Without surprise The world might change to something quite different, As the air changes or the lightning comes without our blinking, Change as the kisses are changing without our thinking. Charles Simic on Elizabeth Bishop's uncollected poems
The Goats of West Point ”...though only about twenty years of age, had the appearance of being much older. He had a worn, weary, discontented look, not easily forgotten by those who were intimate with him.” A new book tells the story of Sergeant Major Edgar Allan Poe, Battery H (.pdf), First Artillery Washout, West Point, Class of 1834. And of other famous cadets.
Other loves still breathe deep inside me. This one's too short of breath even to sigh. "First Love", by Wislawa Szymborska. (via the Daily Poems of poems.com)
He complained to [Kingsley] Amis in 1943...that "all women are stupid beings" and remarked in 1983 that he'd recently accompanied Monica [Jones] to a hospital "staffed ENTIRELY by wogs, cheerful and incompetent." ...His views on politics and class seemed to be pithily captured in a ditty he shared again with Amis. "I want to see them starving,/The so-called working class,/Their wages yearly halving,/Their women stewing grass..." For recreation he apparently found time for pornography, preferably with a hint of sado-masochism".
John Banville on Philip Larkin.
John Banville on Philip Larkin.
"[She] loved as in our age People already do no longer; as only The wild soul of a poet Is still condemned to love". Ever since her tragic death in a car accident in 1967, Forough Farrokhzad has been drawing thousands of visitors to the Zahir-al-Doleh cemetery in Tehran. They come to lay flowers, recite poetry and light candles on the grave of the poet who has become an inspiration to women not only in Iran, but wherever women's rights are severely curtailed. If she had survived her car crash, the poet would have celebrated her seventieth birthday this year. Farrokhzad was also a film director: her documentary The House is Black is considered a masterpiece by filmmakers like Abbas Kiarostami and Chris Marker and critics like Jonathan Rosenbaum. More inside.
Love that can't be withstood, Love that scatters fortunes, Love like a green fern shading The cheek of a sleeping girl. Seamus Heaney's search for the soul of Antigone. (more inside, with Christopher Logue)
you'll then have a grave in the clouds where you won't lie too cramped "No, no, I never met Paul Celan. This poem is too CLASSIC, too cold, and too difficult to follow. It does nothing to me". Singing, Painting and the Holocaust: Interview with Leon Greenman, Auschwitz Survivor 98288
“To speak in a flat voice / Is all that I can do. / . . . I speak of flat defeat / In a flat voice.” James Wright's letters chronicle many of the major innovations in American poetry in the middle of the twentieth century. They also provide a compelling personal narrative of his life. Here, the American Poetry Review publishes a selection taken from the new volume "A Wild Perfection: The Selected Letters of James Wright". More inside.
The Language of Saxophones At 55, L.A. musician and poet Kamau Daáood is finally beginning to acknowledge the possibility of his own place in local letters with his debut book of poetry, The Language of Saxophones, a 30-plus-year retrospective published by City Lights. Though he’s recorded a solo CD and read nationally and internationally, Daáood had never seen fit to collect his material in a book. Until now. “I never liked the idea of poetry sitting on a shelf somewhere, lost in all those book spines”.
The Epic of Kings. Dr Charles Melville, a lecturer of the University of Cambridge is compiling a list of all the world’s handwritten and illustrated versions of the Shahnameh, the masterpiece of Iranian poet Ferdowsi. “In the first step, I began to search libraries and museums in Iran, Turkey, the United States, India, and a number of European countries. After finding the sources, I traveled to the countries to study the versions that I had found in my search”. Ferdowsi's epic poem (English translation here) has 62 Stories, 990 Chapters, and contains 60,000 rhyming couplets -- making it more than seven times the length of Homer's Iliad.
