Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Day Poetic Ticker Clicking

News Article Tape:
Blog Entry Tape:

Christmas Day forum announcement

Dear Poetry Aficionados,

Poetry & Poets in Rags blog



Merry Christmas. This year brings an interesting grab bag of links to Christmas articles and poetry. We begin with the Robert Frost Holiday Cards collection at Dartmouth College. This is followed in our News at Eleven section by an article on Adelaide Procter, which contains her poem A Christmas Carol.

In Great Regulars, Bryan Appleyard has a blog post for us called Christmas Continues. Shannon Doyne pairs Thomas Hardy's The Oxen with a New York Times story called The Christmas "Maniac". Carol Ann Duffy has a new poem out called Wenceslas and Ted Kooser shares called Christmas Mail. Our Garrison Keillor links lead us to a few Christmas poems, one called Waiting on the Corners by Donald Hall. Wesley McNair brings us an old favorite. And both Carol Rumens and Christopher Nield's write about and share a seasonal poem apiece.

It's not all about Christmas. We have many poetry articles in between as well.



Congratulations to the poets who wrote the November InterBoard Poetry Community winners! And thanks to our esteemed judge Polina Barskova, whose commentary follows each poem:

First place: Rain Taxi by Bernard Henrie, of PenShells
Second place: Experimenting with Molotov Cocktails by Steve Meador, of FreeWrights Peer Review
Third place: I don't by Michael Virga, of The Writers Block

Thanks for clicking in.

Yours,
Rus

Our links:

IBPC: Poetry & Poets in Rags

Poetry & Poets in Rags blog

IBPC Home

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News at Eleven: Take heart, holiday procrastinators:

Famed poet Robert Frost once waited until July to get his Christmas cards in the mail.

Unlike the flimsy, forgettable cards of today, however, Frost's cards arguably were worth the wait. For the past 28 years of his life, he teamed up with a boutique printer to send beautifully illustrated booklets featuring a different poem for each year.

from The Associated Press: Robert Frost's Christmas cards collected in NH
then Facebook: Dartmouth Alumni: Robert Frost Holiday Cards

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News at Eleven: There was a profound concern for the social ills

of the time: a concern rooted deeply in Christianity. This was more than mere surface piety: it was a faith that moved people like [Adelaide] Procter to help those in need while also expressing her faith through her art.

Procter deserves to be read today, so I thought I'd share two poems: one important, and one seasonal. Here's one of Procter's Christmas poems:

A Christmas Carol

from Patheos: Adelaide Procter: Catholic Poet

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News at Eleven: "And I feel a real burden--a good burden--

to revisit that period, to go back to my house in Rathcoole doing 'spot the ball' in the Telegraph with my mum or opening the Christmas presents, getting my Raleigh bike, or my United top or football boots and reliving those experiences in that small house.

"Because that is the beauty of poetry it allows me to go back there and relive those experiences."

Adrian [Rice]'s oldest son Matthew, who lives in Whitehead, is trying to forge a career in his father's footsteps.

Adrian added: "I don't know if there is a father and son poet combination out there, if there is, it is news to me, but he is good.

from Newtonabbey Times: Rathcoole poet puts the estate in verse

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News at Eleven: As such, [Les] Murray--who has dedicated

each of his books for the past two decades "To the Glory of God"--is that paradoxical thing: a materialist visionary. For all the religious claims and political controversies of his long career, Murray's poetry (at least, as summarised here) is an extraordinary record of attention to things, to the colossal diversity of the material world.

from The Sydney Morning Herald: Visions of the material world

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News at Eleven: Initially I was rather disconcerted by the fact

the book seemed more autobiographical than about those whom the title suggests its about. However, as the book progresses and we see how the lives of these amazing poets come to interweave with her own, I began to appreciate her decision to take this approach. Many of the figures in this book are known to us only through poems in anthologies or through dry academic biographies. Meeting them through [Kathleen] Spivack's memories not only lifts them out of the books and off the page, it turns them into people of flesh and blood.

from Blogcritics: Book Review: With Robert Lowell and His Circle by Kathleen Spivack

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News at Eleven: Back in 1996, she [Sharon Olds] said something

to Salon that still gnaws my craw: "To me the difference between the paper world and the flesh world is so great that I don't think we could put ourselves in our poems even if we wanted to." A few years before that, she allowed only that her work was "apparently personal poetry" ("[B]ecause how do we really know? We don't.").

