June 27, 2010

Peter Holvoet-Hanssen


Peter Holvoet-Hanssen [Belgium/writes in Dutch]
1960

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.


BOOKS OF POETRY

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)


POEMS IN ENGLISH TRANSLATION

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.

‘Sailor?’
‘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)



Solferino

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

1

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.

Brain-dead.
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.


2

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)


Gravewriter

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)



PERMISSIONS

"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.

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

Jennifer Burch


Jennifer Burch [USA]
1973

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.

BOOKS OF POETRY

No Matter (The Winged Way, 2008)



Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English
2005-2006

Wallpaper

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.

Sarah Vap

Sarah Vap [USA]
1972

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.


BOOKS OF POETRY

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
2005-2006



topsy-

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]
1945

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.


BOOKS OF 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
2006-2007




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
.

June 23, 2010

Mark DuCharme


Mark DuCharme [USA]
1960

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.


BOOKS OF POETRY

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
2006-2007

Because


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]
1969

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.


BOOKS OF POETRY

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
2005-2006

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]
1938

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."

BOOKS OF POETRY

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
2005-2006


seerstuckher

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.

June 20, 2010

Carlos Ávila

Carlos Ávila [Brazil]
1955

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.

BOOKS 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;
im-pla-ca-ble)
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?)

Besides,
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
vase)

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

died
(soot
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]
1942

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).


BOOKS OF POETRY

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

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

Harry Crosby





Photoheligraph


Harry Crosby [USA]
1898-1929

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.


BOOKS OF POETRY

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).



Threnody

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

1)
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.

2)
Birdileaves, Goldabbits, Fingertoes, Auroramor, Barbarifire, Parablolaw, Peaglecock, Lovegown, Nombrilomane.

3)
I understand certain words to be single and by themselves and deriving from no other words as for instance the word I.

4)
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.

5)
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
virtue
(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


(1929)



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.

Peter Cater (England) 1955

Peter Cater (England) 
1955 

Peter Cater was born in Hampshire in 1955. His early years were spent in Paris, Germany and then in Kent, prior to gaining an open scholarship to New College, Oxford, to read English in 1973. 
     While there he began to take poetry more seriously, and a handful of his first mature poems were published in university magazines. As President of the Poetry Society he encouraged a wider appreciation of Eastern European poets, including Miroslav Holub and Zbigniew Herbert. Subsequently, he spent six years in Wiesbaden, Germany, where he combined teaching English with the development of his linguistic ability to the point where he could read in the original Kafka and Paul Celan, both formative influences. 


      After his return to the UK in 1986, he took up a career teaching English literature in London, which continues to the present. His more recent work is informed by his passion for music and the visual arts, again with an emphasis on Slav culture, but also by a response to landscape, particularly the unique atmosphere of Dartmoor in the South West of England, with its fascinating and enigmatic pre-Roman archaeology. Other places which have a bearing on his poetry and outlook are Prague, Moscow and St Petersburg, frequent ports of call when not getting away from it all in the Slovenian Alps. 
     A number of poems, largely from his Oxford years, were recently published in Green Integer Review.

June 17, 2010

Håkan Sandell


Håkan Sandell [Sweden]
1962

Born in Malmö, in the province of Skåne, Håkan Sandell grew up in the most ethnically diverse city in Scandinavia, and in a region that prides itself on its close ties to continental Europe. He remembers his grandmother telling him when he was very young, “We are not Swedish. We belong to a people related to the Danes and the Germans. We are Skåningar.”

Sandell published his first collection of poetry at the tender age of 19 and went on to became a member of Malmöligan (The Malmö Gang), a group of poets that also included the now very well known film director Lukas Moodysson. In 1995, Sandell and poet friend Clemens Altgård published the long essay/manifest Om Retrogardism (On Retrogardism), in which they argued their case for a broadly based revival of poetry’s traditional resources and techniques, and for the poet’s role as an integral part of society, rather than a spokesperson for a small elite.

Since leaving Malmö more than a decade and a half ago, Sandell has lived abroad, first in Copenhagen, county Cork, Ireland, most recently in Oslo. He has also traveled much, in the far north of Norway, the Faraoe Islands, Iceland, the Orkney islands, Normandy, Scotland, the Baltic countries and in the valleys of northern Wales. As he puts it—seriously, but with tounge planted firmly in cheek—“I traveled for almost ten years in mist-shrouded countries, and read mostly medieval poetry.” In Norway, Sandell has become an influential member of an artistic community that calls themselves the Oslo-retrogardists and includes many classical-figurative painters, poets, musicians and scholars. In addition to his poetry, Sandell regularly contributes art and poetry criticism as well as essays on historical subjects to the retrogardist journal Aorta, distributed in Sweden and Norway. Working closely together with linguists he has translated poetry into Swedish from Russian, Latvian, French, German, Celtic Irish and classical Greek.
Sandell has developed one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary Swedish poetry, combining a sober but unabashed romanticism with an innovative use of traditional tools such as meter and rhyme, to describe modern urban life. If it is true that his critical pronouncements have occasionally raised hackles—Om Retrogardism was hardly his last foray into polemics—he has not been without his champions. Four of his latest six collections of poetry have been published by Wahlström & Widstrand, one of Sweden’s most prestigious publishing houses, and his work is reviewed positively in the major Swedish newspapers. He has received a number of awards in recent years, including Kallebergerstipendiet from the Swedish Academy, the Essay Prize from the Organization of Swedish Cultural Journals, and a writer´s pension for life from the Writers Union and the government of Sweden.

