Saturday, December 25, 2010

High Praise for Bishop

"That she worked in one of our country's least popular fields, poetry, doesn't matter. That she was a woman doesn't matter. That she was gay doesn't matter. That she was an alcoholic, an expatriate and essentially an orphan -- none of this matters. What matters is that she left behind a body of work that teaches us, as Italo Calvino once said of literature generally, 'a method subtle and flexible enough to be the same thing as an absence of any method whatever.'" "

--David Biespiel, the Oregonian


Merry Merry Happy Happy !!


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Wow: I can't believe it actually passed! I am sure my friend GC will be happy with the news. We've come a long way baby . . .

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Check out this fun animated card--and make sure to have the volume on. It's so sweet.

CHRISTMAS CARD (click here)

Monday, December 13, 2010

From today's poem a day:

by Kwame Dawes

For August Wilson

No one quarrels here, no one has learned
the yell of discontent—instead, here in Sumter
we learn to grow silent, build a stone
of resolve, learn to nod, learn to close
in the flame of shame and anger
in our hearts, learn to petrify it so,
and the more we quiet our ire,
the heavier the stone; this alchemy
of concrete in the vein, the sludge
of affront, until even that will calcify
and the heart, at last, will stop,
unassailable, unmovable, adamant.

Find me a man who will stand
on a blasted hill and shout,
find me a woman who will break
into shouts, who will let loose
a river of lament, find the howl
of the spirit, teach us the tongues
of the angry so that our blood,
my pulse—our hearts flow
with the warm healing of anger.

You, August, have carried in your belly
every song of affront your characters
have spoken, and maybe you waited
too long to howl against the night,
but each evening on some wooden
stage, these men and women,
learn to sing songs lost for centuries,
learn the healing of talk, the calming
of quarrel, the music of contention,
and in this cacophonic chorus,
we find the ritual of living.


Thursday, December 09, 2010

All is Forgotten, Nothing is Lost

Just finished reading All is Forgotten, Nothing is Lost. What a great read. I think Lan Samantha Chang has totally nailed it -- the lives and lot of poets. The four main characters, over the course of their lives, live out four related but very different life trajectories. Miranda is the stern distant demanding teacher, worshipped and feared by her students, who has an affair with one, and ends up choosing his first book for a prize, setting his career in motion, even while her own has peaked. Roman is the brilliant, petulant, lucky student, who grows to get the prizes, the university teaching gigs, the fame, but who ends up unhappy, unfulfilled, feels perhaps even a fraud. Bernard is the recluse, working all his life on one long unpublished poem, carrying on letter-writing correspondences with "the writers of our time," and who is jealous of Roman's successes, but remains committed to his own personal artistic vision-- he is perhaps the "true poet" of the four. Lucy is the poet who puts her career on hold to be wife and mother, supportive of her spouse's career, and only returns to her writing later in life, renewed. It's a fascinating study of the motivations and drives and desires of these four poets; the relationships between students and mentors, poetry friends, poetry marriages; how things change (or don't ever change) over time. How in many ways "all that matters is the work." Or is it: all that matters is the relationships? Highly recommended.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Had a great time at a new-ish restaurant on Capital Hill called Spinasse, for dinner last night. It was packed on a Monday, which is a good sign. Terrific food (I had the tagliatelle with pork shoulder poached in milk, Dean had the rabbit meatballs with turnip-horse radish puree), but it was very noisy! We could hardly hear each other speak. Still I think we would go back.


Monday, December 06, 2010

Still the One

24 years today. One year for each hour of a day. And honey, you are still the one. This song's for you, Dean.

They said, "I bet they'll never make it"
But just look at us holding on
We're still together still going strong

Ain't nothin' better
We beat the odds together
I'm glad we didn't listen
Look at what we would be missin'

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Are you looking for a new book of poems, for yourself or a friend? Then check out the suggestions from Ron Slate's On the Seawall. Some of these books are titles I have mentioned previously on this blog. Many others are new titles hot off the presses. Something here for everybody.

Nineteen Poets Recommend New and Recent Titles
November 29th, 2010

For holiday-time reading and gift-giving, here are 21 poetry collections recommended by 19 poets – Hank Lazer, Ange Mlinko, Tony Hoagland, Tara Betts, Lisa Russ Spaar, Philip Metres, Ken Chen, Julie Sheehan, Rusty Morrison, Joel Brouwer, Todd Boss, Robert Cording, Elaine Sexton, Leslie Harrison, Deborah Woodard, Aaron Belz, Don Bogen, Amanda Auchter, and Aaron Baker.


I've been reading the novel All is Forgotten, Nothing is Lost. It takes place in the 1980's and onward, starting in a poetry MFA program that sounds oddly enough like Iowa. It's fascinating to read the representation of poetry workshop, the students hopes and dreams and ambitions for poetry, and a love affair that seems to be developing between one of the professors and a (soon to be former) student. It's amazing how this novelist (who apparently is a director at Iowa?) can make the whole poetry MFA world sound so dramatic and crucial and relevant. Check it out.

"From Booklist
*Starred Review* Chang is director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and here she weds her professional knowledge of writing-seminar dynamics to her lucent style, producing a stunning novel that more than fulfills the promise of her early work (Hunger, 1998; Inheritance, 2004). Miranda Sturgis is an exceptional poet, and though her critiques can be ruthless, graduate students at the renowned writing school where she teaches fight to gain admission to her seminars. She proves to be a tantalizing and enigmatic figure to her students, especially Bernard Blithe, one of the most serious poets in the class, and Roman Morris, who fairly burns with ambition. Chang shows the two men, one who regards poetry as an avocation, the other as a means to an end, to be essentially similar in one devastating way: their intense loneliness, which comes from sacrificing all personal relationships for the sake of work. Among the many threads Chang elegantly pursues—the fraught relationships between mentors and students, the value of poetry, the price of ambition—it is her indelible portrait of the loneliness of artistic endeavor that will haunt readers the most in this exquisitely written novel about the poet’s lot. --Joanne Wilkinson"