Tuesday, July 23, 2013

July 23rd forum announcement

Dear Poetry Aficionados,

Poetry & Poets in Rags blog

This is the final installment of Poetry & Poets in Rags, completing 10 years, and well over 500 issues. It started as a weekly Saturday forum post at two now-defunct poetry boards, Melic Review and The Atlantic Monthly. It was picked up shortly thereafter by IBPC, which has carried it for nearly its entire 10 years. Early on, it went from coming out on Saturdays to Tuesdays. The popular companion blog began in 2006. My initial motivation was that if I were passing important information on to just one person, then it would be worth the effort. And it has grown to much more than that.

Thanks to all who have clicked in, and if you're reading this, you must be one. Thank you.


Our links:

IBPC: Poetry & Poets in Rags

Poetry & Poets in Rags blog



News at Eleven: Approximately 300 of Miram Baheer's members

live in the outlying provinces--Khost, Paktia, Maidan Wardak, Kunduz, Kandahar, Herat, and Farah--where the group functions in secret. Many who cannot safely travel to meet together listen to radio programs broadcast by Mirman Baheer and the Afghan Women's Writing Project.

"We recruit only through word-of-mouth and delete any content that might be used to identify our writers," says Richelle McClain, director of the Afghan Women's Writing Project.

from The Christian Science Monitor: Afghan women write powerful poetry--even amid war


News at Eleven: [Edvin] Sugarev was admitted to Alexandrovska hospital's

intensive care unit earlier on Wednesday. The 59-year-old poet has been on a hunger strike for 22 days now.

"I was the one who forced him to enter the hospital and put an end to the hunger strike. He vehemently opposed at the beginning, he wanted to persevere. We spoke all night, he was throwing up all night and in the morning his condition became so poor, he was rushed into the hospital," his wife shared on Wednesday.

from Sofia News Agency: Famous Bulgarian Poet Forced to End Hunger Strike by Family, Poor Health


News at Eleven: Turkish Publishers Association released its report

"Freedom to Publish Turkey" including right violations between June 2012 and 2013. "At least 27 authors, poets, translators, publishers are imprisoned in Turkey," the report cited.

The report included the following chapters: "Lawsuits and Investigations against Books, Books Pulled Off the Shelf", "Other Court Cases Against Writers", "Lawsuits Against Comics", "Censorship, Bans and Investigations Regarding Publications", "Books as Crime Evidence",  "Pressures on Press", "Pressures on Internet Publishing",  "Amendments to Law",  "European Court of Human Rights Rulings" and "Reports of International Organizations".

from Bianet: "At Least 27 Authors, Poets, Translators, Publishers in Prison"
then Bianet: Turkish Publishers Association Report on Freedom to Publish Turkey (June 2012-2013)(pdf)


News at Eleven: [Ingrid] Jonker had started writing a new collection

of poems just before her death. A selection of these poems was published posthumously in the collection Kantelson ("Toppling Sun"). She then witnesses a shattering event: a Black baby was shot in his mother' arms. She underlined from Dylan Thomas: "after the first death, there is no other". And she wrote: "Die kind (wat doodgeskiet is deur soldate by Nyanga)", "The child (who was shot dead by soldiers at Nyanga").

During the night of 19 July 1965, Jonker went to the beach at Three Anchor Bay in Cape Town where she walked into the sea and committed suicide by drowning. On hearing of Jonker's death, her father reportedly said: "They can throw her back in the sea for all I care."

from The Patriotic Vanguard: Poetry: The Child Who Was Shot Dead By Soldiers in Nyanga


News at Eleven: There is something about the experience of war,

[Jane] Varley said, that draws people to art.

"Art is an endeavor to try to make sense of chaos," she said, "and in the case of Hugh Martin, to make poetry is not a reaction to war but a present-tense, proactive, ongoing effort to find what is beneath the surface of our lives."

