Poetry roundup

February 28th, 2013

Here’s just a sample of what I’ve been reading on the net lately. Some of it’s recent, and some of it is from a few years back, but recently discovered by me.

At Plume, “Deceiving the Gods” by Ellen Bass.

At the always wonderful Linebreak, “Because” by Michelle Bitting.

Up this week at Heron Tree, “To a Hymn Book” by Jeff Hardin.

From the current issue of Pebble Lake Review, “Saliferous” by Hala Alyan.

The Tunnel” by Natasha Saje is from a 2003 issue of VQR, but I just discovered it this week and am glad I did. I might like her “Agoraphobia” from 2004 even better…

Also from VQR (fall of 2012), “What Is The Wholesale Price of The Traveler’s Vade Mecum?” by Sandra Beasley.

And from a 2010 issue of Rattle, “On Loved Ones Telling the Dying to ‘Let Go’” by Reeves Keyworth.

Enjoy! What are you reading these days?

Poetry roundup

January 11th, 2013

This morning my brother-in-law J. put down his horses. He drove them away one at a time, though he has a horse trailer for two, not wanting one to wait at the hospital for the time it took to euthanize the first. He took Lady first, the old dappled grey and white mare who hasn’t been able to take a rider for years but was, for a long time, healthy enough to keep Cyprus company. Cyprus, a chestnut gelding, whinnied the whole time Lady was gone; they have been constant companions for years, parted only when J. took Cyprus for a ride which he hasn’t been able to do for at least a year now. My brother-in-law drove him away about two hours after Lady. I haven’t seen him yet today. The whole family is torn up, but I’m guessing J. most of all. It’s a hard thing, to love an animal, to hold its welfare in your hands.

I’ve just got one poem for you this week, “The Love of Aged Horses” by Jane Hirshfield (from the Atlantic Online, February 1994).

Poetry roundup

December 20th, 2012

At Poetry Daily, “Last Day on Earth” by Lawrence Raab.

In Union Station Magazine, “Taken for Granted” by Marie-Elizabeth Mali.

From The Missouri Review, “What Was Missing” by Margaree Little.

That poem put me in mind of Eduardo Corral’s “Border Triptych” which can be found in his collection Slow Lightning (get it! read it!) and also here (from the summer of 2005).

And in the about poetry category, Sandra Beasley has an interesting post on her blog about point of view in poetry. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot in this manuscript and I’ve switched back and forth between points of view and forms of address more than once. But this line from her post might finally have gotten me to look at it in the way I need to:

But I think point of view is undervalued as a determinant of tension. The POV you choose helps shape the risks your poem can take.

Go read the whole post, it’ll give you a lot to think about.

Poetry roundup

December 14th, 2012

Switzerland is giving us a right proper winter this year, although the weather forecast for the weekend is calling for a warm front (known as the Föhn) to move through that will unfortunately probably melt everything. So in honor of the winter we’ve had so far, a selection of winter poems for you. All of these poems are “about” more than winter and ice and snow, of course, as good poems should be.

From Poetry Foundation, “Ice” by Gail Mazur. (Also at Poetry Foundation, the editors there have put together their own collection of winter poems here.)

At Poets.org, “The Snow Man” by Wallace Stevens and “Snow” by Naomi Shihab Nye.

From Valparaiso Poetry Review, “How Heavy the Snow” by Diane Lockward.

From Pebble Lake Review, “You Tell Me of the Winters in Laramie” by Corinna McClanahan Schroeder.

By Jared Carter, “Snow” (published here on his personal website and yes, I think I’ve linked to this one already but honestly: look at how he handles those rhymes!).

From the Poetry 180 project “Herd Of Buffalo Crossing the Missouri On Ice” by William Matthews. I’ve watched bison wade across the Madison river in late fall with the boys, and almost 10 years ago R and I saw bison crusted with ice and snow on a winter visit to Yellowstone, but I’ve never seen the two combined. The magic of poetry is that it brings us there anyway.

Enjoy the weekend, stay warm, build a snow fort, and may wild creatures visit your yards and your dreams.

Poetry roundup

November 23rd, 2012

(Posting this a day later than usual, because I figure nobody’s paying attention on Thanksgiving. Probably nobody’s paying attention the day after Thanksgiving, either, but there’s a better chance at least.)

I printed out a first draft of my chapbook manuscript earlier this month, and although both the manuscript as a whole and several individual poems within the manuscript need a great deal of work before I can send this thing anywhere, I have reached the point where I am starting to think about it as a manuscript as opposed to a pile of poems I’ve been working on. Compiling and ordering a manuscript introduces a whole new set of questions regarding structure, order and intent than writing what I flippantly call “one-off” poems does, so I’ve been reading up on how to think about ordering a collection. Here’s a sample of what I’ve found:

My manuscript is probably at the right stage to take some of this advice in this post, “It’s 2 a.m. Do you know what your manuscript is doing?” by poet Kelli Russell Agodon (Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room). She’s got a great list of things to think about once you’ve got the majority of the creative work done and are ready to turn that pile of poems into something more coherent. Like, if somebody asked you what your collection is about, could you tell them? How many sentences would it take for you to explain it? It’s the question she put in the title of her post: what is your manuscript doing?

Over at the This Frenzy blog, Elliott batTzedek takes a look at some of the possible theoretical approaches to ordering a collection in her “Notes on the Syntax of the Book

Once you’re ready to really impose structure on that pile of poems, read “On Making the Poetry Manuscript” by Jeffrey Levine (adapted from his essay “Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Poetry Manuscript” which originally appeared in the January 2007 issue of AWP Job List). The conversation and advice continues in the comments section, so be sure to read those as well.

