June 27, 2010

Peter Holvoet-Hanssen

Peter Holvoet-Hanssen [Belgium/writes in Dutch]

Born in Antwerp in 1960, Peter Holvoet-Hanssen worked as a caretaker of marine mammals in the Antwerp zoo and as a counselor in a shelter for homeless people before his famous poetry debut of 1998, the collection of poems, Dwangbuis van Houdini (Houdini's Straitjacket). That book won the Flemish debutant prize of 1999.

Stromboliccio of 1999 and Santander of 2001 quickly followed, making Holvoet-Hanssen a well-known figure in the Flemish poetic world.

His heavily theatrical performances of his work, often for children and with his wife Noëlla Elpers, engage his readers with accessible humor and emotional expression that, at times, seems at odds with the adventurous explorations of his work. Yet the whole, often including musical accompaniment and props, take the work to a more emotional level.

In 2008 we won the Flemish Culture Prize for Poetry and in 2010 he won the Paul Snoek Poetry Prize.

Holvoet-Hanssen has also written fiction, De vliegende monnik (The Flying Monk, 2005) and has translated Rimbaud and others from the French. His most recent poetry collection is Navagio, published in 2008.


Dwangbuis van Houdini (Amsterdam: Prometheus, 1998); Strombolicchio (Amsterdam: Bert Bakker, 1999); Santander (Amsterdam: Bert Bakker, 2001); Spinalonga (Amsterdam: Bert Takker, 2005); Navagio (Amsterdam: Prometheus, 2008)


Poets from Flanders: Peter Holvoet-Hanssen, ed. by Tom Van de Voorde (Antwerp: Flemish Literature Fund, n.d.)

Roza and the Moon

The moon is a boy and yet he’s cute
he peeps from under the clouds
but I sleep under the sheets.

He sings at an impossible hour:
‘Nought are the stars, nought is the moon
it’s off to bed the stars must soon
but it’s time to wax for Jack ’o Light Moon.’

He mangles in a loud voice:
‘Kirk, you’re no Adonis thinking
he’s at the centre of things.
Spock, your rusty starship
isn’t leaving anywhere at 25.00 hours
for the moon of Manakoora.’

Dim-witted owlets and rabbits
start the mousy-hair rocket
stew the piggy with the longest snout
for the moon is in the clouds, lies
asleep in my bed of roses.

—Translated from the Dutch by John Irons

(from Dwangbuis van Houdini, 1998)

Song for the Dead

Upsadaisy. From hobby-horse to hearse over the cobblestones.
It drizzled when grandmother was buried.

In September her daughter scrubs the grave though no one
ever comes by. My knees are ruined, she muses. So many
wasted years. If I ever get Alzheimer’s, give me a jab. Or:
poor old granny was afraid the rabbits would nibble at her toes
in the cemetery. When my time comes, I’m going to let myself be
cremated. Mr Death’s a gourmet underground.

In the mist above the graves: a little room at her house. Grey
dove stares at the tube, doesn’t recognise her. ‘I only get twenty
degrees and the TV guide offers only lousy programmes. You’re
not sleeping with that man from downstairs, are you? How could you? He’s
a thief, I hide my money.’

The smell of burning potato leaves. Mum says goodbye
to the swans. The skies are heavy, the mud sucks. Arthritis
in the shoulder. Quickly back to the house.

A radio drama in the living room. Nobody listens.
The hit parade. Anti-wrinkle cream. And a rosary in the drawer.

—Translated from the Dutch by John Irons

(from Dwangbuis van Houdini, 1998)

The Curdling Reverence of Captain Grapplehook

I break myself down, build myself up.
Tack aback and then flip-flop.
Foam at the chops.
Keelhaul and heave ho.

‘What d’you want, Hook?’
‘Avanti. From lava to spumanti.
West becomes east.’

Other suns, other planets.
Mortals that know of no stopping, brave the high
wave, learn from keeling
survive an ordeal by fire with senses reeling

when rounding Fire Island.

—Translated from the Dutch by John Irons

(from Strombolicchio. Uit de Smidse van Vulcanus, 1999)


It rose up from the very ocean floor
till the ice cap melted and cracked over Europe, it flew
along the hugest horror to the weakest wail
from the 25,000 throats of Béziers
standing by the Cathars, dancing over funeral pyres
on a Flamethrower with a bayonet
with the 15-inch-howitzers hacking on the cold
above Brandhoek, Ypres, Hellblast Corner, no-man's-land
sank alongside G. E. Ellison, lancer, the last to fall
mixed in carnal knowledge and then took root
in forgotten graves—Solferino, time after time

—Translated from the Dutch by John Irons

(from Santander. Ontboezemingen in het Vossenvel, 2001)

The Princess in the Glass Mirror


In every stage of life is given
A warning voice, it speaks from Heaven

Two thousand mice slept in two thousand matchboxes.
King Rat in his air balloon coloured everything in his flight: a
Friesian cow became a Belgian flag, mooed in shock until
it rained frogs. But still there fell no pennies from heaven.

A lamppost that waved and betrayed a young couple to death. After
25 minutes the girl was reanimated. A white dove that
flew against your window the night she departed this life. Did she call
on the emergency frequency? The dove on the roof stared at you. Don’t ask
why. Coincidence or no coincidence: that wavelength. Inflation everywhere.

Death leads life in randomly snipped-off courses.
In youth it whispers as a friend.

Is she still alive, pearl-fisherman?
She is still alive.


In joy and grief, in ease and care,
In every age, prepare, prepare.

Reynard, you’d amicably asked the rat to leave.
Two weeks later he lay on the lawn. You tattered and torn.

’99 frogs took a horse to Paris.’ You saw a raven fly
to the other side of the world to make it dark.
Ice on fire. Mouse in trap. What song haunted your head?
Come, father, come on home with me.

Her pony mourns and dances to the thunder. Silverplate green.
Around her starry bed the family flattened like the clouds.

The magic lantern has been put out.
Mother stays strong, continues talking to her daughter.
Somewhere she can hear me still, she thinks.

Is she dead, child on the pier?
Dead she is.

Translated from the Dutch by John Irons

(from Santander. Ontboezemingen in het Vossenvel, 2001)

V Country (Irish V Poem)

Cloud formations are on the move in constantly changing shapes
look, a dog stretches out its paws and now stands upright
with their shadows the phantoms crawl up the hills
and wet the patchwork quilt, my love, until the sun colours the mountains
mauve like my head, stampeding and balding as the rocks
into which the sea burns holes – only the gulls can still see me
maybe also Fergus who was foaming from laughter even
a long while after John Joe with the wild roses went to roost
stones can’t die his daughter said they just get
older while the swallows show me their white small bellies and the
dolphin in our bay waves her tail at me – with the V
of disavowing in the water above the vanished houses, the V
of the deserted village past the V-shaped traffic signs
in the V-valley where I will find you: I bring the virgin fire of
your song into virtual safety, invisible to the hunters of the night

A donkey cuddles a sheep and a ox yawns in a meadow
amongst the rabbits – it is like snow and sun all at once where your
hideout is, with the waves that I can hear even though I can only
see them one by one in feverish dreams, with the cliffs where it rains upwards,
drops that dry before they can fall on my V-veined feet
I go on looking for you: under a patch of fog, under a rainbow
cloudless becomes crowdless, you glisten between two peaks
you flash between the opposing poles of life, singing for the
victims of the famine, fodder for the dogs, fodder
for death – like a mangy terrier in the middle of the track
I attack a car for here the roles are reversed
you crash into a farmer, pay the cow and wires in the sky
are for the rooks – a V gate keeps livestock out; there
you sit by the well studying the harebells, you fly up

Void of division you fiddle above the V cleft, you warble
hey Paddy, I’m taking the piss, come vanish with me

Translated from the Dutch by John Irons

(from Spinalonga, 2005)


death causes living and being mad pain
deeply sagging chair of wisdom
swallowed key of heaven

must engrave this statue deserted

hello my lily under the thorns
draw aside the curtains will you
smother glowing coals of doubt
fear from Kandahar gain wings
I kiss your neck, thank this peaceful
moment, see how your waking
eyes light up: gleam of a lake
unseen even by yourself, like
shards of Kabul a mirror
that ripples—capers
from Lipari nothing to beat them
you sleepily say picked millions
of crocus stamens—a scent
of saffron; the sun rises, the
kettle shrieks, I bring you coffee
by the buddleia, blood as wine

fetched a toddler from the rubble, ay
death when living and mad with pain

Translated from the Dutch by John Irons

(from Navagio, 2008)


"Roza and the Moon" and "Song for the Dead"
Reprinted from Dwangbuis van Houdini (Amsterdam: Prometheus, 1998). Copyright ©1998 by Peter Holvoet-Hanssen. English language translation copyright ©by John Irons.

"The Curdling Reverence of Captain Grapplehood"
Reprinted from Strombolicchio (Amsterdam: Bert Bakker, 1999). Copyright ©1999 by Peter Holvoet-Hanssen. English language translation copyright ©by John Irons.

"Solferino" and "The Princess in the Glass Mirror"
Reprinted from Santander (Amsterdam: Bert Bakker, 2001). Copyright ©2001 by Peter Holvoet-Hanssen. English language translation copyright ©by John Irons.

"V Country (Irish V Poem)"
Reprinted from Spinalonga (Amsterdam: Bert Bakker, 2005). Copyright ©2005 by Peter Holvoet-Hanssen. English language translation copyright ©by John Irons.

Reprinted from Navagio (Amsterdam: Prometheus, 2008). Copyright ©2008 by Peter Holvoet-Hanssen. English language translation copyright ©by John Irons.

David Kinloch

David Kinloch [Scotland]

Born in Glasgow, Scotland, David Kinloch grew up in the city and took a degree in French and English at the University of Glasgow. Subsequently he studied at the University of Oxford and then worked as a teacher of French at various colleges and universities, including the Ecole Normale Supérieure (Ulm, Paris), University College, Swansea (Wales) and the University of Salford (England) before returning to Glasgow in 1990 to take up a post in French at the University of Strathclyde where he is now Professor of Poetry and Creative Writing.

     At the University, Kinloch helped to establish The Edwin Morgan Trust in the memory of the later Scottish author, Edwin Morgan. Money through the Trust is disbursed among Scottish poets under the age of thirty every two years.
     While a student in Oxford, he co-founded the poetry magazine Verse with Robert Crawford and Henry Hart, and he has also been editor of Southfields.