But we do, don't we?

from The Boston Globe: 'Stag's Leap' by Sharon Olds

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News at Eleven: [Gerard] Woodward's least exotic decision here

is that his book be patrolled by cows. Cow Tipping, the opening poem, has a compelling bovine charm. It invites one to stroll, after midnight, in a field of sleeping cows "standing still as sheds". The tone is at once respectful and absurd. The cows look as if "stalled in the middle of a pilgrimage". And we seem to be on some sort of pilgrimage too: as a way of testing our stress levels, this small hours stroll with Woodward could not be more eccentric.

from The Guardian: The Seacunny by Gerard Woodward--review

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News at Eleven: For a long time the standard pattern was

for the poet to be discovered by an upper- or middle-class person who became a kind of patron, and introduced the poet to polite society, or to the edges of it,  and the possibility of publication, which would be directed towards a readership among the urban educated (which did not at the time mean London exclusively). But from the later eighteenth century onwards, "untaught" poets were beginning to show independence, addressing themselves to their own class and participating in radical movements, especially Chartism.There was an enormous increase in output after 1800, and an increasing participation of the urban poor which made the newly developed northern cities and mill towns--the "manufacturing districts"-- particularly rich in poets.

from The Fortnightly Review: Can there be a modern 'working-class' poetry?

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News at Eleven: The longest stealth campaign in music biz history

is one explanation. In pop culture's terms of reference, the 78 years covered by this latest and largest biography begin in a world of antiquity. Cohen's earliest published poems predate Ginsberg's Howl and Kerouac's On the Road, let alone Heartbreak Hotel.

In his own mind he was a romantic hero by the end of World War II. As a 13-year-old boy he would walk the lonely streets of Montreal in the wee hours with his impeccably tailored collar (his wealthy family's business) turned up against the sleet, "a history of injustice in his heart, a face too noble for revenge", as he wrote not too long after, "loved by two or three beautiful women who could never have him".

from The West Australian: A poet of love and Zen

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News at Eleven: "I found the songs compelling, full of

fascinating nautical characters and their intriguing stories," wrote [Charlie] Ipcar in the foreword to the book he edited with James Saville of England, " The Complete Poetry of Cicely Fox Smith." "I felt as if I were listening to sailors talking among themselves in the foc'sle of a ship or at a table in some sailortown dive over 100 years ago, and maybe I was."

But the majority of Smith's poems were long out of print and even in authoritative anthologies about the sea, she was often a footnote at best. Never had anyone compiled her work so the world could see the breadth and breathtaking depth of her muse.

from Bangor Daily News: Richmond man unearths works of woman who walked confidently in a man's world

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News at Eleven (Back Page): This year, among the Forward's five notable

poetry books, there are two memorable retrospective collections by Alicia Ostriker and Michael Heller, as well as three books of brand new poetry from Adeena Karasick, Hank Lazer and Rachel Tzvia Back.

It is particularly curious to juxtapose Lazer's "N18" and Karasick's "This Poem," as both books engage with the timely question of the poetic medium: What does poetry look like, and how might it be read in a time when the very process of reading--and the existence of a book--is a blinking question mark.

from The Jewish Daily Forward: Forward Fives: 2012 in Poetry
then Morning Star: Poetry of the year
then Winnipeg Free Press: Poetry: A dozen of the best published in 2012

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Great Regulars: Imagine, for a moment, two competing narratives

of the history and development of American poetry in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries: The first, one in which the postwar explosion in the number of graduate creative writing programs nationwide plays mustachioed villain to the blinding sunburst of creativity attendant only upon the nation's coastal bohemian enclaves; the second, in which the Program Era and the literary bohème are siblings--the former acting, in large but not exclusive part, as a necessary delivery system for the inventions of the latter--with both, in their own subtle ways, gregariously rebelling against their shared parental unit: the High Modernists.

from Seth Abramson: The Huffington Post: December 2012 Contemporary Poetry Reviews

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Great Regulars: Jim Al-Khalili in the Guardian explains why,

as an atheist, he celebrates Christmas. Fair enough, except he is celebrating no such thing. Like many atheists--especially when they are scientists--he treats religion as a simple entity, an atomic unit of human experience. Religion, in this view, performs certain obvious functions--consoles with thoughts of an afterlife, sustains social homogeneity and so on--and, therefore, it is a resilient 'meme', a cultural version of a gene.

from Bryan Appleyard: Christmas Continues

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Great Regulars: Jeffrey Brown: Finally tonight: the gift of poetry

over 100 years in a conversation we recorded recently with poet and editor Christian Wiman.

