Showing posts from 2011

Discovering Raymond Queneau

PN Review 202 is filled with interesting translations, of Jean-Paul de Dadelsen by Marilyn Hacker, Hester Knibbe by Jacquelyn Pope, Pier Paolo Pasolini by N.S. Thompson. I like most the poetry of Raymond Queneau, translated by Rachel Galvin. The fourteen short lyrics from his book Hitting the Streets describe his walks about Paris with a keen eye and a sharp ear, and an imagination that is lively and sympathetic. "The Concierges" observes an "old verdigrisy grey-beard/ sobbing in his doorway." "Rue Paul Verlaine," with its amulet of a street name, begins with a vision of a street that the street hardly understands:

Sometimes I have a strange, penetrating vision
Of a street made of off-white and maternal tin
on either side the walkway beats like a wing
while the road bears all the weight of its being
The ghosts of Baudelaire and Rimbaud, besides that of Verlaine, haunt these poems as well as these streets. "Rue Paul Verlaine" is written in the so…

"Enlightenment" Music

This was a while ago: GH and I heard the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center on December 11 Sunday, at Alice Tully. The program was Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach's Romantic Sinfonia in C major for Strings and Continuo (1773); Heinrich von Biber's Mystery Sonata No. 10 in G minor for Violin and Continuo, "The Crucifixion" (c. 1674); Georg Philipp Telemann's unusual Concerto in D major for Four Violins (c.1720) and his Suite in G major for Strings and Continuo, "Don Quixote" (c. 1726-30), very picturesque; Antonio Vivaldi's Concerto in G major for Cello, Strings, and Continuo (after 1720) and Johann Sebastian Bach's Concerto in E major for Violin, Strings, and Continuo (before 1730), played the least satisfying of all the pieces in the program.

I particularly enjoyed the playing of Amy Lee, who seemed to secure a rich tone from her violin consistently. Ida Kavafian, who played in most of the pieces, took a mercurial delight in fiendish technique. …

Nancy Milford's Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay

Savage Beauty does not dispel the impression that Edna St. Vincent Millay was a major life but a minor poet. This well-written biography quotes many poems in full, including "Renascence," which early won Millay warm admiration from poets and editors, and financial support for an education at Vassar. The biography occasionally grades the poems it quotes, saying of one "extraordinarily lovely" and of another "masterful." It is, however, more interested in identifying the addressee of the poems, and other details from Millay's life. A discussion of the style of "The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver" begins insightfully but ends too quickly by linking the harp with a woman's head to the lap loom on which Clara Millay, Vincent's mother, wove hair for a living. Interesting identification, but it is surely not the last word on the poem.

Matters are not helped when emphasis is placed on the astonishing attraction of Millay's low reading voice. …

"The Tillman Story"

I found this documentary film while flicking through Netflix. The film is directed by Amir Bar-Lev and narrated by Josh Brolin. The story, when it broke in 2007, passed me by completely. One more bullet into the corpse of belief in the integrity of governments. Pat Tillman, an American football player, enlisted in the army after the September 11 attacks. When he was killed in Afghanistan, the military lied to his family that he died from a firefight with the Taliban. Apparently they did not want to make an unpopular war even more unpopular by reporting the death by friendly fire of an All-American athletic icon.

The family, in particular, the mother Mary 'Dannie' Tillman, pursued the truth of what had happened, and found the cover-up extending all the way up into the Bush White House. It was infuriating to watch in the film Donald Rumsfeld and military top brass claim forgetfulness regarding a confidential memo sent to them about the friendly fire. Led by Democrats, the Congre…

Poem: "Do You Think I'd Let You Go?

Do You Think I’d Let You Go?
In the winter he had the reddest cheeks of the Lincoln College crowd who included me and you. He was not popular like Darren, looked puny beside Anthony, but in the winter he had the reddest cheeks. He walked out on you and the kids, you wrote, in the New Year. The older boy is difficult, the younger came down with swine flu in the winter. He had the reddest cheeks of the Lincoln College crowd who included me and you.

for Sara

Poem: "I Do, I Do"

I Do, I Do

In me (the worm) clearly is no righteousness, but this—

H.D., “The Walls Do Not Fall”