     His academic publications include a monograph on the French thinker Joseph Joubert, studies of Mallarmé and work in the field of Translation Studies as well as essays on the “auld alliance” between France and Scotland. He is the author of four books of poetry: Dustie-Fute, Faris-Forfar, Un Tour d’Ecosse and In My Father’s House. In 2004, he was a recipient of a Robert Louis Stevenson Memorial Award.

     A feature of his work to date has been the attempt to create relatively large-scale sequences which allow different kinds of poetry (in both English and Scots) to counterpoint each other. What happens when “traditional” lyrics cohabit with more experimental prose-poems and fables? Un Tour d’Ecosse, for example, takes the reader on a manic Tour de France type cycle tour of Scotland with Lorca and Whitman as the feverishly pedaling cyclists. This is poetry that is alternately elegiac and humorous and tries to interrogate the links between sexual and national identities.


Dustie-Fute (London: Vennel Press, 1992), Paris-Forfar (Edinburgh: Polygon, 1994); Un Tour d’Ecosse (Manchester, England: Carcanet, 2001); In My Father’s House (Manchester, England: Carcanet, 2005); Finger of a Frenchman (Manchester, England: Carcanet, 2013)

Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English

Lazarus (eftir the Latin o Prudentius)

Lazarus, tell us o the rackle-haundit
voice o Christ at rapped the lairstane
whaur ye ligg slumpt in pit-mirk
lik a craw in mist. Tell us o the lip
o Charybdis, the kyle at curls around
the Earl o Hell’s big hoose,
yon unkent burn aye trinlin fire.
At the lair’s threshwart,
-haipit wi muckle stanes -
stauns the Lord an ca’s his frien’s name:
‘Lazarus, come furth!’
Staughtway the stanes rowe back
an the ugsome grave ootpits
a livin corp, a diedman straughlin.
Oh, guid-sisters, lowse the linens lichtsomely!
Only the scent o strinkled spice is in the lyft:
camovine an corrydander, clow an nitmug.
Nae guff o bodily decay pirls up.
The een, aince weezin wi atter, blink,
sheen an skime lik keekin gless,
chowks are lit wi cramasie
at aince were pock yarred,
skin harlin aff an quick wi hotterel.
Noo the smashin man staps furth,
the slot o his briest lik a burn i munelicht.
Wha hae slaiked the thrapple o yon decrippit corp?
Only the man at gied him body,
wha sowfft thru the bree an glaur He mooldit,
wha smit the slumpy yird wi life.
O Daith, douce an doon-hadden noo,
Daith, aince stanedeif, sing smaa
an hearken tae the laa.
Wha hauds sic pooer? Confess:
Oor Faither alane protecks me frae yer hauns
an He is Jesus.

Rackle-handed – having powerful hands; lairstane –
tombstone; ligg – lie; pit-mirk – intense darkness; kyle –
a strait, a sound; unkent – unknown; trinlin – wheel,
trundle; threshwart – threshold; haipit – heaped; muckle
– big; rowe – roll; ugsome – frightful, horrible;
straughlin – struggling; lowse – loosen, set free;
lichtsomely – joyously; strinkled – sprinkled; lyft – air,
sky; camovine – camomile; corrydander – coriander;
clow – clove; nitmug – nutmeg; guff – stink; pirl –
spiral; weezin – oozing; atter – poison, purulent matter;
sheen – shine; skime – gleam with reflected light; keekin
gless – mirror; chowk – cheek; cramasie – crimson;
aince – once; yarred – marked; harl – peel; hotterel –
festering sores; smashing – vigorous, strapping; slot –
the hollow depression running down the middle of the
chest; slaik – quench; thrapple – throat; sowfft – blow,
whistle softly; bree – liquid, broth; glaur – mud, term of
contempt for a person or thing; mooldit – moulded;
slumpy – marshy, muddy; doon-hadden – kept in
subjection; sing smaa – adopt a deferential or
submissive tone; laa – law; pooer – power.

Reprinted from Painted, spoken, no. 8 (2005). Copyright ©2005 by David Kinloch.

Jennifer Burch

Jennifer Burch [USA]

Jennifer Burch was born in Melrose, Massachusetts and spent her childhood in Granby, Connecticut. She earned a B.A. in Fine Arts from Amherst College and an M.A. in English from the University of Kent in Canterbury, England. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she teaches yoga and works in art publishing. Recent work of hers can be seen in Verse, Free Verse, and Sal Mimeo.


No Matter (The Winged Way, 2008)

Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English


Symmetry operations, glide planes and screw axes might occur in an extended object of repeated patterns. These are the room's translations, so I keep moving. One spot elongates, another squats, but they belong to a system or relation of systems. Colors and luster are all that can be seen of the parts holding together. The walls appear to grow fast in all directions, wearing the habit of plates, but only fracturing could tell. If inside are blades and needles, the arrangement's order deceives. Either there's more than one basis and a whole network of lattices, or I'm looking at glass.

Reprinted from Free Verse, no. 8 (Spring 2005). Copyright ©2005 by Jennifer Burch.

Mark Kanak

Mark Kanak [USA]

Mark Kanak has spent the past twenty years splitting time between Berlin, Leipzig and Chicago. He studied German languages and literature at Southern Illinois University and the University of Illinois at Chicago and has devoted much of his literary time recently to translating previously unknown or overlooked authors, most recently Vienna-based writer and radio artist Peter Pessl, the late Rolf-Dieter Brinkmann, and the expressionist writer/dramatist Reinhard Goering, for example.

The past few years have been dedicated to developing a working relationship with German language authors and an active attempt to promote German authors by publishing translations in journals such as Circumference, Poetry Salzburg Review and Prague Literary Review and Blatt!. This has also yielded a new and exciting relationship with Lautsprecher Verlag (Stuttgart) which has led to the publication of both Kanak’s own work (in German) and translations of US poet/musicians such as Jeff Tweedy and Thurston Moore.

Kanak notes, “If anything, my work is an attempt to achieve on paper what groups such as Einstürzende Neubauten and Current 93 have achieved in audio recordings—but I tend to operate in relative isolation [and like it that way]. I routinely work with a great deal of technical material on a daily basis—especially technical translations—and tend to draw more inspiration from the sounds of pneumatic drills than singing birds in my writing…” Recent work has included a collaborative trilingual novel with Raymond Federman and ongoing audio experiments.

He is the poetry editor for the London-based Stimulus Respond Journal.


kilovolt (in German) (Stuttgart: Lautsprecher Verlag, 2006); abstürze (in German) (Vienna: Frohliche Wohnzimmer Verlag, 2006)

Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English

derating curves

beam swinging
the collar with an ‘o-fer’
[grid applied

muff of focus
[loss of impression, harde
ning zone
keyway die Keilnut!


tinction gunshots,
throwing power,

[ represents an indent in the original
Reprinted from Cricket, 2005. Copyright ©2005 by Mark Kanak.

Sarah Vap

Sarah Vap [USA]

Sarah Vap was born in Wichita, Kansas in 1972, then grew up in Montana. She attended Brown University, receiving her undergraduate degree in English and American Literature. She passed a few more years in Montana, Frankfurt, Germany, and Richmond, Virginia, before moving to Tempe where she completed her M.F.A. in Poetry at Arizona State University in 2005.

While there she studied with Norman Dubie, Cynthia Hogue, Jeannine Savard, and Beckian Fritz-Goldberg. She has taught creative writing at Arizona State University and Phoenix College, as well as to 1st through 12th graders with the Young Writers Program, A.S.U.’s Programs for Talented Youth, and the Arizona Commission of the Arts educational grants.

Currently a poetry editor at the journals 42opus (an online journal) and 22Across (a journal of kids’ fiction and poetry), she also served as co-editor of poetry at Hayden’s Ferry Review. She has won several grants and awards for her poetry, and has published poems in journals such as Field, Barrow Street, Denver Quarterly, Wascana Review, Diner, SHADE, The Fiddlehead, and Natural Bridge.

Her manuscript Dummy Fire, chosen by Forrest Gander, won the 2006 Saturnalia Poetry Prize and American Spikenard won the 2006 Iowa Poetry Prize.


Dummy Fire (Ardmore, Pennsylvania: Saturnalia Books, 2007); American Spikenard (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2007); Faulkner's Rosary (Ardmore, Pennsylvania: Saturnalia Books, 2010)

Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English


turvy is too sweet a word. grapple,
topmost—as if we carry the fate

of humanity on such-and-such
in a dwindle. that’s better. or,

swirls, that basic. so
happy it’s painful. we kilns

chafe—our secret
plan to redeem the world. and not right

ourselves. low,

then high haunts. supplicants.
when we jump

away from each other, middle
of the night.

Reprinted from Denver Quarterly, XV, no. 2 (2005). Copyright ©2005 by Sarah Vap.

June 24, 2010

Terence Winch

Terence Winch [USA]

Terence Winch, originally from the Bronx, New York City, has lived for much of his life in the Washington, D.C. area. In the early 1970s he was associated with DC's "Mass Transit" poets and closely associated also with the New York writers connected with the Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church in lower Manhattan.

Winch, the son of Irish immigrants, has also been associated with the Irish-American literary and musical traditions. Some of his poetry and other writing takes its subject matter from his upbringing in a Bronx immigrant neighborhood.

Winch has published four books of poems, a collection of short stories, and a book of non-fiction pieces that center on his experiences playing traditional Irish music. His first poetry collection, Irish Musicians/American Friends (Coffee House Press, 1985), won an American Book Award and was the subject of a piece on NPR's "All Things Considered." His second book of poems, The Great Indoors (Story Line Press, 1995), as chosen by Barbara Guest for the Columbia Book Award. These collections highlight how Winch uses language in two distinct ways in his poetry—the plainspoken, flat narratives of Irish Musicians/American Friends and Boy Drinkers versus the denser, more structurally complex works in The Great Indoors and The Drift of Things.

Joan Retallack writes of his work: "The music, humor, flat-out declarative, highly nuanced formal tone of Terence Winch—too full of love to be ironic—is propelled in light-dark metacognitive play by an urgent desire of the mind."