In the forward of The Stick Soldiers, Cornelius Eady wrote: "Here's eleven months worth of sawdust, sweat, dear reader. Somehow, Hugh Martin has wrung poetry from a scab, and now, the full shock and beauty and mystery of the things of war that won't let go will stick to you."

from Akron Beacon Journal: Iraq veteran Hugh Martin of Macedonia is nationally recognized poet


News at Eleven: [Mark] Edmundson dismisses Anne Carson, too,

as "opaque" and "inscrutable"--the same Anne Carson who became a hit when her compulsively readable, gay coming-of-age "novel in verse" Autobiography of Red was name-dropped on Sex and the City. When Edmundson asserts that "no well-known poet" writes about big subjects like sex, he ignores the entirety of Carson's work. Take just one example from her collection Plainwater: "Men know almost nothing about desire/they think it has to do with sexual activity/or can be discharged that way./But sex is a substitute, like money or language."

As a woman, though, does Carson count?

from The Atlantic Monthly: Literature Is Dead (According to Straight, White Guys, At Least)


News at Eleven: I find they are often texting, clogging their ears

with multi-colored plugs,  and answering the siren call of cell phones. I always tell my students--for the most part 18 to 20 year olds, that they have to unplug to be open to their senses: sight, smell, sound, taste, etc. I tell them they need to observe--not have their head buried over the sacred cell to see what the latest LOL or whatnot is about.  But of course I always have my cell in the deep pockets of my carpenter pants, and my laptop is at my beck and call. . .and yes, I still write poetry.

from The Somerville News: Doug Holder: The State of Poetry


News at Eleven: [Harry] Eyres could never understand

the disconnect between the rigorous approach to learning the classics, and the often lascivious or emotional subject matter of the poetry. He singles out A.E. Housman--a "famously dry professor"--as a man who typified the uptight attitude that Eyres hated. But Housman, Eyres points out, could also display a fine sensibility. After a long lecture, Housman read Horace's "Diffugere nives" ("The snows are fled away") aloud: as he left the room, his students saw that his eyes were filled with tears.

from The Telegraph: Horace and Me by Harry Eyres, review


News at Eleven: [Clive] James is unable or unwilling to pull off,

or replicate, Dante's trick of ending each book with the word "stelle"--stars--but then if he'd done so he would have lost the impressive couplet with which he closes the whole poem, and, as he says, there aren't that many rhymes in English for "stars": ". . . the deepest wish that I could feel/And all my will, were turning with the love/That moves the sun and all the stars above."

It's slightly tautologous, in that there are no stars below, and if you can't end with the word "stars" you might have ended it with "love", as that's what the whole poem is about; both the love of God for all creation and, in lesser fashion, Dante's love for Beatrice.

from The Guardian: The Divine Comedy by Dante, translated by Clive James--review


News at Eleven: Unfortunately I could only keep drawing or

attempt to transcribe, so I stuck to image making. [Les] Murray has a distinctive reading style, breathless and wheezy, rat-a-tat with emphases on rhymes if any and often finishing on a fade. His laugh is equally Murrayesque--a grunt-chortle as a punctuation, or a explosive laugh pitched at the ceiling.

Anna Heyward, maintaining superb sangfroid, inquired if Les was still writing on his typewriter rather than a word processor. Les replied that You want a messy page with corrections--so you can make it better.

from Crikey: The Pre-Nobel Poet: drawing Les Murray reading


News at Eleven (Back Page): A look at reoccurring themes and stylistic techniques

may reveal affected writers share a commonality in their writings.  An exploration of the works may help find a way for society to better understand individuals suffering from mental disease, and discover those not yet diagnosed with manic-depression.

Throughout history there have been writers and poets that suffer from manic depression.  If we take a close look at the writings of these renowned writers we find a link to mental illness and the English language.

from PsychCentral: The Groundbreaking Link Between Mental Illness And Literature, Part I
then PsychCentral: The Groundbreaking Link Between Mental Illness And Literature, Part II


Great Regulars: What these former scions of American literary innovation

fail to see is that the time for merely edifying America as to the realities of language is over; the time for speaking primarily in the language of realities is beginning. Hypotactic verse simply has different aims from paratactic verse, and until those well-versed in the latter become well-versed in the former it will indeed appear as though metamodernism is merely a topical or thematic phenomenon--as though investigation of the nature of reality is somehow less rigorous and exacting than investigation of the written mark (or that these two investigations are not, finally, but two sides of the same coin).