I’m eating my way through the books of dead women poets—
Aemilia Lanyer’s garden where Eve is blameless
the robin-eye in Elizabeth Bishop
Phillis Wheatley’s bird- of-paradise
the swart swan song by Marianne Moore
Anna Wickham’s strangled cry the tunes of Li Qingzhao
Annie Finch, not the American anthologist, the Countess of Winchilsea
the living are eaten too
Elisabeth Bletsoe’s Sherborne Woodcock, Pied Wagtail, Starling
Molly Peacock Rita Dove
And one born in Ghana whose name is
a birdcall Ata Ama Aidoo

Poem: "Gingko Leaves"

Gingko Leaves
I go to the things I love with no thought of duty or pity
            H.D., “The Flowering of the Rod”

When I put down my book and step out of the dream into the poky kitchen, the counter stained with sauce, to chop celery, bell peppers, mushrooms into cubes and stir them into sliced chicken for Monday’s dinner, I am not going to love, my love, I am going to duty.
When you rage against the computer for being slow or not doing today what it did so quietly yesterday or eating up your files or not saying what is wrong, and I come to you to put my hands on your shoulders, I am not going to love, my love, I am going to pity.
I go to a river, its waters secretly continuous, out of love, to wet gingko leaves that renders the earth their ground, to a glass of wine, loud dance music and men in trance. These things I go to with no thought of duty or pity, as when you turn in bed and wave me on with a kiss.

Thomas Bradshaw's play "Burning"

In a Slateinterview about the New Group production of his play Burnings at Theater Row, directed by Scott Elliott, Thomas Bradshaw explains that his characters are so different from mainstream theater's because they say what is on their mind and they do what they want, without hypocrisy or self-deception. "Where my work departs from traditional drama," he says, "is the fact that my characters pretty much have no self-awareness and are almost acting on pure id. There is never any subtext in my plays." It is a bold artistic aim that is mostly but unevenly achieved in Burnings.

Two partnered white men adopt a 14-year-old white boy for help around the house and for their sexual satisfaction. A successful black painter commits adultery against his white wife by visiting a black prostitute. A white brother-and-sister pair swear to uphold their deceased parents' neo-Nazist beliefs. All of them say what they want, and pretty much do what they want in the next scene…

Poem: "Cold Blue Eyes"

Cold Blue Eyes

My Brother, if we are not careful, we would burn out our brawn and brains trying to prove what you describe as “our worth” and we won’t get a flicker of recognition from those cold blue eyes.
Ama Ata Aidoo, “A Love Letter”

Trying to prove my worth, I am burning out my brawn and brains.
Burning to prove my brawn, I am trying out my brains and worth.
To prove my brains, I am trying out burning my worth and brawn.
To prove my trying, I am burning out my worth, brawn and brains.
To Brains, prove I am trying my brawn and burning out my worth.
To Brawn and Worth, prove I am trying out my, my, burning brains.
My brains and my brawn trying to prove I am burning to worth?
I am burning, my worth, brains and brawn prove to my trying out.
Trying and burning brains, out to prove my worth, I am my brawn.
Out, burning brawn, trying to prove my worth, I am my brains and.
My trying worth, burning out to prove my brains and brawn, I am.
Trying to prove my worth, my brawn and brains, I am …

Poem: "I Understand and I Wish to Continue"

Mark Burnhope suggested I write a poem taking off from the title, after he visited this blog and read the warning page. Thanks, Mark!

I Understand and I Wish to Continue
Before he comes home, tired and faintly greasy from office disappointments and crowded train, I flick open my laptop to get off the head of steam accumulated from an hour of workout at the gym.
The two men, one darkhaired and toned, a regular, the other faircolored and fresh from his “first time,” the website-speak for a solo jerkoff shoot, greet each other’s body with no surprise but with speed
suggesting desire. They know the routine, as do I, first one, then the other, sucking the other’s dick, the tongue, through circles that it draws, darting, the thrilling amble like an elephant’s into the ring.
The shouts mount in well-timed urgency, released like flying handle bars and caught again on return. The head falls backwards before the camera locks on his dick when he can’t help what his body does.

Poem: "Abstract Shapes"

Abstract Shapes

those abstract shapes of who I was which she found so much easier to love
Julia Alvarez, “Folding My Clothes”

The army uniform that I hated my mother spa every Saturday, and rested on a bamboo pole to dry with her flesh-colored bra.
The supporter of my oppressor is my oppressor too. My mother is an oppressor who does things for me, like your mother for you.

