake and centered with ice cream being set on fire in front of the person who’s going to eat... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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Graphical representation of the algorithm for ordering the end-words in a sestina On Tuesday, David Lehman announced the next "Next Line, Please" contest over at the American Scholar. It's going to be a good one and you should enter! Here's David's introduction: The sestina, a verse form dating back to the Middle Ages, consists of 39 lines divided into seven stanzas: six containing six lines each and a concluding triplet. With its intricate rules, the form may seem hugely intimidating at first. In fact, however, the sestina has enjoyed great popularity among modern poets. You’ll find six examples of the form in The Oxford Book of American Poetry: two by Elizabeth Bishop, one each from Ezra Pound, Anthony Hecht, Harry Mathews, and James Cummins, and only lack of space prevented the inclusion of a seventh, John Ashbery’s “The Painter.” This link will take you to Elizabeth Bishop’s “A Miracle for Breakfast.” Or read this recent effort by James Cummins here. Continue reading and submit your stanza over at the American Scholar. Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at The Best American Poetry
'No one asked for Shelley's views on the Congress of Vienna, just as no one asks for John Ashbery's views on climate change.' No one asked Galway Kinnell for his views on sex & romance, either, just tried to avoid the old bull as he prowled the hotel halls. Still, sex is a hot topic among poets, just as it is with romance writers, teens, plumbers. Shelley's views on romance resemble ours more than his views on the Congress of Vienna do. And what poet isn't an expert on sex, nowadays? You'd be surprised at Ashbery's views on the Congress of Vienna, too. (If you want to avoid six levels of puns, delivered in maybe three or four different languages, be careful what you wish for.) I'm not going to offer you my opinion of romance-- I'm waiting for you to ask--but it's too late to avoid the pun you've been anticipating on 'sexual congress,' because I have no shame. Adrienne Rich's views-- you know what I'm referring to--on lesbian sex-- were never asked for, really, but like good sex were volunteered. Is that the same as 'asking for it'? Isn't climate change really science, not 'views'? Maybe Shelley had a Congress of Vienna romance going on the side--that would color his Congress of Vienna experience. Manipulating the Dixieland void in the heads of many, ah, 'humans' we usually avoid (spitting 'chaw' into their Mountain Dew cans & having sex with relatives--I should have saved 'sexual congress' for this stanza) is what our Congress stands for, it seems. Ask John Ashbery if he'd like a bromance with that goober from Tennessee, whose views on evolution, I guarantee you, aren't J.A.'s views. But a poet's 'views'--that's right-brain shit to avoid, right? Poets are 'lefties'--in their DNA the old romance of the Proletariat, right? 'Everybody having sex'-- except Young-Republicans-Grown-Into-Codgers-For PAC-Funds, for the purpose of purchasing a Congress ... Aaarrgghh! Enough about romance, sex, Congress, the Me-First attitude permeating the American void we sure don't want poets substituting their 'views' for! Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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Jane Freilicher and John Ashbery at Tibor de Nagy Gallery, 1952. Photo: Walter Silver. I’M WRITING THIS in a room that contains a number of pictures, mostly by women, as it happens. One is byJane Freilicher, a still life in pastel that brings together a half-dozen miscellaneous objects, including a few roses that are having the floral equivalent of a bad hair day, a reddish-brown pamphlet that was probably an address book sent to customers by the phone company (remember those?) and a copy of Art News, flopping over the edge of the table, confronting the viewer, in the time-honored tradition of trompe-l'oeil perspective, but also subtly spoofing it. Jane gave the pastel to me once, perhaps to commemorate my becoming an editor at Art News in 1965 and moving back to New York after ten years in France. Continue reading . . . Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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This week we welcome Bob Holman as our guest author. Bob is the author of 16 poetry collections, most recently Sing This One Back to Me (2013), Picasso in Barcelona (2011), and A Couple of Ways of Doing Something (2006), a collaboration with Chuck Close. Holman coedited the collaboration Crossing State Lines: An American Renga (2011, with Carol Muske-Dukes), and Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe (1994, with Miguel Algarin). Numerous anthologies have included his work, including Spoken Word Revolution (2003), Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam (2001), and Up Late: American Poetry Since 1970 (1988). He cotranslated The Book of Sana’a: Poetry of Abd Al-aziz Al-maqalih (2004, with Sam Liebhaber) and also translated poet Er Zhang’s Carved Water (2003). As an arts administrator, Holman served as coordinator and readings curator at St. Mark’s Poetry Project, original Slammaster and a director of the Nuyorican Poets Café, as well as founder and proprietor of the Bowery Poetry Club. His study of hiphop and West African oral traditions led to his current work with endangered languages. He is a co-founder and co-director of the Endangered Language Alliance. Find him online at bobholman.com. Follow him on twitter at @BobHolmanPoet. Welcome, Bob. In other news . . . Wednesday, January 21: Celebrate "Language Matters with Bob Holman" a film by David Grubin. Continue reading