from Seth Abramson: The Huffington Post: On Literary Metamodernism


Great Regulars: Unpicking the mind of this high-­functioning psychopath

will take some care, but, before delving into Dex's ­disturbingly interesting soul, we should look at the big picture. Everybody knows--or should know--that American long-form TV is one of the great art forms of our time. The Wire, The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, The Shield and, I will insist, Dexter represent a revolution in narrative art comparable to the creative apotheosis of the novel in the 19th century. Less often noticed is the central theme that connects all of these shows: the cult of the antihero.

from Bryan Appleyard: from The Sunday Times: Dexter: The Dandy Psychopath


Great Regulars: Another Beer

by William Matthews

The first one was for the clock

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Another Beer by William Matthews


Dirge Without Music
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Dirge Without Music by Edna St. Vincent Millay


by Rosanna Warren

--when she disappeared on the path ahead of me

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Mediterranean by Rosanna Warren


The Shout
by Simon Armitage

We went out

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: The Shout by Simon Armitage


The Swan at Edgewater Park
by Ruth L. Schwartz

Isn't one of your prissy rich peoples' swans

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: The Swan at Edgewater Park by Ruth L. Schwartz


That Reminds Me
by Ogden Nash

Just imagine yourself seated on a shadowy terrace,

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: That Reminds Me by Ogden Nash


Great Regulars: For one thing, by conceiving of religion as an elite

training regimen, [Peter] Sloterdijk implies that a religion is justified only by its saints. Anyone who is not a saint is insignificant, and so the average person's experience of religious meanings--whether metaphysical doctrine or spiritual consolation or tradition or identity or communion--is dismissed out of hand. This is false to the lived reality of religion for most people, and shows how tendentious Sloterdijk's equation of religion with "practice" really is.

Then there is the question-begging insistence that metabiotics, Sloterdijk's discomfitingly biological philosophy, will do in the absence of metaphysics.

from Adam Kirsch: New Republic: Against Cynicism: A philosopher's brilliant reasons for living


The problem of the workmen in the Holy of Holies is also considered as a case of "deriving benefit" from something prohibited--in this case, the benefit of getting to look at the holiest spot in the world, ordinarily prohibited to everyone but the high priest. Indeed, the rabbis wonder whether it might not be a kind of sin to derive any kind of pleasure from the Temple, even by looking at its decorations, listening to the music played there, or smelling the incense. This seems strange: Surely these things were designed specifically for the pleasure and awe of the Jews who worshipped in the Temple? Why build a beautiful structure and fill it with music and perfume if people are not allowed to enjoy it?

from Adam Kirsch: Tablet: In the Shadow of the Divine, Reaping Unintended Benefits at the Edges of the Law


Great Regulars: Perhaps there's a kind of afterlife

that is made up of our memories of a departed person, especially as these cling to that person's belongings. Bruce Snider, who lives and teaches in California, suggests that here.


from Ted Kooser: American Life in Poetry: Column 435


Great Regulars: At the Birdfeeder

By Richard Foerster

My neighbor's cat, all nimble

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


The Longing of the Feet
by Wesley McNair

At first the crawling

from Wesley McNair via Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: The Longing of the Feet


Great Regulars: One world event to pay close attention to

is the visit of Pope Francis to Brazil this week. Will the focus now turn to poverty and social justice? Is liberation theology returning with a little less Marx?
Shall we dream of Bishop Oscar Romero and count our mornings?

I Am the Land: A Poem in Memory of Oscar Romero

from E. Ethelbert Miller: E-notes: I Am the Land: A Poem in Memory of Oscar Romero


Great Regulars: In discovering his own, isolated male nakedness,

Actaeon breaks another taboo. He has no alternative, as before, and no further story, except, perhaps, that he will be forced (by loneliness or ill-health) to get to know this nakedness more intimately. His body may be a Newfoundland, but it's one which can be greeted only with irony. He's not even a stag any more.