Simone de Beauvoir's "The Second Sex"

Finally finished reading Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex last Monday. "One is not born, but rather becomes, woman," so translate Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier that resounding challenge. So many terrific things in de Beauvoir's analysis of how one becomes woman. Nietzsche is transmuted into the existentialist project of self-transcendence. Part One rejects the idea of female destiny, as promoted by biological, psychoanalytical or historical materialist views. Part Two recounts the history of women from the hunters-gatherers to the twentieth century, highlighting the theme of patriarchy and its need for woman to be the Other. Part Three tackles the sexist myths about women, elaborated by Montherlant, D. H. Lawrence, Paul Claudel and Breton, before looking at how Stendhal romances real women. All that in Volume I.

In Volume II Parts One and Two, de Beauvoir describes the lived experience of contemporary Western woman, from her childhood, through sex…

Harmonic Intervals

TLS November 25 2011

from Julian Bell's review of "Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan" show at the National Gallery:

Perhaps variety is what this exhibition, this collection of the outstanding remains of a one-man civilization, is best fitted to offer. If you seek the coherence to all these phenomena you might need to turn to the scientific vision behind them, as Martin Kemp did in his illuminating book Leonardo da Vinci: The marvellous works of nature and man (1981). There you are led to consider the concept of the movements of the mind as a special case of a comprehensive investigation into movement. Whether through cogs and pulleys or through their fleshly equivalents (a parallel sometimes made explicit in the show's anatomical drawings), whether through patterns of plant growth and rock formation or through the workings of water and light, all that appears before our eyes must be governed by movement, a universal process organized around harmonic in…

Brother Outsider

I was in Philadelphia, from Wednesday to Saturday, attending my second People of Color Conference. My first experience of the conference took place in Denver, and I wrote about my impressions of that conference on this blog. Learning from that experience, I decided to be very selective about the talks and workshops I would attend, and so had a much more pleasant time than before. It was also fun to be with KH and A.

The highlight of the conference, for me, was the screening of the documentary feature film Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin, directed by Nancy D. Kates and Bennett Singer. A Communist briefly in his youth, a lifelong pacifist, and an openly gay man, Rustin has been erased from traditional accounts of the civil rights movement in the States. He mentored, however, the younger Martin Luther King, Jr. and organized the 1963 March on Washington. After the screening, during the Q&A, a black female teacher from Alabama swore that she would fight to right the record…

Umbrella's Fifth Anniversary Edition

Umbrella, a journal of poetry and related prose, celebrates its fifth anniversary with a special showcase of Carmine Street Metrics poetry. I have a poem in it. Congrats, Kate Bernadette Benedict, on five good years. Thanks, Patricia Carragon, for first publishing the poem "The Children and the Swans" in the Brownstone Poets Anthology. Thanks, Eric, for asking me to read for Carmine Street.

Steve Fellner reviews "Seven Studies for a Self Portrait"

Steve Fellner recommends my book to readers and critics. Hear him, you all!
One of the most ambitious and overlooked book of this year is Jee Leong Koh’s Seven Studies for a Self Portrait.  Even though presumably autobiographical, don’t expect any mushy confessions here.   As good as anything I’ve read this year, Koh’s poems are curiously distant... but in an enticing and exciting way.... [more]

Returned, Filled

We stayed with D & T near Woodstock from Wednesday to Saturday. For Thanksgiving, T cooked and fed a company of nine people. I met Jan Harrison, a painter and sculptor, and her architect husband Allan. Carol-Ann, a feminist performance artist, came with her new boyfriend, an Australian documentary filmmaker called George, who covered the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and is now covering Occupy Wall Street. Burroughs also made documentaries, but of jazz musicians. GH was the other architect, and I was the representative poet. As for our hosts, D worked with videos and T had worked for MoMA. So much art present at the table, but reality, in the form of George's wars, dominated the talk.

