Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday Afternoon with Lucien Stryk

A quick post for a Sunday holiday afternoon: in a comment by Greg Schwartz to the last post concerning Basho translations, he mentioned the work of Lucien Styrk. I thought I'd point out in a followup post that besides the Basho translations On Love and Barley, Stryk is known for his own poety and his two most popular volumes, The Penguin Book of Zen Poetry and Zen Poems of China and Japan: The Crane's Bill, which were translated with Takashi Ikemoto. Lover's of Issa, as I am, also delight in his sparse translations of 366 haikus, The Dumpling Field: Haiku of Issa.

I discovered an interview and poetry reading by Stryk at, a great audio site dedicated to the poem. It's a long program, but conveniently divided into digestible pieces. The reading, to a certain extent, is droll and perhaps a bit pedantic, but don't be fooled: the work is quite good and the insights even better. Stryk is passing the history and wisdom on to those interested.

There are more than a few insightful moments in this interview/reading. Section three, "Three Poems", opens up with one of his own poems, "The Cormorant." This is of interest particularly in light of his translation of the Basho cormorant poem highlighted in the last post. In the next section, section four, he mentions the zen idea of how one "shouldn't look at things but as things", its relevance to the poet, and how it is so much in the spirit of Basho the zen master. He reads a few of Basho's haiku in the section "A Few Haiku Translations", along with 2 by Buson.

Section 13 contains quite a few readings of Issa's work and here is a real gem from there:


Where there are humans
you'll find flies,
and Buddhas.
translated by Lucien Stryk



Thursday, August 28, 2008

Basho's Journey Continues & Dancing with Mr. B.

A couple of quick notes and then it's onto the continuing saga of Basho's journey. I was really happy to find out that the Voices and Visions series is currently available via the Annenberg Media site. The good news is that all 13 programs are streamable on line for free with a free signup. The bad news is the series and individual titles are pricey: $39.95 each, $389 for the series. That being said, however, they are available on DVD for the first time and this series is about as good as it gets in its treatment of classic American poets. I have used excerpts from these programs in a poetry appreciation class (the Robert Frost video is particularly fine) I've conducted in the past and plan to use them in the future. If I can come up with the dough, I'll definitely be investing.

I ran across another posting of a Brautigan poem on a Live Journal site that was too good not to share:

Star Holes
I sit here
on the perfect end
of a star,

watching light
pour itself into

The light pours
itself through
a small hole
in the sky.

I'm not very happy,
but I can see
how things are
Richard Brautigan

I may be doing a blog only haiku challenge in the future, with print publication of the winner in a future issue of Lilliput Review and also a neat prize for the winner. More on that in a future post but, for now, I will say that all of this is Basho-related.

Over the past week I've been immersing myself in a variety of Basho translations. At work I'm reading Basho's Haiku: Selected Poems by Matsuo Basho translated by David Landis Barnhill, which I'll be getting to in a future post. At home I've just finished up On Love and Barley translated by Lucien Styrk and have been dipping into a number of volumes by the classic haiku commentator, R. H. Blyth, concerning Basho. Blyth is amazing, his knowledge of haiku all-encompassing, and he always manages to off-handedly put in a word about Wordsworth or Lawrence or Whitman, so much so that I have to admit I actually like a critic. Hmn, I've been a bit faint of late, perhaps I need to take my temperature.

It took me quite sometime to get with the flow of Stryk's Basho but once I did there was much to appreciate there. Of the 250 plus poems here, I marked off 15 as being particularly noteworthy. The virtue of Stryk's translation also exhibits its flaw: brevity. These are stripped down to the barest bones. Most are under 10 words, some less than five. When the translations work, they are like the Eastern style of brushwork art; a stroke here, a bird, a few there, an entire mountain range. The brevity suggests boundless possibility and the reader fills in the details. When they fall flat, there is simply nothing, in a most unzen-like way. The ultimate success of the work, I believe, is that some of those that fall flat for me may work for someone else and vice versa. Ultimately, it is Basho who shines through and I suspect the less-is-more approach might have appealed to his monk-like sensibility. He certainly knew how to pack a rucksack with the minimal amount of things!

Here's a few highlights that grabbed me:


If I'd the knack
I'd sing like
cherry flakes falling.

Skylark on moor -
sweet song
of non-attachment.

Cormorant fishing
how stirring
how saddening.

Come see real
of this painful world.