"Print the best poetry written today in whatever style, genre or approach," the ambitious words written a hundred years ago by Harriet Monroe, when she founded Poetry, now the oldest monthly journal devoted to verse in the English-speaking language.

from Jeffrey Brown: PBS Newshour: 100 Years, 100 Poems: Celebrating the Centennial for Poetry Magazine

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Great Regulars: In anticipation of Christmas, this week's

Poetry Pairing matches "The Oxen" by Thomas Hardy with two articles: "The Christmas 'Maniac,'" and from 2011, "A Lively Nativity Scene With Roots in Italy."

from Shannon Doyne: The New York Times: Poetry Pairing: 'The Oxen"

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Great Regulars: Wenceslas

A Christmas poem by Carol Ann Duffy

from Carol Ann Duffy: The Guardian: The Saturday poem: Wenceslas

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Great Regulars: The hottest read in Norway this year is

packed with polygamy, prostitutes--even corporal punishment. But this isn't Fifty Shades of Grey; instead, Norwegians have been rushing to pick up copies of the Bible.

Published last October, a new Norwegian translation of the Bible has been one of the top 15 bestsellers in the country for 54 out of the last 56 weeks, jostling for position with more populist titles from the likes of EL James, James Nesbø, Ken Follett and Per Petterson.

from Alison Flood: The Guardian: The Bible is surprise bestseller in Norway

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"Mummy porn", "Gangnam style" and "legbomb" have been named among Collins' online dictionary's words of 2012.

Consulting editor Ian Brookes said: "Choosing just one word for 2012 didn't match the pace at which our language is changing, so we selected one popular word to represent each month from the whole range of those submitted."

from Alison Flood: The Guardian: Gangnam style and Romneyshambles among Collins dictionary's words of 2012

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An exchange of letters between JM Coetzee and Paul Auster, delving into everything from fatherhood to philosophy, will be published next summer.

The two acclaimed authors--the South African Coetzee won the Nobel prize in 2003, while Auster has been inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters--had been fans of each other's writing for years, but only met for the first time in February 2008. Shortly afterwards, Coetzee wrote to Auster, suggesting they begin a regular correspondence, and, "God willing, strike sparks off each other."

from Alison Flood: The Guardian: JM Coetzee and Paul Auster letters to be published next spring

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Great Regulars: Apples Peaches

by Donald Hall

Apples, peaches

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Apples Peaches by Donald Hall

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Bounty
by Robyn Sarah

Make much of something small.

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Bounty by Robyn Sarah

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A Christmas Poem
by Robert Bly

Christmas is a place, like Jackson Hole, where all

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: A Christmas Poem by Robert Bly

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Excerpt from "The Dragon and the Unicorn"
by Kenneth Rexroth

All night long

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Excerpt from "The Dragon and the Unicorn" by Kenneth Rexroth

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Gifts that keep on giving
by Marge Piercy

You know when you unwrap them:

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Gifts that keep on giving by Marge Piercy

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Leaning In
by Sue Ellen Thompson

Sometimes, in the middle of a crowded store on a Saturday

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Leaning In by Sue Ellen Thompson

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Waiting on the Corners
by Donald Hall

Glass, air, ice, light,

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Waiting on the Corners by Donald Hall

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Great Regulars: When we began this column in 2005,

I determined not to include any of my own poems because I wanted to introduce our readers to the work of as many of the other American poets as I could. But from time to time someone has requested that I publish one of my own. So here's a seasonal poem, for those who've asked.

Christmas Mail

from Ted Kooser: American Life in Poetry: Column 405

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Great Regulars: The Cross of Snow

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In the long, sleepless watches of the night,

from Wesley McNair: The Portland Press Herald: Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry

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Great Regulars: [by E. Ethelbert Miller]

I Should Have Called Him Thelonious

My father was older than me

from E. Ethelbert Miller: E-notes: I Should Have Called Him Thelonious

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Great Regulars: Walking into any card shop at Christmas,

we see beautiful images of the Virgin Mary riding on a donkey. Guided by her husband Joseph, she is making the journey towards Bethlehem, where the baby Jesus will be born. This scene appears so cosy, so familiar, that we may not pay it too much attention--or we may assume it's of no relevance to us if we are not religious. Chesterton's poem may change that, forever.