His work is included in over 30 anthologies, among them The Oxford Book of American Poetry; Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry; Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present; From Totems to Hip-Hop: A Multicultural Anthology of Poetry Across the Americas; and three appearances in Best American Poetry. Winch has received an NEA Fellowship in poetry, as well as grants from the DC Commission on the Arts, the Maryland State Arts Commission, and the Fund for Poetry.


Total Strangers (West Branch, Iowa: Toothpaste, 1982); Irish Musicians/American Friends (Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 1985); The Great Indoors (Brownville, Oregon: Story Line Press, 1995); The Drift of Things (Great Barrington, Massachusetts: The Figures, 2001); Boy Drinkers (Brooklyn: Hanging Loose, 2007); Lit from Below (Dublin: Salmon Press, 2013)

Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English

Saving Face

I waited too long. Everything I did was wrong.
I didn't know how to make sense of time.
I have no idea where I was when Kennedy was shot.
What you didn't see is what you got.

So I came down here to be alone with the phone.
I was sick to my stomach, waiting for your call.
I used to drink red wine and eat cheese in cheap hotels.
Bite off more than you can chew, then swallow it.

Everyone waves goodbye to me, even though
I have no plans to go. I am waiting for the snow.
I hate the spring. I don't want anything to grow.
The apple falls far from the tree.

We are told that light is too far away to see.
You cannot hide any more in the refrigerator.
The neighbors will never learn their lesson in the dark.
People in glass houses continuously walk around in circles.

So fare-thee-well, valiant comrades of the revolution.
We all showed up for the rally that night with our guitars
and sang a Joan Baez song about rivers and stars.
Give a man a fish that will last forever.

Reprinted from New American Writing, No. 24 (2006). Copyright ©2006 by Terence Winch

Sándor Weöres

Sándor Weöres [Hungary]

The son of family of the Hungarian gentry, Sándor Weöres continued the great intellectual tradition of Hungarian poetry of Babits, Kosztolányi, and Milán Füst. He was still a teenager when his first poems appeared in the major Hungarian literary review, Nyugat. By this time he had discovered Eastern philosophy and studied several ancient cultures and mythologies, all which appeared subjects in his earliest books, particularly A kő és az ember (1935, The Stone and the Man) and A teremités dícsérete (1938, In Praise of Creation).

Over the next several decades he continued to explore new areas in his poetry, despite criticism for his "nihilism" from Marxist critics, and produced over fifteen collections. His A hallgatás tornya (The Tower of Silence) of 1956 established as one of the major Hungarian poets of his generation. In 1970 he was awarded the Kossuth Prize.

During the Rákosi era of Hungarian government, Weöres supported himself primarily as a translator and a writers of children's verses, although these verses were read by adults as well. As a translator he published numerous Chinese and Japanese poets, and created the oeuvre of the imaginary 19th century poet, Erzsébet Lónyai, who, one woman poet of day wryly remarked, represented "the best feminine poetry in Hungary."

Weöres' intellectual pursuits also took him into metaphysics, producing a book, A lélek idézése (1958, Conjuring the Soul). He also wrote plays, the most recent, A kétfejú fenevad (The Double-Headed Beast), being produced in 1982.


Hideg van (Pécs: Kultúra, 1934); A kő és az ember (Budapest: Nyugat, 1935); A teremtés dísérete (Pécs: Janus Pannonious Társaság, 1938); Theomachia (Pécs: Dunántúl, 1941); Medúza (Budapest: Egyetemi Nyomda, 1943); Elysium (Budapest: Móricz Zsigmond, 1946); Gyümölcskosár (Budapest: Singerés Wolfner, 1946); A szerelem ábécéje (Budapest: Új idők, 1946); A fogak tornáca (Budapest: Egyetemi Nyomda, 1947); A hallgatás tornya (Budapest: Szépirodalmi, 1956); A léek idézése (Budapest: Európa, 1958); Tarka forgó (Budapest: Magvető, 1958); Tőkút (Budapest: Magvető, 1964); Gyermekjákékok (Budapest: Móra, 1965); Merülő Saturnus (Budapest: Magvető, 1968); Psyché: Egy hajadani költőnő írásai [as Erzsébet Lónyai] (Budapest: Magvető, 1972); III vers (Budapest: Szépirodalmi, 1974); Harmincöt vers (Budapest: Magvető, 1978); Egysoros versek (Budapest: Helikon-Szépirodalmi, 1979); Ének a határtalanról (Budapest: Magvető, 1980)


Selected Poems [with Frenenc Juhász], trans. by Edwin Morgan and David Wevill (London: Penguin, 1970); Eternal Moment, trans. by Edwin Morgan (London: Anvil Press, 1988)

On Death

Don't mind if you die. It's just your body's shape,
intelligence, separate beings which are passing.
The rest, the final and the all-embracing
structure receives, and will absorb and keep.

All incidents we live through, forms we see,
particles, mountain-tops, are broken down,
they all are mortal, this condition shows,
but as to substance: timeless majesty.

The soul is that way too: condition dies
away from it—feeling, intelligence,
which help to fish the pieces from the drift

and make it sicken—but, what underlies,
all elements that wait in permanence,
reach the dear house they never really left.

Translated from the Hungarian by Allan Dixon

The Colonnade of Teeth


The Colonnade of Teeth, where you have entered,
red marble hall: your mouth,
white marble columns: your teeth,
and the scarlet carpet you step on: your tongue.

You can look out of any window of time
and catch sight of still another face of God.
Lean out the time of sedge and warblers:
God caresses.
Land out the time of Moses and Elijah:
God haggles.
Lean out of the time of the Cross:
God's face is all bloody, like Veronica's napkin.
Lean out of your own time
God is old, bent over a book.

Head downwards, like Peter on his cross,
man hangs in the blue sky with flaring hair
and the earth trundles over the soles of his feet.
The one who sees
has sleepless eyes he cannot take from man.

No sugar left for the child:
he stuffs himself with hen-droppings and finds what's sweet.
Every clod: lightless star!
Every worm: wingless cherub!

If you make hell, plunge to the bottom:
heaven's in sight there. Everything circles round.

Man lays down easy roads.
The wild beast stamps a forest track.
And look at the tree: depth and height raying from it to every
itself a road, to everywhere!

Once you emerge from the glitter of the last two columns
the cupola your hair skims is then infinity,
and a swirl of rose-leaves throws you down,
and all that lies below, your bridal bed: the whole world—
Here you can declare:
"My God, I don't believe in you!"
And the storm of rose-leaves will smile:
"But I believe in you: are you satisfied?"

Translated from the Hungarian by Edwin Morgan

English language translations copyright © by Allan Dixon and Edwin Morgan.

June 23, 2010

Adam Zagajewski

Adam Zagajewski [Poland]

Born in Lwów, Poland (now Lviv, Ukraine) Adam Zagajewski was relocated with this family to western Poland shortly after his birth. He spent much of his childhood in Gilwice in Silesia.

Zagajewski was an editor of the cultural weekly Student and wrote also for the dissident monthly Zapis before becoming a co-founder of the important "Generation of 1968" group called Teraz (Now). These activities resulted in a ban on his publications, forcing him to move, for a period, to Berlin—where he was awarded a DAAD scholarship—and, in 1982, to Paris. In 1974 he and fellow poet Julian Kornhauser won the Koscielski Award for a collection of essays they wrote together.

His first collection of poetry, Komunikat (Announcement) was published in 1972, followed by the 1975 collection Sklepy mięsne (Meat Shops). Also in 1975 Zagajewski published a novel, Clepto, zimno (Warm and Cold). During this same period several of collections of poetry begin being published internationally, including the United States.

His moved to Paris resulted in Letter: An Ode to Multiplicity (1983), Jechac do Lowowa (Traveling to Lwow, 1985) and Plótno (The Canvas, 1990). Books since that period include Ziemia ognista (The Fiery Land, 1994) and Pragnienie (Desire, 1999), Powrót (2003), Anteny (Antennas, 2005), and Niewidziaina ręka (2009).

Since 1988 Zagajewski has served as Visiting Associate Professor of English in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston, and currently teaches at the University of Chicago.


Komunikat (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1972); Sklepy mięsne (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1975); Letter: An Ode to Multiplicity (Paris: Instytut Literacki, 1983); Jechac do Lowowa (London: Aneks, 1985); Ziemia ognista (Poznan: a5, 1994); Pragnienie (Kraków: a5, 1999); Powrót (Kraków: Wydawn, Znak, 2003); Ateny (Kraków: Wydawn, Znak, 2005); Niewidziaina ręka (Kraków: Wydawn, Znak, 2009)


Tremor: Selected Poems, trans. by Clare Cavanagh (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1985) Mysticism for Beginners, trans. by Clare Cavanagh (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997); Another Beauty, trans. by Clare Cavanagh (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000); Without End: New and Selected Poems, trans. by Clare Cavanagh (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003); Selected Poems, trans. by Clare Cavanagh (London: Faber and Faber, 2004); Eternal Enemies, trans. by Clare Cavanagh (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008)

Milo De Angelis

Milo De Angelis [Italy]

Milo De Angelis was born in Milan on June 6, 1951. He spent his childhood in Monferrato, a village in the Piedmont. The childhood experiences of this rural setting, the agrarian practices, the proximity of nature, the provincial legends, would later prove formative to his poetry, reinforcing a central thematic preoccupation with the natural cycle as well as contributing a number of autobiographical allusions.

During his late teens, De Angelis became deeply involved in sports, initially soccer, later track and field. These experiences would also reemerge in his poetry as a pattern of athletic images that resonate with his philosophical speculations.

He studied at the University of Milan from 1970-1974 and then at the University of Montpellier from 1975 to 1976, receiving a degree in contemporary Italian literature and classical philology.

De Angelis began writing poetry at an early age, in his mid-teens, when he was also beginning his readings in literature, philosophy, and literary criticism. His precocious debut occurred in 1975, when some of his poems appeared in two anthologies important in the history of contemporary Italian poetry: the prestigious annual L'almanacco dello Specchio (The Almanack of the Mirror), which usually prints a few interesting newcomes along with recent work by respected major writers; and Il pubblico della poesia (The Audience of Poetry), a selection of twenty-five poets designed to characterize the social and cultural situation of Italian poetry in the 1970s.

