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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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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Art Above Money

By The Editors on 11.22.10

This weekend Lan Samantha Chang was interviewed by Scott Simon on NPR’s Weekend Edition. They talked about her latest novel, All is Forgotten, Nothing is Lost. Simon was not pulling any punches and trying to find out what facts, if any, were hidden under the fiction. Chang wouldn’t divulge any secrets, if there were any to divulge, but this comment about why poets make for interesting fiction caught our attention:

Simon: Of course you’re writing about three poets here. Are poets a special case above and beyond?

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Two Poets Share the 2010 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award

By The Editors on 11.17.10

Last night in Washington, D. C. Rita Dove was awarded the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, which honors authors of African descent in the genres of fiction, nonfiction, and, of course poetry. Dove received the honor for her collection Sonata Mulattica, called a “masterful collection” by the Los Angeles Times, the book details the volatile relationship between the black violinist George Bridgetower and Beethoven in Dove’s characteristically elegant verse. She was in great company because for the first time in its history, two writers shared the poetry award. Along with Dove, Haki Madhubuti was honored for his book Liberation Narratives: New and Collected Poems 1966—2009 (Third World Press).

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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.


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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Video: Sandra Beasley Talks About the Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award

By The Editors on 10.20.10

In a promotional video created by Poets and Writers Magazine, Sandra Beasley shares her inspiring story of going from working a day job and trying to write on the side to being a full-time writer in two years. I’ve witnessed first-hand how much hard work Sandra has put in to getting her still young writing career off the ground, but she gives a lot of credit to the Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award given annually by Poets and Writers, an award that introduces emerging writers to the New York City literary community. Beasley says:

“I was kind of beaten. I wanted to be excited but at the same time I was thinking, ‘Maybe I’m in over my head.’ And I had just gotten off the road, I had curled up in bed. I didn’t want to talk to my mom. I didn’t want to tell anybody how the reading had gone. And the phone rang. And I thought, ‘I’m going to ignore this.’ And the phone rang again. And I thought, ‘no, I’ll answer.’ And it was the call telling me that I had won the [Maureen Egen Writers] Exchange Award.”

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Shedding Light on Hacker’s ‘For Kateb Yacine’

By The Editors on 10.01.10

There is a poem in Marilyn Hacker’s latest collection, Names, titled, “For Kateb Yacine.” For those that don’t know, Yacine was an Algerian playwright, novelist, poet, and activist who passed away in 1989. In a recent interview with The Huffington Post, Hacker was asked about this poem specifically:

Huffington Post: “What is your relationship to Algerian writer Kateb Yacine? I mean, as a writer imagining/idealizing a writer. Is there a sense in which you almost envy someone like Yacine, for the reality of his exile?”

Hacker responded:

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The Poems That Stick With Us

By The Editors on 7.16.10

This week we’ve been finding out a lot about how accomplished poets feel about their earliest published work. We’ve asked Beth Ann Fennelly, Eavan Boland, Linda Pastan, and Stephen Dunn what they think about their first book now and how they went about creating their first collection. Today, we simply wanted to find out which of their early poems still stick with them to this day. Here’s what they had to say:

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The Best Poems in Their Best Order

Four Poets Look Back on How They Assembled Their First Book

By The Editors on 7.15.10

Yesterday we asked four poets how the feel about the work they published years ago. Now, the same four poets tell us how they struggled to find the best order for the poems in their debut collection. The methods range from rudimentary to abstract, logical to magical. There seems to be no right way, but in each case the poet knew the moment it felt right. Here is Beth Ann Fennelly, Stephen Dunn, Eavan Boland, and Linda Pastan looking back on their first book of poetry.


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The Test of Time

Four Poets Look Back on Their Early Work

By The Editors on 7.14.10

The recent publication of Gerald Stern’s Early Collected Poems: 1965-1992 made us curious about how poets feel about their early work. Would they agree with Pericles when he said, “Time is the wisest counselor of all?” We got in touch with Beth Ann Fennelly, Eavan Boland, Linda Pastan, and Stephen Dunn and got the scoop on how they react to their early poetry now that a few years have passed.

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