June 30, 2022

Kenward Elmslie (USA) 1929-2022

Kenward Elmslie (USA)



The grandson of publisher Joseph Pulitzer, Kenward Elmslie was born in New York City and grew up in Colorado Springs, and attended his first opera in Central City, Colorado, at age eight. He moved to Washington, D.C., at nine, and developed a crush on Broadway musicals as a teenager, taking the train to New York City on weekends. His first lyrics were performed at his prep school’s senior varsity show, and after graduating from Harvard, where he majored in English, Elmslie moved back to New York City with dreams of writing for the theatre. For the last many years of his life Elmslie split his time between his Greenwich Village brownstone and his home in Calais, Vermont, in which he had lived with opera and music lyricist John Latouche from 1951-1956, the last five years of Latouche's life, and which he later shared with long-time companion Joe Brainard.

     Elmslie’s first book of poetry, Pavilions, was published in 1961 by Tibor de Nagy Editions, and thirty-plus books have followed, including a novel, The Orchid Stories, and collaborations with Joe Brainard, his significant other for more than thirty years, Trevor Winkfield, and Donna Dennis.

      Elmslie wrote a play, City Junket, which was produced Off-Broadway with set and costumes by Red Grooms, and the librettos for six operas, including The Sweet Bye and Bye and Lizzie Borden (music by Jack Beeson), The Seagull (music by Thomas Pasatieri); and Miss Julie (music by Ned Rorem). Elmslie has also written the book and lyrics to the Broadway and Off-Broadway musicals The Grass Harp and Lola (music by Claibe Richardson), and Postcards on Parade (music by Steven Taylor). 

     In 2005, the York Theatre Company (NYC) produced “LingoLand,” a six-person Off-Broadway revue of Elmslie’s theatre lyrics, opera librettos, visual collaborations, poetry, and poem-songs, featuring Elmslie as singer/narrator. Hailed by The New York Times as an “homage to a poet of the theatre … funny, clever and utterly lovable!”

       Elmslie also published Z Press which promoted the work of many of the New York School writers, including Brainard, John Ashbery, and James Schuyler. 

       The poet, publisher, and lyricist died at the age of 93 in 2022.





Pavilions (New York: Tibor de Nagy Editions, 1961); The Baby Book [with Joe Brainard] (New York: Boke Press, 1965); The 1967 Gamebook Calendar [with Joe Brainard] (Boke Press, 1967); Power Plant Poems (C Press, 1967); The Champ [with Joe Brainard] (Los Angeles: Black Sparrow Press, 1968); Album [with Joe Brainard] (New York: Kulchur Press, 1969); Girl Machine (New York: Angel Hair, 1971); Circus Nerves (Los Angeles: Black Sparrow Press, 1971); Shiny Ride [with Joe Brainard] (New York: Boke Press, 1972); Motor Disturbance (New York: Columbia University Press, 1972; Full Court Press, 1978); Tropicalism (New York: Z Press, 1975); Topiary Trek [with Karl Torok] (Topia Press, 1977); The Alphabet Work (Washington, D.C.: Titanic Books, 1977); Communications Equipment (Providence, Rhode Island: Burning Deck, 1979); Moving Right Along (New York: Z Press, 1980); Bimbo Dirt [with Ken Tisa] (New York: Z Press, 1982); 26 Bars [with Donna Dennis] (New York: Z Press, 1987); Sung Sex [with Joe Brainard] (New York: Kulchur Foundation; 1990); Pay Dirt [with Joe Brainard] (Flint, Michigan: Bamberger Books, 1992); Bare Bones (Flint, Michigan: Bamberger Books, 1995); Routine Disruptions (Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 1998); Cyberspace [with Trevor Winkfield] (New York: Granary Books, 2000); Blast from the Past (Austin, Texas: Skanky Possum Press, 2000); Snippets [with Trevor Winkfield] (New York: Tibor de Nagy Editions, 2002); Agenda Melt [with Trevor Winkfield] (New York: Adventures of Poetry Press, 2004); Tongue of Fire [with Trevor Winkfield] (New York: Inland Sea, 2005)