Morning-glory -
it, too,
turns from me.

Man's end -
a bamboo shoot,
or less.

Year-end sprucing,
hanging his own shelf.

Summer grasses,
all that remains
of soldiers' dreams.

June rain,
hollyhocks turning
where sun should be.


The "summer grasses" haiku is one that I featured in another translation in a previous post. Stryk does it with more economy and equal effect, I believe. It is all, perhaps, a matter of taste, but the more translations I read, the fuller the picture of the original poet, Basho, I seem to get. The verse about the cormorant fishing perhaps needs a gloss. Fisherman commonly used the cormorant to fish by tying a string around its neck so when the bird snared a fish it couldn't swallow and the "fisherman" would simply remove the fish and put the bird back in the water. Not quite fishing with hand grenades, but certainly in the same mode. What really captures the true Basho spirit here is that he is both stirred and saddened, he still sees the miracle of nature despite the appalling behavior of nature's "highest creation", man.

Cover Art by Guy Beining

This week's featured back issue is #160, from November 2007. Enjoy. Beginning next week, we'll going into the way back machine to sample issues from places long ago and faraway.


bark's cleft

a lichen
John Martone


Only a wisp
Of cloud above,
But like a
Sacred Song
It pointed the way.
Yosano Akiko
translated by Dennis Maloney


Crows sitting on naked trees. Expecting snow.
Alan Catlin


No appetite
I have no appetite for verse,
but for the velvet vesture
of lamb's ear savored.
between my lips, tonight,
your lobes and limbs
wooly sward and bole,
succulent mullein, growing
virgate among your leaves.
Jeanne Lesinski


two wings per pigeon
and this is where they gather
on a wire
in the city
Ah, what do I know
Shawn Bowman


dishes first
then shaving
John Martone


Till next time,


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Issa, Brautigan, and an Interview

A couple of quick notes before tomorrow's weekly posting. I found this wonderful Issa poem, translated by Stryk and Takashi Ikemoto, here:

For those inclined to spiritual poetry, Poetry Chaikhana seems to be a delightful blog, well worth exploring.

Also found this morning a great list, though I'm not sure great for the intended reason, entitled Ten Poems to Read When You Get Stuffed in Your Locker (I actually saw a fellow student stuffed into his locker by the principal, at a Catholic high school, no less). This is a list of really wonderful poems and, though I'd like to think students would be into John Clare and Michael Ryan's take on things "Larkinesque", I'm thinking, um, maybe not. In any case, this is a wonderful selection of fine poems (ok, the J. V. Cunningham poem addressed to a 30 year old may not be for the locker-stuffed crowd) for nearly everyone. I was particularly delighted to find Richard Brautigan, who seems to continue to grab the younger crowd as he did "in the day" so many years ago:

I Feel Horrible. She Doesn't
I feel horrible. She doesn't
love me and I wander around
the house like a sewing machine
that's just finished sewing
a turd to a garbage lid.
Richard Brautigan

Maybe not the type of picaresque image one evokes first thing in the morning, but the locker-stuffed crowd can definitely relate. Berryman's "Dream Song 14" is also a humdinger. Check out the list; you won't be disappointed.

Finally, the Poet Hound blog has interviewed me and posted the results. I'll have to leave it to you as to how it all came out; my eyes are still covered. It's hard for me to believe folks would be interested but PH was very gracious and accommodating of my predilections and peccadilloes. I'd like to thank them for spreading the good word(s). A website designed for poets themselves, PH connects folks up with resources and interviews various poets, writers
and publishers who go about "the business" of poetry, as well as providing sample poems from around the net and notices of the many poetry markets out there.

Ok, I'm peeking through my fingers now ...


PS 140 Near Perfect Books of Poetry and counting ...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Basho and the Lightness of Death

This past week, I've completed reading The Essential Basho, translated by Sam Hamill. The four travel journals were interesting, as mentioned in the section quoted in last week's post. I was happy to move on to the selection of haiku, which takes up approximately half the book, three haiku per page.

