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Beneath Cherry Blossoms - The Lilliput Review Blog

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Charles Simic, Poet Laureate, and Albert Huffstickler


 

Charles Simic, the newly named U.S. Poet Laureate, knows his way around the short poem.  A native of Belgrade, Yugoslavia, Simic emigrated with his family to the U.S. while in his teens.   Growing up in Europe during WWII, war and its consequences, as well as language, are never far from his concerns.  From his collection Jackstraws:

 

Mother Tongue

That's the one the butcher

Wraps in a newspaper

And throws on the rusty scale

Before you take it home

 

Where a black cat will leap

Off the cold stove

Licking its whiskers

At the sound of her name

 

In a previous posting, I commented on the lack of recent war poems coming into Lilliput considering that the Iraq War has now gone on longer than WWII.  Simic, of course, remembers  (from Hotel Insomnia):

 

War

The trembling finger of a woman

Goes down the list of casualties

On the evening of the first snow.

 

The house is cold and the list is long.

 

All our names are included.

 

One of the hallmarks of Simic's poetry is a subtle weaving of the surreal in the real; in the following example from Return to a Place Lit by a Glass of Milk, it leads to transcendence:

 

Watermelons

Green Buddhas

On the fruit stand.

We eat the smile

And spit out the teeth.

 

Returning to our twice weekly or so tour of past issues of Lilliput Review, we have the following little numbers by the inimitable Albert Huffstickler from issue #111 (July 2000):

 

And still the light,

always the light.

Mornings are hardest,

that light so like

that other light,

that light we remember

when we don't remember

anything at all.

 

 

I have measured

my solitude on

the scale of

my being

and come up with

a formula

for converting

ashes into sunlight.

 



Posted by donw714 at 07:30 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Wednesday, 15 August 2007 11:51 EDT

Saturday, 11 August 2007

The Metro, a Librarian, the Stars, and a Worn Spot


 

Among the finest "classic" short poems in the English language is the following by Ezra Pound.  Showing the influence of one of the initial waves of Eastern forms on Western poetry, this is a poem that continues to resonate for the today's readers precisely because it captures that timeless Eastern quality that has nothing to do with style:

 

In a Station of the Metro

The apparition of these faces in the crowd: 

Petals on a wet, black bough

 

 

 

For cogent, in depth analysis of this little gem, check out Mark Doty's talk, which may be found at

http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19705

on the poets.org website.  Though analysis in it's many ugly forms leaves me cold, this will keep you thinking.  Meanwhile, in the ongoing stroll through past issues of Lilliput, three poems from issue #110 (April 2000): 

 

THE LIBRARIAN ASKED

CAN YOU WAIT

FOR THAT BOOK

ON

FIFTH CENTURY

BUDDHIST STATUARY

- John Harter

 

 

 

 

It's strange, I know

but, writing in diners,

I feel

closer to the stars.

- Albert Huffstickler

 

 

 

Old men

in stiff white shirts

moving from room to room,

placing a hand

on a worn spot.

- W. T. Ranney

 

 


 


Posted by donw714 at 10:40 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Saturday, 11 August 2007 11:18 EDT

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Issa and the Dog Days of August


 

5:45 am here in Pittsburgh and it is 79° and as damp as a frog's butt on a lightly submerged lily pad.  Ah, the joys of August in the "big" city.  Searching for some relief, let's turn to the master poet, Issa, after one of whose poems this blog is named.  From the "Modest Proposal Chapbook" of Issa's work, Dusk Lingers, the following:

 

 

A foot-high waterfall

splashes

cooling the evening

 

 

- translated by Dennis Maloney

 

 

Now that's much better, isn't it.  Well, looking for a bit more relief, there are the following little poems from Lillput Review #109 (April 2000) that remind us of the virtues of dampness as well as cooling relief:

 

 

in the darkness

beginning to fade--

snow that just sticks

 

Gary Hotham

 

 

 

First it was raining.

Now it's not.

I can't find the moment

the rain stopped.

