Poetry Friday: C. P. Kavafy

from “Gray” (1917)

Those gray eyes will have lost their charm — if he’s still alive;
that lovely face will have spoiled.

Memory: keep them the way they were.
And, memory, whatever you can bring back of that love,
whatever you can, bring back tonight.

Poetry Tuesday: Lucie Brock-Broido (1956 – 2018)

From the end of her poem Giraffe, in the 26 March 2018 New Yorker:

When the Nordic dark settled in, so early,
The children, blanketed in white, began to fuss at sleep, and cry.
It would not snow that night.
What is it in me                     Makes me tell you of these sights.

Lucie Brock-Broido was the author of four poetry collections, including, most recently, Stay, Illusion.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Poetry Sunday: Hilary Tham

At the last AWP Book Fair, self saw a familiar face at the Word Works table: Karen Alenier of Brooklyn. Self hung around and ended up buying a few books, one of which was Bad Names for Women, by Hilary Tham.

Tham is no longer with us, but her book is, and it is wonderful.

Mrs. Wei in Peking

All my life I’ve wanted to see
this Ten Thousand Li Great Wall,
Now I am sixty-five, too old for change

and Communism, the Malaysian Visa Office
permits I visit the land of my ancestors,
Oh, my arthritic knees! This wall was built

for mountain goats! The Emperor’s soldiers —
perched on the edge of the world, wanting
to sow rice and children, making do

with mulled wine against snow and ghost voices
wailing in the stones. Poor dead soldiers —
their breaths chill the stone, the summer wind,
I feel it. The Wall is haunted.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Poetry Saturday: Irene Suico Soriano

Met her at the reading put together by Linda Nietes of Philippine Expressions (San Pedro, CA) in March.

Been reading her collection, Primates From an Archipelago: Poems (Rabbit Fool Press), off and on ever since. The back has blurbs from Melissa Roxas and Jennifer Tseng (both of whom self has never read; adding to the “To Read” pile!)

The book is divided into four sections: Scattered Islands, Reclamation, Scattered Cities, and Smog.

From the poem Months, for Napoleon Lustre:

I.

Essex said it perfect:
It is easier to be furious than yearning.
You belong to tribes of warriors and outlaws.
Many who are now dying or just waiting like you.
As I sit here by your bed looking at your sleeping body,
I wonder how long your fury can sustain you.

DSCN0385

Published 2017 by Rabbit Fool Press: http://www.rabbitfoolpress.com

Enthralling, powerful collection.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Poetry Saturday: Keith Tuma

excerpt from Tanka Notebook, in the collection Climbing into the Orchestra (2017)

On the sidewalk a giant onion perfectly peeled
tucked in a plastic baggie and still fresh
three days after I notice it.


Keith Tuma teaches at Miami University (Ohio), where he edits the Miami University Press. Recent books include On Leave: A Book of Anecdotes (Salt, 2011).

 

Poetry Sunday: U Sam Oeur

from The Fall of Culture

— translated from the Cambodian by Ken McCullough

I hid the precious wealth,
packed the suitcases with milled rice,
packed old clothes, a small scrap-metal oven,
pots, pans, plates, spoons, an ax, a hoe,
some preserved fish in small plastic containers —
loaded it all in a cart and towed it eastward
under the full moon, May ’75.

Born in the Svey Rieng province of Cambodia, U Sam Oeur received his MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop in 1968. Upon returning to Cambodia, he was elected to the National Assembly in 1972 and in 1973 was appointed Secretary General of the Khmer League for Freedom. He remained there after Cambodia was “liberated” by the Vietnamese.

The Fall of Culture is part of a bilingual Khmer and English edition of U Sam Oeur’s poetry, Sacred Vows (Coffee House Press)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Re-Reading: THE LESSONS, by Joanne Diaz (Silverfish Review Press)

Excerpt from Granada

To be so far from oxtail stew, sardines
in garlic sauce, blood oranges in pails
along the avenida, midday heat
wetting necks and wrists; to be so stuck
in stone-thick ice and clouds and recall
the pomegranate we shared, its hardened peel,
the translucent membrane gently parting
seed from luscious crimson seed, albedo
soft beneath bald rind, acid juice
running down our fingers, knuckles, palms,
the mild chap of our lips from mist and flesh;


  • Joanne Diaz received her MFA from New York University, where she was a New York Times Fellow, and her PhD in English literature from Northwestern University. She is the recipient of writing fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Poetry Thursday: LIU XIA

Excerpt from Scheme, in the bilingual poetry collection Empty Chairs (Graywolf Press)

You’re always disappointed in me/
I, too, can do nothing about myself.

Liu Xia is the widow of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. She is currently under house arrest in China.

Stay tuned.

 

The Odyssey, Book 24: Like Bats

Then Hermes called the spirits of the suitors
out of the house. He held the golden wand
with which he casts a spell to close men’s eyes
or open those of sleepers when he wants.
He led the spirits and they followed, squeaking
like bats in secret crannies of a cave,
who cling together, and when one becomes
detached and falls down from the rock, the rest
flutter and squeak — just so the spirits squeaked,
and hurried after Hermes, lord of healing.

DSCN0266

Agamemnon’s spirit meets the spirits of the suitors in Hades and cries out in astonishment:

What happened to you all?
Why have you all come down here to the land
of darkness? You are all so young and strong;
you must have been the best boys in your town.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

And Here We Go: The Odyssey, Books 21 and 22

Book 21 is the archery contest. All the suitors try and fail to string Odysseus’s bow, but the mysterious beggar, who the suitors have been abusing all evening, gets up, strings the bow with ease, and shoots an arrow through the lined-up axe handles.

Then

With his eyebrows
he signaled, and his son strapped on his sword.,
picked up his spear, and stood beside his chair,
next to his father, his bronze weapons flashing.

This is how Book 21 ends. Book 22 begins:

Odysseus ripped off his rags . . .  “Platyime is over.”

Self has read three translations of The Odyssey: Fitzgerald, Fagles, and now Wilson’s.

It’s very fresh, in Emily Wilson’s translation. Despite the fact that it’s probably the one where she’s most aware of formulaic utterances and repetitions. It is a story.

Her favorite character is, oddly enough, not Odysseus but Telemachus. His psychological dilemma is  acute. She really identifies with this young man who grows up fatherless, at the mercy of his mother’s boorish suitors. His journey is almost as epic as his father’s. In one section, Telemachus tells how his house is known for the single son. Laertes, his grandfather, was a single child, and so is Odysseus. So is Telemachus. This seems a rather risky practice, but anyhoo it is certainly a powerful image. And every time Athena makes Odysseus or Penelope more attractive to fool other people, self can’t help thinking: Catfish! Catfish!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

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