Posted Jan 18, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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Anna West at Mabuhay Gardens in San Francisco Waitressing saved my life. In 1983, I was playing bass in a San Francisco punk band and taking speed to keep going. Most nights I practiced or played in clubs, photographed other bands, or just listened to live music till morning. I lived an hour away in the East Bay, in a house with ten other musicians and strays. At 11AM each weekday, wearing clothes donated by another waitress, I worked the lunch shift at the Rocking Horse, a medium fancy restaurant in Lafayette. As if I were two completely different people, I pinned up my purple/red hair and put on a uniform with a very straight below the knee skirt to greet customers. Playing hostess while waitressing became my tenuous hold on normalcy. Some days I showed up sleepless from the night before, sucking mints to keep my breath as sweet as I seemed to the regulars. There were so many regulars (as is the case at most places) that I could really make some cash by remembering their names and which booths they liked and by letting my small town Pennsylvania Dutch accent shine though. Addressing Mr Irwin by name when he walked in with his clients and escorting them (with no reservation) to his favorite booth meant a $50 lunch tip. The restaurant also provided the only healthy meals I ate, with free salad and bread, five days a week. Can you believe I managed to keep that job through crank dealing boyfriends, all night parties at Mabuhay Gardens, and sometimes no sleep for days? Bands came and went, so did boyfriends, but the restaurant was my rock, my parent, my path to the future. In a tiny bit of my partied out brain, the pride I took in being a good waitress kept me putting one foot in front of the other. I’d leave an apartment in North Beach at dawn and return to my other life, with food and cash and Mr. Irwin expecting me there from 11AM to 3PM. After leaving the Bay Area in 1984, I never waitressed again. But I can still feel the waitress backbone that kept me going on the West Coast. And I always tip well. Anna West is a painter and photographer now living in Beacon, New York. Her work has been exhibited in New York City and in Russia, Sweden, and India. Find out more about Anna here. Continue reading
Posted Jan 16, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
I'm delighted to announce that today we introduce a new weekly series, "Ready to Serve: Writers and Artists in the Resto Biz." We got the idea after reading that Stephanie Danler had landed a two-book six-figure deal with Knopf while waiting tables in a popular West Village restaurant. One of her regulars was a senior editor for a major publisher; when she mentioned that she had finished her first novel, he invited her to send him the manuscript. So many of us, myself included, have worked in the restaurant business, and not just in NYC and L.A., where struggling actors support themselves while waiting for a break. We've been waiters and chefs, bussers and bartenders, at every kind of establishment, from rest-stops on super-highways to temples of haute cuisine. I invited you to submit stories of your time in the service biz. We begin posting those stories today. Check back later for Anna West's tribute to her San Francisco waitressing years. (Watch at 4:20-5:20). -- sdh Continue reading
Posted Jan 16, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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For more information on events and airdates visit languagemattersfilm.com Continue reading
Posted Jan 15, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
Listen to the entire pod cast. David Lehman joins at 40:40 Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
The list may be even more fundamental in classic American popular songs than in poetry. Top of the heap: Cole Porter, "You're the Top," but let's not overlook "Thanks for the Memory," "They Can't Take That Away from Me," "Everything Happens to Me," "I Can't Get Started With You," "I Wish I Were in Love Again," "We'll Have Manhattan" -- see what I mean? Your posts are a delight. -- DL
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Klocke Photography This week we welcome Abby E. Murray as our guest author. Abby has moved around the country for the past ten years, working in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, and now New York, where she is a Ph.D. student at Binghamton University. Her second chapbook, Quick Draw: Poems from a Soldier’s Wife, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2012, and her poems appear or are forthcoming in Rattle, Crab Creek Review, River Styx, and New Ohio Review. She is an editor for Harpur Palate and currently directs the Binghamton Poetry Project, an organization for which she also teaches, offering free poetry workshops to soldiers and veterans in the Southern Tier area of New York. When she isn’t teaching undergraduate courses at Binghamton University or writing, she is teaching Suzuki method violin lessons for kids. Welcome, Abby. -- sdh Continue reading
Posted Jan 11, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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NA: Tell me about Rescue Press. What makes it unique? And what inspired the name? CP: Rescue Press is an independent small press that publishes poetry, fiction, nonfiction, art experiments, and hybrid work. It is comprised of myself, my co-founder and managing editor Danny Khalastchi, our creative director Sevy Perez, editorial assistants Zach Isom and Alyssa Perry, and our social media and marketing coordinator Rachel White. The name came from my love of rhyme, primarily, although we are fond of the idea of “rescuing” as a generally responsible social action. We are practiced in posting bail, throwing life-rafts, sending a helicopter, patching wounds, picking fights, buying a drink, publishing your book, drying those tears, and babysitting. NA: I read on your website: “Rescue Press in an independent publisher of chaotic and investigative work.” Could you explain what you mean by “chaotic and investigative”? CP: By “chaotic and investigative” I mean we are looking for work that—whether implicitly, aggressively, aesthetically, or formally—asks questions or expresses the mind at work on a worry. The word “chaos” is itself a contradiction, contranym. Our common understanding—loss of