I've begun to warm up to Basho's poems which focus on a poetic principle he called "lightness." Here is David Landis Barnhill, whose Basho's Haiku I'm currently reading, on the concept of "lightness":

The concept of sabi can be intertwined with many aspects of the Japanese, Buddhism, and poetry. There is a principle of lightness that can be found within these aspects. Lightness can be described as the beauty of things plain and ordinary against the bright and glorified beauty. It is seeing the beauty in the simplicity of things, rather than the elaborate. Ueda describes the principle of lightness as, “a dialectic transcendence of sabi” (Matsuo Basho 34), then goes on to relate lightness to sabi by saying, “Sabi urges man to detach himself from worldly involvements; “lightness” makes it possible for him, after attaining that detachment, to return to the mundane world” (Matsuo Basho 34). He makes a great point in showing how the two ideas work off of each other. It is sabi that the person is trying to sense, what they are clearing there mind for. It takes mental concentration to detach oneself from the everyday reality of the layperson. Once that detachment is achieved, there must be a point when it is allowed to dissipate so that one can return to the ordinary world. And it is this principle of lightness that brings the person back, by having them focus on the plain, simple, and ordinary for all of its beauty.

Here are a selection of the 28 haiku I marked for further review:


Like the buck's antler's,
we point in slightly different
directions, my friend

You weren't home when I came-
even the plum blossoms were
in another yard

In windblown spring rain,
budding, like a straw raincoat,
a river willow

Grass for a pillow,
the traveler knows best
to see cherry blossoms

Father and mother,
long gone, suddenly return
in the pheasant's cry.

At the ancient pond
a frog plunges into
the sound of water

Nothing in the cry
of cicadas suggest they
are about to die

Wrapping dumplings in
bamboo leaves, with one finger,

she tidies her hair.

The morning glories
ignore our drinking party
and burst into bloom


I'm not sure that the poems that appeal to me are the ones for which Basho is most appreciated, though his most famous haiku ("At the ancient pond") is included in this selection, primarily because I thought it was one of the best versions I've read. One of the comments at the first Basho post noted that Hamill wasn't a favorite translator and he does seem to have taken some liberties, ironically ones that I feel make Basho more accessible to someone like me who is certainly no expert. In the "buck's antler's" haiku I particularly like that, though pointed in slightly different directions, these friends ultimately will always end up in the same place. "plum blossoms" somehow seems to be ironic, funny and heartbreaking all at once: try doing that with 14 words sometime! "strawcoat" is quite literal because Basho was always on the road and, one would imagine, frequently taking advantage of all available "strawcoats." There also seems to be a joy here at the return of his "strawcoat" in spring which he no doubt sorely missed in winter. Of course the traveler "knows best" how to see cherry blossoms: lying under the tree. Beside the principle of lightness, Basho seems to leave much room in each haiku for the individual reader to participate in its writing, in a sense. "Father and mother" is a pure Proustian moment and I love it because it has the emotion so characteristic of Issa and not often on such overt display with Basho. "cicadas" may seem obvious, though the point can never be emphasized enough. Still, it called to mind for me a review I was reading this week of a book about human psychology and how our species is the only one which understands its coming death. Perhaps that review tainted my reading but one can't help feeling that he is not only saying that cicadas don't know death and he is commenting on the human condition. How simply beautiful is "Wrapping dumplings ...", pure essence. If one of the Imagist school had written this, they would be immortal. Finally, morning glories are my favorite flower and I've been known to quaff a pint or two, so I personally can attest to the truism of this little gem.

Cover art by Wayne Hogan

This week's featured back issue of Lilliput Review is #159, from November 2007. Enjoy.


You are dreaming
of the bush warbler
I said to him defiantly
But just in case I lifted
The green curtain and peeked out.
Yosano Akiko
translated by Dennis Maloney

Wearing down like a rock
in the years of a river
a poem
Donny Smith

Poet, sing of this night
Alive with lights and
The wine we served.
Our beauty pales
Compared with the peony.
Yosano Akiko
translated by Dennis Maloney

Mown Hay
Just to the southwest they're
cutting hay in the closing light.
I wonder how my life could come to this.
Jeffrey Skeate

It was like stardust in an old hand undertook me
coming through from where my soul began.
Janet Baker


There are now over 60 issues in the Back Issue Archive and 138 suggestions in the Near Perfect Books of Poetry list.

I've got to stop all this friggin' counting.

till next time,

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A German Near Perfect Poetry List ...

Funny, how ideas catch on. Through a Technorati link, I found this

A list of 50 20th century "near perfect" books of German poetry published since 1900 from Dialog International, with a tip of the hat to Lilliput/Issa's Untidy Hut for the idea.

If you read German poetry and don't see a poet on the list you think should be, send along a recommendation. I did. They are on a hunt for 100 titles.

