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Preview: Choriamb: Poetry News and Reviews

Choriamb: Poetry News and Reviews

Choriamb: Poetry News and Reviews -

Last Build Date: Tue, 21 Apr 2009 20:19:21 GMT


W.S. Merwin wins 2009 Pulitzer Prize

Tue, 21 Apr 2009 20:19:21 GMT

The Shadow of Sirius
W.S. Merwin - Copper Canyon Press

The Laughing Thrush

O nameless joy of the morning

tumbling upward note by note out of the night
and the hush of the dark valley
and out of whatever has not been there

Read rest of poem @ Verse Daily.

W. S. Merwin: The 'Sirius' Side Of Poetry NPR

Fresh Air from WHYY, April 21, 2009 · W.S. Merwin won his second Pulitzer Prize for poetry on April 20 for The Shadow Of Sirius.

In a 2008 interview, Merwin read a few of his poems and talked about memory, mortality and acceptance in his poetry.


Tue, 21 Apr 2009 20:18:15 GMT

Posting here will only be occasional for the next couple of months--I'm in the middle of moving. I'll begin posting regularly again once my life gets settled.


a poem should float

Fri, 27 Mar 2009 22:17:01 GMT

Kay Ryan Reflects on Role as Nation's Poet Laureate Online NewHour 3/25/09

Jeffrey Brown asks Kay Ryan whether she makes "a conscious effort to get [her poetry] down to an essence," or whether that's just the way she thinks:
KAY RYAN: It's apparently the way I think. I would like to say that, if a poem feels really dense, it isn't good. I mean, if you put it in your hand and it falls through your hand, that's no good. It's got to float.

If you have this idea of compressed language, it gives people a sense that it's going to be dense and kind of oppressive, whereas I would like to think that it can be highly selected, but not make you feel that you've just had a vitamin pill.

We Have No Minor Poets

Thu, 26 Mar 2009 18:34:06 GMT

"Curiously, it is almost impossible to find...modest assessments when one turns to contemporary poetry. Indeed, the problem of neglect or insignificance evaporates in a situation in which, in spite of the vast numbers writing (800 to 1,000 books of poetry are published in the United States per year; thousands of other poets publish in journals and quarterlies), we have no minor poets. Everyone today, like those above-average children of Lake Wobegon, is brilliant and sui generis."

Poet's Puffery JEFFREY H. GRAY Chronicle of Higher Education February 27, 2009

Bob Dylan is one of our best poets

Thu, 26 Mar 2009 18:25:37 GMT

Tangled Up In School: Teaching Dylan In Boston NPR March 21, 2009
"I think that [Bob Dylan is] one of the best contemporary American poets, even if you just look at the lyrics stripped of the music. He's been an important link between some of the great poets behind him, like Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot, and in turn he's been an inspiration and subject for poets like Paul Muldoon and [Allen] Ginsberg."
-Kevin Barents

Describe what the poems are trying to do

Wed, 25 Mar 2009 18:51:33 GMT

Show Your Work!
A poet calls for a new kind of poetry criticism, and a new kind of critic.
by Matthew Zapruder, Poetry Foundation

"Of course there are good reviewers who write interesting, thoughtful, and provocative pieces about American poetry. But look for yourself at the vast majority of reviews in journals, in print and online, and ask yourself whether for the most part the writers are doing a good job of actually describing what the poems are trying to do, how they are doing it, and why anyone would be driven to write (not to mention read) these poems. Are these reviews in any way truly helpful for understanding poetry?"

A-Z Hyperguide to British Poets

Wed, 25 Mar 2009 18:44:45 GMT

We Brits: An A-Z hyperguide to the multicultural poets, publishers, and performers changing the face of UK poetry.
by Karen McCarthy, Poetry Foundation

An Overview of Past Poet Laureates

Wed, 25 Mar 2009 18:40:33 GMT

'Oh God, the Royal poem!!' Adam Newey Guardian 3.21.09

The historical list of laureates provides an odd mix of proper poets and political placemen who, regardless of talent, have almost always proved an irresistible target for the barbs of their peers.