The day after, we drove two hours to the town of North Adams to visit MASS MoCA. The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art is housed in former factory buildings with beautiful hand-cut stone, covered bridges and exposed brick walls. The buildings were put up in the late 1800's, by Arnold P…

An Encounter like a Flash

TLS November 18 2011

from Patrick McCaughey's review of the De Kooning retrospective at the MoMA:

The most telling example of de Kooning's progress through renunciation comes in the breakthrough years of critical acclaim 1948-53. He held his first one-man show in 1948 at the Charles Egan Gallery, a small and relatively obscure venue in New York, where he showed black-and-white paintings of the past two years. Most of them were just above easel scale, but they radiated an intensity of feeling, lightening white movements rent the unsteady black grounds. They rivalled the masterly, contemporaneous drip paintings of Jackson Pollock. Although they are abstract paintings with only the most fleeting reference to identifiable images--a roof, the letters spelling Orestes--they are burdened with an ominous foreboding. De Kooning prowled Manhattan by night and the black-and-white paintings hint at a city illuminated by erratic flashes of light, felt rather than observed. A famous remark …

From Passion to Compassion

In last night's Passio-Compassio, the Bach rearrangements by Music Director Vladimir Ivanoff sounded unconvincing to my ears. The string quartet, saxophones, bass clarinet, Arabic nay and qanun, Turkish ney, kanun and kemence, harpsichord, organ and frame drums, playing excerpts from Bach's Passions, sounded like a garage jam session. Bach's music was too strict, too self-contained, to admit foreign influences easily. When the music turned more improvisatory, more open-ended, as in the Syrian Orthodox chants and traditional Turkish songs, the different musical traditions melded into a sparkling stream. The experience taught me the usefulness of open forms in accommodating vastly different worlds: jazz improvisations, Arabic musical ornamentation, mystical refrains.

The Lebanese contralto Fadia el-Hage sang beautifully in the first half of the program. The Syrian chants were intricately embroidered by her warm yet brilliant voice. Particularly memorable was her rendition of…

Timothy Yu's "Race and the Avant-Garde"

In this work of criticism, Tim Yu brings together two groups of poets not usually considered together, the Language poets and the Asian American poets. The first is usually thought of along aesthetics lines whereas the second is usually described as a social category. By thinking of the avant-garde as life praxis, Yu illuminates the common origins of both Language and Asian American poetries in the New Left politics of the 1970s.

Faced with the splintering of the Left into what they saw as identity politics, the Language poets, mostly straight white men, had to confront the ethnicization of their own subject positions. Their Beat precursor Allen Ginsberg in writing his auto poesy provides a clear example of how not to be mix poetry and politics in the 1970s, as Chapter One discusses. Chapter Two examines Ron Silliman's attempt, both in his correspondence with other Language poets and in his book Ketjak, to acknowledge his ethnicized position and still maintain his centrality.


Carol Chan's Review of "Seven Studies for a Self Portrait"

I take my reviewers seriously. I take them seriously because I really like to know how my poetry impinges on an informed and acute sensibility. I take them seriously because I want to know the faults and limitations of my writing, and so learn how to write better. A negative review is more useful to me than a fulsome, ignorant one. What follows is my attempt to read a review carefully in order to understand its reservations and learn from it. It is also, of course, a piece of self-justification, but I hope it is not merely that.

Carol Chan does not like Seven Studies for a Self Portrait. For her the book "unfolds like a series of scientific experiments that don't quite take off." By "experiments" she means to indict me for being overly intellectual: "He frequently makes the wrong bet, falling in love with the idea of a poem, the idea of art." To support her contention, she quotes in full "Bulb" from the sequence "What We Call Vegetables.…

Contra Eliot

After hearing Stephen Dillane read "The Four Quartets" at the Clark Studio Theater last Friday, my longstanding love affair with the poem may be over. The still small voice of the poem that I had always heard in my head was suddenly and merely expressive in the mouth of the actor, expressive of a conservative religion, a contempt for other people and an authoritarian disposition that I knew were there, but had ignored as in the flush of love. I still admire the questing spirit in the poem--"Old men should be explorers"--and still respect the scrupulous scrutiny with which Eliot examines his life. Like Wagner's return to Christian symbolism in Parsifal, which caused Nietzsche to break with him, Eliot enters in "The Four Quartets" a dead end that no one else can follow, except his co-religionists.

The contrast with Beethoven's late String Quartet in A minor, which supposedly inspired Eliot, could not have been vaster. Played feelingly by the Miro Qu…



until a name/ and all its connotation are the same.
Elizabeth Bishop, “Conversation”

When he asks me for my name, I give him Jee.
No, your real name, he insists. Don’t patronize me because I am American.
I tell him my name is Jee Leong, but in America I go by Jee.
Jee Leong, he elongates, now that is a beautiful name.
He is right I didn’t think he could remember Jee Leong
but he is wrong to think I made Jee up for him.