control, turmoil—is only a sliver of its meaning. Complex chaotic systems not only represent the opposite of order (entirely random, irrational, or incomprehensible states of disarray), but also a subtler, less obvious set of patterns. Populations, fractals, leaky faucets, pendulums. A lens for interpreting tendrils, travel patterns, behavior. You can see how this serves as an apt metaphor for compelling writing. N. Katherine Hayles writes that chaos “is not a passive instrument,” but “active engagement with a vital medium that has its own currents, resistances, subversions, enablings, pathways, blockages” and, I would add, inquiries. For an example of this sort of approach, check out Patricia Rose (Danielle Rosen)’s The Institute for Species Systemization: An Experimental Archive—a hybrid work of science, psychology, linguistics, conceptual art, and performance—or Lauren Haldeman’s Calenday, an astounding book of poetry which investigates grief and birth, trauma and the mysterious origins of energy. NA: Rescue Press was started in 2009, so it’s new. What inspired you to start a press? CP: Rescue is turning five as we speak! Let’s eat cake! A few of the things that inspired Rescue’s genesis were a love of form, Ralph Waldo Emerson, feminism, Montessori memories, and a compulsion to make. Rescue was raised in the Midwest (it has lived in Milwaukee, Iowa City, Chicago, and Cleveland) and still calls a water fountain a “bubbler.” NA: What was the first book you published? And why did you choose it? CP: Our first book was Marc Rahe’s The Smaller Half, and we’re excited that his second collection of poetry, On Hours, is forthcoming from Rescue this spring. Here are a few wonders from that book. NA: If you had one line of advice to someone submitting a book to Rescue Press, what would it be? CP: Be stranger, Stranger. NA: You publish poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and hybrids. I’d love to hear more about your hybrids. And maybe see a brief... Continue reading
Posted Jan 11, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
How could I have forgotten this one, from The Mikado (warning: not PC): I've Got a Little List SONG--KO-KO with CHORUS OF MEN. As some day it may happen that a victim must be found, I've got a little list--I've got a little list Of society offenders who might well be underground, And who never would be missed--who never would be missed! There's the pestilential nuisances who write for autographs-- All people who have flabby hands and irritating laughs-- All children who are up in dates, and floor you with 'em flat-- All persons who in shaking hands, shake hands with you like _that_-- And all third persons who on spoiling tete-a-tetes insist-- They'd none of 'em be missed--they'd none of 'em be missed! CHORUS. He's got 'em on the list--he's got 'em on the list; And they'll none of 'em be missed--they'll none of 'em be missed. There's the banjo serenader, and the others of his race, And the piano-organist--I've got him on the list! And the people who eat peppermint and puff it in your face, They never would be missed--they never would be missed! Then the idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone, All centuries but this, and every country but his own; And the lady from the provinces, who dresses like a guy, And who "doesn't think she waltzes, but would rather like to try"; And that singular anomaly, the lady novelist-- I don't think she'd be missed--I'm sure she'd not he missed! CHORUS. He's got her on the list--he's got her on the list; And I don't think she'll be missed--I'm sure she'll not be missed! And that Nisi Prius nuisance, who just now is rather rife, The Judicial humorist--I've got him on the list! All funny fellows, comic men, and clowns of private life-- They'd none of 'em be missed--they'd none of 'em be missed. And apologetic statesmen of a compromising kind, Such as--What d'ye call him--Thing'em-bob, and likewise--Never-mind, And 'St--'st--'st--and What's-his-name, and also You-know-who-- The task of filling up the blanks I'd rather leave to you. But it really doesn't matter whom you put upon the list, For they'd none of 'em be missed--they'd none of 'em be missed! CHORUS. You may put 'em on the list--you may put 'em on the list; And they'll none of 'em be missed--they'll none of 'em be missed! -- W S Gilbert
Daniel, I totally agree. -- DL The sentence with "gloop" is one that I cannot let pass without raising a stink. I will have at it, and the fatuousness informing that article, in a time or place of my choosing. Suffice it to say you're right. And I'm glad you're teaching Lawrence and not giving in. Meanwhile, keep up the good fight. -- DL
Terrific post Daniel! And Josh thank you for the great comment. You've both reminded me of one of my favorite passages, by Byron: An infant when it gazes on a light, A child in the moment when it drains the breast, A devotee when soars the Host in sight, An Arab with a stranger for a guest, A sailor when a prize has been struck in fight, A miser filling his most hoarded chest, Feel rapture; but not such true joy are reaping As they who watch o'er what they love while sleeping. (Don Juan, Canto the Second CXCVI) Stacey
<< In his redoubtable essay “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” T. S. Eliot wrote, “No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists.” I wonder how Eliot might have assessed the work of David Lehman, a poet whose recently published New and Selected Poems demonstrates time and again that one’s ongoing engagement with poets dead or alive need not mask personality or stifle innovation. Whether writing an intimate Haiku sequence to mentor David Shapiro (“L’Shana Tova”), echoing by turns John Donne (“Any Place I Hang My Hat”) and Philip Larkin (“This Be the Bread”), or channeling Kenneth Koch via that poet’s Art of Love phase (“Story of My Life”), the poet draws on an encyclopedic range of sources and influences without ever sacrificing his own distinct voice. >>> From The Brooklyn Rail. For more, click here. Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2015 at The Best American Poetry