[by George Szirtes]


O, my America, my Newfoundland
John Donne, "Elegy 20"

O, my America, discovered by slim chance,

from Carol Rumens: The Guardian: Poem of the week: Poem of the week: Actaeon by George Szirtes


Great Regulars: To break out of Snowden's "Catch 22"

situation of no passport-to travel-no travel- no asylum--a world citizen passport has been issued to Snowden by Garry Davis--"World Citizen N° 1"--as he was called in January 1949 when the Registry of World Citizens was created. One of the ironies of the world citizen movement is that it has always used the symbols of a nation-state--a flag, an identity card, a passport--to symbolize a loyalty to the welfare of the Planet. The philosophy behind the identity cards and passports is that of world law--that is, international law as applied to the individual. "All human beings are entitled to the enjoyment of political, civil, economic, and social rights as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and various treaties and covenants adopted in furtherance of that declaration."

from René Wadlow's The Flutes of Dionysus: Media for Freedom: A World Citizen Passport and Snowden's Catch 22


Great Regulars: What carries us through

A poem.

By Jennifer Freed

from The Christian Science Monitor: What carries us through


Great Regulars: [by Chris Anderson]

Samuel Beckett used to drive

from The Oregonian: Poetry: 'Neighbor' by Chris Anderson


Great Regulars: By Bob Moore

July 21, 2013 2:00 AM

My neighbor in a white sedan

from Portsmouth Herald News: Random Acts of Poetry: Animal Talk


Great Regulars: John Hoffman

Dropped into life

from Post-Bulletin: Farm Poem--2013


Great Regulars: "Autumn in Sigulda" is quiet, elegiac and

different from the "jangle" jazz rhythms of [Andrei] Voznesensky's beatnik-style series, which includes "The Last Tram", printed in the TLS two years earlier. "Autumn in Sigulda" reminisces about a past time, "near me and somewhere far off", drawing on the changing seasons--a favourite theme of Russian poets of the period. As the trees lose their leaves "we too are emptied out" from summer, from the "dacha" house, and "from mothers,/from women".

from The Times Literary Supplement: Poem of the Week: "Autumn in Sigulda"


Poetic Obituaries: [Holly Kimball] relished the roles of scholar, poet,

educator, child advocate and interior decorator, and she had a penchant for progressive politics and charitable activism.

"Cast a net to mesh the dreams, quick before they sink and slide, and settle on the ocean bed, where unknown impulses hide," Kimball wrote in a metaphorical poem about seashells.

Her daughter said she was unaware of Kimball's literary talent for many years but eventually published a small book of her mother's poetry.

"After she died, I found myself sorting through her personal notes, and even in the middle of a shopping list, she'd break out in a haiku," her daughter said. "That's how meaningful poetry was to her."

from Orlando Sentinel: Holly Kimball: Her long life was one of poetry in action


Poetic Obituaries: The pilot, David Raikes, was an aspiring poet,

and his family published some of his work posthumously.

Among the poems was a piece called Let it be hushed, in which he reflected on the loss of comrades--other crews that had failed to return from missions.

Raikes wrote:

These men knew moments you have never known,

from BBC News: WWII bomber poet David Raikes is finally laid to rest


Poetic Obituaries: [Vaalee, nee Rangarajan of Srirangam, said,] "I came from

an affluent family. Yet if I decided to slog it out it was because I wished to. (Ishatapattu kashtapattaen). And, till a little later, I didn't even know there was a poet and lyricist in me."

Happy being a small-time playwright and bringing out a handwritten magazine, his initial idea was to try his hand at penning dialogue for films. Lyrics just happened and led to his writing more than 15,000 songs! "

from The Hindu: The one and only Vaalee
then Asian Tribune: Noted lyricist and poet Vaali passes away


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

July 16th forum announcement

Dear Poetry Aficionados,

Poetry & Poets in Rags blog

This is the second to last issue of Poetry & Poets in Rags. Next week's will fill ten years, since this column was first rolled out on July 25, 2003.

This week's headlining story is one that crept up on poetry. It's about the death of Trayvon Martin, the one who killed him, George Zimmerman, having been acquitted this past Saturday. Rita Dove has written a poem called "Trayvon, Redux" and the periodical RYOT has published a Langston Hughes poem called "Kids Who Die." Two of our Great Regulars, Seth Abramson and Adam Kirsch, have written different and differing essays on this as well. The case, for all its first-glance someone-shot-someone mundanity, has caught the heart strings of the country, the world, and now of the poetry world. Poets are walkers. May we please walk to the store and return home without being stalked and shot by the neighborhood watch?