The First Flowers
Beside the brook
Toward the willows
During these days
So many yellow flowers have opened
Their eyes into gold.
I have long since lost my innocence, yet a memory
Touches my depth, the golden hours of morning,
And gazes brilliantly upon me out of the eyes of flowers.
I was going to pick flowers;
Now I leave them all standing
And walk home, an old man.
translated by James Wright


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Basho: an "On The Road" Original

In preparation for a new project (& in a desperate attempt to flee the horrible poetry books I've encountered of late), I picked up The Essential Basho, translated by Sam Hamill, from my overburdened bookshelf.

What a revelation! And it ain't necessarily the poems.

I've never warmed up to Basho as I have the other big four classic haiku writers, such as Issa, and have often wondered why. Picking around that overburdened shelf, I found the following concerning the "big four" originals by another original, haiku guru R. H. Blyth:

Bashô is a religious man, Buson the artist, Issa the humanist. Bashô is concerned with God as he sees himself in the mind of the poet before flowers and fields. Buson deals with things as they exist by and for themselves, in their own right. Issa is concerned with man, man the weak angel; with birds and beasts as they struggle like us to make a living and keep their heads above water. If we do not begin with Bashô, our interpretation of haiku is bound to lack depth. The objectivity of Buson and the subjectivity of Issa both spring from the homely little man with long eyebrows and a bad digestion.

Fair enough, as seen through the lens of Blyth's own lyrical propensity. He has left Shiki out of the discussion: he barely allowed him in to begin with, but that's for another time. I've yet to really connect with Basho's poems and this may begin to explain why. Don't get me wrong - there are some stunners:

Summer grasses:
all that remains of great soldiers'
imperial dreams.

Read this in light of, say, Isaiah's "All flesh is grass" and, for that matter basic physics and you get his drift. Religious and real: very powerful stuff, to paraphrase Master Elwood.

Still, there was a lot less of this and a lot of what to my crass western decidedly over-stimulated sensibilities was some fairly plain stuff. I read Hamill's translation of Narrow Road to the Interior and Travelogue of Weather-Beaten Bones and had enjoyed them and then I began The Knapsack Notebook and ran smack into this:

Within this temporal body composed of a hundred bones and nine holes there resides a spirit which, for lack of an adequate name, I think of as windblown. Like delicate drapery, it may be torn away and blown off by the least breeze. It brought me to writing poetry many years ago, initially for its own gratification, but eventually as a way of life. True, frustration and rejections were almost enough to bring this spirit to silence, and sometimes pride brought it to the brink of vanity. From the writing of the very first line, it has found no contentment as it was torn by one doubt after another. This windblown spirit considered the security of court life at one point; at another, it considered risking a display of its ignorance by becoming a scholar. But its passion for poetry would not permit either. Since it knows no other way than poetry, it has clung to it tenaciously.

My suggestion would be to use this paragraph in the prefatory material for the new Poet's Market as a guide to the "business" of poetry. This is how to get yourself published, friends.


For those who have been following the Near Perfect Books of Poetry list as it expands, all 127 listings have now been hypertexted to relevant material on the web, in most cases each entry has two links, one for poet and one for title. The links variously provide biographical material, sample poems, interviews, audio, video and all matter of related items. This is an open ended project, so if you have suggestions, send them along and I'll send you the two latest issues of Lilliput Review (or extend your subscription by 2 issues).

Lots of work, lots of fun.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Haiku Call and Issa

I received the following this morning from Sketchbook editor, John Daleiden:

Dear haiku poet,

Announcing __frog(s) August 2008 Kukai at Sketchbook

For the August 2008 Kukai submit one to three HAIKU using the kigo green frog(s) /rain frog(s), tree frog(s) / toad. The exact word(s) must be used in the haiku. No more than a total of three haiku may be submitted. Haiku submitted to the kukai should not be workshopped, appear on-line in forums, or in print.


Author, Country

Subject:Aug08 frogs Kukai

Submissions: Friday, August 01, 2008 – Wednesday, July 20, 2008 Midnight.
Voting: Thursday August 21, 2008 – Wednesday, July 27, 2008, Midnight.

