Friday, October 30, 2009

Call for Submissions

Call for Submissions for a Special Issue of WHR (Spring 2010) :: HYBRID // COLLABORATIVE edited by Lance Olsen, Karen Brennan, Craig Dworkin & Paisley Rekdal

Submit your hybrid and/or collaborative work through March 30th to :::

Western Humanities Review
Hybrid / Collaborative Issue
c/o dawn lonsinger, dawn.lonsinger@UTAH.EDU
University of Utah English Dept.
255 S. Central Campus Drive, LNCO 3500
Salt Lake City, UT 84112

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

350 Poems

350 Poems is part of's International Day of Climate action, October 24, 2009.

On this site, 350 writers each contributed a poem responding to climate change (in a language of their choosing) in the days/hours leading up to October 24th. As an additional constraint--mirroring the real political obstacles and shortage of time we face--each poem had to be 3.5 lines in length.

Why 350? Because that is the agreed upon safe upper limit for CO2 in the atmosphere (in parts per million). We're currently at 390 and rising, close to what climate experts call "the point of no return." This is a critical moment: we and our political representatives must act quickly in the less than two months before this December's United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Visit for other actions in your area (there are currently over 4000 actions in over 170 countries).

Monday, October 26, 2009

How to quote Louis Zukofsky, how not to revive Dracula, and more

Only one of the five is poetry entry unless you count book and magazines as visual poetry (an ongoing thread on Poetics list that I've been meaning to plog but that's another plost...). Consider Dracula a seasonal entry.

• Unintended consequences of extended copyright terms, no 2,778: this open letter from Paul Zukofsky, violinist and son of poet. Do you think there's a club for eccentric, scholar-tormenting descendents of modernists?

• The campus novel, but not as David Lodge would write it: "Work means the university, and if you thought that 'electrifying scenes of campus politics' was an oxymoron, then you need to read Stoner."

That Dracula sequel apparently makes Dracula the hero, and seems unlikely to be more entertaining than this review of it.

• Some magazine covers are more interesting together.

• White book covers cease to be white in a variety of beautiful ways.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Some Older American Poets by Frank Ormsby | Saturday poem

Time for more poems (& less ABOUT poems, performances & poets)... since this poem is about poets, is it a variant on ars poetica or something else? A paean to endurance...


Sent to you by none via Google Reader:


Some Older American Poets Borders Bookstore, White Plains, NY

Tired of the accomplished young men

and the accomplished young women,

their neat cerebral arcs and sphinctral circles,

their impeccable chic, their sudden precocious surge,

their claims to be named front-runner,

I have turned to the ageing poets – the marathon men,

the marathon women – the ones who breasted the tape

and simply ran on, establishing their own distance.

Home after another funeral they walk by the pond

with a sense of trees thinning and cold in the air,

yet thrill to the dog's passionate slapstick,

his candid arse-up in the debris of last year's storms.

You sprightly mortals, you rowdies at death's door,

for whom the last moment is not too late to begin!

I can't get enough of you, bright-eyed and poetry mad

in the fields next to the cemetery, where you drop to your knees

before the first flower in the world, where you lift your heads

to that bare cry among brambles, the original bird. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2009 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Suspended Sentences

Eliot Weinberger, essayist, cultural critic and award-winning translator of Octavio Paz and Jorge Luis Borges

Blogged via Google Reader:

Eliot Weinberger's enigmatic essays save him from becoming a prisoner of his polemical style


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Are theatre and poetry really so different?

spoken words both... consider too "Readers Theater" occupying adjacent verbal & performance space. Although most "Story Theater" tells stories by reading prose scripts, there are plays in verse (Eliot, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Kid, etc) and epics. How splendid would it be go back to the origins of spoken word and read an oral epic?

Blogged via Google Reader:

With theatrical monologues and peformance poetry more popular than ever, it's become increasingly hard to tell the two forms apart

Poetry and theatre are part of the same stream, and yet there's often a perceived division between the two. I wonder why. Poets often write for the stage, they collaborate with theatre makers or have versions of their work brought to the stage by others – as in The World's Wife, based on the poems of Carol Ann Duffy – but the area where the two forms swim closest together is that of performance poetry. One could even argue that all theatre is, in one sense at least, poetry performed.