—Bill Coyle

BOOKS OF POETRY
Cathy (Lund: Bakhåll, 1981); Europé (Lund: Bakhåll,1982); En poets blod (Lund: Bakhåll,1983); Efter sjömännen/Elektrisk måne (Lund: Bakhåll,1984); Flickor (Stockholm: Gedins Förlag, 1988); Skampåle (Stockholm: Gedins Förlag, 1990); Dikter för analfabeter (Stockholm: Gedins Förlag, 1991); Bestiarium (privately printed,1992), Fröer och undergång (Stockholm: Gedins Förlag, 1994); Mikkel Rävs skatt (Simrishamn, Studiekamratens förlag, 1995); Sjungande huvud (Stockholm: Gedins Förlag, 1996); Midnattsfresken (Stockholm: Wahlström & Widstrand,1999); Oslo-Passionen (Stockholm: Wahlström & Widstrand, 2003); Gåvor : valda dikter 1984-2002 (Lund: ellerströms, 2003); Begynnelser: en barndom i tjugotvå dikter (Tolarp: Ariel Skrifter, 2004); Skisser till ett århundrade (Stockholm: Wahlström & Widstrand, 2006); Gyllene Dager (Stockholm: Wahlström & Widstrand, 2009)


Twenty two things not to be trusted
(Hávamál, 85-86)

Twenty two things not to be trusted:
not night-old ice, not a winter in Skåne
with the ice shining and as yet untrodden
to a confidence inspiring terra firma.
Not winter in Skåne, not spring in Norway
with Easter Lilies rising through the snow’s crust;
never, ever, for Christ’s sake, trust
the blond from the sticks, fresh off the bus,
the bloodied thread in the labyrinth,
or that to every nice girl in a pinch
an angel comes, outfitted like a demon.
Mistrust a bit the empire’s balconies,
they have less of a purchase than the piercing
in the snake’s tongue; consider: the ice
in that drink in India will melt, consider, too,
that the red smiles and eyes as violet-blue
as the firmament above the Soviet Union
in one of Mikael Wiehe’s folk rock tunes
won’t always live up to your expectations.
For the young, these valuable recommendations;
never trust the egg laid by the rooster,
or helpfulness encountered at train stations,
doubt the dentist’s gold, the wolf’s wool
and the assurances of a golden future;
that it’s primarily for your own good
that you’ve been taken in hand, that you can depend
upon your being loved by your enemy.
No, don’t believe for a moment in the imperishable
nature of the shining ice; in the spread
wings of Icarus, in a spider’s thread,
in Christian charity with preconditions,
in politicians—or the children of politicians

—Translated from the Swedish by Bill Coyle
(first published in Words Without Borders)




Poetry rejoices…


Poetry rejoices even if the culture dies,
over the girl with her first electric, how her high,
thin voice, amplified many times
over by the loudspeaker, is like a giant’s
in the green grass of the festival site.
Over the fragile bells of digitalis, how they hide
the pistil and the pollen inside.
Rejoices over rain on the Faroe Islands,
over rendezvous on the Champs-Elysées at evening.
It rejoices over Japan, over Korea,
over arts refined over a thousand years—
the art of swordsmanship, or of drinking tea.
Rejoices over the poet, that his heart still beats.

—Translated from the Swedish by Bill Coyle
(first published in Poetry)


Your hair of snakes and flowers

When I saw one of those men touch your hair,
I heard for the first time in many a year
the ancient battle trumpets and I saw
the banners of an army winding off to war
and felt that blind power urging me to knock
him out with one punch, send him tumbling to the floor.
If nobody had held me back, stopped me,
I would—God help me—have killed him on the spot,
stomped out his blood, and spit in it. I’m sorry,
but you must be aware your winding hair
is different now, a hornets’ nest, a snakes’ lair!
yes, like a ball of snakes in a flower basket, dear.

Translated from the Swedish by Bill Coyle
(first published in Poetry)


Requiem for a Returnee

Czeslaw Milosz has moved to Krakow,
I heard from his Swedish translator yesterday,
to draw in with a deep rattling breath
the concrete dust by the building scaffolds,
breathed out again as the muse speaks her last.
And yet it seems like the scene of his death
should have remained a California
of perfected loss, peeled, wide open,
trembling with desert heat and alienation,
a well-aged alienation, where not the Beach Boys
but Chopin, Brahms and Shostakovich
are played at the cultivated funeral.
Nicely-built young American female
poets would have sparkled in the backmost benches
hour-glass shaped after a lifetime of salads
elegant too in the most stylish clothing
with small threads of cotton over their shoulders
in that self-satisfied self-preoccupation
I too will adopt any day now
in order to claim my feminine rights.
Paler, now, after the warnings about skin cancer
for over two decades leanly writing
for no one but themselves or no one
but their lovely, gold-framed reflections.
So cool in spite of the heat, and sexy
like they would be if all of the men had died out
and they were sexy only for themselves and
for the shelves in the lesbian bookstore.
Poets, yes, but more like muses
for fate, music, and watercolor painting.
Muses for sports cars, for the streetlights’
mildness in the dusk, for the blue of the waves
and of the neon letters high as falcons,
they all of them seem to be the bearers of a peculiar
bittersweet inspiration with no one to receive it.
Oh Sappho, California, sweet music,
why does Czeslaw Milosz travel to Krakow,
only, at the birth of his country, to die
like an utterly ordinary grey old man
when the long beaches’ mummifying heat
and a sea as blue as a white cat’s eye
made a background suited to a Greek god,
youthful in jeans and drunk on exile
like Odysseus’ men on milk-sweet lotus?


