#backreading The New Yorker, 14 October 2019

Found, in a pile of unread New Yorkers, the issue that lauds Jenny Lewis’s Gilgamesh Retold (available now as an audiobook featuring Jenny reading her own work, on the Carcanet website)

 

It’s partly about George Smith, “an engraver of banknotes,” who “spent his lunch hours at the British Museum, studying its holdings.” Eventually, Smith was hired to “help analyze the thousands of clay shards that had been shipped … ” from “Nineveh, an important city in ancient Mesopotamia … the reason so many tablets had been found in one place was that they were the remains of a renowned library, that of Ashurbanipal, a king of the neo-Assyrian Empire in the seventh century B.C.” The script was written in cuneiform, a script “no one could read.”

The article, by Joan Acocella, is very long. But worth noting is that it reviews Jenny Lewis’s new collection, Gilgamesh Retold. Self has heard Jenny read, and her voice — Shohreh Aghdashloo level.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Poetry Contest, Rosebud Magazine

Deadline for Submission: 30 September 2020

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Judge: Lester Lennon, Rosebud Poetry Editor

For complete guidelines, go to: http://www.rsbd.net

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Process: Stonehenge/Pacifica

Self decided to look through her old MacBook Air (which, judging from the dates on there, had stories dating as far back as 2006) and found an early version of her flash, Stonehenge/Pacifica, which Wigleaf published in 2012.

It is fascinating to compare the two versions. It seems that, early on, Stonehenge/Pacifica was a poem. The line breaks are short:

STONEHENGE/PACIFICA

It was a dream I had, some restless night.
Perhaps one of those weeks/ months/ years
when we were worried about money.
But when were we ever not worried?
First, there was the mortgage,
and then the two.
Then your mother got sick,
and your fathe died.
And my mother I think developed
Alzheimer’s

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Poetry Tuesday: Sappho

To An Army Wife in Sardis

Translation by Dianella Gioseffi, from the anthology Women on War (The Feminist Press, 2003)

Some say a cavalry troop,
others say an infantry, and others, still,
will swear that the swift oars

of our sea fleet are the best
sight on dark earth; but I say
that whomever one loves is.

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Sappho, famed lyric poet of ancient Greece, was born on the island of Lesbos (b. circa 610 B.C.E.) and spent some time in exile in Sicily. She was leader of a group of young women devoted to music, poetry, and the goddess Aphrodite. Many of her poems are, like this one, addressed to women, and are characterized by both passion and simplicity.

#amreading: Rosebud 67, Spring 2020

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Poetry Tuesday: Simeon Dumdum Jr.

When Is a Poem Already a Poem

from the Likhaan Book of Poetry and Fiction, edited by Jose Y. Dalisay, Jr. and Ricardo M. de Ungria (University of the Philippines, 1996)

I wasn’t listening when you asked that question.
I was looking out the window, at the boat
That was just then leaving the port of Dumaguete.
One more day and already I imagined
Myself on that boat, slumped in a chair,
Holding a book like a cup of coffee,
Hoping that during the passage across
The strait I could read without spilling
A word, but then I remembered I still
Had to send someone to buy me a ticket,
And there was your question, and how far the boat
Had gone out in the poem of the sea, now
That I wished someone there would think of us.
From the boat someone could see the mountains, but not us.
From the boat someone could see the mountains, but not us.
Already we had become the Cuernos de Negros.


Simeon Dumdum Jr. is a Filipino judge on the island of Cebu, and a well-known poet. We met in 2009, at an International PEN Conference. Have loved his poetry ever since.

Poetry Monday: T’ao Ch’ien

On Returning to My Garden and Field

— translated by Wu-chi Liu

(1)

When I was young, I did not fit into the common mold,
By instinct I love mountains and hills.

(2)

I plant beans at the foot of the southern hill;
The grass is thick and bean sprouts are sparse.
At dawn, I rise and go out to weed the field;
Shouldering the hoe, I walk home with the moon.

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Side yard: Self placed the Chinese character for longevity beside the gate.


Self studied Chinese poetry under Prof. James J. Y. Liu at Stanford University, who became her advisor.

T’ao Chi’en (365-427)

Popularly known as Tao Yuan-ming, he was born the son of an official’s family near what is modern-day Kiangsi. During his youth, the family fortunes declined, and after several frustrating attempts to find an appointment, he gave up all worldly ambitions and retired to his home and gardens while he was still in his early forties.

Poetry Saturday: Molly Peacock

Among Tall Buildings

from the collection Cornucopia: New and Selected Poems (W. W. Norton, 2002)

And nothing, not even the girl you love
with the mole on her arm, will be left. Huge
trenches will be dug just beyond the stove
the whole northeast corridor will become
and the dead will be piled in each rude gouge,
even that girl whose left ear always sticks
slightly out beyond her hair. To fix
the names of who died on tape won’t be done
since they’ll dig quick to prevent disease. Nobody
likes to hear this kind of talk. I always
hated to hear it myself until I began
loving the mortar between blocks, that cruddy
pocked cement holding up buildings so a man
and a woman can embrace in the maze
of what they’ve built on the errors of their ways.


Molly Peacock is the author of How To Read a Poem and Start a Poetry Circle (1999) as well as a memoir, Paradise Piece by Piece (1998). Former President of the Poetry Society of America, she was one of the originators of Poetry in Motion, which placed poems on subways and buses. A more complete biography can be found on the Poetry Foundation website.

Reading Gemino H. Abad

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The Nothing That Speaks:

The poems come thick and fast today. I cannot cope. Poem after poem, half-words — and without words still.

I hardly cope.


Gemino H. Abad is a poet, literary critic, historian and professor emeritus of literature and creative writing at the University of the Philippines. In 2009, he received Italy’s premiere literary award, the Rome Prize.

Poetry Saturday: Ernest Hemingway

We ate well and
cheaply and drank
well and cheaply
and slept well and
warm together and
loved each other

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