The only authenticated photgraph of Emily Dickinson is of a 16 year old girl. Amherst College now believes that a privately owned daguerrotype shows the poet as a 28 year old woman - about the time she wrote the "Master" letters.
BEOWULF: A new translation Many modern Beowulf translations, while excellent in their own ways, suffer from what Kathleen Biddick might call “melancholy” for an oral and aural way of poetic making… The sense of loss or nostalgia for the old form seems a necessary and ever-present shadow over modern Beowulfs. What happens, however, when a contemporary poet, quite simply, doesn’t bother with any such nostalgia? Michael Davidson: "Tom Meyer’s Beowulf reenacts the dark grandeur of a poem that is as much a story of vengeance as it is of courage and loyalty. Meyer brings the poem’s alliterative, inflected line in concert with post-Poundian lineation to give the reader a vivid sense of our oldest poem’s modernity." Free download from independent publisher Punctum Books. [more inside]
"Be relentless. All over the world, people are working harder than you." Unsentimental advice from poet and memorist Sarah Manguso about building a career as a writer. (via FSG Work in Progress.)
"The world turns softly / Not to spill its lakes and rivers. / The water is held in its arms / And the sky is held in the water."
Three Nightsongs is a lovely choral work by Joshua Shank that puts three writings by the child-poet Hilda Conkling to music: Evening, Moon Song, and Water.
Akhmatova's work ranges from short lyric poems to intricately structured cycles, such as Requiem (1935–40), her tragic masterpiece about the Stalinist terror. Her style, characterised by its economy and emotional restraint, was strikingly original and distinctive to her contemporaries. The strong and clear leading female voice struck a new chord in Russian poetry. Her writing can be said to fall into two periods – the early work (1912–25) and her later work (from around 1936 until her death), divided by a decade of reduced literary output. Her work was condemned and censored by Stalinist authorities and she is notable for choosing not to emigrate, and remaining in Russia, acting as witness to the atrocities around her. [more inside]
Curious about poetry, but don't know where or how to begin? We've reprinted the first chapter from the book "How to Read a Poem" by Edward Hirsch. Its 16 sections provide strategies for reading poems, and each section has plenty of links to examples of poems in our archive to illustrate the points.
Ever since something was invented to replace it, people have been predicting the end of the book: The Death Of The Book Through The Ages [more inside]
Hugh MacDiarmid was born 120 years ago today. Best known for his long, comic, dark, epic, complex poem A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle, he was a central figure in the Scottish Renaissance. He was the type of guy who would get kicked out of the Scottish National Party for being a communist and get kicked out of the Communist Party of Great Britain for being a Scottish nationalist. [more inside]
..And I Am the arrow,The dew that flies, Suicidal, at one with the drive Into the red Eye, the cauldron of morning.
'Everyone Has a Name' Project Everyone has a name. And everyone has a story. This photo project is dedicated to promoting dignity and to enlightening society's view of the homeless. A project by Charlie O'Hay. [more inside]
Acclaimed New Zealand children's and young adult's book author Margaret Mahy died in Christchurch yesterday aged 76. [more inside]
In 1992, renowned sci-fi author and futurist William Gibson (Neuromancer, Virtual Light) released Agrippa (A Book of the Dead), a self-playing poem contained on a floppy disk for old Macintosh computers that, once its text had scrolled up the screen one time, would be rendered unreadable on purpose. Now, 20 years later, a PhD student at the University of Toronto is enlisting the aid of cryptographers in hopes of figuring out how the program works. [more inside]
1,143,839,622,748,050,000,000,000,000 Sonnet Anagrams and oodles of other oddities from Mike Keith involving constrained writing, mathematics, music, and the number π.
Natasha Trethewey has been named the 19th US Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry by the Library of Congress. The NY Times has published a selection of her poems. Meanwhile, the NY Daily News wonders: Do we still need a U.S. Poet Laureate? More freely available poems here.
Book Spine Poetry is poetry made from the words on the spines of books.