We have dozens more stories and poems than these that are linked to in all three of our sections, News at Eleven, Great Regulars, and Poetic Obituaries. Thanks for clicking in.


Our links:

IBPC: Poetry & Poets in Rags

Poetry & Poets in Rags blog



News at Eleven: [by Rita Dove]

Trayvon, Redux

It is difficult/to get the news from poems/yet men die miserably every day/for lack/of what is found there./Hear me out/for I too am concerned/and every man/who wants to die at peace in his bed/besides.

William Carlos Williams, "Asphodel, that Greeny Flower"

Move along, you don't belong here.

from The Root: 'Trayvon, Redux,' by Rita Dove
then RYOT: Trayvon Martin: Another dead kid


News at Eleven: Bulgarian poet and veteran right-wing

political activist Edvin Sugarev has declined an appeal in an open letter from a group of intellectuals to end his hunger strike against the Bulgarian Socialist Party government.

Sugarev began the hunger strike on June 26 2013 as part of wider protests nationwide demanding the immediate resignation of the socialist government, which was formed in May with the support of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms and tacit support of Ataka.

from Independent Balkan News Agency: Bulgarian poet Sugarev refuses to end anti-government hunger strike


News at Eleven: "In jail, I yearned for sea and sky.

My temporary release is indeed a breath of fresh air. But freedom and justice are not achieved by mere yearning, only by struggle." These are the words uttered by poet Ericson Acosta to his elated supporters, friends, and family for the grant of temporary release from jail.

On Thursday, the Gandara Regional Trial Court in Samar granted Acosta a temporary release for a medical check-up as an answer to his lawyers motion for medical check-up filed last July 2012 due to displayed symptoms of serious renal problems by the poet.

from Manila Channel: Detained poet Ericson Acosta released temporarily


News at Eleven: Campaign director Jules Hollidge said:

"Churches have a tradition of generosity. The aim is to get them to consider organ donation alongside the donation of time and money."

"The NHS needs to find 200,000 extra blood donors every year to make up for the ones that drop off the register. As far as organ donation goes, the greatest thing is to get people talking about it, because it's the families who have to give consent."

Host Organism is the first poem [Rowan] Williams has made public since retiring as archbishop last year. He was described in the Guardian as "a subtle and skilled poet" when his most recent collection, Headwaters, was published in 2008.

Host Organism

from The Guardian: Rowan Williams releases poem promoting organ donation


News at Eleven: "Those aren't my drones obliterating

innocent bystanders. Those drones belong to the government." The self isn't guilty; the state is. On the other hand, when our individuality seems meek, ordinary, and temporary, we embrace the collective and permit it to make us feel significant. "The swimmer didn't win fourteen gold medals. Team U.S.A. did." It's all too convenient. I want the poems to strive towards something more confused and thus more accurate. More importantly, I want words in the poems that aren't in anybody else's poems, or I want to put words together that don't usually go together: Oldsmobile and gladiola, Nader and grackle, Topeka and boffo.

from Guernica: Jaswinder Bolina: Avoiding the Obvious


News at Eleven: These commemorations in poetry highlight

an important aspect of Arab culture, the reliance on lyricism, poetry, and words to insist on the memory of that which has been taken: life, land and otherwise. It may very well be a sense of powerlessness that has frequently driven modern Arab writers to hone their relationship with words. "If he dies in exile," he writes, "let him lie there naked/to share his horror with you."

Samih Al Qasim is regarded as one of the forefathers of Palestinian political poetry. Under the restrictions on non-Jewish citizens during Israel's early years, the poet composed lyrics of resistance that provided Palestinians with one of the few outlets for political expression.

from Palestine Chronicle: Samih Al Qasim and the Arab Men of Letters


News at Eleven: Now, however, a new Welsh language

biography is seeking to dispel the "myth" surrounding the 1996 Nobel Literature Prize nominee, whose centenary was celebrated earlier this year.