Song "Dropsy Cure Weather" from The Grass Harp, with music by Claibe Richardson, lyrics and book

by Kenward Elmslie:



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



Elegy for Loosha


Ambidextrous eliminators, langorous Elvises,

get roughed up bad by soused chimpanzees

notating your daily round. Like me, all Elvises

are riveted by visceral effluvia: human ashes

sifting down from a huggable blue bowl—


[zenith of a prairie sky.


A recurrent street screech exacerbates my stage-fright

at windows of, building opposite—starer-outers,

lotus-eaters flogging their dot.com wounds.

Dead skin spin-offs flake onto a wondrous panoply,

similar to my dreams of a fertile nation

of miscreant beloveds who can replicate,

post-impact, Vanilla Conga, back aways


[a flame dance, so they say.




Reprinted from RealPoetic (2005). Copyright ©2005 by Kenward Elmslie

June 29, 2022

Leopoldo Lugones [Argüello] (Argentina) 1874-1938

Leopoldo Lugones [Argüello] (Argentina)



Born on June 13, 1874 in Villa de María de Río Seco, in Argentina's Roman Catholic heartland, Leopold Lugones belonged to the landed gentry.

     His first job was as a writer for the newspaper La Montaña, in which he supported the aristocratic Manuel Quintana to be president of Argentina, which, in turn, brought him to Buenos Aires, where he quickly became involved in the literary scene.

     In 1896 he married Juana Agudelo, with whom he had a son, Polo Lugones, who would later become an infamous chief of the Federal Police under the dictatorship of José Félix Uriburu.

     Writing work influenced by the Parnassian poets, as well as Victor Hugo, Edgar Allan Poe, and Paul Verlaine, Lugones' work has been described as representing an "arrogant gallantry."

     As a close friend of Rubén Darío, Lugones emerged as an important Vanguardist and an advocate of free poetic expression. His first book was Las montañas del oro (1897), followed by Los crepúsculos del jardín (1905, Twilight of the Garden). Also in 1905 the writer published and densely and richly written historical novel La Guerra Gaucha.

     The same year as his second publication Lugones traveled to Europe, repeating trips in 1911, 1913, and 1930. In 1930 supported the coup d'état against the Radical part president, Hipólito Yrigoven.

     Lugones also published collections of short stories in 1906 and 1926. Further collections of his poetry include Lunario sentimental (1909, Sentimental Calendar), Odas seculares (1910, Secular Odes), and Romancero (1924, Balladeer).

     For most of his life, Lugones served as the director of public education in Argentina.

     In early 1938, despairing and disillusioned with life, Lugones committed suicide through a mixture of whisky and cyanide at the river resort of El Tigre in Buenos Aires. He was 63. The writer Jorge Luis Borges dedicated his El hacedor (Dreamtigers) to Lugones.




La montañas del oro (1897); Los crepúsculos del jardín (1905); Lunario sentimental (1909); Odas seculares (1910); El libro fiel (1912); El Payador (Buenos Aires: Otero Impresores, 1916); El libro de los paisajes (Buenos Aires: Otero y García, 1917); Las horas doradas (Buenos Aires: Babel, 1922); Romancero (Buenos Aires: Editorial Babel, 1924); Poemas solariegos (Buenos Aires: Bibloteca Argentina de buenas ediciones literarías, 1928); Romances del río seco (Buenos Aires: Francisco A. Colombo, 1938); Obras poéticas completas (Madrid: M. Aguilar, 1948); Obras completas (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Pasco, 1999)





selections in Stephen Tapscott, ed. Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry, trans. by Julie Schumacher (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996)





The afternoon, with light strokes

that lit the peace of our asylum,

sketched in chrysoberylic shades

a subtle violet decoration.