Inua Ellams's The 14th Tale, which opens at BAC in London this week, is a case in point. Originally a BAC Scratch commission, it was created with – then taken to Edinburgh by – the production company Fuel, where it went on to receive a Fringe First Award. Ellams is a word and graphic artist, and The 14th Tale is a lyrical, funny and evocative journey through a young man's continent-leaping childhood, a verbally nimble account of the escapades of a boy born of a "long line of trouble-makers". The piece was written not to be read, but specifically to be performed by the author himself – and not just by the author mumbling his words into a microphone. Though the production is minimal in its aesthetic, there are sound effects as well as narrative playfulness.

Ellams says that, while everything else he does is "pure poetry", this project counts as pure theatre: "I wrote it specifically to be in such spaces," he says. In other words it's a poetic monologue, a term you could easily apply to pieces such as Simon Stephens's Sea Wall or even to some recent rhythm-driven new writing for the stage, like Mark O'Rowe's Crestfall or Ali Taylor's Overspill, where the sheer thrill of language is the dominant force.

Luke Wright, co-curator of the Poetry Tent at Latitude and who occasionally performs at the Old Red Lion theatre in London, voices concerns that the need to create a more theatrical experience undercuts the idea that performance poetry is in itself exciting, arguing that self-contained poems can be just as thrilling as a longer monologue.

Ellams disagrees: "If theatre refers to something with dramatic quality, [that is] intense, moving, and inspiring," he says, "then a lot of spoken word is theatre." Yet reviewing Zena Edwards's moving and musical Security at BAC, Lyn Gardner commented that "although Edwards is a remarkable performer, she does not find a way to make the material justify its theatrical format". For her there was a missing bridge between the two mediums.

Maybe we shouldn't get too lost in labels; I find it exciting when poetry and theatre feed of one another, however that happens. We should let the words and the work speak for themselves.

© Guardian News & Media Limited 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Guardian Poem of the week: The Waste Land by TS Eliot

There is something most heartening about a national newspaper of record having a poetry section. But then again, this is in the country where bookies and betting shops make book and give odds on the nation's leading literary prize: The Booker Prize. Can you imagine, say, odds on the Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award showing up on a parimutuel board?

Blogged via Google Reader:

In a first-past-the-post contest, Eliot's mighty fragments are the 'readers' favourite'. But in truth, your opinions are incorrigibly plural

Is it possible to have one favourite poem? Responding to the National Poetry Day blog ("What's Your Favourite Poem?"), most of you thought not. "So patronising it hurts," was the reaction of one poster, who went on to ask whether the topic would promote "critical engagement with poetry" or even "enjoyment of poetry". Another, ofile, versified the argument for diversity: "Poems suit moods, occasions, age,/ even a certain time of day,/ are howls, histories, sighs, / even entertainment … " Many nominations came with the caveat that tomorrow the favourite could well be different.

Others kindly played along with the idea that it might not be entirely philistine to select a particular poem as best able to satisfy all seasons and moods. Having read the work in question at an early, formative age was for many a deciding factor. For a couple of the posters, what mattered was the companionship around the discovery of the poem – the parent or child who shared the reader's enjoyment.

My aim had been for posters to assemble a kind of agenda-free, ad hoc anthology; an online variant of the classic Heaney-Hughes collection, The Rattle-Bag. Judged by that goal, the blog was a success. The choices were refreshingly independent-minded: duplications were unusual. The "winning" poems received a mere three votes apiece. There was a notable absence of the old-fashioned, didactic poem, exemplified by Kipling's "If" (once voted the Nation's Favourite).
At the same time, there were sufficient votes for the kind of poem that offers, however subtly, some kind of moral guidance or comfort, to suggest that this is not a redundant function – and perhaps one to which poets might pay more attention. Cavafy's "The God Abandons Anthony" is such a poem, and it received two votes.