Cofio R.S., Cleniach yn Gymraeg? (Remembering R.S., Kinder in Welsh?) is a collection of shared memories of the poet from his friends and neighbours on the Llyn Peninsula in north Wales where he lived for much of his later life.

from BBC News: R.S. Thomas: New biography dispels 'curmudgeon' image


News at Eleven: Throughout the book her descriptions

are powered by a taut, refined syntax: "She is a beast constructed for smooth sliding," [Anne] Carson writes of one character: "Now long pelvic muscles organise her."

At a time when poetry on both sides of the Atlantic seems to have become entrenched between easy lyricism and the wilfully opaque avant-garde, Carson forges a unique voice.

from The Telegraph: Red.Doc> by Anne Carson, review


News at Eleven: An almost legible "iroha uta" poem is inscribed

on the back of the earthenware dish, which dates back to around 1200. Iroha uta, an ancient Japanese poem that uses 47 Japanese characters only once each, is said to have been created between the late 10th century and the 11th century. The poem was used for writing practice of hiragana, Japan's basic phonetic script.

from The Asahi Shimbun: Oldest hiragana writing found on ancient pottery


News at Eleven (Back Page): I bought my copy of "Home-Altar" second-hand

(100 copies were originally published in 1978) and it arrived signed and with pressed flowers in it--someone before me had treasured this book--not to mention the unruly serpents in this excerpt from "Rattlesnake Bluff":

That night the lack of rain brought them
Down off the bluff,
All we saw was the grass
Fluttering where we'd burned. . .,

from The New York Times: Small Books With Big Souls


Great Regulars: by Seth Abramson

On the Phalanx in History

Only a few were sent to study with anyone

from Seth Abramson: The Brooklyn Rail: Four


If you were a politically conscious American in the late 1980s, you'll remember the moment the American Left "lost" the argument over criminal justice policy. All it took was George H.W. Bush greenlighting his campaign team's use of Willie Horton, a black convict from Massachusetts, to scare Americans into concluding, once and for all, that Democrats were "soft on crime." Democrats, for their part, seemed only too happy to concede the point, if only because they'd been losing votes over criminal justice issues for so long that any excuse to drop them from the party platform was little less than a godsend.

from Seth Abramson: The Huffington Post: Zimmerman Case Proves That the Left Was Right on Crime


Great Regulars: Liao Yiwu (through translator): I was with people

who live in the bottom of the society. And when I came out of prison, I was also living at the bottom of society. I know these people, the people of really low social status. And in these people, I see my own shadow. I identify myself with them.

We are a deserted group of people, but we are the majority. The so-called elite don't care about us, but we are the mainstream of society.

from Jeffrey Brown: PBS: Newshour: Liao Yiwu Howls Against the Chinese Government, Offers Memories of Prison


Great Regulars: After a Brubeck Concert

by Miller Williams

Six hundred years ago, more or less,

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: After a Brubeck Concert by Miller Williams


At Emily's In Amherst
by David Ray

On this day of our visit they are spraying the attic

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: At Emily's In Amherst by David Ray


If I Were a Dog
by Richard Shelton

I would trot down this road sniffing

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: If I Were a Dog by Richard Shelton


by Richard Wilbur

As we left the garden-party

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Leaving by Richard Wilbur


Midsummer Night
by Carol Ann Duffy

Not there to see midsummer's midnight rose

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Midsummer Night by Carol Ann Duffy


Puzzle Dust
by Dorianne Laux

When the final piece is lifted and set in place,

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Puzzle Dust by Dorianne Laux


Summer Evening
by John Clare

The frog half fearful jumps across the path,

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Summer Evening by John Clare


Great Regulars: But by the time the Talmud was edited,

around 500 C.E., the Temple had been gone for 400 years--as much time as separates us today from Shakespeare. For the Amoraim, there were no sacrifices to perform, and in Babylonia, where they lived, there was no requirement to tithe crops at all.

