Coming Tonight: the National Book Awards

By The Editors on 11.16.11

By tomorrow morning, the National Book Awards will have been announced and there will be only one poetry winner. But as of this afternoon, there are still five finalists: Tonight No Poetry Will Serve by Adrienne Rich, Head Off & Split by Nikky Finney, The Chameleon Couch by Yusef Komunyakaa, Double Shadow by Carl Phillips, and Devotions by Bruce Smith. For the first time ever the awards will be webcast live starting at 8:00 EST; you can watch them here. In the meantime, get in the mood with a selection from Adrienne Rich’s nominated book.

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Marie Howe on “What the Living Do”

By The Editors on 10.27.11

Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross talks with Marie Howe on NPR about the death of her brother and her poem “What the Living Do,” which was recently included in the new Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry.

I keep going back to poetry itself. Poetry holds the knowledge that we are alive and that we know we’re going to die. The most mysterious aspect of being alive might be that, and poetry knows that. So everybody we know is going to die and many of us will attend our beloved friends and family. So what each friend who has died has told me is, it’s going to happen to you too. You know, here I go, bye, you know? And every time that happens, it’s a new experience that I feel like I’ve been privileged to be near or close to the door when they’ve gone.

Listen to the whole interview here.

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An Interview with Philip Schultz

By The Editors on 10.17.11

Last week we ran a brief excerpt from Philip Schultz’s new memoir, My Dyslexia. Today Schultz joins us to answer a few questions.

Q:Your new memoir, My Dyslexia, chronicles your discovery that you are dyslexic, something that you didn’t learn until well into your career as a poet. How did you come to realize you were dyslexic?

Philip Schultz:I found out when my son was diagnosed with it in the second grade, back in 2003. I was 58 years old and shocked to learn that all his symptoms were the same as mine, that there was a rational, medical, and scientific explanation for what I as well as others saw as my obdurate stupidity.

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Poetry and Dyslexia

By Philip Schultz on 10.14.11

The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Philip Schultz didn’t learn he was dyslexic until his oldest son was diagnosed with the condition. The following is an excerpt from his memoir, My Dyslexia, which chronicles his experience. Check back on Monday when Schultz joins us to answer a few questions.

I finally understand that the life of an artist is in many ways similar to the life of the dyslexic. Both are essentially dysfunctional systems that produce in each individual volumes of anxiety, perseverance, and rejection, as well as creative compensatory thinking. Each, by their very nature, makes a victim of its creator, turning him into an outsider and misfit. It’s true of all artists, I think, at every level of success, the more gifted, the greater and riskier the anxiety and struggle. Each must, without appeal, strive to tolerate its own forms of self-defamation, creative excitement, and lack of forgiveness.

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Tomas Tranströmer wins Nobel Prize in Literature

By The Editors on 10.06.11

Congratulations is due to the great Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature today. The Swedish Academy has chosen Tranströmer “because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality.”

From “After a Death,” translated by Robert Bly:

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Best American Poetry 2011

By The Editors on 9.26.11

The Best American Poetry series, overseen by David Lehman since 1988, was my first introduction to contemporary poetry. I clearly remember the cherry-red cover of the 2005 edition which included poets like Beth Ann Fennelly, Terrence Hayes, and Tony Hoagland, whose work seemed more vivid than anything I’d read before then.

The twenty-fourth annual installment, edited by the poet Kevin Young, has just been released, and among the seventy-five poets selected are five Norton poets: Matthew Dickman, Major Jackson, James Longenbach, Gerald Stern, and Rosanna Warren. The whole book is worth seeking out, but here as a taste is Rosanna Warren’s featured poem, “The Latch,” which was included in her collection Ghost in a Red Hat:

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Friday Reading

Hurricane Irene edition

By The Editors on 8.26.11

Will you be shut in tonight preparing for the hurricane? Don’t fear—there’s plenty of poetry to be had. (Not in Irene’s sights? You’re still welcome here).

Tonight, Matthew Dickman, whose second collection Mayakovsky’s Revolver will be published by Norton in 2012, reads with Matthew Zapruder as part of the Nothing Is Hidden reading series in San Francisco. The theme? Disaster Preparedness. The reading will be livestreamed starting at 10:30 EST. (via Poetry Foundation).

Alternatively, you can get ready with Ai‘s “The Strange Journey of Ulysses Paradeece After a Hurricane.”

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A Magpie for Weird Words

By The Editors on 8.23.11

Cathy Park Hong talks bad accents, weird words, and Sergio Leone with Robyn Creswell in The Paris Review, whose summer issue contains poems from her collection, Engine Empire, forthcoming in June 2012.

“I grew up speaking two languages, both of them mangled, so I am quite at home mashing disparate languages, idioms, and vernaculars together. This is probably most evident in my second book, Dance Dance Revolution, where I tried to invent a Creole. Engine Empire is more disciplined, in that I tried to keep it to one colloquial per section. I love finding the most awkward or unpoetic forms of expression and turning them into high lyricism. I’m a magpie for weird words. It’s a good way to help ‘enlarge the English stock,’ as Hopkins once said.”

Read the rest of their conversation here.

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Are Midwest Poets Overlooked?

By The Editors on 1.19.11

Poet Martín Espada (of Massachusetts) says yes in an interview with Verse Wisconsin:

“I think there’s a disadvantage for poets in terms of their recognition. If you don’t live on one of the coasts, it’s easy to be overlooked. There have been any number of writers from the Midwest who haven’t gotten their due because they happen to be, literally, stuck in the middle of the country.”

Read the complete conversation here. Look for Martín Espada’s next collection, The Trouble Ball, in April 2011.

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What You Need to Know About The Winter Anthology

By The Editors on 12.16.10

From poet Michael Rutherglen (whom we interviewed in September 2009), among other curators, comes an original, thought-provoking, and utterly beautiful collection of poems: The Winter Anthology. Here’s the run-down from Michael:

The Winter Anthology is a collection of 21st century literature, American and international. Volume One includes contributions from Yves Bonnefoy, Lucie Brock-Broido, Jean Valentine, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Jack Gilbert, Charles Wright, and others. The project is a vehicle for writings that continue to privilege density, precision, earnestness, unapologetically demonstrated intellect, and sensitivity to the numinous. The editors contend that nowhere else in print or on the web can such a concentration of these particular values be found. Various strands of late 20th century thought have done much to problematize these values, but the writings collected in The Winter Anthology are neither sentimental atavisms nor naive attempts at reconstruction. Rather, they are elegies for art and artists, some explicit, many more implicit, conscious of the technological and social forces at work for good and ill in the 21st century.

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