—Translated from the Swedish by Bill Coyle
(first published in PN Review)



Wreath
(Å.A. 1962—1988)


I bind your funeral wreath, I bind in it
hollow-cheeked bluebells and after that nothing,
nothing and all thereafter loose and sparse and bright.
I put in children’s light bouquets,
grapevine, smoke of hemp, smoke-rings and smoke
like rope that does not last the night.
I call it poor man’s wreath and colorless,
fingernail-pink, edged with sorrow, yellowed.
I set in emptiness as well
and dense and heavy palms and dew belong as well.
I fill the wreath with milk and mist
that spill out that spill out onto the grave
and fasten let fall long black bands.


—Translated from the Swedish by Bill Coyle
(first published in PN Review)



The Pigeons

Healthy metallic-bright pigeons
born in the shadows of forests,
weak despite colorful armor,
silken scarves billowing brightly.
Delicate scarlet feet, perfect
feminine talons, exquisite,
too, on the male of the species.
Heartbeats expressed as attire,
throats curved and slender as serpents’,
sea colors far up in fir-trees,
seek me out now after decades.
Hardly-heard tones to the present,
notes on diminutive tongues find
greatness at last in the memory.
Pigeons in shadowy pine-trees
when ecstasy shifts into clarity,
amber-red eyes in the darkness.
Also where you lay broken,
leftovers hawks left in clearings,
fluttering shards of grey opal
weighing the wind down, the forest
stood like a temple around you.
Wings that the waters reflected,
gracing the air and the sunlight.
Meetings with you as anathema,
animate litter, not manifold
greenery that sings in one’s vision,
chased along over the sidewalks
leaving irregular circles
scratched with your feet’s curled deformities,
give back an image of purity
rinsed in grey, grape-tinted clusters
trampled down there by the corner.
Lines that recall Leonardo’s
are quickly worked over by footwear.
Soot-covered pigeons are reddened;
even in death they are blatant obscenities.
Pigeons that foolishly wobbled
in circuits from dinner to danger;
spat-upon thread-bare and clownish,
resigned past the point of timidity,
more locked than the flame of a candle.
Yet there is in the pigeon’s blue highness
cast in the form of the shadow
of a statue of horse and rider
or, when its wings are extended,
a symbol of gossamer visions,
a hint of its earlier existence
in a world that was worthwhile and nurturing
when it lived in the forests’ dominion.
Less refined minds will continue
to consider it litter and vermin—
are pigeons still able to fly, even?
If you sometime should happen to see them,
sickly and slovenly, sitting
dour in the gutters of rooftops,
close beside eggs that lie rotting,
you will see plainly a place where
a lusterless poetry flares now and then
in memory of all of its losses.

Translated from the Swedish by Bill Coyle
(first published in Ars Interpres)


____

English language translations copyright (c) by Bill Coyle.

Anne Shaw

Anne Shaw [USA]
1972

Anne Shaw was born in Tecumeseh, Michigan, and grew up in Lenawee County, Michigan. As an under-graduate, she attended Yale Univer-sity, graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in English and psychology. She earned her M.F.A. at George Mason University, where she taught African-American and creative writing. Shaw currently lives as a social activist in Milwaukee. An Assistant Professor of English, she teaches creative writing and directs the Writing Center at Carthage College.

Shaw’s work has appeared in numerous journals, including New American Writing, Phoebe, Haden’s Ferry Review, and 26. In 1998, her poem “Enumeration” received the Virginia Downs Poetry Award. In recent years, she has completed two as-yet unpublished manuscripts. The first is a novella-length collage poem, Monstrosities, which explores the social history of people with medical anomalies and their treatment at the hands of the medical establishment. The second is a book-length collection of poems, Transparence of the Seen.

Dense and lyrical, Shaw’s poetry is profoundly engaged with the physical body and its location in time and space. Her work frequently examines the interconnections between gender, history, and the natural world. Man of her poems interrogate and fracture the language of expertise, seeking to expose its implicit assumptions and juxtapose them with alternate perceptual possibilities. “In my work,” she writes, “I do not necessarily accept the view that the beautiful in poetry is hegemonic, outdated, or useless. Instead, I attempt to carve out a territory in which radically fragmented and lyrically evocative language can coexist.”

BOOKS OF POETRY

Undertow (New York: Perseus Books, 2007)


Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English
2005-2006



Shibboleth

A florida I enter in
the name sends out its spikes.
The name is a pod
for the child.
See how the self
rattles around inside?

And such similitude
of love. I am hove up.
A rope to apprehend.
Barnacled. As instinct.
A hand to shuttle forth.

As if our increment were whole:
The pouring-out of waters
over stone,
a shelf of grasses, pressed
beneath the wave.