The donkey we see on Christmas cards is often sweet and mild, his head bent down in an attitude of absolute patience and gently plodding loyalty. Chesterton's donkey couldn't be more different. This donkey is not sweet. He is not cute. In fact, he seems like a monster.

from Christopher Nield: The Epoch Times: The Antidote--Classic Poetry for Modern Life: A Reading of 'The Donkey' by G. K. Chesterton

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Great Regulars: Heathcote Williams

"Do not heap praise upon your queen, steal her jewellery instead."
Radical proverb

Gandhi said poverty

from Jody Porter: Morning Star: Well Versed: Heathcote Williams--The Queen of Diamonds

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Great Regulars: [Robert Louis] Stevenson had very likely

experienced first-hand, if only as a passenger, the drama of "Christmas at Sea."

The poem first appeared in the Scots Observer in 1888, several years after the publication of the enormously successful adventure novel Treasure Island. It's a confident performance, vividly depicting, from the point of view of a crew-member, the life-or-death struggle of steering a sailing-ship through winter storms, and contrasting this with a glowingly sentimental, spy-glass view of a Victorian family Christmas.

from Carol Rumens: The Guardian: Poem of the week: Christmas at Sea by Robert Louis Stevenson

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Great Regulars: And yet, if "Pink Thunder" has a message,

it's that the relationship between poetry and music is more elusive, more conditional, than that of traditional lyrics in a song. This is the best thing about the project, the way [Michael] Zapruder uses his music to mirror, or echo, his own reading of the material, and its emotional effect.

When at the end of "Pennsylvania" (a collaboration by Nichols, Joshua Beckman, Anthony McCann and Matthew Zapruder), he sings, "like technology you are like technology/Everything you do other people want to do it too," his voice goes up quizzically as if commenting on the image, which is both absurd and precisely accurate. (That's where its beauty resides.)

from David L. Ulin: Los Angeles Times: A busload of poets: Michael Zapruder's 'Pink Thunder'

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Great Regulars: Comfort and Joy

By Jonathan Cweorth

The big day dawned

from Otago Times: Monday's poem

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Great Regulars: By John Hoffman

The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

Bent and broken these

from Post-Bulletin: Poem: Farm Poem--December 2012

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Poetic Obituaries: A novelist, journalist and essayist, [Ledo] Ivo

kicked off his literary career with a book of poems entitled "As Imaginacoes," and his work has been translated into English, Spanish, French and Italian, along with other languages.

from La Prensa: Brazilian poet Ledo Ivo dies in Spain

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Poetic Obituaries: [Abdel Ghaffar] Mekkawi is considered one of the

few prominent philosophy professors of Egypt who managed to merge philosophy and literature. He translated dozens of the most sophisticated German philosophy texts into Arabic and to date the best Arabic-language translator of  German poetry and philosophy. His translations were marked with his clear and flowing style, even when he translated sophisticated texts like that of Emmanuel Kant and Martin Heidegger.

The late philosopher did not see himself only as a philosophy professor but more importantly as a poet. His literary works and translation were closer to his heart than his philosophy works.

from Ahram Online: Abdel Ghaffar Mekkawi . . . Philosophy poet dies at 82

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Poetic Obituaries: Newell Mills became involved in many community

activities, said Grant Mills, including playing basketball, square dancing and writing poetry.

"He was working on a third book, and I think we'll finish it," Grant Mills said about his father's love of poetry.

Grant Mills said his father also loved to travel the world and loved the time he spent with his second wife, Judy, whom he married in July 2010. They enjoyed dancing, traveling, visiting museums and each other.