 

Albert Huffstickler

 

 

 

mist falls on lilacs

   it is the only motion

this fragrant moment

 

Joan Payne Kincaid

 

 

 

 

steamy room

the tulip petals

spread wide

 

Pamela Miller Ness

 

 



Posted by donw714 at 06:49 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Wednesday, 8 August 2007 11:35 EDT

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Shelley, Keith Reid and Linda Zeiser


 

As pointed out in this morning's Writer's Almanac, today is the birthday of Percy Bysshe Shelley.  Since no poem was provided, I thought I'd correct that here with one of his most famous short works:

 

Ozymandias

    I met a Traveler from an antique land,
    Who said, "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desart. Near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    "My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings."
    Look on my works ye Mighty, and despair!
    No thing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that Colossal Wreck, boundless and bare,
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.

 

I always felt that the song "Conquistador" by Keith Reid was a homage to Shelley's poem, so here it is in tandem:

 

Conquistador

Conquistador -- your stallion stands in need of company
And like some angel's haloed brow you reek of purity.
I see your armor-plated breast
Has long since lost its sheen
And in your death mask face
There are no signs which can be seen.

Though I hoped for something to find
I could see no place to unwind.

Conquistador -- a vulture sits upon your silver sheath
And in your rusty scabbard now the sand has taken seed.
And though your jewel-encrusted blade
Has not been plundered still
The sea has washed across your face
And taken of its fill.

Though I hoped for something to find
I could see no place to unwind.

Conquistador -- there is no time, I must pay my respect
And though I came to jeer at you, I leave now with regret.
And as the gloom begins to fall
I see there is no, only all
And though you came with sword held high
You did not conquer, only die.


Though I hoped for something to find
I could see no place to unwind.

 

 

Today's Lillie selection is from issue #108, a broadside entitled Selected Wu Songs by Linda Joan Zeiser.  Linda has been a contributor to Lilliput for many years and is a loving, sensual poet.  Here are two of her beautiful wu songs:

   

Dazed by longing I reach out in the mist,

searching for her on the Pepper Scented Road.

Black cloud's oppress the heart's deep hope,

while myoga ginger lingers in the breeze

 

 

 

 

One red petal drops along the path,

flaming-crimson dahlia has her way.

My incense burner is empty again

and the sandalwood is in your hand.

 

 

Linda Joan Zeiser

 

 


 


Posted by donw714 at 07:17 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Saturday, 4 August 2007 07:50 EDT

Monday, 30 July 2007

New issues, a broadside and a chapbook ...


 

Today, the first batch of new issues goes out in the mail.  It takes nearly a month to get all the issues out, as there is much mail that needs attention.  The new issues are #'s 157 & 158.  157 is a standard anthology issue and #158 is a broadside by Mark Hartenbach, entitled Butterfly, Corkboard. 

In addition to the new issues, there is a brand new chapbook by Gary Hotham in the "Modest Proposal Chapbook" series, entitled Missed Appointment.  What follows is a taste of each.  From #158, a poem by Yosano Akiko, translated by Dennis Maloney.  For details on her life and career, click here for an informative Wikipedia article.

 

 

#374

   Lying with my lover,

   From the bed I see

   Through the curtain

   Across the Milky Way the parting

   of the Weaver and the Oxherder stars!

 

Yosano Akiko (translated by Dennis Maloney) 

 

 

From the broadside Butterfly, Corkboard, issue #158:

 

compromise

   i will settle for lachrymose

   nostalgia is unaffordable

 

 

   i will scratch out lines

   that i don't feel responsible for

 

   i will squeeze in an interesting ancedote

   now & then

 

 

   but for the most part

   i'll sit in silence

 

 

   praying

   i won't be noticed

  

   hoping 

   there are no questions

 

   to jar me

   from this compromise

 

Mark Hartenbach

 

Gary Hotham is one of our finest contemporary haiku poets.  From his new chapbook, Missed Appointment, the following poem :

 

careful steps

rocking the boat

rocking the top of the ocean

 

Gary Hotham

 


 

 


Posted by donw714 at 06:32 EDT | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 31 July 2007 09:20 EDT

Friday, 27 July 2007

Gary Snyder ...