More thoughts about order and structure from Kelli Russell Agodon here (part 1), here (part 2, Order), here (part 3, Sections Yes or No?), and here (part 4, The Final Revisions). Poet January Gill O’Neil (Underlife) also blogged about ordering her manuscript here. Again, advice and suggestions continue in the comments section so keep reading.

The book Ordering the Storm: How to Put Together a Book of Poems, edited by Susan Grimm, came up on both those blogs. I have only just begun to poke around in it, since I have only just gathered a pile of poems into something resembling a manuscript, but this collection of thoughts about ordering a manuscript from eleven different contributors offers a wealth of ways to think about how to go about this. Perhaps too many ways.

April Ossmann offers some thoughts on the process from an editor’s point of view in this 2011 Poets & Writers article “Thinking Like an Editor: How to Order Your Poetry Manuscript.”

And as you can see, if you just google “thoughts on how to order a poetry manuscript” you’ll have a wealth of options to choose from. Feel free to add thoughts and suggestions in the comments.

Poetry roundup

November 15th, 2012

Jack Gilbert died on Tuesday. (That’s a link to the New York Times obituary, by the way, for those of you who can only access a certain number of free articles per month). I was introduced to his poetry late, only about three years ago through a woman in my writing group, but he quickly became a favorite for his both his directness and his restraint. Though clearly madly in love with the world, his work was as far from sentimentality as that of any poet I’ve ever read. Read, for example, “It Is Difficult to Speak of the Night” or “The Sirens Again.

His poems embraced all the grief of life and all the wonder and recognized the moment of intersection. The possibility. The necessity. He spoke about his belief that poetry should have above all an emotional impact in this 2003 interview and says this:

What’s the reason to write poetry? It’s not a hobby. It’s one of the major ways of keeping the world human. We have almost nothing else, no craft that deals specifically with feeling. The novel to some extent, but it embodies a different kind of empathy than a poem does, and I suppose film to a degree, but motion pictures are only able to show you the outside of what’s happening. Poetry works on the inside of what’s happening.

I could be maudlin and say the world is a little less human today, but I know too many wonderful poets to really believe that. So go write something, and keep the world human.

Poetry roundup

November 8th, 2012

I was unfamiliar with the work of Joshua Mehigan until about two weeks ago, and then the universe (or the internet, I’m never quite sure) decided I needed to read his work. First, a member of my on-line poetry group posted “Down in the Valley.” Then “The Cement Plant” popped up in my twitter feed. Then somebody posted “Promenade” (which had appeared on Verse Daily). I love when things like this happen, because living in a non-English speaking country my exposure to contemporary US poetry is hit and miss. I subscribe to Poets & Writers and a handful of print journals (fewer than I’d like, given that overseas postage about doubles the cost of my subscriptions, meaning I subscribe to about half of what I’d subscribe to if I lived in the US) and I read on line and subscribe to any number of daily/weekly poem in my in-box listings, but it feels very random somehow. I always feel a bit “out of it.” Maybe I’m not, maybe it’s that built-in expat feeling, or maybe there are just so many interesting poets out there and only so many hours in the day that there will always be somebody out there I haven’t read yet. At any rate, I like when the world gives me reading suggestions.

One of those daily poems I subscribe to, by the way, is Poetry Daily (actually I have the app and read on my phone), which is where I read “God, God” by Fleda Brown.

Poetry roundup

November 1st, 2012

I’ve mentioned before that you can sign up for a daily poem in your in-box from Rattle, but I didn’t mention that it’s not always a poem they send to your in-box. Sometimes there might be an author interview or sometimes a book review. Tuesday’s email brought a review of A Dance in the Street by Jared Carter, which intrigued me enough to hunt down a full version of one of the poems excerpted for the review. You can read “Snow” here, and Rattle’s review of A Dance in the Street is here.

“Snow” got me poking around Jared Carter’s website and oh! oh! “Clavichord.” For so many reasons.

Over at Bare Hands Poetry, “Smoke” by David Rudden.

Breaking the pattern of one-word titles, “Wednesday’s Foolish Love Song” by Michaela A. Gabriel in Pebble Lake Review.

Poetry roundup

October 25th, 2012

I’ve been re-reading The Complete Love Poems of May Swenson, and the first poem in the collection is “Four Word Lines” which is damn near as perfect a love poem as I’ve ever read. I was delighted to find it on line here (and in the process discover a new blog I’m going to have to check out!).

At Rattle, “Tying the Knot” by Kathleen Dale.

And Pablo Neruda’s “The Song of Despair” via Poets.org.

Poetry roundup

October 18th, 2012

From Poetry Daily, “[It’s stringy      out here]” by Susan Wheeler. I’ll be ordering Meme thanks to this poem.

At The Atlantic.com, “Monica Lewinsky Thinks of Bill Clinton While Standing Naked in Front of a Hotel Mirror” by Julianna Baggot. Huh. Looks like I’ll be ordering Lizzie Borden in Love, too.

In Orion, “All Wet and Shine” by National Book Award finalist Cynthia Huntington.

I’m reading Meadowlands by Louise Glück, so here’s her “Telemachus’ Fantasy” from the same at AGNI Online.

Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy” turned fifty this week. You can listen to Plath herself reading it here.

Yesterday was Marie Howe’s birthday, so here’s “What the Living Do.” Which seems like a fine poem to close on.