"Poetry . . . that was one of his passions. He liked to tell stories," said Mel Foremaster.

from Lahontan Valley News: Mills remembered for his Jersey herd, love of poetry

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Poetic Obituaries: [Betty Mulcahy] initiated successful collaborations

with a number of leading poets, broadcasters and educationists based at the Midland Arts Association, the Midland region of the BBC, Anglia Television, the Poetry Society, Rada and Central. She performed to audiences across the English-speaking world and spent 10 years in the 80s touring the UK with the Michael Garrick Jazz trio. She toured a show based on the life and poetry of Stevie Smith in the 80s and 90s, and in 1984 established the national Speak-a-Poem competition.

from The Guardian: Betty Mulcahy obituary
then Memories of DW--Betty Mulcahy

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

December 18th Poetic Ticker Clicking

News Article Tape:
Blog Entry Tape:

December 18th forum announcement

Dear Poetry Aficionados,

Poetry & Poets in Rags blog



It's dark this week in Poetry and Poets in Rags, because in the northern hemisphere, we are approaching the solstice. Emily Dickinson's Slant of light is addressed by Eric G. Wilson in his article Poetry Makes You Weird, and Sam Jordinson takes a look at Michael Rosen's Sad Book. Those two articles are in our News at Eleven section. In Great Regulars, Sarah Crown takes up this subject in her article Darkness in literature: Kathleen Jamie's Darkness and Light. Scrolling down a bit further, and you find a link to Mary Oliver's poem Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness. If that's not enough darkness for you, our Back Page link this week contains six poems on the end of the world. So we may not get to Christmas, which is also a topic for the week.

But let's begin before the darkness and before the end. News at Eleven kicks off the week with a link into Guernica, to an article called David Foote interviews Paul Stephens. This may give us a hint of what's developing in poetry for the coming years, if the world does not end, that is. And there is positive action you can take for imprisoned Qatari poet Muhammed ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami, and an update on his case, which has been our headliner the last two weeks.

Thanks for clicking in.

Yours,
Rus

Our links:

IBPC: Poetry & Poets in Rags

Poetry & Poets in Rags blog

IBPC Home

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News at Eleven: Paul Stephens: There is a line of argument

in contemporary media theory that we are outsourcing our memories to global technology, to Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook. The media theorist Bernard Stiegler claims there is a kind of global ADD problem, that we're being infantilized by our dependence on technology. What does it mean to instantaneously remember something? Poetry is an ideal example of this because traditionally it's mnemonic; rhyme and rhythm makes it stick in our heads. Popular music too is characterized by rhyme and repetition so that we can't get out of our heads. There's something about having millions of songs at your disposal that makes the individual songs not mean as much.

from Guernica: Pocket Poets: David Foote interviews Paul Stephens

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News at Eleven: [Najeeb] Al-Nuaimi, who once served as Qatar's

justice minister, has filed an appeal in the case.  His previous clients have included Saddam Hussein and prisoners at Guantanamo.  The first hearing on the appeal is scheduled for December 30, when al-Nuaimi will argue irregularities in the process, including:

1.  Not charging [Muhammed ibn al-Dheeb] al-Ajami within the first six months of his arrest;

2.  Moving al-Ajami from detention to the Central Prison after eight days without possibility of bail, and keeping him in extended solitary confinement;

3.  Appointing the investigating judge to oversee court hearings, despite clear animosity between the judge and the defendant and against Qatar's judicial laws;

4.  Holding court hearings in secret, without Al-Nuami and Al-Ajami being permitted to attend, and disallowing a verbal defense; and

5.  Tampering with court transcripts to make it appear that Ibn Al-Dheeb admitted to reciting his poem in public.

from Consortiumnews: Qatar's Hypocrisy on Freedom
then RootsAction: Release Qatari Poet Mohamed Ibn Al Ajami

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News at Eleven: This year marked the bicentenary of the birth

of the Victorian poet Robert Browning in 1812, although this news might come as something of a surprise. The bicentenary of Browning's contemporary Charles Dickens was celebrated with so many exhibitions, festivals, and other events that an official Dickens 2012 group was set up to co-ordinate and keep track of them all. The writings of Alfred Tennyson, Browning's (consistently more popular) rival, also cropped up in some high-profile places throughout the year. But although academic specialists and other Browning enthusiasts organised conferences and special publications in 2012, media commentators and cultural institutions remained almost wholly silent about the Browning anniversary.

from Oxford University Press: Robert Browning in 2012

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News at Eleven: [Andrew] Motion can create images and tones

of such word-carried, world-wearied sadness that you accept their truth while simultaneously believing in their fictive grace. Truth and beauty: those dissimulators. Motion used to be their master. But in poem-sequences such as "Gospel Stories", "Whale Music", "A Glass Child" and "The Death of Francesco Borromini", he is now--in his late style--humble before them. He has served his term.