I've always felt attracted to the work of Gary Snyder, particularly his subject matter and philosophy, but I've never really connected with him in a big way.  While reading some of the nature work of Mary Oliver, I found in a pile of poetry books a small chapbook of Snyder's work, entitled Songs for Gaia.   This set of poems was later reprinted in Axe Handles, under the slightly different title of "Little Songs for Gaia."  Once again, I didn't quite connect with the work, except this opening poem of the sequence:

 

across salt marshes north of

San Francisco Bay

cloud soft grays

blues little fuzzies

illusion structures¾pale blue of the edge,

sky behind,

 

hawk dipping and circling

over salt marsh

 

ah, this slow paced

system of systems, whirling and turning

a five thousand-year span

about all that a human can figure,

 

grasshopper man in his car driving through

Gary Snyder

 

From the Lilliput archive, #107, two short poems:

 

December Dawn

   The sun comes up,

   reining a bleak wind,

 

   Love is never enough.

 

   Love is all there is.

Jeanne Shannon

 

 

Any day

any moment

now.

Cid Corman

 



Posted by donw714 at 12:11 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 31 July 2007 09:28 EDT

Thursday, 26 July 2007

War's good business, give your son (or daughter) ...


 

One of the anomalies of this war that has now gone on longer than WW II is that, though the majority of opinion is against it, there has been very little by way of protest.  In addition, the press has ignored this issue and the reason why and so the war drags on.  The reason is simple: there is no draft.  The people in the streets in the past were those whose skin was on the line or those related in someway to them.   Now the people who are putting their life on the line volunteered to do so.  Does that make it any less heinous or, in some perversity of logic, right?  No. 

So, too, there are, it seems, very few war poems.  At Lilliput, I see virtually none.  Does it bother me?  Yes.  Does life go on?  Sure.  For us, the privileged, the protected. 

For lack of other fodder, here's a poem by Wilfred Owen, with an outcome no less biblical for its divergence:

 

 

Parable of the Old Men and the Young

So Abram rose, and clave  the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
And builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretch\ed forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him.  Behold,
A ram caught in a thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.
But the old man would not so, but slew his son. . . .

 

 

And from the Lilliput archive, issue # 106, September 1999, before the war:

 

 

ASPIRATION

THERE IS ONLY

ONE SPACE

THE UNIVERSE

THERE IS ONLY

ONE FLAG

THE PRAYER FLAG

THERE IS ONLY

ONE MIND

THE BIG MIND

THE BIG BEAUTIFUL MIND

Joe Staunton

 

best, Don

 


 


Posted by donw714 at 06:42 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 31 July 2007 09:27 EDT

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Albert Huffstickler and Cid Corman


 

You will be reading a lot of the work of Albert Huffstickler in coming postings - before he died in 2002, Huff had become my favorite "unknown" poet of the small press and remains so 5 years later.  Huff simply cut to the heart of things and in the longer form especially was wrenchingly lyrical.  Though I believe he was being overly generous, he once told me he learned to master the short poem working on things to send to Lilliput.   He certainly mastered the resonance I look for in short works.  A homepage of his work and tributes to him may be found by clicking the "Small Press Links" in the right hand column of this page.  There are some fine poems to be found there.

From LR #105, here's one from Huff and a poem by another premier poet who is gone, Cid Corman:

 

 

Something random

in the morning air.

Something not

to be named.

Something that starts

where music ends.

Albert Huffstickler

 

 

Finding the poetry

living in it.

 Cid Corman

 

 


 

 


Posted by donw714 at 10:38 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Monday, 30 July 2007 12:56 EDT

Saturday, 21 July 2007



 

This morning's Writer's Almanac features a poem by Percy Shelley well worth repeating:

 

Love's Philosophy

The fountains mingle with the river,
And the rivers with the Ocean,
The winds of Heaven mix forever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by law divine
In one spirit meet and mingle.
Why not I with thine? —

See the mountains kiss high Heaven
And the waves clasp one another,
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother,
And the sunlight clasps the earth
And the moonbeams kiss the sea:
What is all this sweet work worth
If thou kiss not me?

