Anselm Hollo, Finnish-born poet, translator, and teacher, has died. A major figure in the poetry avant garde for decades, Hollo was a professor at the Naropa Institute's Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. Robert Archambeau writes: "Hollo's grasp of the gulf between the sublimity of which poetry is capable, and the absurdities into which poets fall in pursuit of that chimera, a 'career in poetry,' made him the ideal person to hold the title of United States Anti-Laureate, to which he was elected by the Buffalo POETICS list back at the turn of the century."
Poet Adrienne Rich, celebrated over her 60-plus-year career with the Yale Younger Poets Prize, the National Book Award, a MacArthur Fellowship, and many other awards, and known for both her vivid and original poetry and her advocacy of feminist and civil rights causes, has died at the age of 82. Read, watch, listen.
John Mullan in The Guardian compiles a list of the top ten fictional poets from literature. The article's comments thread has already reminded him of a couple he neglected: "Ka" (Kerim Alakusoglu) from Orhan Pamuk's Snow, and William Ashbless from Tim Powers' The Anubis Gates. Others might include Kid from Samuel Delany's Dhalgren; Cesárea Tinajero, Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima of Roberto Bolaño's The Savage Detectives (really, the character lists for many of Bolaño's novels would provide multiple fictional minor poets of course); Adam Dalgleish from P.D. James' mysteries; Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago; Saul Bellow's Von Humboldt Fleisher. Other links to discussions of fictional poets.
In 1982, the young Barack Obama published two poems in a literary magazine while an undergraduate at Occidental College. Many years later, political and literary commentators looking for insight into the leader's inner workings unearthed the poems: The New Yorker gave readers Harold Bloom's mixed reaction, Ian McMillan assessed the juvenile work in The Guardian, the Times (UK) tried to place the poems within the context of American presidents who published poems, and even Huffington Post took a crack at figuring what the poems tell us about the politician. A little later, the Blue Rose Arts Collective used the text of the poem "Underground" in a short video piece. Obama maintains his interest in poetry: also in 2008 the president was photographed holding a copy of Nobel Prize-winning poet Derek Walcott's Collected Poems. (U.S. Presidents and poetry more generally, previously.)
Patti Smith, best known as a singer-songwriter (whose lyrics have occasionally been collected into books of poetry) has won the National Book Award in Nonfiction for Just Kids, her memoir of the years she spent living with the late artist Robert Mapplethorpe.
Poet and editor Michael Gizzi, known equally well for his own verbally inventive work and for publishing the work of other innovative poets (he used to edit Hard Press and lingo magazine), has died. He got his start studying at Brown with National Book Award winning poet and editor Keith Waldrop, whose Burning Deck Press published Gizzi's most recent collection, New Depths of Deadpan. The first ("Michael") link has many further links to Google Books versions of Gizzi's collections (as usual semi-blocked, but you can flip through them to get a sense of the career).
Everyone and his or her uncle has griped about the mediocre official inaugural poems heralding recent new U.S. presidencies. Meanwhile, poets Arielle Greenberg & Rachel Zucker have put together a blog, STARTING TODAY, commissioning a poem a day from many of those they consider the best contemporary poets writing today, documenting in verse life under the new ruling paradigm.