Or gill note, opalescent
gill. A substance to refute.
Omit the sibling fist
of wind, the hook,
the redundant gale.

Now the tongue will sorrow forth Add Image
its crisp and bloody pod.
The seed is always mute. A cut
exposes the wifely pith.


____
Reprinted from New American Writing, no. 23 (2005). Copyright ©2005 by Anne Shaw.

Robin Fulton


Robin Fulton [Scotland/lives Norway]
1937

Robin Fulton grew up in Scotland, spending almost four decades on both sides of the Highland Line. His father’s people were from the Borders, his mother’s from Sutherland and Caithness. He attended primary school on Arran and in Glasgow, secondary school at Golspie in Sutherland, and took an M.A. and Ph.D. at Edinburgh University. He has been a resident of Norway for three decades, living in a way on both sides of the North Sea.

Between 1967 and 1976, Fulton edited Lines Review and associated books, and he held the Writers’ Fellowship at Edinburgh University from 1969 to 1989. A Selected Poems in 1980 gathered work from five early collections and was followed by other collections in 1982, 1990 and 2003. Fulton has also translated many poems from Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian, and his own poetry has appeared in Swedish, Spanish, German, Hebrew and Chinese. For his translation he has won the Artur Lundqvist translation award in 1977, and the Swedish Academy translation award in 1978 and 1998. Most recently he has translated the complete poems of poet Tomas Tranströmer.

BOOKS OF POETRY

Instances (Edinburgh: Macdonald, 1967); Inventories (Thurso: Caithness Books, 1969); The Spaces between the Stones (New York: Three Rivers Press, 1971); The Man with the Surbahar (Edinburgh: Macdonald, 1971); Tree-Lines (New York: New Rivers Press, 1974); Between Flights (Egham, Surrey, England: Interim Press, 1976); Selected Poems 1963-1978 (Edinburgh: Macdonald, 1980); Following a Mirror (London: Oasis Books, 1980); Fields of Focus (London: Anvil Press, 1982); Coming Down to Earth…(London: Oasis Books/Plymouth, England: Shearsman Books, 1990); From a High Window (London: Oasis Books, 2002); Homing (London: Oasis, 2003); Supplement to Poetry Scotland (Callandar: 2003)


Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English
2005-2006


As In

an afterlife. Brick walls repointed
how often, a few trees recognised
now large-scale, décor inside so-so,
as in my time, meant to look not old
not new. In a gap between moments
that threatens never to close again
I have no present tense. There’s no room
left in the past for more of the past.
Much has fallen into the future,
which never stops containing nothing.
It’s an oyster-catcher – screeching out
of a present tense which leaves no space
for past or future – that breaks apart
this afterlife I’m no longer in.
Once more I’m hurrying towards it.


____
Reprinted from Painted, spoken, no. 8 (2005). Copyright ©2005 by Robin Fulton.

Michael Riley

Michael Riley [Australia]
1972

The youngest of five children, Michael Riley was born in Ipswich, Queensland, Australia. He spent most of his childhood moving from city to city, town to town. “My father didn’t like being in the one place too long.” when Michael was eight his parents divorced. In 1982 his mother settled in Townsville, a tropical city in far North Queensland. Michael hated school so much that he left at the age of thirteen. Ten years later he went back and obtained his High School Certificate.

In 1999 he graduated from James Cook University with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English Literature. In 2001 he moved to Melbourne to pursue a career in the creative arts. Riley has been writing poetry for only two years. In that time he has had some fifty poems published in major literary publications and anthologies in Australia and overseas. He is currently working on his first book.


Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English
2005-2006


Anwrothia

civilian casualties in his lower left jaw
left him more akin to leafy suburbs than palomino
his name was Anwrothia after the pelican
that bit off his father’s cock
his wife hid the cheese grater in her robe
having earned her husband’s respect
his work mate worked her over
while he worked his shift
in Paris that summer
she filled her socks with metered rhyme
and sniffed a pair of knickers stuck to a knife
Anwrothia rusted inside enmity

_____
Reprinted from Aught, no. 14 (2005). Copyright ©2005 by Michael Riley.

Allyssa Wolf

Allyssa Wolf [USA]
1971

Allyssa Wolf was in born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1971, and raised in rural Pataskala, Ohio, a student of the bible and Christian missionary until she was thirteen. At age ten she became a poet after reading Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass.

She moved to New York at seventeen and continued to move across the country for several years, working dead-end jobs, living in places including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Florida, New Mexico, Massachusetts, and Ohio, where she attended the University of Cincinnati for two years.

After Carroll, other early literary influences were Beckett, Pirandello, Plath, Kathy Acker, Rimbaud, James Wright, Burroughs, and Spicer. She was mostly disinterested in what she knew of contemporary poetry until reading an essay by Leslie Scalapino in the American Poetry Review titled “The Canon.” It was in searching out other work by Scalapino on the web that she discovered the Los Angeles journal Ribot, and sent her first poetry submissions to editors Paul Vangelisti and Standard Schaefer. The work was accepted blind, but eventually led to friendships, as well as an open invitation to sit in on poetry workshops at the Otis College Writing Program where she worked with Norma Cole, Scalapino, Vangelisti, and Schaefer.

