Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Great Poetry Wall of China

A memorial wall engraved with 20 poems selected by local experts was made public this week as China observed a catastrophic earthquake that rocked southwest China's Sichuan Province three years ago.

The wall, which will bear comparisons with the Great Wall of China but is somewhat smaller, measuring 2.28 meters high and 51.2 meters long,.

It can be found in the Chuanxindian Quake Ruins Park in Yinghua Township in Shifang City, one of the worst-hit areas in Sichuan, where the disaster left more than 80,000 dead or missing, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

The poems are said to express deep sympathy for the victims of an earhquake whose death tool dwarfs that of Japan's earthquake and tsunami this year.

Comparisons with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC are likely to be made.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Verse of the Day - Jack Prelutsky

Last Night I Dreamed of Chickens by Jack Prelutsky

Last night I dreamed of chickens,

there were chickens everywhere,
they were standing on my stomach,
they were nesting in my hair,
they were pecking at my pillow,
they were hopping on my head,
they were ruffling up their feathers
as they raced about my bed.

They were on the chairs and tables,
they were on the chandeliers,
they were roosting in the corners,
they were clucking in my ears,
there were chickens, chickens, chickens
for as far as I could see...
when I woke today, I noticed
there were eggs on top of me.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Verse of the Day - Jim Harrison

Birds Again by Jim Harrison

A secret came a week ago though I already

knew it just beyond the bruised lips of consciousness.
The very alive souls of thirty-five hundred dead birds
are harbored in my body. It’s not uncomfortable.
I’m only temporary habitat for these not-quite-
weightless creatures. I offered a wordless invitation
and now they’re roosting within me, recalling
how I had watched them at night
in fall and spring passing across earth moons,
little clouds of black confetti, chattering and singing
on their way north or south. Now in my dreams
I see from the air the rumpled green and beige,
the watery face of earth as if they’re carrying
me rather than me carrying them. Next winter
I’ll release them near the estuary west of Alvarado
and south of Veracruz. I can see them perching
on undiscovered Olmec heads. We’ll say goodbye
and I’ll return my dreams to earth.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Verse of the Day - Edna St. Vincent Millay

Song Of A Second April by Edna St. Vincent Millay

April this year, not otherwise
Than April of a year ago,
Is full of whispers, full of sighs,
Of dazzling mud and dingy snow;
Hepaticas that pleased you so
Are here again, and butterflies.

There rings a hammering all day,
And shingles lie about the doors;
In orchards near and far away
The grey wood-pecker taps and bores;
The men are merry at their chores,
And children earnest at their play.

The larger streams run still and deep,
Noisy and swift the small brooks run
Among the mullein stalks the sheep
Go up the hillside in the sun,
Pensively,—only you are gone,
You that alone I cared to keep.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Poet and Translator David Ferry wins $100,000 prize

Poetry may not yet be as lucrative as golf and football but I've noted in recent weeks a few big awards out there.

And they don't come much bigger than the $100,000 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for lifetime achievement, which has just been awarded to translator and poet David Ferry, the New York Times reports.

Born in Orange, New Jersey in 1924, Ferry is an emeritus professor at Wellesley College. He still teaches at both Boston University and Suffolk University. He is midway through a translation of Virgil’s Aeneid and has his new collection of poems, “Bewilderment,” due out next year.

The Soldier by David Ferry

Saturday afternoon. The barracks is almost empty.

The soldiers are almost all on overnight pass.
There is only me, writing this letter to you,
And one other soldier, down at the end of the room,
And a spider, that hangs by the thread of his guts,
His tenacious and delicate guts, Swift's spider,
All self-regard, or else all privacy.
The dust drifts in the sunlight around him, as currents
Lie in lazy, drifting schools in the vast sea.
In his little sea the spider lowers himself
Out of his depth. He is his own diving bell,
Though he cannot see well. He observes no fish,
And sees no wonderful things. His unseeing guts
Are his only hold on the world outside himself.
I love you, and miss you, and I find you hard to imagine.
Down at the end of the room, the other soldier
Is getting ready, I guess, to go out on pass.
He is shining his boots. He sits on the edge of his bunk,
Private, submissive, and heedful of himself,
And, bending over himself, he is his own nest.
The slightest sound he makes is of his being.
He is his mother, and nest, wife, brother, and father.
His boots are bright already, yet still he rubs
And rubs till, brighter still, they are his mirror,
And in this mirror he observes, I guess,
His own submissiveness. He is far from home.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Verse of the Day - Octavio Paz

Last Dawn by Octavio Paz

Your hair is lost in the forest,

your feet touching mine.
Asleep you are bigger than the night,
but your dream fits within this room.
How much we are who are so little!
Outside a taxi passes
with its load of ghosts.
The river that runs by
is always
running back.
Will tomorrow be another day?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Verse of the Day - Sharon Esther Lampert

Sharon Esther Lampert rather modestly describes herself as the sexiest creative genuis of human history.

Sharon apparently holds a poetry world record of 120 words of rhyme from one family of rhyme. I found this on a discussion site and have no way of verifying its truth.

This poem about the Iraq War served to remind me just how this conflict has slipped from memory, given the considerable number of Middle Eastern conflicts lining up to take its place.

The poem is thought provoking albeit rather short on the mental word pictures I usually look for in poetry.