The results will be published in the Sunday, August 31, 2008 Sketchbook

Recent letters to the Sketchbook editors and discussions on various forums indicate that some assumptions about a kukai must be spelled out. From now on (April 1, 2008), Haiku entered in the Sketchbook kukai must be previously unpublished; they must not be workshopped; they must not appear on any list, forum, group, blog, or in print. In short, if the haiku has appeared on the internet or in print we consider it to have been published. The voting in a kukai is anonymous and publication anywhere voids anonyminity. Any haiku found to be previously published will be disqualified.

John Daleiden, Kukai editor

The dates appear a bit squirrelly: I believe both July mentions should be August. When sending haiku, you may want to inquire about this. The Sketchbook site may be found here and on the sidebar to the right under "Poetry and Magazine Links." Since this one is about frogs, here's a classic from the master, for inspiration:


locked in a staring contest
and a frog.
translated by David Lanoue


Normally, I don't list contests on this blog unless they do not charge a reading fee as in this case. A matter of principle, plain and simple. I understand it from a publisher's point of view, believe me. I don't look down on those who do charge a fee; I just don't provide the space.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Talking, Writing, Teaching, Spewing, Loving: Another Week of Poetry

Cover art by Wayne Hogan

Though off from "work" this week, I've been busy with things Lilliput related, which include getting issues #'s 163 and 164 out in the mail to subscribers. Also on my plate, has been wrapping up an interview for Poet Hound, which covers a wide range of questions about the history of the mag, its focus, and how I go about doing what I do. Since Lillie will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2009, it was a good thing for me to sit, think about the journey, and what's ahead. The interview should be appearing at PH sometime around the end of the month. I'll keep you posted.

Dovetailing nicely with that project, I was also asked to write an article for
Café Review, for their 20th anniversary issue, about how I select poems for Lillie. I'm working against a deadline, so that has kept me considerably occupied. The article is scheduled for January, but the deadline looms large. More on that in the future.

Two other fall projects that are gobbling up time like twin black holes are two sessions concerning poetry I'm working on. The first is an Osher lifelong learning one-shot class on poetry appreciation and this is the second year I've been asked to conduct it. The second is a new poetry discussion group I've put together with a fellow staffer at the library entitled "3 Poems By ... ." The idea is to have a poetry discussion group similar to typical book discussion groups, only focusing on 3 select poems by a given poet for an hour long session instead of an entire book of poems. The first session will be on Emily Dickinson, with future sessions on e. e. cummings, Sharon Olds, Mary Oliver, and others. We also will be doing one session entitled "3 Poems About," the subject being time, handled by 3 different poets. Both of these projects will be in the first two weeks of October and the clock is ticking.

When the Near Perfect Books of Poetry list hit the 100 milestone, Ron Silliman picked it up for his blog and this page got mighty busy, mighty fast.

As noted in previous posts, Acres of Books has lost its battle against closing (though gallantly championed by Ray Bradbury) to the Long Beach, CA, city fathers. Now, unbelievably, they have turned a jaundiced eye to the Long Beach Main Library and once again Mr. Bradbury has risen to the occasion. Maybe the mayor of Long Beach, the honorable Bob Foster, needs to hear from you.

Since I'm expelling angst, I might as well make a confession: I hate baseball poetry. Let me be clear: I love baseball, it's baseball poetry I hate. I've tried. I can't help it. It's just one of those things. But Jonathan Holden's poem, How To Play Night Baseball, from a recent posting at The Writer's Almanac, has put the lie to any type of definitive statement I was reaching for. This one's a beaut.

One final note before turning to this week's featured work from the Lillie archives; Jill Dybka at the Poetry Hut Blog has pointed to a nifty list, put together by Amy King, of Movies with Poetry. Check it out and if you can think of any that were missed, just add it in the comments section. I did.

Over the last couple of week's, I've been skipping around a bit in the archive and this week is no exception. The following selection is from issue #157, from August 2007, a year ago this month.

the wish of not to wish
Sean Perkins


just squeeze into
----hollow sycamore
---------& close my eyes
John Martone


Lying with my lover,
From the bed I see
Through the curtain
Across the Milky Way the parting
Of the Weaver and the Oxherder stars!
Yosano Akiko
translated by Dennis Maloney


Be Still
This shall be the unspeakable:
Long after you've grown old
You will be the breath
Of a lion,
A basket of blue tears,
Landscape of dry reeds.
Your life shall float
Past the warm,
Slow river, skirting banks
Of black mud and straw
Jeffrey Gerhardstein


"nowhere & nothing" from the tao of pooh

Marcia Arrieta


Till next time,

PS The Wayne Hogan cover above is supposed to be grey. Every now and then the scanner craps out. It is now.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

100 Near Perfect Books of Poetry

The print folks have started to weigh in on the Near Perfect Books of Poetry list and so the list has hit 100 titles. I'm busy hypertexting the list (click for the latest version, now over 170 titles) so folks can go see samples by the listed poets, get bio info, hear interviews etc. It is a work in progress, so why stop now? I'll continue to add to the list as suggestions come in and send free copies of Lilliput in appreciation. A special thanks to Ed Baker for his suggestions.