Her work has or will soon be included in Fence, Versal (The Netherlands), No-Tell Motel, The Bedside Guide Anthology, Octopus, Ribot, Poesia in Azione (Italy), The New Review of Literature, Cutbank, Montana, Fascicle, The New College Review, Volume I, and Soft Targets.
She is editor of a chapbook series, Gateway Songbooks, and online magazine, Ghost Play. Her first collection of poems, Vaudeville, was published by Seismicity Editions early in 2006. She is currently at work on her next two poetry manuscripts: Prisoner’s Cinema and Pure Waste.
She now lives in San Francisco, in the area called variously the Tender, Nob and the Theater District.


BOOKS OF POETRY

M, the Dancer (Grand Forks, North Dakota: Gateway Songbooks, 2004); Vaudeville (Los Angeles: Seismicity Editions, 2006)


╬Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English
2005-2006

First Doll

Rather this or that says one,
As another sings low

I would have grown sound even
In the rich sick
Of the Earth
I would have grown

Within a crowd crying
What won’t exist?
A rose on the rod
With this I look on you now

A spike of light?

Is it an anger which turns
My face to yours?

(scrubbed hand in red fogged sun
shock of grey hair gently
placed on dry earth


____
Reprinted from The New Review of Literature, III, no. 1 (October 2005). Copyright ©2005 by Alyssa Wolf.

Rodrigo Toscano

Rodrigo Toscano [USA]
1964

Born in San Diego in 1964, Rodrigo Toscano moved to San Francisco in 1995, where he lived for four years, working as a social worker and labor activist. He now lives in Brooklyn, New York, working in Manhattan at the the Labor Institute.

Toscano’s first book, Partisans, was published by O Books in 1999 to great acclaim, and when his second book, The Disparities, appeared he was recognized as a significant contemporary poet. Since then he has published three further collections. The most recent, Collapsible Poetics Theater, received the National Poetry Award.

Toscano has read his work across the country, and has won several awards, including inclusion in the 2004 Best American Poetry anthology and in the Criminal's Cabinet: An Anthology of Poetry and Fiction.

Artistic Director and Writer for the Collapsible Poetics Theaer, he has performed his polyvocalic pieces at the Redcat Theater in Los Angeles, the Ontological-Hysteric Poet's Theater, and the Poet's Theater Jamboree.

BOOKS OF POETRY

Partisans
(Oakland, California: O Books, 1999); The Disparities (Los Angeles: Green Integer, 2002); Platform (Berkeley, California: Atelos Press, 2003); To Leveling Swerve (San Francisco: Krupskaya, 2004); Collapsible Poetics Theater (Albany, New York: Fence Books, 2008).


╬Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English
2005-2006


dream-construct of a dream constructed


dry trees
bronze sky
iron earth

come down
nutritious rain

lone plotted figure

loping

taser at the side

a satchel of I.D.s

tulips looking on

the house cannot get in
the house cannot come in
the house cannot stay out
the house cannot get out

standing outside the reach
of grapes
and cannot

shorn hand

shorn ear

(alternate translation:
something about "the brain itself
had shrunk")

look afar

transport class B ship
undocks
globonians
still greeks
in eclectic clouds

—and away!

they shall eat
of your
eating of their
fruits

in the middle of all nations
bear the mockery
gray figure

"loping"

"splotches"
be on your roots now

the very air's
dismayed indifference

broken stones amassed

agit-pebbles
they prop up the house
and get into it

all the time now

beyond "uncomfy"
disclosure-discourse

behold!

a newer row
of figurines

a buzzing and buzzing
flies buzzing all around

figure 1.
stands on the stair elevator moving upward modernity
descending is civility's staircase next to it

befallen
corpulent
book-quoting

figure 2.
looks up at
dead trees, so many
slugs would be coins
dropping

abyss city

as was before
encircled—compositional
be not
too dashed

rows of chairs—no "figures" in them
stab you in the throat—post-verbally—

profile of an old clan

profile of another
and another
and another

que muera la raza

images to all sides repeat
splotches legacy

s'gray all around them
s'green somewhere beyond

white, next image, scrollback

sheep, cattle in jaws of
moonlike-colored mandibles
and the barley stalks, yellowy swerve

line goes across and the crowd above it—a minimalist image
penciled-in hash marks—"hope"

well then, pink figure, well then, at first, then
get to more pinker goin' on red
purple beyond red
fading into black

so much for the collectivist principia

volucris

horrible sand surrounds

hunched
gray

devourers

slanted figures looking on
behind

behind the wall also
devoured

secret gray slab
and a shadow
and now
two crimson trees

to 7 in an arced golden
hand in hand
circle
collapsed

the old stone pissing-wall a-shattered on either side
the dome of ball-lickers not far off
the rock of geezer turds
contended over
in there

the house cannot get in
the house cannot come in
the house cannot stay out
the house cannot get out

a low cost shag while you shop
something for the kids to bang at with a pickaxe perhaps

an inscription on such stone found recently
something about "yeshua"
a one brother of a one james of one son of a
bisquit gone dry

as to why two newer schlockhunds
divide the waters
hunched down near two figures
hapless

stabbing at each other

in the throat

uploaded
corrupt dossiers
from swiss bank accounts

glare clouds not fulsome gray but orange against yellow

gas

swirls a figurine is a wool god a crinkled low-grade burlap god, is a swirl around the maypole
violent god

notice the arms

are limp

notice
sun across slant moon across slant book to look at

my son
what has thou snaked of late

bench
you can wait here

we can talk about

watch clouds

the snowcapped mountains
laughing uproariously

where our dust-devil sniveling gods swooped down from

simple anthropologic perspective
undoes the tale?