Here is the story of Hsuan Tsang / A Buddhist monk, he went from Xian to southern India / And back--on horseback, on camel-back, on elephant-back, and on foot. / Ten thousand miles... / Mountains and deserts, / In search of the Truth... Traversing rivers and deserts, scaling mountains and passing through desolate lands with no traces of human habitation, 7th century Chinese monk Hsuan Tsang made his journey in 627 AD from Changan to India for religious purposes. His detailed travel journal is believed to be among the earliest reliable sources of information about distant countries whose terrain and customs had been known, at that time, in only the sketchiest way. He travelled over land mostly on foot and horseback along the Silk Road, west towards India. The Buddhist scholar’s pilgrimage (627-645 AD) contributed enormously to the cultural flow between East and West Asia. His "Hsi Yu Ki" or "Records of the Western World" is considered the most valuable book source for the study of ancient Indian history and culture. Italian explorer Marco Polo, whose travel writings fired the imagination of Europeans for centuries, was believed to have used Hsuan Tsang’s travelogue as a guide during his travels in the 13th century. More than 1,300 years after Hsuan Tsang’s historical journey, Taiwanese magazine Rhythms Monthly embarked on a project to retrace Hsuan Tsang’s 19-year pilgrimage through a road that, today, belongs to 11 different countries. more inside
Poems from the precipice. Sylvia Plath's late poems were published posthumously in a collection edited by her husband, Ted Hughes. As a new facsimile edition of the original manuscript is published, their daughter Frieda defends Hughes against criticism that he interfered with Plath's legacy. (more inside)
With our shipwrecked hearts. Ninety years ago Dino Campana, impoverished and outcast poet self-published his book Canti Orfici (.pdf file) ("Orphic Songs", mastefully translated into English by poet Charles Wright). The birth of the book wasn't marred only by Campana's mental illness (soon afterwards, he was committed to a mental institution). Initially, the "Orphic Songs" were submitted for possible publication to the poet/painter Ardengo Soffici, who promptly lost the manuscript. Campana spent the next six months reconstructing the book from memory. Finally in 1914, with the help of a local printer of religious tracts, he self-published a first edition of around 500, selling only 44. Campana attempted, with marginal success, to sell the remainder of his portion of the run (the printer had taken half the books as partial printing payment) himself at cafes in Florence. He is now remembered as one of Italy's greatest, most imaginative poets (with biographies ,award-winning movies about his troubled life and his dangerous, scandalous love affair with fellow writer Sibilla Aleramo. (more inside)
Her name was Courage & is written Olga "Olga" (.pdf file in main link) is Olga Rudge, violinist, first promoter of the Vivaldi Renaissance, and longtime companion of the poet Ezra Pound. Pound maintained a complicated and delicate balance between the two most significant women in his life, Olga and his wife Dorothy Shakespear (who, among other things, was the daughter of Yeats's mistress). ‘‘Paris is where EP and OR met, and everything in my life happened,’’ Olga (listen to her voice here) said later of the chance encounter with Ezra at 20, rue Jacob, in the salon of Natalie Barney. They were together for fifty years, through the dark-night years of Pound's madness (arrested in 1945 for treason, deemed unable to stand trial and sent to an American mental institution, he once suggested to the UPI bureau chief in Rome that the United States trade Guam for some sound films of Japanese Noh plays, asked Truman many times to make him Ambadassor to Japan or Moscow; Guy Davenport reports dining with him one evening and all Ez said was "gnocchi"), until the poet's death in 1972. She lived on for another quarter century, turning up at conferences of Pound scholars --as far afield as Hailey, Idaho, Pound's birthplace, where she gave a lecture in the local movie theater. "Write about Pound", she told publishers who asked her to write her autobiography. (more inside, with Cantos)
"Whadyawant, motherf*ck?" These are the first words Charles Bukowski speaks in John Dullaghan's documentary about the poet and novelist, famous for his writing and infamous for his drinking and brawling and screwing. The audience member might respond, "To hear your story, Hank, that's what I want." The movie opens with friends (Sean Penn, Harry Dean Stanton, Bono) and colleagues and lovers and fans recounting the myth; theirs are stories of blades pulled on the maitre d' of the swanky Polo Lounge in Beverly Hills, of dangling dicks revealed in public, of a drunk who'd just as soon crack his bottle over your head than share its contents. (more inside)