Mascara Call for Asian American Poetry

Mascara Literary Reviewwill publish a special issue of Asian American poetry in July 2012. I am guest-editing it. The issue aims to present the vitality of poetry written by Asian American poets now. Essays and reviews are also welcomed, but please query me first with a writing proposal.
A bi-annual literary journal founded in 2007, Mascara is particularly interested in the work of contemporary Asian, Australian and Indigenous writers. The journal is supported by the Australian Council for the Arts and the National Library of Australia. It now receives 5000-7000 visits per month from 70 countries.
Submissions to Mascara Literary Review are by e-mail. Only previously unpublished work will be considered. Simultaneous submissions are acceptable as long as you notify the journal immediately of an acceptance elsewhere. Send 3-5 poems and a short bio in a single Microsoft Word doc as an attachment, labeled with your name. Write “Asian American poetry” in the subject title of your e-mail. The …

Poem: "Tearjerker"

My mum would insist on watching the latest release with Dad and me, some action flick like Iron Man or The Fast and the Furious. Clanks and clashes notwithstanding, she would fall slack, snoring.
The plot, said Dad, is too complicated for your mum.
But she could tell you everything you want to know about some 100-episode Cantonese tearjerker, who is sleeping with whom and not his wife, why he sells out his partner, how she takes her revenge,
what is the relationship between real life and TV.

Poem: "Tracing Death"

Tracing Death
We trace the pow’r of Death from tomb to tomb
Phillis Wheatley, “To a Lady on the Death of Three Relations”

The life that sailed from sight, the life to come, the life that scribbles softly in between— we trace the pow’r of Death from tomb to tomb.
A woman fell backwards, stunned in her womb. Extracted from her dry eyes by the men the life that sailed from sight, the life to come.
Elsewhere a bride is waiting for her groom, around her mouth sweat gathers to a sheen. We trace the pow’r of Death from tomb to tomb.
Studying Virgil in the children’s room, the slave hears from the Carthaginian queen the life that sailed from sight, the life to come.
The writing starts, and stops, and then resumes. In graceful elegies out of her pen, we trace the pow’r of Death from tomb to tomb.
Pray for us, Lady of our certain doom, that we may bring home safe by line nineteen the life that sailed from sight, the life to come. We trace the pow’r of Death from tomb to tomb.
"Eve's Fault" has been published in tongues of the ocean, a journal of Bahamian, Caribbean and related poetry, edited by Nicolette Bethel.

I wrote the poem during one of PFFA's 7/7s, and then workshopped it on the poetry board. Nico liked it so much that I had to give it to her.

Katori Hall's "The Mountaintop"

As a friend commented, Angela Bassett tore up the play at Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre last night. She was phenomenal, the heat and the heart of the action. She played the hotel maid who turned out to be an angel who had come to tell Martin Luther King Jr. (Samuel Jackson) that it was time for him to die. I was somewhat dismayed at first by the revelation that she was angelic because she was so full-blooded and interesting an earthly being, but the turn of events led to some well-judged comedy, in particular, a funny phone conversation that King had with Grandmother God, which ultimately underlined the pathos of a man coming to terms with his untimely end.

The 90-minute play, directed by Kenny Leon, humanized the monument that is the civil rights leader. It opened with King shouting to his friend to buy him Pall Mall. The smoke, which generated high sexual tension between a flirtatious King and Bassett's comely Camae, was also a sign of their shared humanity. King entered his motel r…

Helaine L. Smith's "Homer and the Homeric Hymns"

My dear friend and colleague Helaine has just published a wonderful textbook for teaching Homer or studying him on one's own. Homer and the Homeric Hymns provides substantial selections, freshly translated, from The Iliad, The Odyssey and eight Homeric Hymns. These passages, focusing in turns on the different gods, are accompanied by thoughtful commentary on Homer's art, with detailed footnotes on background, literary terms and vocabulary. Each chapter ends with questions for discussion, and suggestions for analytic and creative writing exercises. There are even sample essays to aid training in composition. Indices of mythological and literary terms enable easy cross-referencing.

Helaine is a master teacher. She has taught English for over thirty-five years, and this book is really a treasury of those years of experience. As a colleague, she is always generous in sharing ideas and resources. When I taught sixth-grade English for the first time, her guidance meant the world to…

"3 Idiots" Feels Good

Recommended by friends, 3 Idiots is an extremely well done, extremely entertaining comic caper, with a big heart and boundless energy. After watching it last night, I wanted to watch it all over again, all 170 minutes of it. It had such life in it.