100 Near Perfect Books of Poetry

This page grew out of a number of postings on the Lilliput Review blog, Issa's Untidy Hut. The following list is culled from those postings and has become something of an ongoing project. If you have a suggestion of a title of a perfect or near perfect book of poems for this list and would like to receive the two current issues of Lillie for free (or have your current subscription extended), send your suggestion, along with your mailing address, to lilliputreview at gmail dot com (spelled out to avoid spam bots) or to the Lilliput snail mail address in the sidebar to the right.

The List

Chrysanthemum Love by Fay Aoyagi

Pencil Flowers by Johnny Baranski

Basho And His Interpreters by Makoto Ueda

Silence In The Snowy Fields by Robert Bly

The Pill Versus The Springhill Mine Disaster by Richard Brautigan

Mockingbird Wish Me Luck by Charles Bukowski

Thirst by Patrick Carrington

Places/Everyone by Jim Daniels

And Her Soul Out of Nothing by Olena Kalytiak Davis

Variations by Bill Deemer

Revolutionary Letters by Diane Di Prima

Griffon by Stephen Dobyns

Hello La Jolla by Ed Dorn

Miracles of the Sainted Earth by Victoria Edwards Tester

Things Stirring Together or Far Away by Larry Eiger

The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot

Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover's Hand by Martin Espada

Against the Forgetting by Hans Faverey

Coney Island of the Mind by Lawrence Ferlighetti

West-Running Brook by Robert Frost

Poet in New York by Frederico Garcia Lorca (trans. by B. Bellitt)

The Haiku Anthology, 3rd edition, edited by Cor van den Heuvel

Letters to Yesenin by Jim Harrison

book of resurrection by mark hartenbach

Essential Haiku edited by Robert Hass

My Life by Lyn Hejinian

Working on My Death Chant by Albert Huffstickler

Weary Blues by Langston Hughes

Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes

A Few Flies and I: Haiku by Issa

Jade Mountain: anthology of Chinese Poetry, ed. by W. Bynner

Lost World by Randall Jarrell

The Beginning of the End by Robinson Jeffers

Book of Haikus by Jack Kerouac

The Saint of Letting Small Fish Go by Eliot Khalil Wilson

Knock Upon Silence by Carolyn Kizer

The Essential Etheridge Knight by Etheridge Knight

Geography of the Forehead by Ron Koertge

Pleasure Dome by Yusef Komunyakaa

The Blood of the Air by Philip Lamantia

O Taste and See by Denise Levertov

The Sorrow Dance by Denise Levertov

What Work Is by Philip Levine

For the Union Dead by Robert Lowell

Verso by Pattie McCarthy

dogwood & honeysuckle by john martone

ordinary fool by john martone

Asian Figures by W. W. Merwin

The Vixen by W. S. Merwin

Forever Home by Lenard D. Moore

The Dillinger Books (various) by Todd Moore

Naked Poetry: Recent American Poetry, ed. by Stephen Berg

Next Room of the Dream by Howard Nemerov

The Granite Pail by Lorine Niedecker

100 Love Sonnets by Pablo Neruda

100 Poems from the Chinese, ed. by Kenneth Rexroth

The Dead and the Living by Sharon Olds

Strike Sparks by Sharon Olds

The Distances by Charles Olson

In Cold Hell, In Thicket by Charles Olson

Spearmint and Rosemary by Charles Olson

The Ink Dark Moon by Onono Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, -translated by Jane Hirshfield and Mariko Aratani

Primitive by George Oppen

Right under the big sky, I don't wear a hat by Hosai Ozaki, translated by Hiroaki Sato

Ariel by Sylvia Plath

Droles de Journal by Carl Rakoski

Raising the Dead by Ron Rash

The Waiting Room at the End of the World by Jeff Rath

One Hundred Poems from the Chinese tr. by Kenneth Rexroth

New Poems (1908), the Other Part by Rainer Maria Rilke (tr. Snow)