In 1976, De Angelis published his first collection of poems, Somiglianze (Resemblances) with the smaller press Guanda, noted for its list of experimental writing. These first publications signaled his emergence as a key figure in post-World War II Italian poetry, one who was developing in new ways the experimentalism initiated by such groups as the Novissimi and Gruppo 63 in the 1950s and 1960s.

De Angelis's poetry shows a commitment to the formal innovation championed by this experimentalist movement, but in the service of speculation on the nature of language and human subjectivity influenced by figures such as Nietzsche, Heidegger, Bataille, Blanchot, Lacan and Deluze. The result, in the words of the poet and critic Maurizio Cucchi, is that "idea and freedom of image often coexist in his verses, revealing a subtending, insinuating uneasiness, an always arduous and troubling skewing of experience."

De Angelis's poetic research let him in the late 1970s to found the journal niebo (1976-80), which published translations of several philosophical and speculative texts. De Angelis's own essays, collected in 1982 as Poesia e destina, addressed a wide range of texts, European and Eastern, classical and modern.

Throughout the 1980s, he lived in Milan, tutoring private students in Greek and Latin literature while writing the poems that brilliantly confirmed his early promise. His second collection, Millimetri (Millimeters) appeared in 1983 from the noted publishing house Einaudi; his third, Terro del viso (Land of the Face) in 1985, and his fourth Distante un padre (A Distant Father) in 1989, both from Mondadori. In 1998 Mondadori also published his Biografia sommaria (Concise Biography). The Rome publisher, Donzelli, published a selection of his work, Dove eravamo già stati. Poesie 1970-2001 (Where We Had Already Been) in 2001. His most recent collection, Tema dell'addio (Farewell Theme) won several prizes, including the Viareggio Prize, the San Pellegrino Prize, and the Cattafi Prize.

De Angelis has also written a work a fiction, La corsa dei mantelli (1979).

He and his wife, the poet Giovanna Sicari, currently live in Rome.

—Lawrence Venuti with Douglas Messerli


Somiglianze (Parma: Guanda, 1975, new ed. 1990); Millimetri (Torino: Einaudi, 1983); Terra del viso (Milano: Mondadori, 1985); Distante un padre (Milano: Mondadori, 1989); Biografia sommaria (Milano: Mondadori, 1998); Dove eravamo già stati. Poesie 1970-2001 (Roma: Donzelli, 2001); Tema dell'addio (Milano: Mondadori, 2005)


Finite Intuition: Selected Poetry and Prose, trans. by Lawrence Venuti (Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1995); Between the Blast Furnaces and the Dizziness: A Selection of Poems 1970-1999, trans. by Emanuel Di Pasquale (New York: Chelsea Editions, 2003)


This desired caress, stopped
close by, will not reach the cheek, gossip
that holds no truth: better
the Nazi gesture that crushes his mind, mine.
Not comprehended
it will comprehend everything
with the struggle in the room, the imploring
look and then:
listen to me
it helps. The day escaped into the day after
to forget. Now
in a few awkward tears
it is put before you: you are contemporary.

Translated from the Italian by Lawrence Venuti

(from Somiglianze, 1975)


The same low sky
of ambulances and rain, in the excitement
and hands on the groin, summoned by the body
to oppose
the slightest numbness to things
while outside, among the traffic lights, Europe
having invented the finite
holds out
far from the beast, defends
real and irrelevant concepts
along the highways, in linear time
toward a point
and the eyes don't shut before things, steady
where today a millennium hesitated
between yielding and not yielding
losing itself always later, with intelligence.

Translated from the Italian by Lawrence Venuti

(from Somiglianze, 1975)

The Dream of the Dancing Cat

For the lady of sea and grain
without beginnings, bright clothes, leavened break
because she spoke
as if she never existed,
in the plain
of light or in the threatening hiss
of the reeds, spoke
without need of guarantees,
swift shadow on the horse
heading south, beyond the forest, tonight

—Translated from the Italian by Lawrence Venuti

(from Somiglianze, 1975)

Born on the earth

Born on the earth
that remains
we were that breathless rejoicing
as soon as the minds arrived
on a canary's back
and conquered. A
is screwed to our flank, guardian
of the tablets, a harpoon
in the Mediterranean world, among the eggs.

You didn't want to share
the plunder and so
you have me forever
because there was nothing else
but the mere victory. Later
we shall throw our prey
to the cats: they will know
how to annihilate it!

Here is the quartz page
in the agenda, when
every man is razed to the ground
and remembers. The pine cones fill
this courtyard
faithful to its meters: the very tree
of the door
that is perennial for anyone who notices it
and yet is air, only air. It has a severity
and a still attentive custodian. These
were the numbers.

—Translated from the Italian by Lawrence Venuti

(from Millimetri, 1983)

Conversation with Father


The prisoners, you said, found
an opening in the cell. Several
died frostbitten, in the night.
Others, however, by burning their clothes,
saved themselves. But why was the guard
silent? Is it true he shot only at the dead?


The bandage was riddle with holes
but it didn't fall from his eyes. The blinds
were nearly closed...I'm certain...they were nearly closed
and no one can forgive them
not even now, among the other windows,
parcels from the post office. This truck. Now
it's dark. It was
as if he heard
a sister devoured, before him, lead
and light...I think so...she was watching,
she was strange...German.
The clock was stolen, at once, and then
filth on top of filth, cats
pelted with stones,
they too, like an anecdote of the crowd.

Translated from the Italian by Lawrence Venuti

(from Terra del viso, 1985)

Finite Intuition

A nerve pivots and that space
seeks a scratch in the glue,
point outside page

the earth you send spinning?"

I shall carry you on my shoulders,
complete cremation surrounded by posts:
suicides are more secretive than angels
and from the darkless side
the stitched nape will begin
the beginning

I shall carry you on my shoulders, in tatters, to
read, beyond the wall, beyond those

"The body was frost-bitten,
purple, devoid of essence."

—Translated from the Italian by Lawrence Venuti

(from Distante un padre, 1989)

"Now," "Metaphors," "The Dream of the Dancing Cat," "Born on the earth," "Conversation with Father," and "Finite Intuition"
Reprinted from Milo De Angelis, Finite Intuition: Selected Poetry and Prose, trans. by Lawrence Venuti (Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1995). Original copyright © by Milo De Angelis; English language translation copyright ©1995 by Lawrence Venuti. Reprinted by permission of Sun & Moon Press.

Mark DuCharme

Mark DuCharme [USA]

Mark DuCharme was born in Detroit in 1960 and grew up in its suburbs, the only child of a divorced mother who worked as a secretary. He earned a BA from the University of Michigan and, later, an MFA from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University.

He self-published a rather large chapbook in 1990 with which he later became dissatisfied. Numerous chapbooks have followed, as well as three books: Cosmopolitan Tremble (2002), Infinity Subsections (2004) and The Sensory Cabinet (2007). All of these contain “serial poetry” as well as “individual” poems. Beginning with The Found Titles Project (published in 2009 but written earlier in that decade) he abandoned serial poetry in favor of what he calls writing projects. The bulk of his work from this point on has been in the context of various writing projects. Since 2008, he has been at work on a project called The Unfinished.

In addition to poetry, DuCharme has published numerous poetics essays. In 2006 he won the Neodata Endowment Grant in Literature, and he has also been selected for the Gertrude Stein Award in Innovative American Poetry from Sun & Moon Press. DuCharme was a coordinator of the Left Hand Reading Series, the archives of which can be found on the University of Pennsylvania’s PennSound website. He now curates the Stratford Park Reading Series in Boulder, Colorado, where he lives.


Life Could Be A Dream (Ann Arbor, Michigan: last generation press, 1990); Emphasis (Peacham, Vermont: :that: [issue of :that: magazine], 1993); i, a series (Cleveland: Burning Press, 1995); 4 sections from Infringement (Ra'anana, Israel: Oasis Press, 1996); Contracting Scale (Morris, Minnesota: Standing Stones Press, 1996); Three Works (Invasive Map) (Amman, Jordan: Oasis Press, 1998); Infringement (electronic publication: Light and Dust Books, 1998); Desire Series (Boulder, Colorado: Dead Metaphor Press, 1999); Near To (Brooklyn: Poetry New York/Meeting Eyes Bindery, 1999); Anon [with Anselm Hollo, Laura E. Wright and Patrick Pritchett, with illustrations by Jane Dalrymple-Hollo] (Boulder, Colorado: Potato Clock Editions, 2001); Cosmopolitan Tremble (Columbus, Ohio: Pavement Saw Press, 2002); Infinity Subsections (Brooklyn: Meeting Eyes Bindery, 2004); The Crowd Poems (Boulder, Colorado: Potato Clock Editions, 2007); The Sensory Cabinet (Kenmore, New York: BlazeVox Books, 2007); The Found Titles Project (electronic publication: Ahadada Books, 2009)

Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English


Because I could not stop for
What was no longer hidden
After the addictive necessity
Therefore I do not speak

Because I can, or whisper
Into the opening which could resubmerge
You in darker nights than we’d conceal
Encasing what was strange

Even turbulent, for a moment, because
I could find you, not there, but real, before
Drawing breath in order to linger
There because I could find you yet

We still could be submerged in
It, it does not matter where
It was, no more, turnabout to image
Image which is constant change

Because I could not stop, but dared
To inform the speaker of the matter
Matter which encompasses us
Do I find you here, up to the wicker

Steeped in lucent trafficking
For death, death to remain active in
A texture, an accidental barrier
& I cannot stop until then

Reprinted from The New Review of Literature, III, no. 2 (April 2006). Copyright ©2006 by Mark DuCharme.

June 22, 2010

Joanna Klink

Joanna Klink [USA]

Joanna Klink was born in 1969 in Iowa City, Iowa, where she grew up. She attended Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota and later earned a Ph.D in Humanities from the Johns Hopkins University and an M.F.A. in Poetry from the University of Iowa.

Her first book, They Are Sleeping, won the Contemporary Poetry Series through the University of Georgia Press and was published in December 2000. Her second book of poems, Circadian, takes as its guiding vision circadian clocks, the internal time clocks of organisms that regulate rhythms of sleeping and waking. Affected by the presence and withdrawal of light, these clocks influence, among other things, the opening and closing of flowers, the speed at which the heart pumps blood, and the migratory patterns of birds.