An online anthology is limitlessly capacious, luckily, so there was room for the 20th-century classics you nominated, such as Basil Bunting's "Briggflatts", TS Eliot's "The Waste Land" and Louis Zukofsky's objectivist epic, "A", as well as for Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, Milton's "Lycidas", Pope's "The Dunicad" and a generous selection by WS Graham.
There was no consensus about Larkin, represented by "The Whitsun Weddings" , "An Arundel Tomb" and "Churchgoing". Auden, however, received two editorial votes for a single work, "The Shield of Achilles". From today's younger generation of writers, you nominated Alice Oswald ("Dart") and Matthew Francis ("Poem Without Words").

Familiar figures such as Gerard Manley Hopkins, George Oppen, RS Thomas, John Betjeman, Charles Simic and Mark Strand jostled with the lesser known, like Violet Szabo, Sorley MacClean, John M Ford and Charles Mungoshi. Fernando Pessoa, the remarkable Portugese poet famous for his multiple personae or "eponyms", was introduced with eloquent enthusiasm by gavinscottw, whose first choice was "Tobacconist's".

We also met some Italians (Dante and Ariosto) and a bigger sprinkling of French poets than expected (Éluard, Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Prévert and Apollinaire – who was Polish, admittedly, but wrote in French). We heaved romantic sighs with Lord Byron ("When we two parted") and slipped "Outside the Narrative" with Tom Leonard. We travelled to Nineveh with John Masefield's "Cargoes" and to Hollywood with John Ashbery's Daffy Duck.
Women poets were popular: Stevie Smith, Liz Lochhead, Carol Ann Duffy, Helen Dunmore, Wislawa Symborska, Mary Oliver. Your favourite Americans (after Eliot) were Robert Frost and Wallace Stevens: you also found room for Elizabeth Bishop's "The Moose" and Sylvia Plath's "Mad Girl's Love Song".

As for the Irish, I was glad to see the nomination for Derek Mahon's magnificent "A Disused Shed in Co Wexford". John Montague received a vote for "All Legendary Obstacles", Patrick Kavanagh, for "Epic", and Paula Meehan, for "My Father Perceived as a Vision of St Francis". Louis MacNeice had two nominations – for "Snow" and "The Wiper".

Around half-a-dozen nominations were amassed by a solid trio of 20th-century "greats": TS Eliot, Dylan Thomas and WB Yeats – plus William Shakespeare. Yeats and Shakespeare were represented by a greater variety of poems than Eliot and even Dylan Thomas. From Yeats you liked "The Cloths of Heaven", "The Wild Swans at Coole", "Lapis Lazuli", "Easter 1916", and "The Second Coming" – all fine choices, and suggestive of the potency of the singing line.
Shakespeare took a bow both as sonneteer and playwright. One poster, deadgod, chose King Lear and wrote that "to read Lear is 'to do' as much with the heart and mind as words can provoke". Perhaps there are grounds for arguing with the reassignment of genre – but if the multi-vocal "Waste Land" is a poem, why not 'Lear'?

Your favourite poems, each receiving three nominations, were "The Waste Land", Keats's "Ode to a Nightingale" and Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner". I think I'll leave it to you to find a common thread in these poems!

Since other works by Eliot also received nominations, on the basis of your choices last week it seems that this week's Poem has to be "The Waste Land". It's in copyright, of course, but you can listen to it here.

Leaving aside the "critical engagement" issue (a valuable by-product, but not the primary aim) I hope everyone enjoyed the "anthology" as much as I did. This enjoyment, for me, not only took the form of meeting new work, but of re-reading a poem through the prism of someone else's enthusiasm, and feeling it come differently alive. The collection you made is there in the archive for all to visit. I have only skimmed the surface in this little round-up, and apologise for the many omissions. All your suggestions and comments were much appreciated.