Peasant culture and Russian folklore in Soviet animation (~400 minutes whereof): Soviet animation abounds in fantasies about the natural, wholesome lives of honorable, strong-willed Russian peasants and folk heroes and their struggles against villainy and adversity. Decorated with splendid folk art motifs that verge on horror vacui, these cel-animated cartoons are excellent aids for learning about (popular conceptions of) Russian folk material culture: decoration, architecture, dress, weaponry, textiles, domestic culture, manners, and so on. [more inside]
How should I know what I'll be, I who don't know what I am? / Be what I think? But I think of being so many things!
Countless lives inhabit us.
I don’t know, when I think or feel,
Who it is that thinks or feels.
I am merely the place
Where things are thought or felt. [more inside]
I don’t know, when I think or feel,
Who it is that thinks or feels.
I am merely the place
Where things are thought or felt. [more inside]
"Why do I only speak out now / Aged and with my last drop of ink: / Israel's nuclear power is endangering / Our already fragile world peace?"
Günter Grass barred from Israel over poem. [Guardian.co.uk] Nobel laureate, who says he had not meant to criticise Israel but Netanyahu government, declared persona non grata. The celebrated German author Gunter Grass has been declared persona non grata in Israel following the publication of his poem [Guardian.co.uk] warning that the Jewish state's nuclear programme was a threat to an "already fragile world peace". [more inside]
April is National Poetry Month. To celebrate, the Academy of American Poets is having 30 different poets each curate their Tumblr blog for 24 hours, posting whatever they please. [more inside]
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.
A great deal of poetry was written about the Great War, much of it by soldiers in the trenches. Two period books of World War I poetry and poets are The Muse in Arms and For remembrance, available in a variety of formats at archive.org. There is also The First World War Digital Poetry Archive which mostly has things from the most well-known authors, but many of these are available as scans of the original documents. (The interface is a little iffy on the DPA; click on a person, then use the search for "any poem" to get a full listing of what's available)
Neil Gaiman writes a poem about nudity (in collaboration with Olivia De Berandinis). Katie West responds. Neil approves. [consider the entire post NSFW] [more inside]
Old Book Illustrations are vintage pictures that were originally wood engravings or woodcuts, etchings or metal engravings. Old Book Art is pictures, drawings, maps and other images from antiquarian, public-domain books and other old documents. [more inside]
Sierra DeMulder is one of the most accomplished and recognizable young women in the world of slam poetry. The two-time National Poetry Slam champion has spent the past five years energizing audiences at colleges and poetry events across the nation, seamlessly weaving complex issues of identity and gender with the honesty of heartbreak. Her piece 'Paper Dolls', recently shared on Project Unbreakable (previously), is very, very good. TRIGGER WARNING - subject matter pertains to sexual assault.
“Aaliyah would have been on Twitter. It is fucked up that she is dead.” Poet and Twitter entity Patricia Lockwood talks with HTMLGIANT about Twitter, literature, twitterature, comedy, poetry, sexting, Aaliyah and Olive Garden. Lockwood suggests that there may be something substantial and heretofore unexamined rumbling in the bowels of certain Twitter communities and people (such as @graeyalien and MeFi's own @gregerskine.)
Poems While You Wait A group of Chicago poets, led by Dave Landsberger and Kathleen Rooney, sets up shop at festivals, markets, libraries—even a planetarium—and writes "artisanal" poems on demand, in front of their customers, with proceeds going to a literary non-profit. And they're not the only ones.
Anatol Knotek creates hand-drawn word pictures of Bob Dylan and Van Gogh among others. [more inside]
Slam poet Marshall Soulful Jones performs "Touchscreen".
"these little songs, and many like them, were made for the comfort of my friends, in their sorrow, doubt and suffering"
An internet search, even in these days of abundant information, yields only that the pamphlets can be found in various library collections, and that they continued to be produced into the '70s. And that Edmund Wilson once sent one, "Mr. P. Squiggle's Reward," to Nabokov, calling it "one of the oddest of many odd things that are sent me by unknown people." He also got the title wrong, dubbing it "Mr. P. Squiggle's Revenge," which is probably significant. But that’s it: nothing about Volk or McCalib.Epitomes was a series of pamphlets published by Elwin Volk and Dennis McCalib. Few traces of Volk's life are to be found, but he seems to have been a lawyer, and wrote at least a couple of pamphlets about law, which he self-published in Pasadena. McCalib is equally elusive. A man by that name contributed to an issue of One: The Homosexual Viewpoint in 1964. A Dennis McCalib also used the pseudonym Lord Fuzzy. The aforementioned "Mr. P. Squiggle's Reward" got a curt, two half-sentence dismissal in Poetry Magazine, otherwise these pamphlets seem not to have troubled the literary world. Someone donated their manuscripts to UCLA where they rest undigitized in fourteen boxes. But Library of Congress has scanned a total of twenty-six pages in high resolution.