The moon surged enormous in the thicket;

the leaves increased their secret;

and a spider, on the point of its thread,

was weaving hypnotized above the spheric moon.


Bats filled the crooked arc

of sky, as on a Chinese screen;

your bloodless knees against the plinth


revealed our motionless delight,

at our feet a sapphire river

ran in silence toward it death.


Translated from the Spanish by Julie Schumacher


(from Lunario sentimental, 1909)



White Solitude


In calm of sleep,

lunar calm of luminous silk.

the night, as if it were

the white body of silence,

lies sweet in that great space.

And looses

its hair,

the lavish foliage

of poplars.


Nothing is alive except the eye

of a clock in a dark tower,

uselessly fathoming infinity

like a needle in the sand.


revolving on the wheels

of clocks

like a car that will never come near.


The moon carves a white abyss

of silence, socket in which

objects are corpses

and shadows alive like ideas.

And one frightened at how near

death is, within that whiteness,

at how beautiful the world is

in the age of that full moon.

And the sad desire to be loved

trembles in the aching heart.


There's a city in the sky,

suspended and nearly invisible,

whose restless profile

in the clear night shines transparent,

like rays of water on a sheet of paper,

in crystal polyhedral shapes.

A city so distant

its absurd presence is disconcerting.


Is it a city or a ship

we'd leave the earth in,

silent and happy,

so pure

that only our souls

would survive the full whiteness?


Suddenly an errant

tremor cuts the calm light.

The lines are undone,

the great space turns to white stone,

and in the melancholy night

all that remains is the fact of your absence.


Translated from the Spanish by Julie Schumacher


(from Lunario sentimental, 1909)



Gray Waves


It rains above the sea in gentle murmurs.

The wind is moaning so, one feels its grief.

The days is long and sad. The rain

sleeps deeply on the sand.


It rains. The languid drops transcend

their smell of cold, bleak flowers.

The day is long and sad. One understands

that death is like that..., life is like that.


The rain continues. The day is long and sad.

Within the grayish distance one is lost.

It rains.... And nevertheless one wishes

the rain would never stop.


—Translated from the Spanish by Julie Schumacher


(from El libro de los paisajes, 1917)




For a discussion of Lugones by Jorge Luis Borges, click on the lick below: 





English language translation copyright ©1993 by Julie Schumacher. Reprinted from Stephen Tapscott, ed.

June 28, 2022

César Moro [Alfredo Quíspez Asín] (Peru) 1903-1956

César Moro [Alfredo Quíspez Asín] (Peru)



Moro was born as Alfredo Quíspez Asín on August 19, 1903, in Lima, Peru.

      In 1925, the young man traveled to Paris, where came under the spell of André Breton, joining the Surrealist movement and participating in the publication Surréalísme au Service de Révolution.

      Moro's avant-garde spirit would align him to many French poets, and allowed him to be an forceful speaker, upon his return to Lima in 1933, for Hispanic surrealism.

      Only four years later, in 1939, Moro moved to Mexico, where he spent most of his career. There he co-founded, with the poet Emilio A. Westphalen, the magazine El uso de la palabra (The use of the word).


   Also a visual artist, Moro co-organized with Breton the International Surrealist Exhibition of Mexico.

      In 1944, Moro left orthodox Surrealism, returning to Lima in 1948, where he became a close friend with French writer André Coyne, who, when Moro died, became his executor, publishing what he know of Moro's output, including The Scandalous Life of César Moro, in His Own Words. He also wrote a book of essays, Versiones del surrealismo (1974).

      As scholar Mauro Marino Jimenez has written of Moro:


The poetry of César Moro has far exceeded the simple idea of a rebellion against any kind of historical tradition, social or "realistic." Every relationship-be it radical, its opposite or inner-is a continuous process and religious in the broadest sense. In the texts of the Peruvian poet, the roots are deeper still, dating back to a mythical approach to our thinking and magic (magic understood as the primal relationship between man and the universe, the dark in our times). Each poem includes constant inputs and outputs, with Moro mixing, melting, demystifying. We ae not offered transcendence, but a representation of how the contradictions are diluted and a recognition the "other" as a part of us.





