Wednesday, March 30, 2011


The Annual Creative Writing Faculty Reading this year will include readings by: Leslie Epstein (Program Director); David Ferry; Louise Glück (United States Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner); Allegra Goodman (National Book Award finalist); Ha Jin (Awardee of National Book Award, PEN/Hemingway, twice, and a PEN/Faulkner winner); Ronan Noone; Sigrid Nunez; Robert Pinsky; (United States Poet Laureate); and Maya Sloan.

Tuesday, Apr 12, 2011 at 6 PM, in the SMG Auditorium, 595 Commonwealth Avenue. Free and open to the general public. For more information, contact the Creative Writing administrator by email.


Enda O'Doherty has a long review in the Dublin Review of Books, of the essays by Czesław Miłosz collected in Proud to Be a Mammal (a book discouragingly not available in the US market at the time of this post).  O'Doherty writers in reference to one section:
From the martyred Poland of the war years, the country of German occupation, casual murder and coolly planned genocide, Miłosz wrote a sequence of short naive poems entitled "The World." An excerpt from one of those, titled "Love": "Love means to learn to look at yourself / The way one looks at distant things / For you are only one thing among many."
Read the review, titled "All Things Considered," at the DRB website.


Andrew Shields takes a long view this week about the situation of poetry: relatively consistent feature of contemporary poetry in English is that it does impose itself on its readers: it makes the reader listen to the voice of the poet, instead of providing, as pop lyrics do, a space for listeners to fill with their own voices, as it were.
Read the full essay posting, "From Tennyson to today," at his blog. A hat-tip to Robert Archambeau for spotting it; though it must be noted, Shields name-drops Archambeau at the very start of his discussion.


Ben Mazer -- who was interviewed in last spring's Clarion by Liza Katz -- has a new hypnotic, brimful poem in Todd Swift's online magazine, Eyewear. A pair of lines as amuse-bouche:
The Botticelli bursts another spring.
It is of florentine silks that I shall sing.
 Mazer's recent collection from The Pen & Anvil Press, POEMS, is now on the shelf for sale at St. Mark's Bookshop in Manhattan's Bowery neighborhood. Support small press publishing, and pick up a copy or tell a friend to do the same.


The PoemShape blog has a useful introduction to some technical features, for those who don't know or who want to be reminded.


At this week's graveside service for Elizabeth Taylor, the actor Colin Farrell read a poem in her memory: Gerard Manley Hopkins' "The Leaden Echo and The Golden Echo." Farrell is is rumored to be portraying Sir Richard Burton in an upcoming biopic; though I am ignorant of the reason this poem is associated with Burton, here in any case is a YouTube recording of the great actor (Burton, that is) reading the poem aloud [I found this via Hugh Fitzgerald's post at The Iconoclast blog].

Following the advice of users who were recommending in the comments that follow that video, here is Geoffrey Hill reading the same poem.  [via Eric Vondy's].

Hill for many years was on the faculty here at Boston University; he is currently serving as the Oxford Professor of Poetry in England. Bonus: at this video, you can hear Hill read Shakespeare's Sonnet LXVI, my favorite: "Tir'd with all these, for restful death I cry."

Nadejda Mandelstam thought that this, Sonnet LXVI, was the one moment in his sonnets where William Shakespeare is 'fully revealed' (see her letter to Arthur Miller in 7 i 68, as reproduced in Russian Review V.61, No.4).


The Cambridge Poetry Festival begins Sunday, April 3, in Jill Brown-Rhone Park in Central Square (across from Luna Café, 403 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge) from noon until 2 p.m., with readings by the four finalists "campaigning" to be the next Cambridge Poet Populist: Toni "Bee" Brooks, Irene Koronas [a Clarion contributor], Scott Ruescher, and Jeff Walker. The Festival continues throughout the day with open-mic poetry and musical performances at different venues throughout Cambridge and at the main branch of the Cambridge Public Library. All events are free. To learn more about the Cambridge Poetry Festival, and about the Cambridge Poet Populist Election, visit the Poet Populist's webpage, email him, or call the Cambridge Arts Council at 617-349-4380.


The esteemed poet and translator David Ferry asks, "What am I doing inside this old man's body?" Read his new poem "Soul" at Slate's Tuesday Poem, edited by Robert Pinsky.


Robert Pinsky,  faculty member in BU’s Creative Writing program and this year’s winner of the John Holmes Memorial Poetry Award, will be reading from his own work next Thursday, April 7th, from 3:30 – 5 PM in the Hirsh Reading Room at Tufts University’s Tisch Library. An exhibit celebrating his literary accomplishments will be on display in the lobby through May 24th. This event is free and open to the general public. Address: 35 Professors Row, Medford, 02155.

Among other work, he will be reading from his forthcoming book, Selected Poems (FSG, April 2011). Visit BU Today to read an interview of Pinsky by John O’Rourke, on the question of why poetry should be spoken.


From today's social media stream, Franz Wright on his Facebook wall opined:
I learn more about the world by reading a few words of Simic or Young or Herakleitos than -- than what? Reading the NY Times?
In the course of the evolving discussion with Facebookers, he continues:
It is not that difficult to get the news from real poetry as opposed to the absolute shit that passes for poetry now -- read Simic's poem about the old woman watching the deadlines of a newspaper going up in flames as she lights her stove. What he is saying is perfectly clear, and any child can grasp it. There is a lot of difficult poetry that is great, but I think it only appears to be difficult, and that we simply, more and more, have lost the power to be still and pay attention. H. G. Wells wrote somewhere that the world will either have a planetary socialist government or be destroyed, and I believe more and more that this is literally correct. But I am not getting into that. I will soon not have to worry about it. Swift's gravestone reads, if I understand correctly, in Latin: " ...where savage indignation can no longer stab him in the heart." This is what gives me a sense of peace these days.
Wright won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and lives in Waltham.