Netflix plot summary: "While attending one of India's premier colleges, miserable engineering students and best friends Rancho (Aamir Khan), Farhan (Madhavan) and Raju (Sharman Joshi) struggle to beat their school's draconian system, which, in their eyes, unfairly values grades over creativity. Loosely based on Chetan Bhagat's best-selling novel Five Point Someone, this entertaining Bollywood comedy also stars Kareena Kapoor (Rancho's love interest) and Boman Irani (the tyrannical dean of the Imperial College of Engineering)."

The film narrative takes the form of a search for Rancho by his two former friends, the college scenes played as flashbacks, and so ends with finding Rancho, and the fulfillment of his free-t…

de Kooning Retrospective at the MoMA

de Kooning's paintings make sense for me when they are seen as a part of the whole, a restless, always-moving whole. They are experimental in spirit, and so they change in method, materials and manner, although the themes of women and landscape recur in the oeuvre. The women appear in early abstracted interiors, then appear in later abstracted landscapes, and they become landscapes in the third Woman series. He is Matisse painting outdoors. His textiles and fabrics are the patchworks of light. He abstracts his figures more radically than Matisse ever did, reducing them to floating fragments and suggestions, but the love of women holds him, as it did Matisse, to figuration. His art is essentially erotic.

The breakthrough black-and-whites, painted in 1945, I find fascinating, even moving. They make beautiful, entangled shapes. Again and again, as if fighting against a strong innate feeling for shapeliness, de Kooning breaks his compositions apart. He does to achieve intensity. He pu…

War Requiem

This afternoon, LW and I heard Britten's War Requiem (1961-62) performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda. Slovenian Sabina Cvilak sang soprano, Ian Bostridge tenor and Simon Keenlyside baritone. I was especially taken by Cvilak's singing. The London Symphony Chorus, directed by Joseph Cullen, and the American Boychoir, directed by Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, completed the roster of performers.

The Requiem has six movements: Requiem aeternam, Dies irae, Offertorium, Sanctus, Agnus Dei and Libera Me. In counterpoint to and ironic commentary on the Latin text are poems by Wilfred Owen. The bell-ridden first movement, for instance, is countered by "Anthem for Doomed Youth" ("What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?"). The effect is intended to be jarring, or at least dissonant, but I found myself wishing that Britten had not tried to combine prayer and protest. As a protest, the work came off as hectoring. As a prayer, well, it…

Joy Sonata

Last Wednesday, GH and I heard the London Symphony Orchestra, led by Sir Colin Davis, performed an all-Sibelius program at Carnegie Hall. Nikolaj Znaider soloed in the Violin Concerto in D minor, and he was terrific, warm and delicate in the quiet passages. I have his performance of Elgar's Violin Concerto on my iPad, and listen to it over and over again. For some reason I did not care so much for Symphony No. 2 performed after the intermission.

It was a rather more unconventional program last night at Alice Tully. A part of White Light Festival, "A Homage to J. S. Bach" looked at how Russian composers have been influenced by Bach's musical forms while using a modern tonal idiom. The program was headlined by Gidon Kremer, who played with beautiful intonation a chaconne from one of Bach's partitas. I also enjoyed very much Shostakovich's Piano Trio 2, which Kremer played with cellist Giedre Dirvanauskaite and pianist Andrius Zlabys, both from Lithuania. Kremer…

New Poetries V

Received my copy of New Poetries V yesterday. It's a beauty. It has a nice thick feel to it. The cover image, by Isabel Schmidt, is full of overlapping gentle things in soft colors.

Beyond advocating for his poets, Michael Schmidt's preface says a number of useful things on the principles that should guide an editor or anthologist:

Editors who are not promoting a movement or a group, when they tear open an envelope or click an email attachment, hope to be surprised by the shape on the page, by syntax, by the unexpected sounds a poem makes, sometimes with old, proven instruments used in new ways. They might hope to find evidence of intelligence. And they respect creative disobedience. Where there are schools they look for the truants; where there is a consensus with its levelling decorums, they edit against it. They are not looking for unschooled talent but for poetry as discovery in form and language. And the question of relevant subject-matter need arise only if it does arise.…