La Château de grisou (1943); Lettre d'amour (1944); Trafalgar Square (1954); Amour à mort (1957); La tortuga ecuestre y others poemas: 1929-1949 (Lima, Peru: Ediciones Tigrondine, 1957); Los Anteojos deazufre (1958); La tortuga ecuestre y otros textos (1976); Obra poética (Lima: Casa de la Cultura del Perú, 1980); Viajie hacia la noche (Madrid: Huerga y Fierro Editores, 1999)




Amour à mort (Love till death), trans. by Frances LeFevre (New York: Vanishing Rotating Triangle Press, 1973); The Scandalous Life of César Moro, In His Own Words, trans. by Philip Ward (New York: Oleander Press, 1976); selections in Ludwig Zeller, ed. The Invisible Presence: Sixteen Poets of Spanish America 1925-1995, trans. by Beatriz Zeller (Oakville, Ontario and Buffalo, New York: Mosaic Press, 1996)


For a translation of Moro's "Fire and Poetry," click below:


June 26, 2022

Ranjit Hoskote (India) 1969

Ranjit Hoskoté (India)



Born in Mumbai, India on March 29, 1969, Ranjit Hoskoté has become recognized as one of the most significant younger Indian poets writing in English.

    Hoskoté was educated at the Bombay Scottish School, the Elphinstone College, where he received a Bachelor's Degree in Politics, and at the University of Bombay, where he received an MA in English Literature and Aesthetics.

     He began to publish poetry in the 1990s, publishing in India and abroad in journals such as Poetry Review London, Poetry Wales, The Iowa Review, Fulcrum, Lyric Poetry Review, West Coast Line, Green Integer Review, Die Zeit, Neue Zuercher Zeitung, and in numerous other international journals and newspapers.

     From 1988 to 1999 Hoskoté was the principal art critic for The Times of India, also writing a weekly column of cultural commentary, "Ripple Effects." Later, in his role as religion and philosophy editor of that paper, he began a column titled "The Speaking Tree," devoted to spiritual and religious philosophical issues. He also wrote critical biographies and monographs on a number of India painters and artists over the years.

     Hoskoté's first book of poetry Zones of Assault was published in 1991, with his second book, The Cartographer's Apprentice, following several years later in 2000. Since then he has published two further books of poetry, The Sleepwalker's Archive (2001) and Vanishing Acts: New and Selected Poems 1985-2005 (2006). He also translated the poetry of Vasant Abaji Dahake and other books. He edited the important anthology of Indian poetry, Reasons for Belonging: Fourteen Contemporary India Poets (2002). He has recently published a translation of the Kashmiri saint-poet Lal Ded.

     The poet has also been highly involved in PEN All-India and in International PEN, serving since 1986 as its General Secretary, as well as the editor of its journal Penumbra. He was President of Poetry Circle Bombay from 1992-1997.

     Hoskoté was a Visiting Writer and Fellow of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa in 1995, and served as writer-in-residence at the Villa Waldbrta in Munich in 2003. In 1996 he was awarded the Sanskriti Award for Literature and he won First Prize in the British Council/Poetry Society All-India Poetry Competition in 1997. India's National Academy of Letters honored him with its Sahitya Akademi Golden Jubilee Award in 2004.