rumbling
globonian
approach

dzzz...why, jonah, I thought I stabbed you last night

dzzz...why, kemin, I thought I stabbed you last night

thundering clouds
scollpaper
screensaver

a fully-automatic
subjectivity
borne once
a webday

begin to scatter

globonian forces sweeping in

the true inheritor:
second-generation chinese (half haitian) french ex-national tranny
from the favelas of north sao paolo

the true inheritor

globonian

re-charterize state

lineages
intra-contanamixed
betrixed
ad infinitum

interests
intra-contaminixed
betrixed
ad infinitum

the children's pickaxe
amusement
itself
to be re-done
as

the point is

to transform it

beyond recognition


____
Reprinted from Milk Magazine, no. 6 (2005). Copyright ©2005 by Rodrigo Toscano.

George Stanley



George Stanley [USA/Canada]
1934

Born and raised in San Francisco, George Stanley was part of the 1960s poetry scene often described as the San Francisco Renaissance, which included figures such as Robert Duncan, Robin Blaser, and Jack Spicer, the latter of whom Stanley was a close friend.

He moved to Vancouver, Canada in the 1970s, becoming associated with New Star Books and the underground newspaper, The Grape. Over the past several years he has continued to be involved in Canadian politics, unions and alternative media, and was a long time educator in Terrace, British Columbia.

Stanley has described his own influences: “I was influenced by Spicer's poetry, by (Robert) Creeley and I was influenced by (Louis) Zukofsky and all of these I think were not particularly good influences on me; they sort of narrowed my poetry down, made it more tight….” My real influences, summarizes Stanley were early T. S. Eliot, Robert Duncan, Charles Olson, and Robert Lowell.

BOOKS OF POETRY

The Love Root (San Francisco: White Rabbit Press, 1958); Tete Rouge/Pony Express Riders (San Francisco: White Rabbit Press, 1963); Flowers (San Francisco: White Rabbit Press, 1965); Beyond Love (San Francisco: Dariel Press, 1968); The Stick: Poems, 1969-73 (Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1974); You: Poems, 1957-67 (Vancouver: New Star Books, 1974); Opening Day: New and Selected Poems (Lantzville, British Columbia, Canada: Oolichan Books, 1983); Temporarily (Prince George, British Columbia: Tatlou/Gorse, 1986); Gentle Northern Summer (Vancouver: New Star Books, 1995); At Andy’s (Vancouver: New Star Books, 2000); A Tall, Serious Girl: Selected Poems, 1957-2000, ed. by Kevin Davies and Larry Fagin (Jamestown, Rhode Island: Qua Books, 2003); Seniors (Vancouver: Nomados, 2006); Vancouver: A Poems (Vancouver: New Star Books, 2008)



Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English
2005-2006


Common Areas

The common areas are where we meet
but don’t meet.

Somewhere I read, or was told,
I should smile.

An error here
might reflect on my right to be here.

*

We meet here, on our way
from the inside to the outside
the outside to the inside,
in this place that is neither in nor out,
this common place given for us to use,
coming in or going out.

When my fellow tenant and I are both going out,
we are each going into the world,
into our secret lives.


When we are both coming in that is worse,
we each know the other is going to his apartment,
where he has grave duties to perform.

When one is going out and the other in,
there is a sense of irrelevancy;
this non-meeting might as well take place
outside, on the street.

*

There are halls and walls
and carpeting.

And the doors that swim by
the eyes.

I recognize the old man
(the other old man).
He gives me a friendly greeting
but a little too quickly.

I give a friendly greeting
too quickly too.

I recognize the couples.

Yearly, they melt
into other couples.

I recognize the burly man in a gray t-shirt
with a big open face
who says hello.

I say hello.

to make an error here –
not to say hello, not to smile –
might lead the other tenant to think
you longed for his annihilation –

to be the only one –
to not have to hide
behind the smile.

*

There is a stairwell that goes down
past the lobby
to the garage.

There is an elevator that goes down
past the lobby
to the garage.

I have a parking space
but no car.

*

There is a lobby with mirrors & tile floors
& mailboxes.

There is a door that leads to the street.

When I walk through that door,
the common areas continue.

Corridors
unmarked in air.

Walkers east,
walkers west.

I know this man coming towards me
(with the glasses & ball cap).

There’s no reason I should dislike him
just because I’ve seen him
so many places
so many times.

It’s like he was another tenant

but a tenant of what?

*

Would heaven be
total anonymity?


____
Reprinted from The Poker, no. 7 (2005). Copyright ©2005 by George Stanley.

June 16, 2010

Maruyama Kaoru

Maruyama Kaoru [Japan]
1899-1974


Maruyama Kaoru is read little today in Japan or abroad, in part because of Japanese readers' dismissal of him as an "intellectual" poet and because much of his work has been unfairly labeled as "sea-poetry." Maruyama did attempt to check lyricism and sentimentality in his work, and due to his life-long fascination with the sea, he wrote a great many poems about the ocean and voyages; but his work overall is quite varied and the controlled surface of his works often are belied by highly emotional content.

