Sunday, February 20, 2011

Genesis Statement for New Poetries V

Paul Stevens publishes my poem "The Dying and the Living," written in Yeatsian ottava rima, in response to Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, in The Flea. It is one of my favorites. The verse sings feelingly, without flinching.

Michael Schmidt has selected the following poems for the Carcanet anthology New Poetries V: "Attribution," "A Whole History," "The Rooms I Move In," "Study #5: After Frida Kahlo," "Translations of an Unknown Mexican Poet" and ghazals from "A Lover's Recourse." All but the Kahlo poem were previously published in PN Review.

Asked for a genesis statement for these poems, I wrote:
Where did these poems begin? They began on a horrible afternoon when my tutor in his room at Wadham College read aloud the sentences I plagiarized from some book on Ben Jonson. They began in the backroom of a bar. They began with quotations—word, form or spirit—of Eavan Boland, Pablo Neruda, Octavio Paz and Roland Barthes. They began before my wretched grandfather died and after I stopped believing in God. They began at a Frida Kahlo show, studied with half-averted gaze. They began as I walked away from a long-anticipated break-up, two shopping bags stuffed with clothes in each hand, tears watering both cheeks, a cliché on Broadway on a Sunday. So many beginnings. But I think these poems really began when I moved from Singapore to New York and came out, so to speak, as gay. Which is to say that these poems began from humiliation and went on their way.

New Poetries V will be published this fall. There will be a blog to promote the anthology.

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