When a benefit is suggested for men, the question asked is: "Will it benefit men?" When a benefit is suggested for women, the question is: "Will it benefit men?"
Tobar an Dualchais will keep you busy for awhile. It's a collection of over 26,000 oral recordings made in Scotland, from the 1930s onward. Folklore, songs, music, history, poetry, oh my. Includes some fascinating material from Belle Stewart, the McPake Sisters of Peebles and John the Bard.
Néo Fénéon: "Three thousand seven hundred dollars richer after stealing from the job, Marvin Williams, 25, of Brooklyn, went to urinate in a playground." - Items from the NYPD blotter remixed daily in the style of Félix Fénéon. (previously)
The Battle Of Maldon is an Old English poem (here in the original Old English, here in a modern translation) retelling the events of a battle that took place in England in 991, in which a small army of Saxons attempted to halt an invading Viking force only to suffer a crushing defeat. This battle, and the disastrous rout suffered by the Saxons, led to the introduction of the Danegeld, the payment of silver in tribute to the Vikings to buy off their invading forces. [more inside]
Evgeny Kissin is not only a phenomenally active, high-strung, and almost unfailing pianist, he also declaims poetry in public -- in Yiddish. [more inside]
The Spam Poetry Institute is an organization dedicated to collecting and preserving the fine literature created by the world’s spammers
Sandusky, Ohio is probably best known for its roller coasters (and maybe the wineries in the area), but one of the most interesting places--a tiny little island in the Sandusky Bay called Johnson's Island--is very often overlooked. Once the home of a prison camp for confederate soldiers, daring (and not so daring) escapes, convoluted espionage schemes, poetry, and eating rats. [more inside]
"everything is good that / has a good beginning / and doesn't have an end / the world will die but for us there is no / end!" Thus ends Victory over the Sun (part 1, part 2), the "first Futurist opera". [more inside]
How well do you really know old Arty? It all began with the Welsh: The The Annales Cabriae (inside) and parts of the Welsh oral tradition (later collected into the Mabinogion) give a very different picture of the popular King Arthur than contemporary readers are familiar with: no Lancelot, three or four different Guens, no love triangles or Holy Grails. A look at the vast scope of the Arthurian legend. [more inside]
Former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove edited The Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry, released in October. Harvard professor and critic Helen Vendler objects to Dove's choices; Dove reacts (and Vendler, succinctly, replies, "I have written the review and I stand by it.") and so do other critics, with charges of racism and, relatedly, too narrow a view of poetic traditions. [more inside]
"Almost everything I do is based on other texts anyway. Without plagiarism, there would be no literature. I'm a rewrite man." The poet Christoper Logue has died, aged 85. Logue had a varied career, at various points serving in the British Army (and being arrested for espionage after a drunken threat to sell secrets), writing pornography under the nom de plume Count Palmiro de Vicarion, recording George Martin-produced, "heroically daft" jazz recitals of the poems of Pablo Neruda (YT) and regularly contributing to the British satirical magazine Private Eye, where he edited Pseuds' Corner, while finding the time to be arrested again, for civil disobedience as part of Bertrand Russell's Committee of 100. [more inside]
Reading Blaise Cendrars is like stepping into another universe. His fiction is unlike anything else I've ever read. His poetry influenced the mighty Guillaume Apollinaire and helped shape the face of modernism. But it is his mockery of biographical detail and the very notion of literature that fascinates me the most. If, like me, you're not a fan of autobiography, then Blaise Cendrars is the memoirist for you.