Columns

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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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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The Word Exchange: Anglo Saxon Poems in Translation

By The Editors on 11.12.10

On December 6th, W. W. Norton published The Word Exchange: Anglo-Saxon Poems in Translation edited by Greg Delanty and Michael Matto. It collects new translations of the best known poems of the Old English canon. The one hundred and twenty-three poems included are a reminder, as Seamus Heaney notes in the Foreword, that “Anglo-Saxon poetry isn’t all stoicism and melancholy, isn’t all about battle and exile and a gray dawn breaking: it can be unexpectedly rapturous…and happily didactic. It can be intimate and domestic, and take us to places far behind the shield wall. And everywhere…it rejoices in its own word-craft, its inventiveness, its appositive imagining and fundamental awareness of itself as a play of language.”

Poems Out Loud will be featuring readings of many of these fresh new translations from contemporary poets. This post will be updated to include links to each reading as they go live. You can also follow along by subscribing to our Readings RSS feed.

Readings:

Greg Delanty reads The Wanderer

Seamus Heaney reads Deor

Jane Hirshfield reads A Moth Ate Words

Billy Collins reads My Jacket is Polished Gray

Nick Laird reads Field Remedy

Molly Peacock reads I Watched a Wonder, a Bright Marauder

Paul Muldoon reads Wulf and Eadwacer

Eavan Boland reads The Wife’s Lament

Robert Pinsky reads Whale

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Lucky Life

An Interview with Gerald Stern

By The Editors on 9.17.10

Gerald Stern, the author of sixteen poetry collections, has won the National Book Award, the National Jewish Book Award, the Ruth Lilly Prize, and the Wallace Stevens Award, among others. In July, W. W. Norton published a collection of Stern’s best early work spanning four decades from 1965 to 1992. The following interview was conducted by Stephanie Smith on behalf of Poems Out Loud.

Q: When did you start writing poems?

Gerald Stern: I actually started to write poems when I was in high school though I never truly studied poetry or thought in any way of myself as a poet, whatever that was or might be.

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