“This is what the portrait says.”


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Okay, again. The guys over at dVerse got me going again—they play these terrible poetry games and I’m gullible. Fred Rutherford suggested that people try their hand and eye at a self-portrait poem. No easy ask, mind you. (By the way Fred’s post on self-portraits is surely worth a read.)

As usual—like when I drive and get lost due to my inability to follow directions—I got myself lost in poetically painting my self-portrait. I start, I try but then the little devil takes over and it’s out my hands. Sorry for that.

Could not get it to format properly on the WordPress page here so I had to put it in PDF. Please click if you so wish on the poem’s title below. And remember, the little devil made me do it!

This is what the portrait says.


McMth (a villanelle w/out typos)


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Sentimental as the unemployment line
In black & white like grapes of wrath.
Poetry thus blank with verse for rhyme.

Oh so sad to hear no party drink or wine
Surely sadness suicide said Sylvia Plath
Sentimental as the unemployment line.

Poets of the herd squeal ten songs divine,
For bards to rhyme to chime to kill Macbeth.
Poetry thus blank with verse for rhyme.

Feet & syllables they count & recombine
Reciting on a stage, a pulpit or a bath
Sentimental as the unemployment line.

As sad as autumn nights along the Rhine
Or ‘letters to some friends’ by Tom McGrath.
Poetry thus blank with verse for rhyme.

And you, my child, so free to think enshrine
& feel again true poesy—count not McMath!
Sentimental as the unemployment line.
Poetry thus blank with verse for rhyme.


So I jumped head-first, first time into the ice-cold waters of the villanelle. Samuel Peralta over at dVerse convinced me with his engaging explanation of the villanelle form (along with interesting anecdotes about physics and Dylan Thomas).

No, no, I shall not convert to any such formal forms and formalities, but this was surely a fun exercise. And I admit my admiration with what some poets can do with the form. Should go over at dVerse and see what I mean.

The crane same as last year knows the rock at low tide


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The crane same as last year knows the rock at low tide.

There are poems in things, in things over the years. Been seeing the cranes round here again. I say cranes—somewhere in some past I gather I have seen many—though I only see one at a time now where it concerns me. This time of year—rainy Galician autumn—is a time for them, at least here. I have a strange (familiar?) feeling that I know this one crane that happens upon my shore, right outside my window. (I live quite close to the water—a stone’s throw, quite literally.) [I’ll say the crane’s a she; she sounds better to me that way.] Wouldn’t say she’s particularly white—totally white not—off white and depending on the sunlight (today was grey and rainy and so was she), standing there on the rock waiting…I want to say patiently the way we erroneously say things when getting ourselves into animal skins. Cranes live 20, 30, maybe more years. This one has and will. Been seeing her here for—15 or just about that long. Begins to sound long, 15, doesn’t it? The days are getting short, the mornings dark. She’ll be off south again to where the days still grow.

Emily Dickinson One-Liners!


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For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her: On Paul Legault’s Emily Dickinson

FIRST THINGS FIRST: It’s a joke. If you don’t get that — that it’s a joke — then you are going to be enraged, or disgruntled, or just downright annoyed by The Emily Dickinson Reader. Take the Amazon reviewer who writes that Paul Legault’s book of Dickinson translations is “insulting” to both Dickinson and her readers. That particular reader didn’t get that it was a joke. Or if he did, he forgot it momentarily, rushing to Dickinson’s defense against a twenty-first century poet who takes all 1,789 of her poems and turns them into mostly pithy one-liners written in contemporary vernacular.

via Los Angeles Review of Books – For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her: On Paul Legault’s Emily Dickinson.

TS Eliot prize for poetry announces ‘fresh, bold’ shortlist | Books | guardian.co.uk


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A “fresh, bold” shortlist for the TS Eliot prize for poetry pits Sean Borodale’s first collection against major names Simon Armitage, Sharon Olds and Kathleen Jamie.

Borodale, a poet and artist who writes documentary poems on location, was chosen for Bee Journal, a poem-journal which tells the life of a bee hive. Writing in the Guardian, Armitage chose it as one of his books of 2011, saying that “like the honey he describes, ‘disconcerting, / solid broth / of forest flora full of fox’, these are poems so dense and rich you could stand a spoon in them”. Armitage himself was shortlisted for The Death of King Arthur, a translation of a 15th-century poem, Olds for Stag’s Leap, about the end of her marriage, and Jamie for The Overhaul, the poet’s first collection since 2004’s Forward prize-winning The Tree House.

via TS Eliot prize for poetry announces ‘fresh, bold’ shortlist | Books | guardian.co.uk.

Let’s take a look at a poem by Mr. Borodale, courtesy of Granta:

12th November: Winter Honey by Sean Borodale


14 – Tiny Redundant Pigmies


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Incredible (Tiny Redundant Pigmies)

How long I’ve been at this
In this little town
So far away from elsewhere.
Counting characters small
Like pigmy tribes
—so tiny— can’t see them
no more not
even the toe line
On a print in the dust.

The Galician Poetry of Chus Pato


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Charenton by Chus Pato,
Translated by Erín Moure

A thank you to Ron Silliman for getting me to re-read the work of a local poet of ours, the fellow Galician Chus Pato. Reading some of her poems in English is refreshing—Erin Moure’s translations are quite good and strong—not an easy task when moving from Galician to English with their different sounds and cadences.

I will have to return to Pato’s work, yet again; it is strangely original and worthy of notice. Thanks, Ron.

My Big Aha for 2012 is this Galician separatist adult education teacher producing the most intense literature on a world scale in a language most Americans have never even heard about. In Pato’s work, Sade, Kafka, Benjamin & the working poor of northwest Spain come face to face in ways that are totally surprising & feel completely right. Imagine what Roberto Bolaño might have been like had he believed in his own politics or taken feminism (or poetry) seriously! Pato is extraordinarily fortunate–and so are we–to have Erín Moure as her English language translator. These are masterful volumes, thoughtful, funny, thoroughly political & superbly conceived. And again, the majority of these books are global collaborations between Shearsman & publishers in the West. Still to be translated: five early books and 2010’s Nacer é unha república de árbores.

Chus Pato, trans. Erín Moure | Secession | Zat-So | 2012

Chus Pato, trans. Erín Moure | Hordes of Writing | Shearsman / Buschekbooks | 2011

Chus Pato, trans. Erín Moure | m-Talá | Shearsman / Buschekbooks | 2009

Chus Pato, trans. Erín Moure | Charenton | Shearsman / Buschekbooks | 2007

via Silliman’s Blog.

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry & Poetics


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Interesting entry on the new, fourth edition of The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry & Poetics. Professor Sandra Bermann, among others, explains how she approached the writing of her entry for the encyclopedia.

When Bermann set out to write her entry, she knew she would have to decide carefully what to include in her 6,000-word essay. “Since there is no way to detail all the many sorts of love poetry that have existed across the globe from earliest times to the present, I decided to offer some broader conceptions of the genre, as well as a number of more localized conventions, themes and examples. I wanted the piece to be informative and intriguing, encouraging the reader to explore this delightful topic independently,” she said.

via Princeton University – Two millennia of poetry, ‘making a statement’ in the 21st century.

Available at Amazon!