Is the music of his poetry as finely judged as the tone?

from The Guardian: The Customs House by Andrew Motion--review
then Raidió Teilifís Éireann: The Customs House by Andrew Motion

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News at Eleven: What do award-winning Canadian poet

Lorna Crozier, a legendary Chinese hermit, and many residents of Langley, B.C., have in common?

They are all involved in an effort to save the McLellan Park East Forest, a 25-acre tract of unique older forest located in Langley's Glen Valley area.

The township, which acquired the land in the 1930s, is planning to sell the parcel to private developers unless those who want to preserve it can raise $3 million to purchase it by Dec. 17.

from The Epoch Times: Poets Rally in Last-Ditch Effort to Save Langley Forest

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News at Eleven: These days nearly everyone knows something

about the old Norse gods, about Valhalla and Ragnarok, about Odin and Thor and Loki. The basis for movies, comic books and videogames--as well as a source for writers like J.R.R. Tolkien--they seem omnipresent. Yet almost everything we know about the myths traces back to a single work, an Icelandic handbook called the "Prose Edda," which was intended primarily as a guide for aspiring story-singers, known as skalds. Nancy Brown believes that "the most influential writer of the Middle Ages" wasn't Chaucer, or Malory or the writers of Arthurian romances but the author of the "Edda," a politically powerful Icelander called Snorri Sturluson ("son of Sturla"), who died violently but ingloriously in 1241. She has a good case for saying so.

from The Wall Street Journal: The Poet King Of Iceland

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News at Eleven: Moreover, Auden wrote, Tolkien's moral

sensibility was profoundly grownup, especially when it came to theological questions. "The Lord of the Rings," he wrote, aimed to reconcile "two incompatible notions" we have about God. On the one hand, we envision "a God of Love who creates free beings who can reject his love"; on the other, we picture "a God of absolute Power whom none can withstand." It's a story about how, as we gain power, we lose freedom. "Mr. Tolkien is not as great a writer as Milton," Auden conceded, "but in this matter he has succeeded where Milton failed."

from The New Yorker: Auden and Elvish

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News at Eleven: But I now no longer unleash

the literary giants. I simply tell my disgruntled students about the first time I read, as an undergraduate, these lines:

There's a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons--
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes--

I had often witnessed beams of dull December light with a melancholy I didn't understand. Dickinson's flash clarified my feelings: In the impoverished glow of the cold time were heavy reminders of brightness I desired but couldn't possess. But this affliction had fever, intimations of future heat that was luminous, like hymns.

Dickinson's verse spelled out the abstruse, made the strange familiar.

from The Chronicle of Higher Education: Poetry Makes You Weird

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News at Eleven: I didn't cry though; not until I got

to the last page. I was thinking I must have an especially tough hide, when I turned to that final image, and, damn it, found myself snatching my breath, turning away from the dinner table, and--through a film of tears--looking round the room for something to distract my attention and stop me from tipping all the way over into helpless blubbing.

It is the most devastating conclusion. Harder than Sophie's Choice, Of Mice And Men, Bambi or Watership Down.

from The Guardian: Darkness in literature: Sad Book by Michael Rosen

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News at Eleven: Yehuda Amichai

Spy

Many years ago

from The New Republic: Yehuda Amichai: New Translations by Robert Alter

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News at Eleven (Back Page): According to some interpretations

of the Mayan calendar, the world is scheduled to end one day in the next week. Predictions vary: it could mean that all mankind will undergo a spiritual transformation, or that the Earth will collide with a black hole or the planet Nibiru--in which case, there's no need to finish all that Christmas shopping. Or maybe it's just the close of another year. Whatever happens, here are six original poems on endings.

[by Gregory Orr]

Each of us standing . . .

from The New York Times: It's the End of the World

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Great Regulars: [Kristin Scott Thomas] waves her hand

to signal "next topic". But she does come back to one detail about working in the French film industry. "A director I worked with managed to tell me that Daniel Day-Lewis overacts and that Meryl Streep is rubbish, because she ­overacts as well. I mean, come on. Really, we mustn't talk about this, it makes me quite ill."