Klink is also writing a book length lyric meditation titled Strangeness. A hybrid of forms—prose poem, essay, and biography—Strangeness is at once an introduction to the life and poetry of Paul Celan; an extended reflection on Celan's search for a reader; an exploration of the strangeness of poetry in general; and a defense of the obscure or difficult poem in an age in which more straightforward poems tend to be popular.

A recipient of a Rona Jaffe Writer's Award in 2003, Klink teaches in the M.F.A. program at the University of Montana.


They Are Sleeping (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2000); Circadian (New York: Penguin Books, 2007); Raptus (New York: Penguin Books, 2010)

Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English

Into the Kitchen a Light

Into the kitchen a light
rays down quiet. A private
sense of absence in my everyday
patterns—of disservice, breath,
or words pulled into my ribs
prying apart my errors from
the hopes that made them—
and outside the window coated
in soot from winds that come
all winter, some process has
ceased—although birds
drop and lift off the roof,
aerial sweeps, or just bursts of
feather, wings, claws, and the leap
of heart I would have,
should I be so brightly altered
with the chances of life,
a reparation I feel gathering
in my lungs, zero in the pitch,
scarlet wing, most unnatural
sound held in the dim
threshold of my throat—
or am I less than I was—
and fear I can't distinguish
the delicate blue current inside
the light from the pain in my voice
or the early morning fog laid over
the grass from the voice
that underlies everything

Reprinted from Crowd, V, nos 1-2 (2005). Copyright ©2005 by Joanna Klink.

Guy R. Beining

Drawing by Guy Beining / "Something Is Coming, Something Is Coming"

Guy R. Beining [b. England/USA]

Born Guy Robin Nicholas Beining on September 26, 1938 in London to an aristocratic mother from Russia and a middle class Norwegian father, Beining arrived in New York City in spring of 1940. Throughout his youth he lived mainly in Connecticut.

From 1951-1954 he suffered bouts with rheumatic fever, which caused him to have to take school courses later from the University of Indiana (1955-57). He attended the University of Florida between 1958-1960, enjoying classes with Barry Spacks and novelist Andrew Lytle.

After leaving the Army in 1963, Beining settle in New York City, where he remained until 2000, with a few escapes to New England. A 1965 novel, rejected by Athenaeum Press, drove him to write poetry. He first chapbook was printed in 1976, followed a year later by City Shingles, published by Sun & Moon Press as a chapbook.

In September 1978 he began his longest series of poems, Stoma (Selected Poems 1985-1989), published in 1990, and Stoma of 1994.

In 1995 two more poetry collections appeared, Carved Erosion and Axiom of a Torn Pulley (appearing in a limited edition of just 30 copies). He also had two prose poem chapbooks published, Too Far to Hear (Part 1) (1994) and Two Far to Hear (Part II) in 1997.

His most recent publications have leaned toward the visual, although, he observes, "after a five-artery by-pass, I have written a substantial number of poetry books, which are now making the rounds."


Razor with No Obligation (Michigan: Arbitrary Closet Press, 1976); City Shingles (College Park, Maryland: Sun & Moon Press, 1977); The Ogden Diary (Newburyport, Massachusetts: Zahir Press, 1979); Backroads & Artism (La Jolla, California: Moonlight Publications, 1979); Ice Rescue Station (New York: Gegenschein Press, 1980); A New Boundary & Other Pieces (Wisconsin: Woodrose Editions, 1980); Waiting for the Soothsayer (East Lansing, Michigan: Ghost Dance Press, 1982); The Raw-Robed Few (Long Beach, California: Applezaba Press, 1982); Stoma 1322. Haiku Pieces (Toronto: Curved H&Z Press, 1984); Stoma: All Points & Notions (New York: Red Ozier Press, 1984); Stoma (East Lansing, Michigan: Ghost Dance Press, 1989); Collectables (Toronto: The Horse Press, 1990); No Subject but a Matter (Toronto: Pangen Subway Ritual, 1991); Upper & Lower Translation of Beige Copy Text (Toronto: Nietzsche's Brolly, 1991); 100 Haiku Selected from a Decade (Houston: O!!Zone Press, 1993); Damn the Evening Garden (Toronto: The Berkeley Horse Press, 1994); Too Far to Hear (Buffalo, New York: Leave Books, 1994); Stoma (Huntington, West Virginia: Aegina Press, 1994); Curved Erosion (Seattle: Elbow Press, 1995); Axiom of a Torn Pulley (Elmwood, Connecticut: Poets & Poets Press, 1995); Too Far to Hear II (Morris, Minnesota: Standing Stone Press, 1997); Beige Copy II & III (Toronto: Nietzsche's Brolly, 1997); Inrue (2008); Word Pig 1-34 (2010); Out of the Wood into the Sun (Stockholm: Kamini Press, 2011); nozzle 1-36 (Rockford, Michigan: Presa:S: Press, 2011)

Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English


scene I

on a beach, one branch
level with eyes, holds a
copper bird that chirps into
grease of afternoon.
the owner of the eyes
is chewing on a string
that comes from a ball
of yarn that is placed
a picture book away.

scene II

light bows from corners, cracks,
& holes in curtains.
the common ground of this metaphor
has scratched away all distance.
floss mixes with dust & balls up.
the book on war has been erased
once again during this feverish silence.

Reprinted from The New Review of Literature, III, no. 1 (October 2005), Copyright ©2005 by Guy R. Beining.

James Weldon Johnson

James Weldon Johnson [USA]

James Weldon Johnson was born in Jacksonville, Florida in 1871, and grew up in a middle class African American family. As a youth he attended Stanton school, the prestige school for education of Jacksonville blacks. He later attended Atlanta University, graduating in 1894 and returned to Jacksonville to serve as principal at Stanton. In his spare time he studied law, and became the first black to pass the Florida bar examination. From 1895 to 1896 he headed a newspaper The Daily American, addressing issues of racial injustice.

After graduating from the New England Conservatory of Music. Johnson’s brother Rosamund and he collaborated on music lyrics, most notably “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” a song which came to be known as the “the Negro National Anthem.” Moving to New York they continued their work as lyricists for a number of popular songs, including “Louisiana Lize,” “Nobody’s Lookin’ but de Owl and de Moon,” “Congo Love Song,” and “Under the Bamboo Tree,” the last song of which earned them handsome royalties and was made famous again in the 1940s by Judy Garland and Margaret O’Brien’s performance of it in Meet Me in St. Louis. During this early period Johnson also studied literature for a time at Columbia University with Brander Matthews who encouraged his lyrics and serious poems and read the first portion of his novel Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man.

The duo, who worked mostly with composer Bob Cole, broke up in 1906 when Johnson was asked by Theodore Roosevelt, in consultation with Booker T. Washington, to become the U.S. consul to Puerto Cabello, Venezuela. In 1909, Johnson moved to a more significant post in Corinto, Nicaragua, returning to the United States for a brief stay the following year. During this period he married Grace Nail.

In 1912 revolution broke out in Nicaragua, and Johnson’s role in aiding the Marines in defeating the rebels garnered praise in Washington. He left the Consular Service in 1913, when Wilson was elected.

While in Nicaragua he had completed Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, which was published in 1912. He continued writing poetry, publishing Fifty Years and Other Poems in 1913. In 1916 he began work with the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), becoming its head in 1920.

But during the 1920s Johnson even better known for his literary output, involving himself with the group of writers and artists connected with the Harlem Renaissance, serving as mentor to younger writers such as Claude McKay and Langston Hughes.

One of his most important contributions was The Book of American Negro Poetry of 1922, a volume that served in identifying the new black movements. His preface to that book (printed in the Documents section of this volume) helped give history to the poetry by connecting it with Negro Spirituals and other African-American music. In 1925 and 1926 he has his brother brought out two volumes of “spiritual” lyrics, The Book of American Negro Spirituals and The Second Book of American Negro Spirituals. His own poetry of this period, collected most notably in God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse paid homage to the spiritual tradition, using the colloquial rhythms and expressions of African Americans.

In 1930 he became a professor at Fisk University, completing his autobiography, Along the Way in 1933. He died in an automobile accident in 1938.


Fifty Years and Other Poems (Boston: Cornhill, 1917); God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse (New York: Viking Press, 1934); St. Peter Relates an Incident (New York: Viking Press, 1930/reprinted as T. Peter Relates an Incident: Selected Poems (New York: Viking Press, 1937)

Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing

Lift every voice and sing, till earth and Heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.
Stony the road we trod, bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet,
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered;
Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.
God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou Who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou Who hast by Thy might, led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee.
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee.
Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand,
True to our God, true to our native land.


Under the Bamboo Tree*

Down in the jungles lived a maid,
Of royal blood though dusky shade,
A marked impression once she made,
Upon a Zulu from Matabooloo;
And ev'ry morning he would be
Down underneath the bamboo tree,
Awaiting there his love to see
And then to her he'd sing:

If you lak-a-me lak I lak-a-you
And we lak-a-both the same,
I lak-a-say,
This very day,
I lak-a change your name;
'Cause I love-a-you and love-a you true
And if you-a love-a me.
One live as two, two live as one,
Under the bamboo tree.

And in this simple jungle way,
He wooed the maiden ev'ry day,
By singing what he had to say;
One day he seized her
And gently squeezed her.
And then beneath the bamboo green,
He begged her to become his queen;
The dusky maiden blushed unseen
And joined him in his song.

If you lak-a-me lak I lak-a-you
And we lak-a-both the same,
I lak-a-say,
This very day,
I lak-a change your name;
'Cause I love-a-you and love-a you true
And if you-a love-a me.
One live as two, two live as one,
Under the bamboo tree.

This little story strange but true,
Is often told in Mataboo,
Of how this Zulu tried to woo
His jungle lady
In tropics shady;
Although the scene was miles away,
Right here at home I dare to say,
You'll hear some Zulu ev'ry day,
Gush out this soft refrain:

If you lak-a-me lak I lak-a-you
And we lak-a-both the same,
I lak-a-say,
This very day,
I lak-a change your name;
'Cause I love-a-you and love-a you true
And if you-a love-a me.
One live as two, two live as one,
Under the bamboo tree.