Born into a family of a high ranking bureaucrats, Maruyama spent much of his early years adapting to new surroundings, as his father was transferred numerous times to different locations. In the tightly-knit social structures of Japan, such displacement obviously had its effects; throughout his life Maruyama felt separated and apart from the Tokyo-centered poetry circles.

Living in the port of Yokohama in 1911, he was taken on class trip to see the ships in the harbor. The blue eyes of the Scandinavian sailors amazed the young boy, and from that incident, Maruyama dates his fascination with the sea. Despite strong opposition from his family, he sat for the entrance examination to the Merchant Marine Academy. Failing the examination, he enrolled in Tokyo preparatory school in order to retake the tests the following year. In 1918 he passed the exam and entered the Academy.

However, at the academy his dreams of becoming a ship captain were dashed as he discovered his fear of heights; the intense physical activity of the Academy, moreover, caused his legs to swell, and he received a medical release. Under his mother's guidance, he took the examination of the Third Higher School in Kyoto, where he entered in 1921 in French literature. By the time he entered Tokyo University in 1926, he had already determined to become a poet. Influenced by the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Oscar Wilde and others, including the Japanese master Hagiwara Sakutarō, Maruyama determined to use his education as literary stimulus rather than as a goal towards a bachelor's degree.

During this period he met Takai Miyoko, with whom he fell in love and married in 1928. Upon their marriage he rented a luxurious residence in Tokyo and later invited his mother to move in with them. He also dropped out of the university to concentrate on writing.

The collapse of the Japanese economy in 1930, meant difficult times for the family. Forced to move again and again, Maruyama found it difficult to concentrate on writing. But in 1931, his wife found a job in downtown Tokyo with sufficient pay to support his concentration on his art. His first collection, Ho—Ranpu—Kamome (Sail—Lamp—Gull) appeared in 1932. Soon after, he joined with other poets in publishing Shiki (Four Seasons), which involved him, for the first time, in the Tokyo poetry circles, and helped in the development of his poetic aesthetic. In particular, the theory of his fellow university student and poet Hori Tatsuo (1904-1953) and the writings of Rainier Maria Rilke highly influenced him in his attempt to balance objective observation and intellectual truths of the mind.

In 1935 he published two books, Tsuru no Sōshiki (Funeral of the Crane) and Yōnen (Infancy). The second book won the Bungei Hanron poetry prize, which brought much needed money and request for new manuscripts.

The following year, however, tragedy struck as his sister-in-law, with whom had developed a close friendship, died of consumption. His fourth collection of poetry, Ichinichishū (A Single Day) contains a section devoted to her memory.

An invitation to write on midshipmen's experiences at sea, finally realized Maruyama's boyhood dream in 1941. Those experiences were collected in poetry in 1943 in Tenshō naru Tokoro (Hear the Ship's Bell).

The Japanese war effort disrupted Maruyama's activities in the year's following, and in 1945 he and his family escaped into the "snow country" of the north, where he remained until 1948, when moved to his wife's home city of Toyohashi at the age of fifty. There he settled into a lectureship on modern Japanese poetry and began to write the books of his last years: Seishun Fuzai (1952, Lost Youth), Tsuresarareta Umi (1962, The Hostage Sea), Tsuki Waturu (1972, Moon Passage), and Ari no iru Kao (1973, Face with Ants). He died of cerebral thrombosis at the age of 75 in October 1974.

BOOKS OF POETRY

Ho—Ranpu—Kanome (Daiichi Shobō, 1932); Tsuru no Sōshiki (Daiichi Shobō, 1935); Yōnen (Shiki Sha, 1935); Ichinichishū (Hangasō, 1936); Busshō Shishū (Kawade Shobō, 1941); Namida shita Kami (Usui Shobō, 1942); Tenshō naru Tokoro (Ooka Sha, 1943); Tsuyoi Nippon (Kokumin Tosho Kankōkai, 1944) [author refused to acknowlege this work]; Kitaguni (Usui Shobō, 1946); Senkyō (Sapporo Seiji Sha, 1948); Aoi Kokuban (Nyûfurendo Sha, 1948); Hana no Shin (Sōgen Sha, 1948); Seishun Fuzai (Sōgen Sha, 1952); Tsuresarareta Umi (Chōryū Sha, 1962); Tsuki Wataru (Chōryū Sha, 1972); Ari no iru Kao (Chūō Kōron Sha, 1973); Maruyama Kaoru Zenshū (Kadokawa Shoten, 1976-77).

ENGLISH LANGUAGE TRANSLATIONS:

Self-Righting Lamp: Selected Poems, translated by Robert Epp (Rochester, Michigan: Katydid Books, 1990).



Into Clouds on the Hill

I pet my dog
neck to back
back to tail

Ears lie flat
Coat glistening
belly bent in a bow

Ah my petting hand wind in motion
the dog's tance bending into my strokes
the dog's dashing through its stance

I unleash him into clouds on the hill
The dog bounds off full speed
like a flung stone you can't call back


Translated from the Japanese by Robert Epp


(from Busshō Shishū, 1941)



Into the Future

The father said:
Look! at this picture
at the sleigh dashing swiftly on
at the wolf pack in pursuit
see the reinsman frantically whipping the reindeer
see the traveler taking steady aim with a rifle
from behind the luggage
now a scarlet flash from the muzzle

The son said:
One wolf's downed right?
Oh another sprang at the sleigh
but tumbled over backward covered with blood
It's night the endless steppes buried in snow
Can the traveler hold out?
How far has the sleigh to go?