But right now there are far more important things to think about than blood on the sand; such as following Sharon on Twitter.

Sandstorm in Iraq by Sharon Esther Lampert

Dust is Blowing

Blood is Flowing
Dead are Worming
U.N. are Groaning
French are Moaning
Bush Gets Going
Protestors are Crowing
Osama bin Laden is Unknowing
Saddam is Forgoing
Muslims are Cheering and Jeering
Weapons of Mass Destruction are not Unfolding
Insurgents are Slowing
U. S. soldiers Keep Going
Democracy is Growing
Women are Showing
Elections are Easygoing
Freedom is Holding
Peace is Plateauing
U.S. deficit is Owing
Oil is Glowing
Memorials are Knowing: 2,100 Dead, 16,000 Wounded (11/2005).
When the Dust Settles down upon the Blood-soaked Earth where
Sacred American lives were Sacrificed and Slaughtered for Security:
Freedom from Terrorism:
Was the Iraq war fought for naught?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Verse of the Day - Robert Bly

The Cat in the Kitchen by Robert Bly

Have you heard about the boy who walked by
The black water? I won't say much more.
Let's wait a few years. It wanted to be entered.
Sometimes a man walks by a pond, and a hand
Reaches out and pulls him in.

There was no
Intention, exactly. The pond was lonely, or needed
Calcium, bones would do. What happened then?

It was a little like the night wind, which is soft,
And moves slowly, sighing like an old woman
In her kitchen late at night, moving pans
About, lighting a fire, making some food for the cat.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Caroline Kennedy and the Oprafication of poetry

Oprah Winfrey, with the help of guest editor Maria Shriver, recently unveiled O Magazine's first poetry issue in honor of National Poetry Month, the Huffington Post reported.

Poetry has always been made to seem kind of cultish," she told O, "but the truth is, everybody really loves it! It's much more mainstream than anyone thought," Shriver said.

The article also highlighted how Caroline Kennedy is drawing attention to poetry this month in with the release of her new book, "She Walks in Beauty: A Woman's Journey Through Poems," from Hyperion Books.
Kennedy has written several books, and edited two on poetry: "A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children" and "The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis."

Friday, April 8, 2011

Verse of the Day - Suheir Hammad

The Missing by Suheir Hammad

The way loss seeps
into neck hollows
and curls at temples
sits between front teeth
empty and waiting
for mourning to open
the way mourning stays
forever shadowing vision
shaping lives with memory
a drawer won't close
sleep elusive
smile illusive
the only real is grief
forever counting the days
minutes missing without knowing
so that one day
you find yourself
showering tears
missing that love
like sugar
aches teeth

Monday, April 4, 2011

Milton Keynes launches poetry competition for Will and Kate's wedding

Milton Keynes is hardly the dreaming spires of Oxford but the new town has come up with an interesting competition for National Poetry Month, namely to find a poet to pen nuptials for Will and Kate's Royal Wedding.

The mayor of Milton Keynes has asked residents to submit the nuptial verse, the Huffington Post reports.

 Milton Keynes is the home of the Newport Pagnell firm, a family business that is one of four producers of fine vellum parchment in the world, The firm is making the parchment for the official royal wedding certificate, and the winning poem will be printed on a sheet of that same remarkable parchment and presented as a wedding gift to the royal couple.

The Huffington Post also reveals a competition that offers the kind of cash your average impoverished poet could never dream of.

The first annual Montreal International Poetry Prize will award $50,000 for one winning poem. You don't need to be published to enter. You only need to have written a great poem.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Verse of the Day - TS Eliot

It's impossible to do justice to The Waste Land so I won't even try. Now we have arrived at April,the cruelest month, it certainly seems appropriate to post the poem, although whether I'll be able to post the whole thing is another matter entirely.

The Wasteland by TS Eliot

1 - The Burial of the Dead

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering 
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
Bin gar keine Russin, stamm' aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
And when we were children, staying at the archduke's,
My cousin's, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie, 
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
Frisch weht der Wind
Der Heimat zu.
Mein Irisch Kind,
Wo weilest du?
'You gave me hyacinths first a year ago; 
'They called me the hyacinth girl.'
—Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing, 
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.
Od' und leer das Meer.

Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante,
Had a bad cold, nevertheless
Is known to be the wisest woman in Europe,
With a wicked pack of cards. Here, said she,
Is your card, the drowned Phoenician Sailor,
(Those are pearls that were his eyes. Look!)
Here is Belladonna, the Lady of the Rocks,
The lady of situations.
Here is the man with three staves, and here the Wheel,
And here is the one-eyed merchant, and this card,
Which is blank, is something he carries on his back,
Which I am forbidden to see. I do not find
The Hanged Man. Fear death by water.
I see crowds of people, walking round in a ring.
Thank you. If you see dear Mrs. Equitone,
Tell her I bring the horoscope myself:
One must be so careful these days.

Unreal City,
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
Flowed up the hill and down King William Street,
To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours
With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine.
There I saw one I knew, and stopped him, crying 'Stetson!
'You who were with me in the ships at Mylae! 
'That corpse you planted last year in your garden,
'Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?
'Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?
'Oh keep the Dog far hence, that's friend to men,
'Or with his nails he'll dig it up again!
'You! hypocrite lecteur!—mon semblable,—mon frère!'