(from the musical Sally in Our Alley, 1902)

for the early Harry MacDonough and John Bieling version of the song, recorded on
February 27, 1903 by Victor Talking Machine, click here:

For the version of the song sung by Judy Garland and Margaret O'Brien, click below:

Go Down Death
A Funeral Sermon

Weep not, weep not,
She is not dead;
She's resting in the bosom of Jesus.
Heart-broken husband — weep no more;
Left-lonesome daughter — weep no more;
Grief-stricken son — weep no more;
She's only just gone home.
Day before yesterday morning,
God was looking down from his great, high heaven,
Looking down on all his children,
And his eye fell on Sister Caroline,
Tossing on her bed of pain.
And God's big heart was touched with pity,
With the everlasting pity.
And God sat back on his throne,
And he commanded that tall, bright angel standing at his right hand:
Call me Death!
And that tall, bright angel cried in a voice
That broke like a clap of thunder:
Call Death! — Call Death!
And the echo sounded down the streets of heaven
Till it reached away back to that shadowy place,
Where Death waits with his pale, white horses.
And Death heard the summons,
And he leaped on his fastest horse,
Pale as a sheet in the moonlight
Up the golden street Death galloped,
And the hoof of his horse struck fire from the gold,
But they didn't make no sound.
Up Death rode to the Great White Throne,
And waited for God's command.
And. God said: Go down, Death go down,
Go down to Savannah, Georgia,
Down in Yamacraw,
And find Sister Caroline.
She's borne the burden and heat of the day,
She's labored long in my vineyard,
And she's tired —
She's weary —
Go Down Death, and bring her to me.
And Death didn't say a word,
But he loosed the reins on his pale, white horse,
And he clamped the spurs to his bloodless sides,
And out and down he rode,
Through heaven's pearly gates,
Past suns and moons and stars;
On Death rode,
And foam from his horse was like a comet in the sky;
On Death rode,
Leaving the lightning's flash behind;
Straight on down he came.
While we were watching round her bed,
She turned her eyes and looked away,
She saw what we couldn't see;
She saw Old Death. She saw Old Death
Coming like a falling star.
But Death didn't frighten Sister Caroline;
He looked to her like a welcome friend.
And she whispered to us: I'm going home.
And she smiled and closed her eyes.
And Death took her up like a baby,
And she lay in his icy arms,
But she didn't feel no chill.
And Death began to ride again --
Up beyond the evening star,
Out beyond the morning star,
Into the glittering light of glory,
On to the Great White Throne.
And there he laid Sister Caroline
On the loving breast of Jesus.
And Jesus he took his own hand and wiped away her tears.
And he smoothed the furrows from her face,
And the angels sang a little song,
And Jesus rocked her in his arms,
And kept a-saying: Take your rest,
Take your rest, Take your rest.
Weep not — weep not,
She is not dead;
She's resting in the bosom of Jesus.

(from God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse, 1927)

The Creation
A Negro Sermon

And God stepped out on space,
And he looked around and said:
I'm lonely--
I'll make me a world.
And far as the eye of God could see
Darkness covered everything,
Blacker than a hundred midnights
Down in a cypress swamp.
Then God smiled,
And the light broke,
And the darkness rolled up on one side,
And the light stood shining on the other,
And God said: That's good!
Then God reached out and took the light in His hands,
And God rolled the light around in His hands
Until He made the sun;
And He set that sun a- blazing in the heavens.
And the light that was left from making the sun
God gathered up in a shining ball
And flung against the darkness,
Spangling the night with the moon and stars.
Then down between
The darkness and the light
He hurled the world; And God said: That's good!
Then God himself stepped down--
And the sun was on His right hand,
And the moon was on His left;
The stars were clustered about His head,
And the earth was under His feet.
And God walked, and where He trod
His footsteps hollowed the valleys out
And bulged the mountains up.
Then He stopped and looked and saw
That the earth was hot and barren.
So God stepped over to the edge of the world
And He spat out the seven seas--
He batted His eyes, and the lightnings flashed--
He clapped His hands, and the thunders rolled--
And the waters above the earth came down,
The cooling waters came down.
Then the green grass sprouted,
And the little red flowers blossomed,
The pine tree pointed his finger to the sky,
And the oak spread out his arms,
The lakes cuddled down in the hollows of the ground,
And the rivers ran down to the sea;
And God smiled again,
And the rainbow appeared,
And curled itself around His shoulder.
Then God raised His arm and He waved His hand
Over the sea and over the land,
And He said: Bring forth! Bring forth!
And quicker than God could drop His hand,
Fishes and fowls
And beasts and birds
Swam the rivers and the seas,
Roamed the forests and the woods,
And split the air with their wings.
And God said: That's goodl
Then God walked around,
And God looked around
On all that He had made.
He looked on His world
With all its living things
And God said: I'm lonely still.
Then God sat down--
On the side of a hill where He could think;
By a deep, wide river He sat down;
With His head in His hands,
God thought and thought,
Till He thought: I'll make me a man!
Up from the bed of the river
God scooped the clay;
And by the bank of the river
He kneeled Him down;
And there the great God Almighty
Who lit the sun and fixed it in the sky
Who flung the stars to the most far corner of the night,
Who rounded the earth in the middle of His hand,
This Great God,
Like a mammy bending over her baby,
Kneeled down in the dust
Toiling over a lump of clay
Till He shaped it in His own image;
Then into it He blew the breath of life,
And man became a living soul.
Amen. Amen.

(from God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse, 1927)

Poems Copyright ©1927 by James Weldon Johnson

*For a fascinating discussion of this song see Charles Bernstein's essay, "Objectivist Blues: Socring Speech in Ssecond Wave Modernist Poetry and Lyrics," collected in his volume of essays. Attack of the Difficult Poems (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2011), pp. 139-141.

June 21, 2010

John Ashbery

photograph by Bill Hayward
John Ashbery [USA]

John Ashbery was born in Rochester, New York on July 28, 1927. He raised mostly on a farm near Lake Ontario. He graduated from Deerfield Academy before going on to a university education at Harvard—where he wrote on Wallace Stevens under the supervision of F. O. Mathiessen—and at Columbia University where he received in M.A. degree.

Early in his education, Ashbery read poets such as W. H. Auden, Dylan Thomas, and Wallace Stevens, but his first ambition was to become a painter, and from the ages of 11 to 15 he took weekly classes at the art museum in Rochester. His first poems appeared in Poetry, which were submitted by a classmate while he was still in high school. In the mid 1950s, he moved to France, just before the publication of his second volume of poetry. There he worked as an art critic and edited the famed international review Art and Literature.

Ashbery has won nearly every major American award for poetry, beginning with the Yale Younger Poets Prize in 1956 (selected by W. H. Auden) for his first book of poetry, Some Trees. He has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize (for Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror), the National Book Award (for the same title), the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, and the Bollingen Prize (both for A Wave). It was in the late 1950s that critic John Bernard Myers categorized his writing as sharing traits with other rising poets such as Kenneth Koch, Frank O’Hara, James Schuyler, Barbara Guest, and Kenward Elmslie, all of whom would later to characterized as the first generation of a “New York School.”

From the highly experimental The Tennis-Court Oath to more romantically-inspired meditative works such as Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, Ashbery has remained a major force in contemporary American poetry. He has also written a novel, A Nest of Ninnies, with fellow poet James Schuyler, and wrote several plays early in his career.

His recent anthology, Notes from the Air, was chosen as the winner of the International Griffin Prize. In 2008 Ashbery was chosen as a recipient of the America Awards for a Lifetime Contribution to International Writing.


Turandot and Other Poems [art by Jane Freilicher] (New York: Tibor De Nagy Gallery, 1953); Some Trees (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1956; New York: Corinth Books, 1970; New York: Ecco Press, 1978); The Tennis Court Oath: A Book of Poems (Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 1962); Rivers and Mountains (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966; New York: Ecco Press, 1977); Three Madrigals (New York: Poet’s Press, 1968); Fragment: Poem (Los Angeles: Black Sparrow Press, 1969); A New Spirit (New York: Adventures in Poetry, 1970); The Double Dream of Spring (New York: Dutton, 1970); Three Poems (New York: Viking Press, 1972; Harmondsworth, English, 1972; New York: Penguin Books, 1977); Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (New York: Viking Press, 1975; Manchester, England: Carcanet New Press, 1977); Fragment: Clepsydre, Poemes Francais (Paris: Seuil, 1975); Houseboat Days (New York: Penguin Books, 1977; New York: Viking Press, 1977); As We Know: Poems (New York: Viking Press, 1979; New York: Penguin, 1979); Shadow Train: Poems (New York: Viking Press, 1981); Apparitions (Northridge, California: Lord John Press, 1981); A Wave (New York: Viking Press, 1984; Manchester, England: Carcanet Press, 1984); April Galleons (New York: Viking, 1987); The Ice Storm (Madras, India/New York: Hanuman Books, 1987); Flow Chart (New York: Knopf, 1991); Three Books: Poems (New York: Penguin, 1993); And the Stars Were Shining (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1994); Hotel Lautréamont (New York: Knopf, 1992); Girls on the Run (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999); Can You Hear, Bird? (New York Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1995); Wakefulness (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998); Your Name Here: Poems (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000); Chinese Whispers (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002; Manchester, England: Carcanet, 2002); Where Shall I Wander (New York: Ecco Press, 2005); A Worldly Country (New York: Ecco Press, 2007); Notes from the Air: Selected Later Poems (New York: Ecco Press, 2007); Planisphere (New York: Ecco Press, 2009)

For a large selection of Ashbery's readings of his own poems and interviews, click below:


Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English

A Darning Egg

He had emerged from the woods. Two poachers fired their rifles above his head. He couldn't restrain his joy.

He danced with the cypress, and stopped.

Cancel the order. The choir of aging starlets that blundered halfway through here tonight shrugged, appalled probably. Wasn't it time to go? Wearily they turned back down the cobalt and terra cotta ramp, singing a song to hoist their spirits, the "marche militaire." Now eyeballs close on the distant porousness. It's not liquor that gets us there.

Think tiny and big, the "experiment perilous."

Evelyn surveyed the shadow. Later, he'd see.

And the heavens, it was all duty after that. Duty calls. Which isn't to say pleasure doesn't too, and louder. My head is so screwed up I can't find your name in the yearbook. Years ago, it was like mist.

The cat is trained to touch base, scout out new locations. We'll all be back in a year's time, to the day. We'll see how it looks then. Meantime grades and awards are to be given out. Sheepskin hung on the walls in brocaded taverns. It was all over for them. But like them, a kiss comes to light our way in the eccentric competition.