She gets shakily upset and sits back in her chair with her hand on her chest. Later, she seems to worry that trashing the movies will make her sound spoilt and ungrateful.

from Bryan Appleyard: from The Sunday Times: Kristin Scott Thomas--Not Dignified and Depressed

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Great Regulars: It's midwinter, and in the midst of all

the usual seasonal pother, [Kathleen] Jamie skips out and takes the ferry north from Aberdeen to Orkney. She's in search of two things: "real, natural, starry dark" and, in the neolithic burial mound of Maes Howe, a beam of solstice sunlight that, if conditions are right, will creep through the darkness and illuminate the tomb, as it has done every midwinter for 5,000 years.

from Sarah Crown: The Guardian: Darkness in literature: Kathleen Jamie's Darkness and Light

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Great Regulars: In celebration of Hanukkah, this week's

Poetry Pairing matches "Honorary Jew" by John Repp with "How to Be a Jew at Christmas," a blog post about raising Jewish children in the United States, where many people tend to assume everyone celebrates Christmas.

from Shannon Doyne: The New York Times: Poetry Pairing: 'Honorary Jew'

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Great Regulars: An exclusive new Christmas poem

from the Poet Laureate, along with her choice of winter verse

The Mistletoe Bride
by Carol Ann Duffy

from Carol Ann Duffy: The Times: Carol Ann Duffy's 12 poems of Christmas

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Great Regulars: Book lovers keen to enjoy an Amazon-free

Christmas but unable to tear themselves away from the online retailer's cut-throat pricing can breathe a sigh of relief: a new study has found that Amazon is only the cheapest option on its top 20 bestsellers, with books further down the chart costing 14% more than competitors.

The survey, by global marketing consultancy Simon-Kucher and Partners, analysed the prices of the top 100 print books in the UK between 30 October and 9 November, at Amazon and seven other online booksellers: WH Smith, Blackwell's, Alibris, Kennys, BookFellas, the Amazon-owned AbeBooks and the Book Depository.

from Alison Flood: The Guardian: Amazon beaten on price for books outside top 20 bestsellers

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Readers should prepare for plunging ebook prices after the European Commission yesterday accepted commitments from Apple and four major publishers to stop restricting the sale of cheap ebooks.

The commission has been investigating the publishers Hachette Livre, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan, together with Apple, over "a suspected concerted practice aimed at raising retail prices for ebooks in the European Economic Area", in breach of EU antitrust rules.

from Alison Flood: The Guardian: European commission and Apple reach settlement over ebook price fixing

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Not content with conquering the acting world, the musical world, the directing world and the art world, James Franco is continuing his bid for world domination with the news that he is set to publish his first poetry book.

Ideally suited to the world of poetry--he has an Master of Fine Arts degree in poetry from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina, and played Allen Ginsberg in the film Howl--Franco has been signed by small Minnesota publisher Graywolf Press for his debut collection, Directing Herbert White.

from Alison Flood: The Guardian: James Franco to publish book of poetry

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Mo Yan, who days earlier had been slammed by Salman Rushdie for being "a patsy of the regime" because he declined to sign a petition asking for the release of Liu Xiaobo, said on accepting his prize last night: "I want to take this opportunity to express my admiration for the members of the Swedish Academy, who stick firmly to their own convictions. I am confident that you will not let yourselves be affected by anything other than literature."

from Alison Flood: The Guardian: Mo Yan accepts Nobel prize, defends 'necessary' censorship

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A message to subscribers on Puffin Post's website said: "Firstly, thank you for all your support and apologies for any disappointment the closure of Puffin Post may cause . . . At the end of December, The Book People will cease to have use of the Puffin Brand and so will no longer run Puffin Post. As a result, subscriptions to Puffin Post will no longer be available and unfortunately Penguin are unable to offer the service into 2013."

from Alison Flood: The Guardian: Puffin Post to become extinct

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Salman Rushdie and Pankaj Mishra have clashed over the controversial Chinese Nobel literature laureate Mo Yan, with Rushdie defending himself over what he called Mishra's "latest garbage".

An article by Mishra in the Guardian this weekend responded to Rushdie's condemnation of Mo Yan as a "patsy" for declining to sign a petition calling for the release of the imprisoned Chinese Nobel peace prize laureate Liu Xiaobo.

from Alison Flood: The Guardian: Salman Rushdie defends his right to call Mo Yan a 'patsy'

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