Zones of Assault (New Delhi: Rupa & Co., 1991); The Cartographer's Apprentice (Mumbai: Pundole Art Gallery, 2000); The Sleepwallker's Archive (Mumbai: Single File, 2001); Vanishing Acts: New and Selected Poems 1985-2005 (New Delhi: Penguin Books India, 2006); hunchprose (Haryana, India: Penguin Random House India, 2021)


The Secret Agent

Joseph Beuys (1921-1986)


A thought that has died inside him leaks out

as a stag streaking across a page, its horns

skewed by the grain, and the nymph

he cannot catch by sight alone is dressed

in night's sparkling haze and he must lunge

at her hair, her breasts, her thighs with graphite

stabs, his hands breaking into antlers,

his mouth a snout rooting in the black earth

for scents his mind has lost on the trek

to the scribe's carrel, and now the margin of thought

is red again with the ribs of the roasted stag and washed

with the mixed gold and blood in which he's drawn

the nymph on a chair, who watches him twist and fall,

shake himself free from his tangled, muddy pelt:

comet-maned, meteor-eyes, through belling with wolf-howl.



Portrait of an Unknown Master


You've come to the coldest place:

rust peeling from tall trees

to settle in a fine powder on ice

that was river, bridge, mirrored cloud.


Stark paper, fine powder rubbed in its grain.

The face is red chalk-dust

under the detective's fingernail.

Who were you?



The Strange Case of Mr Narrative's Reluctance


What shall I do with your silences,

master? Your grey eyes glowing

in a wall of sour cement,

the darkness in your blood,

your arsonist's handshake?


Shall I hold the girl running a hoop through the square,

grip the lighthouse looming at the end of the street?

Seize the shadow of the man puffing a pipe

as it lengthens on a hot brick wall?

Grasp the ivy that crusts on cool, high windows?


The water is crumpling in your hands.

Too much leaks into the world, you think,

too much. You are coming apart at the seams,

your buttons are going off like gunshots.

let it spill, master, you cannot hold back


the goldfish exploding from your shirtfront.



Platform Directions

Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin


Here's how you solve the riddles

that this train station poses

when you come in from the sun,

wristwatch stopped, looking for shade

under cool timetables.


Start by walking around. Stare at a pyramid

that you cannot enter. Look through an igloo

that's made of glass and numbers. Then test

the runway laid out for a plane too heavy

with excess baggage to take off.

It taxies around a circle of broken stones.


Or try the ramp that leads to a library

of lead books, their pages stapled down

and a strong lens provided

to blur the missing author's words.

Someone's marked their favorite passages

with dead seeds.


You're shrugging on your coat,

hefting your rucksack.

But where's the rush, my friend?

Have a cappuccino while you wait.

You can take your time at this station.


No train stops here, no train ever leaves.




The Empire of Lights

after Magritte


This house has not moved a brick since midnight.

Outside the front door, the streetlamp has brushed

the cobblestones with a moss of delay: the night

glows in a yawn between darkness and day.


The street flows on, soaking the canal

with brittle afterimages of rain.

The bats that have chased butterflies of meaning

up the crescendos of trees all night


are drowsing in their green and icy silhouettes.

It is night here still, it will always be night:

this street is wound up tight to strike

at 3 am and hiss a breath of doubt


into waxy clouds that are talking, softly,

about the ninja maestro who bled the clock dry.

They remember the day he parted the curtains

and broke the windows in his flame-coloured hands.


They are whispering about the jacarandas

that he drowned in the sky beneath the house

that has not moved a brick since midnight,

and how well cotton burns at noon.



The Randomiser's Survival Guide


The grass is always greener in glass houses.

People on the other side shouldn't throw stones.

Let him who is without sin make hay.

Cast the first stone while the sun shines.


Kind hearts are better than eggs that haven't hatched.

Don't count your chickens, try coronets instead.

Half a loaf is better than two in the bush.

A bird in had is better than no bread.


Put your money on the bolted horse.

Lock the stable door where your mouth is.

Slow and steady gathers no moss.

A rolling stone wins the race.


Better safe than hear the fat lady sing.

It isn't over till you're sorry.

Whatever you do, don't tilt at the wolf:

this is how it ends, the windmills are at the door.




Still Life


The sliced apple

has elephants' eyes for pips:


they stare up at the knife

that has brought them to life.