The father said:
The sleigh flies like this till dawn
slaying yesterday's regrets one by one
dashing like Time into tomorrow
Soon beyond the path that sun will climb
streets of the future will glimmer into view
Look!
Sky on the hill already turning white


—Translated from the Japanese by Robert Epp


(from Namida shita Kami, 1942)



A Poet's Words

The late Nakahara Chûya said
"You find no mermaids in the sea
In the sea
are only waves"

These words from some strange reason
remain vivid in my mind
If I chant them three times
mermaid faces peer out from between the sounds
If I mutter these words to myself
as I think back on a past cruise through southern seas
countless merman arms and tails appear and disappear
into sea's high blue swells

Or if I think dreamily of these words
when standing on a rock shore under overcast skies
splashes of foam that dash against crags
sound like mermaid's singing

The late Nakahura Chûya's legacy to me:
The word wave has become mermaid
The word mermaid
has become wave

—Translated from the Japanese by Robert Epp


(from Tenshō naru Tokoro, 1943)


Carossa and Rilke

In his Romanian Diary
Carossa wrote as follows
about a young girl suffering from consumption
in the aftermath of war's destruction
"The scant oxygen in her entire body seemed
concentrated in those hugely opened eyes"
If at that moment
he had inadvertently approached her with the flame of love
her eyes would have burnt away in an instant
and she would have gone to heaven

They say Rilke's eyes were always limpidly blue
profoundly absorbing imagery
without harboring even a hint of a shadow
What if we had sailed a boat on a lake of that hue?
Dread would quickly have driven us insane

Translated from the Japanese by Robert Epp


(from Hana no Shin, 1948)


News from the Cape

Over the last two or three days here
the sea has been intensely transparent
the sky pure blue

Turning up my heels
each day I dive
deep into the sea and
marvelous! marvelous!
before I know it I'm in the sky
Through my diving goggles
I can see the sun between a cleft in the rocks

Holding my spear high
I rush toward the light
Then somewhere
a harp starts singing serenely
and a file of fish circles the sky
as in an ancient Egyptian mural

Reaching out gingerly
I pry off sea mussels and abalone
from behind the sun


—Translated from the Japanese by Robert Epp


(from Seishun Fuzai, 1952)





A Crane

A crane soars
over the blue sea

like a sooted and shabby umbrella
singing sadly

That bubble reputation
so long enjoyed
turns to shadow slips away
mirrored black
on crases in the brine.

Translated from the Japanese by Robert Epp


(from Maruyama Kaoru Zenshū, written 1955)



The Tree in Me

I don't know when it began but a tree has taken root in me
It grows through my growth
Spreading branches from my growing limbs
its leaves thicken into shapes of grief

I no longer go out
I no longer speak to anyone
not to Mother not even to friends...
I'm becoming the tree in me
No no I've already become that tree

I stand quietly far beyond the fields
Whenever I greet morning sun
whenever I look off after clouds fired by sunset
my silence glitters
my solarity self sings

Translated from the Japanese by Robert Epp


(from Maruyama Kaoru Zenshū, written 1956)



Illusion in the Reef

The chalk coral grove
comes floating transparently to the surface
like a sunken image
deep within a poem
A single baby shark undulates
through coral tips sunlight streaming everywhere
No that's a boot
an airman's book already beginning to dissolve
like a shadow like kelp

—Translated from the Japanese by Robert Epp


(from Tsuresarareta Umi, 1962)


Minato Ward, Nagoya (Memo on the Isé Bay Typhoon)

Mackerel bob up from the kitchen
enter the alleyways through a window and revived
swim down the street between slanting utility poles
heading vigorously for the estuary for the sea
Deep under riled-up eddying waters
women
children
old people
who had instantly exchanged their souls with the fish
surface here and there and towed off on rafts
pass again today
under twilight eaves holding their breath
Tomorrow creamation under sunny skies


Translated from the Japanese by Robert Epp


(from Ari no iru Kao, 1973)



Face with Ants

Ants crawl over eyelids
Then that nearby hollow suddenly gathers shadows
as though engraved

Ants lick the inner corners of the eyes
From there they go straight down the cheek
—and as I watch that nearby hollow
deepends as though scooped out

Ants circle that mole by the mouth
Then they scurry into breathless nostrils
They won't show themselves again
They may never reappear

Oh the shame of staring so
Oh the shame of being so stared at


Translated from the Japanese by Robert Epp


(from Ari no iru Kao, 1973)





PERMISSIONS

"Into the Clouds on the Hill," "Into the Future," "A Poet's Words," "Carossa and Rilke," "News from the Cape," "A Crane," :The Tree in Me," "Minato Ward, Nagoya," "Illusion in the Reef," and "Face with Ants"
Reprinted from Self-Righting Lamp: Selected Poems, trans. by Robert Epp (Rochester, Michigan: Katydid Books, 1990. Copyright ©1990 by Katydid Books; English Language translation copyright ©1990 by Robert Epp. Reprinted by permission of Katydid Books.