Why the Plath Legacy Lives

Wed, 25 Mar 2009 18:35:43 GMT

Why the Plath Legacy Lives
March 24, 2009 - New York Times
Joyce Carol Oates, Peter D. Kramer, Erica Jong, Andrew Solomon, Elaine Showalter

New Books by Natal, Lemmon

Tue, 24 Mar 2009 21:40:32 GMT


Memory and Rain
by Jim Natal - Red Hen Press (February 15, 2009)


Out east on the desert freeway,
after the rain blowing in from the coast
had been blocked by the mountains doing their work,
the sky was fearless and the sun, half arisen now,

Read rest of poem @ Conflux Press.

Saint Nobody
by Amy Lemmon - Red Hen Press; 1 edition (February 15, 2009)


If you are reading this
it is due to an error,
an oversight, or some otherwise
unprecedented act on the part
of the Management.

Read rest of poem @ Ars Poetica. (Previously published in Prairie Schooner)

Andrew Motion's one regret

Tue, 24 Mar 2009 21:12:16 GMT

"I wish ... that someone had flown me to Iraq and Afghanistan and encouraged me to write about the wars in those places."

'No writing is as hard as this' - poet laureate's parting shot Stephen Bates
The Guardian, Saturday 21 March 2009

Son of Sylvia Plath Commits Suicide

Tue, 24 Mar 2009 21:07:34 GMT

Son of Sylvia Plath Commits Suicide
New York Times March 23, 2009

"Nicholas Hughes, the son of the poet and novelist Sylvia Plath and the British Poet Laureate Ted Hughes, killed himself at his home in Alaska, nearly a half-century after his mother and stepmother took their own lives, according to a statement from his sister."

How strained can a rhyme be before it's too strained?

Wed, 18 Mar 2009 20:15:47 GMT

Good interview w/Andrew Hudgins:

From worse to verse: Quirks of behavior provoke rhymes from professor BILL EICHENBERGER - THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH - 3/15/08

Q: How strained can a rhyme be before it's too strained?

A: Ogden Nash made a career and a lot of funny poems out of pushing rhymes just a hair too far. ("Parsley/Is gharsley"!) For Nash, going too far is the point - and it's what makes us laugh. But rhymes are a bit like puns. Some please us with their exactness or their surprise or their stretches, while others leave us cold, or actually make us turn up our noses. Me, I love all sorts of puns, the worse the better.

Q: You actually found a rhyme for the word "scrotum." Is that the poet's equivalent of scaling Mt. Everest?

A: It's more like a kid's finding the perfect snowball to throw at a top hat. Then happening, in this day and age, to find an old gentleman walking down your street wearing a top hat. Then hoping that your aim is good enough to hit the hat. "Factotum" is worth thinking about. "Totem"? "Float 'em"?

Also see: Poets on Process: An Interview with Andrew Hudgins 11/20/2008 by Frank Giampietro The Southeast Review

Writing poetry is like sitting in your Honda

Tue, 17 Mar 2009 23:06:48 GMT

Knopf, February 10, 2009

"The poet's task is both to dramatize our most intimate and intense feelings, and at the same time give us a perspective on them. Stonington's great poet James Merrill once compared the process to sitting in your Honda while it goes through the car wash. Calmly inside, you watch a virtual storm of lashing torrents and winds. That's it exactly!"

Five Questions With J.D. McClatchy: J.D. McClatchy on poets, poetry and his newest collection, 'Mercury Dressing'
By Kenton Robinson The Day 3/15/2009

Mercury Dressing
J.D. McClatchy

To steal a glance and, anxious, see
Him slipping into transparency—
The feathered helmet already in place,
Its shadow fallen across his face

Read rest of poem @ The New Yorker, 4.23.07

An Examination of the Poet in Time of War

Wed, 11 Mar 2009 18:33:59 GMT

"'The war, people said, had revived their interest in poetry,' said Virginia Woolf after the First World War. This phenomenon has repeated itself. Following September 11 and, subsequently, following the most recent invasion of Iraq, people who weren't ordinarily interested in poetry suddenly read poems. Poets who didn't ordinarily pay attention to public events suddenly wrote poems responding to them. And while it's easy to welcome anything that increases the audience of an ancient art, that welcome may disguise perennially intractable questions. What is a desire to read poetry in a time of social crisis really a desire for? Should a poet feel that by writing a poem he has truly fulfilled a social responsibility? Should a reader feel that a poem responding to calamitous events is a better poem than a poem about shop windows?"