Remember that I loved you. See no more.

Reprinted from Denver Quarterly, XXXIX, no. 3 (2005). Copyright ©2005 by John Ashbery. Permission to reprint granted by Ecco Press.

review of Ashbery's Wakefulness by Marjorie Perloff
Wakefulness, John Ashbery (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998), 84 pages

I have been rereading John Ashbery’s nineteenth book of poems in the Santa Monica Courthouse, where I am on jury duty. The waiting is interminable (I was first assigned to the Zubin Metha vs. Susan McDougal jury pool!) and not enhanced by the now ubiquitous proximity of other people’s cell phones. “Face it, Myrna!” says the scruffy old gent to my right, “You’re into total denial.”

What a great setting in which to read Wakefulness! For despite the charges of difficulty, incomprehensibility, and non-sense, Ashbery is, as Douglas Crase argued some fifteen years ago in his contribution to David Lehman’s Beyond Amazement, eminently our realist poet. When he begins “Cousin Sarah’s Knitting,” with the lines:

You keep asking me that four times.
Why trust me I think.
There is, in fact nobody here

He is recording, with only the slightest heightening, the way people (in this case his own relatives) actually do talk. And when, in “Laughing Gravy,” the poet declares, “The crisis has just passed. Uh oh, here it comes again, / looking off to blame itself on,” he is pinpointing, with droll humor, precisely the way information is disseminated. Indeed, one can hear the White House officials declaring that the crisis has just passed, and then – Uh oh!

But despite these great comic moments, Wakefulness is a somber book. At seventy, Ashbery is more overtly haunted by the past than was the poet of Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror and Houseboat Days. “Everything,” we read in the title poem, “was as though it had happened long ago / in ancient-peach-colored funny papers,” and again, “History goes on and on, / rolling distractedly on these shores.” The past and the future–or the fear that soon there won’t be one. “Each day, dawn condenses like a very large star.” And night thoughts become pervasive.

A kind gnome
of fear perched on my dashboard once, but we had all been instructed
to ignore the conditions of the chase. Here it
seems to grow lighter with each passing century. No matter how you
twist it,
life stays frozen in the headlights.
Funny, none of us heard the roar.

We now have many Ashberyian poets, but none that can rival the master at this sort of effect. The note of anxiety in lines 1-2 is common enough, but who else could personify fear as a “kindly gnome...perched on my dashboard”–a very just metaphor because it actually is when one is driving along somewhat aimlessly that such thoughts intrude. The “chase,” whose “conditions” we have “been instructed / to ignore” can refer to its diminishing weight, but it can also refer to the increasing sense of constantly living under floodlights from which there is no escape. The poet’s anxiety, in any case, is characteristically deflated by the cliché “No matter how you twist it.” But at that very moment, his car seems to hit something. A deer crossing the road? A human being? A shadow of oneself? The “light” of line 4–the light of common day–becomes the specific headlight in which “life stays frozen.” It is thus we meet death, never heeding the warning signs: “Funny, none of us heard the roar.”

Such intimations of mortality are chilling but never self-pitying. As the poet puts it in “Added Poignancy,” “What could I tell you? I couldn’t tell you any other way. / We, meanwhile, have witnessed changes, and now change / floods in from every angle.” Then immediately the deflationary impulse kicks in: “Stop me if you’ve heard this one.” Like many of the poems in Wakefulness, “Added Poignancy” has an intimacy of address that is new to Ashbery. The second-person mode, latent in poems as early as “They Dream Only of America,” now becomes pervasive: “Stop me if you’ve heard this one, / but if you haven’t, just go about your business.” Here, as usual in Ashbery, the final clause makes a U-turn: the expected conclusion would be, “but if you haven’t, then listen!” or “But if you haven’t, stay a moment.”

Such non-sequiturs are by now an Ashbery trademark, but the poet is endlessly inventive (or is it by now second nature?) at producing deflationary gestures as when, in “The Burden of the Park” (the title is just two letters away from the familiar “The Burden of the Past”) the “park” is defined as “all over,” and becomes the scene for a series of fragmentary narratives of childhood, part memory, part dream, my favorite being the “inner tube on a couch,” which becomes a way “out,” taking the poet and his friends on a trip “down the Great Array river.” One “Each of the inner tubes,” we now learn, “was of a ‘different color’: Mine was lime green, yours was pistachio.” But–wait a minute–pistachio is lime green: so much for the ability to make meaningful distinctions.

Despite its greater emphasis on history and memory, on death and Last things, on a new, more intimate relationship with “you,” Wakefulness does not mark a notable departure for Ashbery. He is not writing in a new mode or experimenting with new techniques. One might complain, therefore, as my students sometimes do, that Ashbery’s poems have become repetitive, that however effective, say, “The Burden of the Park” may be, Ashbery has already written this kind of poem many times before, creating a sense of replacability.

It’s a case, I suppose, of finding the cup half empty or half full. From the perspective of the total oeuvre, Wakefulness may not be an absolutely essential link in the chain. The mastery its poems exhibit is a mastery that has been witnessed before. On the other hand, taken in itself, Ashbery’s new book is still more accomplished, more pleasurable, more profound than nearly any of its current rivals. A sifting out process will take place later. But for the moment, we can take each new Ashbery volume as it comes, relishing the exquisite sense of timing that produces lines like

You know I adore ceremony,
Even while refusing to stand on it.

Or, as he puts it later in this poem (“Homecoming”):

I need your disapproval

June 20, 2010

Carlos Ávila

Carlos Ávila [Brazil]

Born in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais in 1955, Carlos Ávila is a poet and journalist. He edited and participated in several avant-garde journals. He is the son of the noted Brazilian poets Afonso Ávila and Laís Correa do Araujo, both linked to the concretism movement of Brazil.

Ávila’s poetry publications include the books Acqui & Agora (1981) Sinal de Menos (1989), Asperos (1990) and Bissexto Sentido of 1999. He continues also to publish essays in journals and newspapers in Brazil and abroad. From 1995-1999 Ávila edited the Suplemmento Literário de Minas Gerais, a monthly newspaper of poetry.


Acqui & Agora (1981); Sinal de Menos (1989); Asperos (1990); Bissexto Sentido (São Paulo: Editora Perspectiva, 1999

Baudelaire Answer

The sun
(awaiting an adjective;
bleached the cover
of a volume of baudelaire

the flowers of evil
(I discover)
cannot resist the sun's
slow violence
(sun of the backlands' mouth
That blasts the land dry?)

who had
the shelf
put there:
what would baudelaire
(in graphic effigy)
be doing in the backlands?

if the flowers of evil
can't stand the sun
(answers baudelaire)
How could they resist the thrusts
Of salt and rust?

Translated from the Portuguese by Regina Alfarano

(previously unpublished)

Narcissus Poeticus

dried up

(in a waterless

ill planted
in a (tiny)
waste land
of the dim apartment:
how to resist
dust dirt pollution?

mistreated ex-narcissus
abandoned to its fate
(flat on the floor)
without well
or mirror

dried up
(alone in the vase)
without sweat or saliva
or tears
to save it

on its soul)

Translated from the Portuguese by Regina Alfarano

(previously unpublished)

Poems copyright ©2003 by Carlos Ávila. English language translation copyright ©2003 by Regina Alfarano.

Reprinted from The PIP Anthology of World Poetry of the 20th Century, Volume 3: Nothing the Sun Could Not Explain—20 Contemporary Brazilian Poets (Los Angeles: Green Integer, 2003).

Visant Abaji Dahake

Visant Abaji Dahake [India/writes in Marathi]

Born in 1942, Vasant Abaji Dhake is a Marathi poet, playwright, short story writer, artist and critic. In his poetry he draws inspiration from sources as diverse as Tukaram and Kierkegaard.
Dahake was born in the year that Mahatma Gandhi called for the British colonial regime to “Quit India!” and was five years old when India gained independence; accordingly, he grew up the turbulent 1960s, the decade that for India characterized great optimism along with an often paralyzing doubt. Locally, the country was in profound crisis after the death of Nehru; but the effects of international individuals and events—Martin Luther King, Jr., Che Guevara, Elvis Presley and the Beatles—helped to bring India into the context of the contemporary world. Dahake grew up in Vidarbha, the eastern heartland of Maharashtra, arid and hot, but the center of the Deccan culture that includes Brahminism, Buddhism and radical devotional sects such as the Mahanubhavas.

This region, the language and the people, is at the center of Dahake’s poems—particularly in his first volume, Yogabhrashta of 1972. With its metaphors of dryness and burning summer, Dahake characterizes his homeland in the images of rocks, roads, and mirages. But in focusing on his rural setting, he argues for a larger Indian vision that includes the private inspirations and political issues of his homeland as against the dominant claims of the metropolitan areas.

Although Dahake has lived now for several years in Bombay, his writing continues, in his newest collections, Shubha-vartaman (1987) and Shunah-shepa (1996), to develop the dialectic between Bombay and Vidarbha, with his nightmare-like visions of the city as opposed to the more private sufferings of Vidarbha. As poet and translator, Ranjit Hoskote has written of his work: “Vasant Abaji Dahake’s poems reverberate with the clash of opposites: they speak of the displacement of a solitary consciousness from the countryside to the metropolis, from the expansiveness of landscape to the constrictions of architecture, and the anxieties and the exhilarations that such a traumatic experience can produce.”

Dahake has also written two books of fiction, Adholoka (1975) and Pratibaddha ani Martya (1981).


Yogabhrashṭa (1972); Śubhavartamāna (Mumbai: Mauja Prakāśana Grha, 1987); Śunaḥśepa (Mumbai: Lokavānmaya Brha, 1996).

Terrorist of the Spirit , trans. by Ranjit Hoskote and Mangesh Kulkarni (New Delhi: Harper Collins/Indus, 1992).

Abraham Lincoln Gillespie, Jr.

Abraham Lincoln Gillespie, Jr. [USA]

Abraham Lincoln Gillespie, Jr. was born in Philadelphia in 1895. In 1922 he moved to Paris where became friends with writers James Joyce and Gertrude Stein, and was a frequent contributor to Eugene Jolas’ Transition. Indeed, it is rumored that he began writing because someone suggested he looked like Joyce.