© Guardian News & Media Limited 2009 

Monday, October 19, 2009

John Ashbery Week, Plus PennSound Daily's Anniversary

Sent to you by Vanessa via Google Reader:

via PennSound Daily on 10/19/09

Two years ago today, we launched PennSound Daily with a brief 78-word blurb announcing that a recent Studio 111 Session with Rachel Blau DuPlessis had been added to the site (along with two equally short, backdated items on Charles Olson and Rae Armantrout). Over the past twenty-four months, what started as a Twitter-length newsfeed has moved from the right-hand sidebar to the heart of our front page, grown exponentially in both size and scope — providing information on new additions as well as analysis, historical contextualization and suggestions for further investigation within the PennSound archives — and, in a way, brought our mission full-circle as the poetic text is vivified through the spoken word and then commented upon through writing. With our recent integration of the PennSound Daily archives and our main author and event pages, we hope this resource has become even more useful to our listeners, and if you haven't already subscribed to the feed, we encourage you to do so by clicking on the orange icon above.

We kicked off our first full week of PennSound Dailies on October 22nd with a five-day celebration of the newest author to be added to our roster, John Ashbery. At the time, our Ashbery holdings were so scant at that time that his Kelly Writers House Fellows reading and conversation had to be covered on separate days, and the single track, "They Dream Only of America" (from the Peter Gizzi-edited Exact Change Yearbook) also got its own entry. However, thanks to the generosity of both John Ashbery and David Kermani, and their commitment to the PennSound project, our John Ashbery author page has developed into a remarkably broad archive of five decades of the poet's recorded work, from Some Trees through to a number of as-yet-uncollected poems, written since his latest volume, A Worldly Country. We've recently finished digitizing a number of new recordings from the Ashbery Resource Center, and have decided to mark the two-year anniversary of our Ashbery page with another week of PennSound Daily entries, so keep an eye out, starting tomorrow, for the first of many exciting additions.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ecopoetry for Blog Action Day 2009

Blog Action Day is an annual event every October 15th that unites the world's bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day with the aim of sparking discussion around an issue of global importance.

As of 11 am this morning, 9,335 blogs ~ 12,765,983 readers ~ from 150 countries registered for this year's event. To participate, all you need to do is write a single post on your blog about the issue of climate change on October 15th ~ that's today.  Do sign in at the Blog Action Day website so you can be counted and listed with participating blogs around the world.

Since this is a poetry blog, ecopoetry is the obvious way to go... so what is ecopoetry?

A few links...
For All (by Gary Snyder)
Ah to be alive
on a mid-September morn
fording a stream
barefoot, pants rolled up,
holding boots, pack on,
sunshine, ice in the shallows,
northern rockies.

Rustle and shimmer of icy creek waters
stones turn underfoot, small and hard as toes
cold nose dripping
singing inside
creek music, heart music,
smell of sun on gravel.

I pledge allegiance

I pledge allegiance to the soil
of Turtle Island,
and to the beings who thereon dwell
one ecosystem
in diversity
under the sun
With joyful interpenetration for all.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Poetry Scene: Current Difficulties

Article from UK poetry blog, TextEtc (not to be confused with the Mountainair painting group, Art Etc) current difficulties with poetry

Poets have a poor public image, and make very little money. The problems are their self-centred attitudes, suspect reviewing, commercialization of the book trade, timidity in academia, the barbarism of literary theory, and their own ceaseless production of very indifferent work.

Supply Exceeds Demand; Money Matters; Competitions; The New Aesthetic Barbarism; Reviews and Reviewers; Elitism of Academic Critics; Subjugation to Theory; Classes, Workshops, and Literary Groups

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Critical scholarly/poetic mass in Denver

Critical scholarly mass huddles in Denver for the three-day, annual conference of the Boston-based Association of Literary Scholars and Critics at the Westin Tabor Center Hotel in downtown Denver.

Something like 100 of the nation's leading literary critics and scholars met in Denver over the weekend to talk about improper enjambment of lines when poems are published on the Internet; Euripides' nurse's soliloquies in Medea; and the de facto standards setting chore foisted upon Poetry magazine and the Poetry Foundation in the aftermath of Ruth Lilly's $200 million endowment of both institutions.