An Examination of the Poet in Time of War
by James Longenbach
from The Antioch Review, Winter 2009
Reprinted at Poetry Daily

New books by White, Douglas, Gray

Sun, 08 Mar 2009 20:20:07 GMT

  Bone Light Orlando White - Red Hen Press - February 15, 2009UNWRITTENEnough to reveal part of what covers a skull, to scrape out its ink with a trowel: a loop of an unfinished alphabet, a C bent to an incomplete circle. Language is not vacant only quiet and nameless, unwritten in the depths of the page, an unclothed sound.Read rest of poem + two others by White @ Reading Between A & B_________________________________cooling board: a long playing poem Mitchell L.H. Douglas - Red Hen Press - February 15, 2009The Battle of New OrleansThe body is no stranger to water,but all that is inside, undercover.When water swallowsRead rest of poem @ Affrilachian Poets____________________________________Photographing Eden by Jason Gray - Ohio University Press - February 3, 2009THE SNOW LEOPARD                In the Metro Toronto ZooHe pads on grassy banks behind a fence,          with measured paces slow and tense.Read rest of poem @ the Poetry Foundation    [...]

Be Negative

Sun, 08 Mar 2009 20:17:21 GMT

 Going Negative: A “necessary skeptic” says what he really thinks about new books by Jane Mead, D.A. Powell, and John Poch.

Poetry March 2009 BY JASON GURIEL

"But negativity, I’m starting to think, needs to be the poetry reviewer’s natural posture, the default position she assumes before scanning a single line. Because really, approaching every new book with an open mind is as well-meaning but ultimately exhausting as approaching every stranger on the street with open arms; you’ll meet some nice people, sure, but your charming generosity won’t be reciprocated most of the time. What’s worse, a tack-sharp taste, dinged by so much sheer dullness, will in time become blunted (into blurb-writing, no doubt). When braving any new book of poems—particularly by an author you’re not too familiar with—it’s best to brace yourself and expect the worst. This needn’t involve cynicism. Indeed, you probably shouldn’t be opening the book in the first place if you aren’t, on some deep level, already hoping for the best—that is, the discovery of a great poem. But hope should remain on that deep level, well-protected, until the shell that shields it is genuinely jarred."

"Poet's Choice" goes web-only

Sun, 08 Mar 2009 20:16:25 GMT


"With its change to a Web-only feature, Poet's Choice is evolving. We'll be asking a different poet each week to share with us a poem he or she has written. Mary Karr, who has been our eloquent columnist since March 2008, starts us off on this new format."

Washington Post March 8, 2009

Let poetry be restored to the marketplace

Tue, 03 Mar 2009 19:48:06 GMT

"T. S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams. Auden, Yeats, Pound, Frost and others...were amateurs—in the best sense of the word. They wrote poetry for love whether or not they were paid. They had day jobs: banker (Eliot), doctor (Williams), insurance executive (Wallace Stevens), librarian (Philip Larkin). As they say: subsidize something and you get more of it. And boy, we have whole anthills of poets today. As Epstein summarized the field, poetry 'flourishes in a vacuum.' More than 250 universities had creative writing programs when he wrote, all with a poetry component. Dana Gioia, in an excellent Atlantic Monthly article in 1991, put the figure at 200. With 10 students in each section, he wrote, unreassuringly, 'these programs alone will produce about 20,000 accredited professional poets over the next decade.'"

"...Cut off all the subsidies. Let poetry be restored to the marketplace. Maybe 150 poets would survive, as in 1941. No such cuts will happen, of course, if only because there are so many generous-hearted and wealthy people around who cannot imagine that more money for something good in itself (poetry) will not produce more of the good; and may actually stifle it."

Poets Galore and Subsidized Poets By Tom Bethell American Spectator 3.3.09

Pros + Cons of Online Lit Mags

Mon, 02 Mar 2009 20:36:40 GMT

"...Writers who choose to publish their work online face a host of potential pitfalls. The benefits far outweigh the risks, but the risks are there and writers should be aware of them."