Most of his work took the form of writings on music, theater and dance, but his language, with its combined words and typographical idiosyncrasies, related as much to poetry as to the subjects on which he focused. Particularly in works such as “Amerikaka: Ballet,” the writing incorporates elements of sound and performance that bear close relationships, in some aspects, to the writings of performance artists and poets such as Jackson Mac Low, David Antin, and John Cage. His work has largely been out of print since his contributions to Transition.

In the 1930s Gillespie returned the US, living in the Village and performing his poetry at the Village Vanguard. In Live at the Village Vanguard Max Gordon describes Gillespie as the “Poet of Sputter.” Gordon specifically describes Gillespie’s reading of his Dada poem, “Willow Cafeteria”: “It lasted three minutes—a clangorous babble of a busy, crazy kitchen, dishes crashing, pots and pans exploding, all mixed with stentorian cries of distress. Link [Gillespie] had a voice for it. He’d stop as suddenly as he began, bow, and sit down. This was a major nightly event, and never failed to bring down the house.”

Gillespie died in 1950.


The Shaper (New York: Archangel Press, 1948); The Syntactic Revolution: Collected Writings of Abraham Lincoln Gillespie, Richard Milazzo, ed. (New York: Out of London Press, 1980)

A Poem from Puzlit

sardonically towers


i shing my ostracization

come back !

come back, I implore you

no — stay away


i am ecstaticly.

Harry Crosby


Harry Crosby [USA]

Born Harry Grew Crosby in 1898, Crosby was raised in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, the son of one of the richest banking families and nephew to financier J. P. Morgan. It was expected that he would continue in the family business, but the young Crosby, after graduating from the exclusive St. Mark’s prep school, broke family tradition, volunteering instead for the American Ambulance Corps. Crosby was cited for bravery after the Battle of Orme, and in 1919 was awarded the Croix de Guerre.

Returning to Boston to attend Harvard, he met Polly Peabody, herself of a wealthy background, and immediately fell in love. Peabody, however, was already married. The scandal of her divorce and their trans-continental affair and marriage in 1922 shocked proper Boston society, and helped to determine Crosby’s expatriation to Paris.

In Paris Crosby convince Peabody to change her name to Caresse and himself began on a life of womanizing, drinking, gambling, and general dissolution that characterized several wealthy Americans living in Europe, Cole Porter, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Gerald Murphy among them. After working for a brief time in his uncle’s Paris bank, Crosby determined to become a writer, and in 1928 inherited his cousin Walter Berry’s collection of more than 7000 books. After having read them, Crosby gave most of the books away, even sneaking them into used bookshops. The year before, he and Caresse founded Black Sun Press, which produced most of Crosby’s own publications as well as those of numerous American poets and French authors of the late 1920s.

Much of Crosby’s poetry dealt with mythological and archetypal imagery, particularly with Crosby’s image of the sun as a powerful force tying together life and death. For Crosby the sun also represented sexual forces which he played out in his numerous affairs with women, with which several of whom he had made suicide pacts.

As his poetry of the late 1920s became more and more innovative and influential, his own personal life moved toward spiritual obsession. During this same period Crosby began to experiment with photography and wrote some of his most important books, including Transit of Venus (poems inspired by his affair with Joseph Noyes Rotch), Mad Queen, The Sun, Sleeping Together and his autobiography, Shadows of the Sun.

In June of 1929, Josephine and his affair had been nearly severed, and she married Albert Smith Bigelow. But in December of that year, Crosby and Josephine met again in Detroit, checking in to a hotel under the name of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Crane. A few days later the couple returned to New York, where they agreed that Josephine would return to her husband in Boston. That evening Hart Crane threw a party for Harry and Caresse, who were returning to Paris.

Josephine, in the meantime, did not return to her husband but delivered a poem to Crosby at the Savoy-Plaza Hotel that ended: “Death is our marriage.” On December 10th, Crosby and Josephine were found together in a bedroom, dead. Apparently after shooting Josephine, Crosby shot himself to carry out the suicide pact the two had made.


Sonnets for Caresse (Paris: Herbert Clarke, 1925), 2nd edition (Paris: Herbert Clarke, 1926), 3rd edition (Paris: Albert Messein, 1926), 4th edition (Paris: Editions Naracisse, 1927); Red Skeletons (Paris: Editions Narcisse, 1927); Chariot of the Sun (Paris: At the Sign of the Sundial, 1928); Transit of Venus (Paris: Black Sun Press, 1928), 2nd edition (Paris: Black Sun Press, 1929); Mad Queen (Paris: Black Sun Press, 1929); The Sun (Paris: Black Sun Press, 1929); Sleeping Together (Paris: Black Sun Press, 1929); Aphrodite in Flight: Being Some Observations on the Aerodynamics of Love (Paris: Black Sun Press, 1930); Collected Poems of Harry Crosby [4 volumes] (Paris: Black Sun Press, 1931-1932).


O ye who claim to be our loyal friends
Come now and build for us a funeral pyre,
And lay our emptied bodies on the fire,
Pray for our souls, murmur your sad amens;
And while the gold and scarlet flame ascends
Let he who best can play upon the lyre,
Pluck slow regretful notes of deep desire,
Sing subtle songs of love that never ends.
and when at last the embers growing cold
Gather ye up our ashes in an urn
Of porphyry, and seek a forest old
There underneath some vast and mighty oak
choose ye our grave, spread over us a cloak
Of woven violets and filmy fern.

(from Sonnets for Caresse, 1925)

Short Introduction to the Word

Take the word Sun which burns permanently in my brain. It has accuracy and alacrity. It is a monomaniac in its intensity. It is a continual flash of insight. It is the marriage of Invulnerability with Yes, the Red Wolf with the Gold Bumblebee, of Madness with Ra.

Birdileaves, Goldabbits, Fingertoes, Auroramor, Barbarifire, Parablolaw, Peaglecock, Lovegown, Nombrilomane.

I understand certain words to be single and by themselves and deriving from no other words as for instance the word I.

I believe that certain physical changes in the brain result in a given word—this word having the distinguished characteristic of unreality being born neither as a result of connotation nor of conscious endeavor: Starlash.

There is the automatic word as for instance with me the word Sorceress; when the word goes on even while my attention is focused on entirely different subjects just as in swimming my arms and legs go on automatically even when my attention is focused on subjects entirely different from swimming such as witchcraft for instance or the Sorceress.

Fragment of an Etude for a Sun-Dial

let the Sun shine
(and the Sun shone)

on a wooden dial
in the garden of an old castle
(dumb when the Sun is dark)

on a pillar dial
in the Cimetière de l’Abbaye de Longchamp
(Blessed be the name of the Sun for all ages)

on the wall of an imaginary house
Rue du Soleil Paris
(the initials of the makers H.C. and C. C. and
date October Seventh 1927 are on the face)
(true as the dial to the Sun)

on a small stone dial
over the door of a farm
(Sole oriente orior
Sole ponente cubo)

on the exterior of a ring dial
worn on the finger of the Princess Jacqueline
(“Es-tu donc le Soleil pour vouloir que je me
tourney vers toi!?)

on the dial on the south wall
of a tower
(the Sun is the end of the journey)

and thee is a second dial
on the north tower
(I tarry not for the slow)

on a dial
over an archway in a stableyard
(norma del tempo infallibile io sono)
(I am the infallible measure of the time)

on a dial
in a garden in Malta

on a dial at Versailles

on an old Spanish dial
(the dial has now, 1928, disappeared a
railroald line having been taken through the
garden where it stood)

on the wall of the
Bar de la Tempete at
Breast facilng the sea
(c’êst l’heure de boire)

on a small brass dial in
the British Museum
on a silver dial in the
Musuem at Copenhagen
on a gold dial on the
soul of a Girl
(“mais à mon âme la nécessité de ton âme”)

let the Sun shine
(and the sun shone)

on a dial placed upon the
deck of the Aeolus
in the harbor of New London
on a dial placed upon the
deck of the Aphrodisiac
in the harbor of Brest
on a dial placed upon
the deck of the Aurora
in the harbor of my Heart
(“et quelques-uns en eurent connaissance”)

let the Sun shine
(and the Sun shone)

on pyramids of stones
on upright stones in
ancient graveyards
on upright solitary stones
on bones white-scattered on the plain
the white bones of lions in the sun
the white lion is the phallus of the Sun
“I am the Lions I am the Sun”

on the dial of Ahaz who
reigned over Judah

on a rude horologe in Egypt
(“as a servant earnestly)
desireth the shadow”)

on the eight dials of
the Tower of the Winds at Athens

on old Roman coins
unburied from the ground

on the twin sundials on
the ramparts of Carcassone

on the pier at Sunderland
(and where is the sound
of the pendulum?)

on the sun-dials on the mosques
of Saint Sophia
of Muhammed
and of Sulimania

on the imeense circular
block of carved porphyry
in the Great Square of
the City of Mexico

on Aztec dials
on Inca dials
(Femme offer ton Soleil en adoration aux Incas)

on Teutonic dials built
into the walls of
old churches

on the dial of the Durer Melancholia
(above the hour-glass and near the bell)

on the white marble slab
which projects from the
façade of Santa Maria Della Salute
on the Grand Canal Venice

on the dial of the Cathedral at Chartres
(“the strong wind and the snows”)

on a bedstead made of bronze
(and Heliogabalus had one of solid silver)

on a marriage bed
(lectus genialis)
in a death bed
(leactus funebrius)

on a bid
style à la marquise
(“ayant peur de mourir lorsque je couche seul”)

on a bed
lit d’ange

on a flower bed
on a bed of mother-of-pearl
on a bordel bed
on a bed of iniquity
on a virgin bed
on a bed or rock

To God the Sun Unconquerable
to the peerless Sun, we only

let the Sun shine
(and the Sun shone)

Soli Soli Soli

The Rose

to fame unknown
to many a, and many a maid
we are not naming
to whom was given
(be as wax to flaming)
we poets in our desire
wear the rose of what he steals from her
learning in the freshness of
ashes cold as fire


Sleeping Together

cry in your sleep and implore
cry autumn’s fire still small
cry as the door to the wind
cry for the touch of the snow upon snow
cry of the things that you fear
cry in the darkness a distant
dream in my ear

(from Sleeping Together, 1929)

Poems copyright (c)1925 and 1929 by Harry Crosby.