Percy Bysshe Shelley

 

 

Lilliput Review #104 was a broadside issue by the poet John Elsberg, entitled "Small Exchange."  Here is a little gem from that ten poem collection:

 

And O,

how he loved his tenderness

when he touched her

John Elsberg

 

 


 

 


Posted by donw714 at 08:26 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 31 July 2007 09:26 EDT

Friday, 20 July 2007

Weather-Beaten Trees ...


 

Generally, I plan to be posting a new entry once a week, more frequently when time allows.   Currently, I'm reading a recent translation of Baudelaire's Flowers of Evil, Verse by Adelaide Crapsey and a selection of the art and poetry of d.a.levy entitled The Buddhist Third Class Junkmail Oracle.

I first ran across the work of Adelaide Crapsey in one of those inexpensive anthologies of poetry produced by Dover Publications entitled Imagist Poetry.   I have since discovered that she was the inventor of the cinquain, a form I often see in poems sent to Lilliput.  The Imagist movement was greatly influenced by one of the first waves of interest in all things Eastern in the West, and the cinquain as a form owes much to the East in its striking imagery and precise condensation.  Though not a cinquain, the following is my favorite poem by Adelaide.

On Seeing Weather-Beaten Trees

Is it as plainly in our living shown,

By slant and twist, which way the wind hath blown?

Adelaide Crapsey

 

From Lilliput #103, April 1999, two poems:

 

One Breath

One of your breaths contains

          all the air

               a Mayfly breathes

          in its life 

Antler

 

Poetry is that

conversation we could not

otherwise have had.

Cid Corman 

 


 

 


Posted by donw714 at 06:44 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 31 July 2007 09:25 EDT

Thursday, 19 July 2007

d.a.levy


 

If you want to know what the ugly underbelly of the 60's was truly like during this 40th anniversary celebration of "the Summer of Love," check out d.a.levy and the mimeograph revolution, edited by Larry Smith and Ingrid Swanberg.  The city of Cleveland's betrayal of its would-be poetic savior, d.a.levy, makes Peter's denials of Christ in the garden look like small potatoes, indeed.  A compilation of biographical articles, interviews and analysis, along with a generous selections of the poetry, collages and concrete work of levy, this volume is one of the saddest, most gut-skewering stories ever to be told in the small press (that, god only knows, has had more than its fair share).   For more info on saint levy, check out the "Small Press Links" in the right hand column of this page.

I've always believed that wisdom can come in small packages as well as large.  From Lilliput Review #102, January 1999, the following:

 

 

Fact of Life

Nails

driven into green wood

will loosen

and back out.

Graham Duncan

 



Posted by donw714 at 09:15 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Monday, 30 July 2007 13:01 EDT

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

The Big Picture


 

Today's poems open up issue #101, originally published in January 1999.   They speak to some larger issues ...

 

the circle so large

the curve imperceptible

we think we're moving

straight ahead

Julius Karl Schauer

 

Alpha Centauri

Light years separate us now,

Once horse and human!

Lynx Quicksilver

 

best,

Don



Posted by donw714 at 16:11 EDT | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Updated: Monday, 30 July 2007 13:02 EDT

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Welcome


 

Welcome to the new Lilliput Review blog, Beneath Cherry Blossoms.  I will regularly be posting poems from past issues to highlight what goes on in Lilliput and letting folks know what's new and what's forthcoming.

Right now, issues #157  and #158 are in the final stages of preparation and will be mailed out to subscribers during the month of August.  In addition, #17 in the Modest Proposal Chapbook series, Missed Appointment by Gary Hotham, will be published next month.  More info will be forthcoming.

From issue #100, a broadside featuring the work of the late poet Cid Corman, the following poem:

 

After all

 

this meaning

would be a

 

farce.  Accept

 

this moment

beyond all

 

measurement   

    - Cid Corman 


 

 


Posted by donw714 at 15:16 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, 22 July 2007 07:49 EDT

Issa


 

Beneath cherry blossoms, 
there are no strangers.

                                           - Issa

 



Posted by donw714 at 09:23 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, 22 July 2007 07:49 EDT

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