Now You Read It, Now You Don’t: A Cautionary Look at Online Literary Magazines
By Jessica Powers, New Pages

Ransacking Other Literatures

Mon, 02 Mar 2009 20:23:27 GMT

All Around the World the Same Song:
How globe-trotting poetries may not beat scrawls in a cave.
BY C. K. WILLIAMS, Poetry Foundation

"This is what happened to me and to many other poets during the the late fifties and early sixties, when much of the poetry being written in America seemed to have become overly formalized, self-referential, stale, and, if I dare use the word, spiritually lifeless. Artists are always ranging over their own traditions, searching for viable models of inspiration, but I believe that our mostly unconscious realization during those years that we were at a dead end drove many of us to ransack literatures other than our own, no matter how grand our own surely is. We needed—desperately, it felt then—other cultures, other histories, other poetries, in order to discover aesthetics that would disrupt those we’d inherited. We wanted new models that would make unfamiliar demands, and offer new freedom, new inspiration."

New books by Green, Batykefer, Seed

Mon, 02 Mar 2009 19:57:19 GMT

 American Fractal by Timothy Green - Feb 15, 2009 - Red Hen PressThe Memory of WaterIt can be demonstrated with thermo-    luminescence: the salt solutionretains knowledge of what it once held,     though nature, though logic would tell it otherwise. Dumb as a bedpan,    the hydrogen bond remembersRead this poem + others from American Fractal @ Good Times. 03 OCTOBER 2008___________________________Allegheny, Monongahela by Erinn Batykefer - Red Hen Press - Feb 15, 2009In O’Keeffe’s From the Lake, No. 3,I see a lace of algae as a map—here, a waterway,gritty houses dotting Troy Hill as it rises from the river,ochre silt like sandstone sheared by highways.It is summer. We pull the seashells from the gardenRead rest of poem @ Bucknell University's website__________________________ Anonymous Intruder by Ian Seed - Shearsman Books - Feb 15, 2009BetrayalLost in the wet mist, I met a hermit who led me to his hut. The hut was bare, just two stone benches. He wanted me to lie down and sleep, though I hadn’t eaten all day.Read this plus other prose poems by Ian Seed @ The Cafe Irreal [...]

New Books by Cortez, Powell, Sorby

Sun, 01 Mar 2009 22:19:13 GMT

When possible, excerpts are taken from poems printed in the new books. Otherwise, excerpts are from work that is representative of the poet's work at large. Find more

(image) On the Imperial Highway: New and Selected Poems by Jayne Cortez (Paperback - Feb 23, 2009) Hanging Loose Press

In The Morning

Disguised in my mouth as a swampland
nailed to my teeth like a rising sun
you come out in the middle of fish-scales
you bleed into gourds wrapped with red ants
you syncopate the air with lungs like screams from
like X rated tongues

Read rest of poem @ AfroPoets.Net

Chronic by D.A. Powell. Graywolf Press, 2.17.09


were lifted over the valley, its steepling dustdevils
the redwinged blackbirds convened
vibrant arc their swift, their dive against the filmy, the finite air

Read rest of poem @ Poetry Daily

BirdSkin Coat (Brittingham Prize in Poetry) by Angela Sorby - Feb 16, 2009 - University of Wisconsin Press

Dove and Dove

Cote d’Azure, 1981

Paloma Picasso stands on the high dive wearing a black maillot.
Below her, the photographer forgets the holy spirit’s ascension

as he plunges into concentration: Paloma is vital—her perfume flies
off shelves all over France. Above the photographer’s bent head

Read rest of poem @ The Sycamore Review

No monster hogweed in U.S. poetry crop

Sun, 01 Mar 2009 18:44:04 GMT


Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney

‘The hazel stirred’: Death of a Naturalist (excerpt from Stepping Stones) Found at Poetry Daily

"'Remote on the one hand from the banal, on the other from the eccentric, his genius was calculated to win at once the adhesion of the general public and the admiration, both sympathetic and stimulating, of the connoisseur.' So writes Thomas Mann about Gustav von Aschenbach, great writer and national institution, in Death in Venice; and the description applies unexpectedly well to Seamus Heaney. Heaney is in obvious ways unlike Mann's Apollonian aesthete, but he too has managed to win the love of the many and the esteem of the few, in a way that no American poet since Frost has managed. As Heaney observes in this important book-length interview, designed to serve in lieu of a memoir, 'In the United States, there's a great crop of ripe, waving poetry--but there's no monster hogweed sticking up out of it.' But he has always been that hogweed in the small but teeming field of Irish poetry, and for the past forty years Heaney has led the richly burdened existence of the responsible artist."

In the Word-Hoard
Adam Kirsch,
The New Republic March 04, 2009