The Concrete River by Luis Rodriquez

Say Uncle by Kay Ryan

Poems of a Mountain Home by Saigyo

The Kingdom by Frank Samperi

Quadrifariam by Frank Samperi

Spiritual Necessity by Frank Samperi

Chicago Poems by Carl Sandburg

Grass and Tree Cairn by Santoka, translated by Hiroaki Sato

The Morning of a Poem by James Schuyler

Buffalo Head Solos by Tim Seibles

Hammerlock by Tim Seibles

Selected Poems by Anne Sexton

The Sonnets by William Shakespeare

Elements of San Joaquin by Gary Soto

Harmonium by Wallace Stevens

Collected Poems - Dylan Thomas

Here, Bullet by Brian Turner

Goodstone by Fred Voss

Argonaut Rose by Diane Wakoski

Cap of Darkness by Diane Wakoski

Collected Greed Parts 1-13 by Diane Wakoski

Inside the Blood Factory by Diane Wakoski

Scenes of Life at the Capital by Philip Whalen

Severance Pay by Philip Whalen

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

Spring and All by William Carlos Williams

The Prelude by William Wordsworth

Sinking of Clay City by Robert Wrigley

Littlefoot by Charles Wright

The Tower by W.B. Yeats


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Cid Corman, Etheridge Knight, Wendell Berry and the Art of Hearing Silence

Artwork by Albert Huffstickler

A couple of items of interest this week. Etheridge Knight has appeared twice in the news in the last little while. His work is featured in issue #7 of Presa, with a remembrance in an article entitled "Lest We Forget" by Ronnie Lane. Indeed. Knight was one of the most straightforward, powerful poets to emerge from the 60's, his first collection being published by Broadside Press while he was still in prison. In addition, Mary Karr has published a remembrance and poem by Knight in her most recent Poet's Choice column in the Washington Post. Here's another poem that gets down to the essence: Feeling Fucked Up.
This week is also the birthday of another of our contemporary greats, Wendell Berry. The following is one of his most famous poems and its got it all:

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night to the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives might be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world and am free.
Wendell Berry

Happy birthday, Mr. Berry.

The last item in the news this week is a sad one. Though they fought a valiant battle, Acres of Books in Long Beach, CA, will be closing. Even the mighty Ray Bradbury couldn't stem the continuous tide of failing bookshops. It is, indeed, a very sad day.

Recently, I have been complaining of the dearth of good modern poetry books, at least the ones I've been reading
(or, alternately, the fact that I've finally been broken on the poetic wheel). I'm happy to report that I've run into one I can heartily recommend: The Next One Thousand Years: the Selected Poems of Cid Corman. Edited by Ce Rosenow and Bob Arnold and published by Bob and Susan Arnold's Longhouse Publishers, this generous selection of Cid's work was just the thing to get me off the anti-lyrical snide. This particular collection of Cid's work highlights his translations of both classic and modern works, as well as his own work. Over 70 of the 190 plus pages are devoted to translations. If Basho, Issa, Saigyo, Rilke and Rumi are your poets of preference, you will see them through new eyes when you see them through Cid's translations. His own work is, for me, the highlight however. Cid was so prolific that there probably could be a different version of his selected works for each year in the title of this volume. The selection here is spot-on, covering his entire career. I found myself marking for further review the poems of his later years, when his work was honed down to sparse, scintillating points. Here are a couple to whet your taste:

I will tell you the secret.

What is it? - you ask?
I keep telling you:



Ask me when
I am dead
the meaning

of this. Then
each word will
answer you.


Of course,
life matters.

and let me
know it.


If you are a fan of Cid's, from Lilliput or his Modest Proposal chapbooks or his numerous other works, this is a must-have collection. Hopefully, there is much, much more to come.

This week's featured issue from the
Lilliput archive is #106, from September 1999. Enjoy.

Truth Is The Person Who Is There

The sky meets the mountain with no further

Geoff Bouvier


Soft, sandy fine earth,
I draw her initials in
your impermanence.

Linda Zeiser


Love this man
-------and you will attain nothing
Ah! to love the sea!

Kane Way


crossing the verrazano-narrows
eat beef
be well
try sontag
she's old

Laura Joy Lustig





Through the silence
--------another silence
gathers around her lips

Carl Mayfield



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