Tadeusz Różewicz (1921-2014)
was a renowned Polish ‘poet, playwright, screenwriter, novelist, satirist and translator.’ Reckoned by Seamus Heaney as ‘one of the great European poets of the 20th century,’ he died in April at the age of 92: Guardian obituary
; NYT obituary
. [more inside]
For this year's National Poetry Month
, the Poetry Foundation
has set up a SoundCloud group
." They're inviting people to record themselves reading their favorite poems. (via
) [more inside]
(bio, pics, recordings
) was a Chilean poet and Nobel Prize winner
. His work comprises 48 books* (excluding posthumous publications), the most famous of which remain Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair
) and Canto General
. [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.
Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer
has been awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature
. His poetry has been translated into more than five dozen languages and is the living poet who has been translated most into English. He received the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2007, and the award page
is a pretty extensive source of information. Below the cut I'll include a few of his poems that I've found online, but the best place to start is the poetry section of his website
, where you'll also find an interview
and a list of English translations
. Tom Slegh wrote an appreciation of Tranströmer
and Mary Karr and Christopher Robinson discuss him briefly on Poetry Fix
, and read two of his poems. [more inside]
was a priestess and poet in the city of Ur in the 23rd century BC and supposedly the daughter of Sargon the Great of Akkad. She is the first author known by name. Here are a number of her poems in English translation, The Exaltation of Inana
, Inana and Ebih
, A Hymn to Inana
, The Temple Hymns
and A Balbale to Nanna
. Here are two alternate translations of The Exaltation of Inana, one by James D. Pritchard
and an English rendering of Dr. Annette Zgoll's German translation
. If you want to learn more, go to The En-hedu-Ana Research Pages
Sir Humphry Davy
Was not fond of gravy.
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium.
This is the first example of the form that came to be known as the clerihew
. [more inside]
Should you find yourself wandering around the city of Leiden, the Netherlands sometime, you may notice some curious markings
on the city's walls.
("Wall Poems") adorn many of the town's streets (clickable map)
, and many English-language poets are represented: one John Keats
, for instance, inside a bookshop; Dylan Thomas
, E. E. Cummings
, W.B. Yeats
, some guy called William Shakespeare
, or this ode to Charlie Parker
by American William Waring Cuney
. [more inside]
Classic Poetry Aloud
: free recordings of 427
public domain poems.
The Gawain Project
is an ongoing translation of the late 14th century anonymous poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
(originally written in Middle English) into Modern English, for the amusement of Arthurians and anyone who likes a good story. [via mefi projects]
William Shakespeare wrote some of the world's finest sonnets. The website shakespeares-sonnets.com
is a fine place to start delving into the poems. Here you can see scans of the first edition
of The Sonnets as printed by Thomas Thorpe in 1609. If you wish there were more sonnets by Shakespeare, your jones might be eased by the Shakespeare Sonnet Shake-Up, which lets you remix them according to taste. And finally there's Shakespeare in Tune, a site where Jonathan Willby recites each of the 154 sonnets following a short improvisation on a German flute.
is a simple, no frills site with over 200 classical Chinese poems, mostly from the Tang period. The poems are presented in traditional and simplified chinese characters, pinyin and English translation, both literal and literary. Here's Du Mu's Drinking Alone
Outside the window, wind and snow blow straight,
I clutch the stove and open a flask of wine.
Just like a fishing boat in the rain,
Sail down, asleep on the autumn river.
Among other poets featured are Li Bai
(a.k.a. Li Po), Du Fu
and Wang Wei
. As a bonus, here's the entire text of Ezra Pound's Cathay
, most of whom are from Li Bai originals.
Max Dohle's Stapelgedichten
is a simple concept. Stack up some books, take a picture: a poem is born. Most are in Dutch, but there are some English ones as well
All should see him before the Cholera arrives ! Beautiful Moon, with thy silvery light,
Thou seemest most charming to my sight;
As I gaze upon thee in the sky so high,
A tear of joy does moisten mine eye. William Topaz McGonagall
, the worlds greatest poet (again).
Philip Larkin: Great Poet, Shame About The Man?
When is an excess of biography, i.e. high-minded, clumsily-disguised gossip, an impediment to literary appreciation? Nowadays, it seems always
. [More inside.
'Robert Burns: poet and balladeer, Scotland's favourite son and champion of the common people. Each year on January 25, the great man's presumed birthday, Scots everywhere take time out to honour a national icon. Whether it's a full-blown Burns Supper or a quiet night of reading poetry, Burns Night is a night for all Scots.'More
on the Robert Burns Tribute site.
Wordsworth once said of the sonnet that he hoped that those "[w]ho have felt the weight of too much liberty,/Should find such brief solace there, as I have found." Sonnet Central offers a copious library of sonnets, mainly in the Anglo-American tradition but with examples from around the world. Those who wish to explore further in the sonnet's paradoxically expansive "scanty plot of ground" (Wordsworth again) may also wish to try Petrarch's Canzoniere
(complete set, Italian with English translations); Shakespeare's Sonnets
(self-described as "amazing"; the full cycle with glosses and paraphrases, plus illustrations and links to other poems); Golden Age Spanish Sonnets
(translations); Christina Rossetti's Monna Innominata: A Sonnet of Sonnets
(a reflection on the traditional sonnet sequence); George Meredith's Modern Love
(a bleaker revision of the sonnet sequence tradition, featuring sixteen-line "sonnets"); and an excerpt from John Hollander's Powers of Thirteen
(do the math and you'll see the experiment--it's an interesting modern sequence).
Can Poetry Matter - Part 2
(nyt reg req) "Today photography is considered by many to be the most effective way to convey the plight of war's combatants, victims and mourners. But during World War I it was through poetry that many Britons came to share the horror of life and death in the muddy trenches of northern France.....To this day, every time Britons go to war, the opening lines of Rupert Brooke's 1914 poem, "The Soldier," are remembered: "If I should die, think only this of me:/That there's some corner of a foreign field/That is forever England."..."
Meet John Clare.
In 1832, he wrote to John Taylor, saying:
'in spite of every difficulty rhyme will come to the end of my pen -- when I am in trouble I go on & it gives me pleasure by resting my feelings of every burthen & when I am pleased it gives me extra gratification & so in spite of myself I rhyme on.'*
And John Clare knew difficulty
. Born to dirt poor farmers in 1793, he wrote his first poem at 13 and published his first book of poetry at 27. Yet he found himself committed to the Northampton General Lunatic Asylum by the age of 48. Why? It was determined that he suffered from too many "years addicted to poetical prosings."
A poet of the sonnet form, he has suffered from a lack of academic attention until just recently
. He does, however, have a society
in his name, and a John Clare conference
will be held in North America next year.
"...[T]heir lives were rich with experience, and they felt compelled to share it
, at least among themselves." Cowboy poets strut their stuff
at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering
. Be sure to look for some of them at the Olympics
So this year's Best American Poetry
book is out, which means it's time once again for me to feel (English-major) guilt about not enjoying, or even "getting," more contemporary poetry. It looks like I'm not the only one, though, who wonders, "Does anybody like these poems?"
Poet Joan Houlihan
likens this collection to a "suburban poetry mall." (via Arts & Letters Daily)