The Figure of Orpheus in Poetry and Performance

By The Editors on 4.05.10

Tonight, April 5th, the Poetry Society of America is hosting a star-studded poetry event to honor the original bard: Orpheus.  It doesn’t get much better than this with poets John Ashbery and Mark Strand reading from their own work, and actors Maria Tucci and Chandler Williams performing poems by a range of contemporaries, from Czeslaw Milosz, Yusef Komunyakaa to Jack Gilbert, Linda Gregg and Sherod Santos. Pianist Paul Barnes will perform the Orphee Suite for Piano, his celebrated transcription from Philip Glass’s opera Orphee.


6PM, Bruno Walter Auditorium
111 Amsterdam Avenue (@ 65th Street), New York, NY
[more info]

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The Famous Poet’s Society, Part 2 of 8

A Serialized Excerpt from Nothing Happened and Then It Did

By Jake Silverstein on 4.05.10

Now, Part 2 of the serialized excerpt from Jake Silverstein’s Nothing Happened and Then It Did in stores on April 19th. [Miss Part 1? Read it here.]

Five days before the convention was to begin, terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing thousands of Americans and plunging the country headlong into the age of terror, but the Famous Poets Society decided to push ahead with its program as planned. It was felt that poetry was needed now more than ever. It was also felt that there would be no full refund of the $495 registration fee, in the event of a canceled flight or a distraught flier or a sinking sensation that the timing was bad for big bets. I flew to San Francisco, rented a car, and took Interstate 80 up into the Sierra Nevadas, over Donner Pass, to John Ascuaga’s Nugget in Reno.

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…In Poetry

By The Editors on 4.02.10

To recognize National Poetry Month, poet Sandra Beasley offers this fortune cookie guide to the “ways of poetry”. My favorite has to be, “You will step on the soil of many countries…in poetry”. If you’ll be in Denver for AWP next week be sure to come by the Norton booth (#309) at 3:30 on Friday, April 9th to help Norton, Poems Out Loud, and Joy Harjo celebrate the publication of Sandra’s lively second award-winning book of poetry, I Was the Jukebox.

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The Famous Poet’s Society, Part 1 of 8

A Serialized Excerpt from Nothing Happened and Then It Did

By Jake Silverstein on 4.01.10

Editor’s Note: On April 19th, W. W. Norton will publish Nothing Happened and Then It Did, the first book by Texas Monthly editor Jake Silverstein. Sherman Alexie has called it “hilarious, poetic, lovely, and disturbing.” Annie Dillard calls it “a masterful literary debut.” Like Alexie and Dillard, the Poems Out Loud team has fallen in love with the book. One chapter in particular, about an unforgettable poetry competition in Reno, Nevada, has secured my personal lifetime membership in the Silverstein Forever Fan Club. To help us celebrate National Poetry Month, Jake Silverstein has generously agreed to let Poems Out Loud share this chapter with you, dear readers. So throughout the month of April, in eight parts, we’ll be serializing the story of the Famous Poet’s Society from Nothing Happened and Then It Did. Read along with us and there will be a few opportunities throughout the month to snag a free copy of the book. So now, I turn you over to Jake and Part 1 of the Famous Poet’s Society. Enjoy!

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The Practice and Purpose of Poetry Reviewing

A Panel Not to Miss at AWP

By The Editors on 3.30.10

Check out this short piece in Publishers Weekly, wherein poet and critic Craig Morgan Teicher examines the purpose of poetry reviews.  Drawing input from poets and editors (including Matthew Zapruder of Wave Books, Timothy Donnelly of The Boston Review, Kevin Prufer of Pleiades and others), Teicher asks, quite seriously, what is the role of the reviewer? (Ambassador of poetry? Cheerleader? Gatekeeper?) Take a look and share your thoughts in the comment section below.

If you’re going to AWP in Denver don’t miss this panel. It will be on Friday, April 9th at 10:30 in Rooms 401 and 402. [More details]

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The Poem That Invented Us

By Sherod Santos on 3.29.10

It’s a thing of the past, we often say of the past. But like childhood, something within it is always present. And something within the lyric poem relives that fateful moment when the human figure stepped from the shadow of heroes and gods to assume its natural form. Here I am, the lyric said, and here I am as I am.

we are born of the dead

In the seventh century BCE, poets first began to compose whole poems around the day-to-day particulars of their own lives; and in so doing, they invested the lyric with an awesome, self-renewing power, the power to fire the human spirit and, at the same time, to call into question the religious, social, and political structures that governed their daily world.

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The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson

An Introduction to the Novel

By Jerome Charyn on 3.26.10

She was the first poet I had ever read, and I was hooked and hypnotized from the start, because in her writing she broke every rule. Words had their own chain reaction, their own fire. She could stun, delight, and kill “with Dirks of Melody.” I never quite recovered from reader her. I, too, wanted to create “[a] perfect—paralyzing Bliss,” to have my sentences explode “like a Maelstrom, with a notch.”

It was the old maid of Amherst who lent me a little of her own courage to risk becoming a writer. ” A Wounded Deer—leaps highest,” she wrote, and I wanted to leap with Emily.

We had so little in common. She was a country girl, and I was a boy from the Bronx. She had a lineage with powerful roots in America, and I was a mongrel whose heritage was like an unsolved riddle out of Eastern Europe. Yet I could hear the tick of her music in my wakefulness and in my sleep. Suddenly that plain little woman with her bolts of red hair was as familiar to me as the little scars on my own face.

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Hang with Us at AWP

By The Editors on 3.25.10

W. W. Norton will be at the AWP Conference in Denver (Exhibit Hall A, Booth 309) and we’ve got a stellar schedule of poets and writers coming by the booth. So you should join us. We can talk about books and stuff.

Thursday, April 8
Kimiko Hahn at 3:30
Editors and Contributors of Sudden Fiction Latino at 4:30

Friday, April 9
Brad Watson and John Dufresne at 1:45
Sandra Beasley and Joy Harjo at 3:30

Saturday, April 10
Nick Flynn at 1:45

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“Another Failed Poem About the Greeks”: The Story Behind the Poem

By Sandra Beasley on 3.24.10

In I Was the Jukebox, I set out with the goal of writing away from the biographical self. These poems speak as sand, as orchids, as Egyptian gods. In “You Were You,” which yields the collection’s title phrase, the speaker’s displaced self becomes a barroom jukebox. Her beloved shares the bar—with his new flame in tow.

Another Failed Poem About the Greeks” is another tale of thwarted love, with a dividing wall of centuries rather than plastic and glitter. One day I got an image stuck in my head: a gleaming warrior dragging a bloodied Gorgon’s head behind him. He was standing not in a scene out of Clash of the Titans but on a suburban front stoop, waiting for his blind date to answer the door. I wanted to write the poem that could own that moment, and play out its consequences.

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Ai (1947 - 2010)

By The Editors on 3.22.10

Sad news to share this morning. We’ve just learned that the National Book Award-winning poet Ai passed away over the weekend. Below is a statement from her colleagues in the Department of English at Oklahoma State University and the obituary notice that has been prepared by her estate:

It is with very great sadness that we inform the poetry community that the poet Ai died unexpectedly in the early hours of Saturday, March 20.

Ai was admitted to the emergency room at Stillwater Medical Center on Wednesday, March 17 with pneumonia, but tests indicated that she was in the last stages of breast cancer. She died comfortably in the company of her family.

The Creative Writing Program and the Department of English at Oklahoma State University, like the broader community of readers and writers, are devastated by the early loss of this fine poet and extraordinary colleague.

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