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Announcement: Firewheel/Sentence Awards

Firewheel Editions announces the second Sentence Book Award and the fourth Firewheel Chapbook Award:

The Firewheel Chapbook Award is given to a collection of no more than 20 manuscript pages in any genre. Preference is for innovative work (liberally interpreted), work that crosses genres, work that combines images and text, work in formats other than the traditionally bound book, or work that may have difficulty finding publication elsewhere due to the nature, typography, or format of the work. The recipient of the award will receive 50 copies out of a limited edition. 

Entry fee: $15 by check to Firewheel Editions or by PayPal at Checks and submissions may be mailed to Firewheel Chapbook Award, Box 7, WCSU, 181 White St., Danbury, CT 06810. Electronic submissions may be sent to

Postmark/Timestamp Deadline for submissions and fees: November 17, 2009, 11:59 pm PST

The Sentence Book Award will be given to a book-length manuscript of prose poems or a book-length manuscript consisting substantially of prose poems (for example, a book that is half prose poems and half free-verse, or a book-length sequence that mixes passages of prose poetry with other modes). The recipient of the award will receive publication in a trade paper edition with a standard royalty contract and 50 copies of the book. All entrants will receive Sentence #7 (entrants who are already subscribers will have their subscription extended by one issue). 

Entry fee: $25 by check to Firewheel Editions or by PayPal at Checks and submissions may be mailed to Sentence Book Award, Box 7, WCSU, 181 White St., Danbury, CT 06810. Electronic submissions may be sent Postmark/Timestamp Deadline for submissions and fees: November 17, 2009, 11:59 pm PST.

Firewheel Editions subscribes to the CLMP Code of Ethics: "CLMP's community of independent literary publishers believes that ethical contests serve our shared goal: to connect writers and readers by publishing exceptional writing. We believe that intent to act ethically, clarity of guidelines, and transparency of process form the foundation of an ethical contest. To that end, we agree to 1) conduct our contests as ethically as possible and to address any unethical behavior on the part of our readers, judges, or editors; 2) to provide clear and specific contest guidelines defining conflict of interest for all parties involved; and 3) to make the mechanics of our selection process available to the public. This Code recognizes that different contest models produce different results, but that each model can be run ethically. We have adopted this Code to reinforce our integrity and dedication as a publishing community and to ensure that our contests contribute to a vibrant literary heritage."

The recipient of the Sentence Award will be selected by Brian Clements, Editor of Sentence and Firewheel Editions; the recipient of the Firewheel Chapbook Award will be selected by Brian Clements and Tom Nackid, Design Manager for Firewheel Editions. In the event that no recipient is chosen for either award, entry fees will be returned to all of the award's entrants. 

Eligibility: Authors who have published a chapbook or book with Firewheel Editions, authors who have served on the Board of Contributing Editors of Sentence, graduate or undergraduate students and relatives of Brian Clements and Tom Nackid, and all past and current staff members of Sentence and Firewheel Editions are ineligible. 

All manuscripts will come to the editors anonymously after screening and preparation by Firewheel staff.

Submission guidelines:
  • Chapbook Award entrants must explain any special production requirements for their projects in the cover letter.
  • All entrants must provide email address or SASE for Award results.
  • Unless SASE with sufficient postage for return is included, manuscripts will be recycled.
  • Multiple submissions are acceptable with an entry fee for each submission.
  • Translations are acceptable with proof of permission to publish translations.
  • Electronic submissions must be sent as a single attachment in .rtf (preferred for text-only submissions), .doc, or .pdf format.
  • All submitted manuscripts must include a one-page cover with author's name, title, author's email address, and name of Award (Chapbook or Sentence); also include a second title page with title only.
  • The author's name should be recognizable nowhere in the manuscript other than on the cover page.

For more information on Sentence: A Journal of Prose Poetics and
Firewheel Editions, visit or email

2009 Picnic Pics ~ installment 2

Again ~ many & profuse thanks to James Gay for pictures... and Gary Brower for bringing him...

workshoppers read group pantoum: Dale, Karin, Maureen, Kate

Featured reader, Jim Fish

Featured reader: Beth McDonald
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