Yet the rabbis devoted as much intellectual force to getting tumah right as if it were still a matter of life and death, and they write about the sacrifices as if they might be called on to perform one tomorrow. The law, for them, existed in a virtual realm, immune from time and change.

from Adam Kirsch: Tablet: Appreciating the Talmud's Sublime Devotion to Torah for Its Own Sake


[James] Agee realizes too late that he has triggered a reflex of terror: a white man running after a black couple, in Alabama in 1936, is an aggressor, a potential killer. He is immediately stricken by "the nakedness and depth and meaning of their fear, and . . . my horror and pity and self-hatred," but nothing he can say can convince the couple of his good intentions: "The least I could have done was to throw myself flat on my face and embrace and kiss their feet." After reading this chapter, there is no need for the reader to ask why Let Us Now Praise Famous Men is devoted to white sharecroppers, not black ones. Agee has demonstrated that the racial barrier is so enormous, the fear and distrust so instinctive, that there is no way to cross it.

from Adam Kirsch: New Republic: What Would James Agee Say About the George Zimmerman Trial?


Great Regulars: Here's an observant and thoughtful poem

by Lisel Mueller about the way we've assigned human characteristics to the inanimate things about us. Mueller lives in Illinois and is one of our most distinguished poets.


from Ted Kooser: American Life in Poetry: Column 434


Great Regulars: Does he fully deserve his last line: "We love

the things we love for what they are"? Suddenly, having this time read the poem backward, its full beauty broke over my head. The poem is not necessarily about a brook--lovingly evoked though its brook-ness is. It could just as well be the one-eyed cat we adopt because no one else will take it in. Or the incompetent oil painting we embrace because a great-uncle painted it. (See Elizabeth Bishop's "Large Bad Picture.") Or your dead grandfather's sweater, which you hold onto even though it is: 1) ugly, 2) unfashionable, 3) pilled and worn, 4) ill-fitting.

from Brad Leithauser: The New Yorker: Reading Poems Backward


Great Regulars: Thicker Than Country

By Richard Blanco

A Cuban like me living in Maine? Well,

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


Great Regulars: Poets Sascha Akhtar, Nia Davies

and Sophie Mayer explain the motivation behind an exciting social media platform

Like the Turkish resistance, the new rolling online anthology Solidarity Park Poetry: Poems for #ResistTurkey was aided and spurred on by social media.

Three poets came together.

from Jody Porter: Morning Star: Solidarity Park--poetry in support of Turkish protest


Great Regulars: Sidney Keyes was a few weeks old when

his mother died of peritonitis, and his father, Captain Reginald Keyes, returned with the child to his own father's house. SKK, commemorated in this week's poem "Elegy", was the poet's paternal grandfather, also named Sidney. The boy wrote the poem in July, 1938, when he was only 16.

from Carol Rumens: The Guardian: Poem of the week: Elegy by Sidney Keyes


Great Regulars: [Tomas] Tranströmer reacts with emotion to world news,

and to American domestic politics, about which he seems strikingly well‑informed: "Naturally the Oregon primary was a bad blow; I was unhappy as a wet dog all the next day," he writes in June 1966. He grieves again when the tanks roll into Prague in 1968, as the cold war intensifies in Europe.

[Robert] Bly also embraces his Scandinavian roots, which he calls "European". The reader can't help but speculate whether this friendship with, and advocacy of, Tranströmer is at least in part a way to explore this aspect of himself.

from Fiona Sampson: The Guardian: Airmail: The Letters of Robert Bly and Tomas Tranströmer--review


Great Regulars: "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori"--

sweet and fitting it is to die for one's country--was used sarcastically by Wilfred Owen to skewer the kind of patriotism that led to mass deaths in the trenches of World War I; "Carpe diem"--"Seize the day" became the Robin Williams character's rallying cry in Dead Poets Society. Beyond these phrases, however, the poet who wrote these lines may seem just "dead."

Not so, argues Eyres, who wants us each to consider making friends with Horace and absorbing his particular kinds of wisdom.

from The Barnes and Noble Review: Horace and Me


Great Regulars: by Shane Allison

A Birthday Poem for Nat

Nat, will there be any large jewelry cutters at your party?

from The Brooklyn Rail: Five


Summer Journal [2012]

by Stacy Szymaszek

lemon beagle vs. lemon

from The Brooklyn Rail: Summer Journal [2012]


We Do The Polis/In Different Voices

by David Buuck

Perhaps then we will

from The Brooklyn Rail: We Do The Polis/In Different Voices