Thursday, 4 October 2007
Laurence Sterne ... Wallace Stevens ... Allen Ginsberg ... Lilliput Review
In the latest reverberations of the current administrations' Draconian policies, the legendary New York radio station WBAI has decided to reverse their decision to play Allen Ginsberg's Howl on the air during this the 50th anniversary year of its publication. The outrage is well beyond ludicrous; one hardly can blame BAI, a public radio station around since before the Flood , since the amount of the fines now levied by the FCC for "obscenity" could threaten their very existence.
Still, one would hope that someone would take these bastards to court. I suppose the prosecution team would see their poker buddies presiding, with little chance for real justice.
In lighter fare, I'm currently reading Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne and it is, unequivocably, the funniest book I've ever read. Swift brings the laughs, but Gulliver is all about satire. Sterne brings the satire but, truly, Tristram is all about the laughs.
There is a very interesting version of Shandy up on the web here. It is a hypertext version, that takes you to criticism at specific points and all manner of interesting Sterneiana as well as e-texts on arts, fashion, history, language, music etc., all pertaining to Sterne and his times. Really, this is the web at its best, at least from a scholarly point of view.
If this, however, is all too much and you're just in it for the laughs, there is a version in Google Books (a blurry scan of a New York Public Library book, highlighting what's wrong with Google books, hence no link provided here) and a standard e-text version at Project Gutenberg. For reading purposes, I recommend the standard Penguin version, specifically for the informative notes appended.
As noted on The Writer's Almanac this week, it was the birthday of Wallace Stevens. One of the great short poems that directly shows the influence of the East and its influence on the Imagists, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird is one (or more, actually) of the truly great short poems.
The Lilliput issue of the week is #124, with a cover by the late great Harland Ristau. Here are a few highlights.
Something about voyages,
how the body itself
is not the voyager
but the voyage.
In the house of rain
there are many mansions
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Updated: Friday, 5 October 2007 07:00 EDT
Friday, 28 September 2007
On the run ...
An extremely busy week here in Pittsburgh; I taught a lifelong learning class on poetry at the University of Pittsburgh, sponsored by our local library association (ACLA), am busy making plans for some hiking in the woods and the usual Lilliput things. Also, some film reviews for the website Fulvue Drive-In, one on Marco Polo and the other on the House of Usher. Both were pretty horrific, and not in a good way, which, of course made writing the reviews all the more fun.
So, I'll keep it brief. Today is a day when losers everywhere pause to commemorate the great Arnold Stang. Here is an interview with him because, well, it's the web and here's an interview ... with delightful picture.
Continuing our leisurely sampling of back issues of Lilliput Review, it's time to skip forward to #123. #122 is a one poem broadside by David Chorlton entitled And, which would be criminal to excerpt, so I won't. It is available for a mere buck ... but enough with the plugs, on with the poems.
One Small Poem
can take you
a long way
think how far
~ Bart Solarczyk
And the indomitable Albert Huffstickler:
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Thursday, 20 September 2007
Kesey, Hendrix, Yeats and all ...
This week saw anniversaries for Ken Kesey (birth) and Jimi Hendrix (death). Known, of course, for Cuckoo's Nest, Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion is a book worth revisting and, in fact, may be every bit as great, if not quite as universal. From one of chapter headnotes, for which he seems be nodding back to Hemingway, is one of those moments one finds sprinkled throughout Kesey's work as often as that of, say, Thomas Hardy:
And Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix, what can be said that hasn't been already. Well, there are the lyrics, for instance. Take Voodoo Chile (Slight Return):
And this, Up From the Skies, from his arguable masterpiece, Axis: Bold as Love:
Issue #121 starts off in something of an enigmatic mood, prompted by the always challenging, probing work of John Harter.
Shadows on the wall,
flickering reminders of
my heart without you.
And, finally, Huff, perhaps pointing us back to his broadside featured in the last posting, with this poignant poem:
Posted by donw714 at 07:34 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 28 September 2007 09:38 EDT
Saturday, 15 September 2007
James Fenimore Cooper and the Death of Susie Bowers
James Fenimore Cooper is remembered for quite a few things, not the least of which is his mind cramping, turgid prose that killed the joy of reading for many a high school student. Fortunately, we have Mark Twain, whose brilliant response has perhaps saved a few of those students from a book-less future (in those little connections the mind makes, I thought of Bono's inspired battle-cry in a similar situation: "Charles Manson stole this song from the Beatles. Now we're stealing it back.").
In perverse celebration of JFC's birthday (as noted in this morning's Writer's Almanac), here is Mark Twain's Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses (which were not noted in Writer's Almanac).
In defense of Cooper, who has since high school actually given me some occasional moments of reading pleasure, here is the homepage of the James Fenimore Cooper Society, dedicated to the study of his life and works.
Today is also the birthday of the famed conductor, Bruno Walter. Though his recording of Beethoven's symphonies have long since passed as the standard to measure others by, call me a romantic, they still remain my personal favorites. Here is the Second movement of the 9th Symphony, conducted by Walter.
Issue #120 of Lilliput Review is a broadside by Albert Huffstickler, entitled Dearly Departed. This sequence of poems was written in memory of fellow poet/artist Susie Bowers, who had taken her own life very recently. Susie and Huff were close and Huff had his own issues with self destruction and so this hit him as hard as it can. As was usually the case, Huff talked himself through it in his poems and this was perhaps the best sequence he ever wrote, in my opinion. The following are from that sequence.
Suicide is a
you take from others
so many things that
were never yours
to begin with.
I don't think I want
to understand why you did it.
I can't even deal with
Posted by donw714 at 11:50 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, 16 September 2007 06:50 EDT
Thursday, 13 September 2007
DHL ... & autumn ...
This week was the birthday of D. H. Lawrence. Often forgotten is the fact that Lawrence was a master poet, really a poet first, as was Hermann Hesse. He excelled at all lengths, but was perhaps one of the finest poets ever in the short form. Here are two examples:
Nothing to Save
There is nothing to save, now all is lost
but a tiny core of stillness in the heart
like the eye of the violet.
Nothing to Save is reminiscent of another great short poem, one of my personal favorites, by James Wright:
Taking a look backward this week at Lilliput #119, which nicely coincides with the season. Here are three short subjects on the coming (and past) fall season:
One day all the leaves blow away.
I have been worrying
about the wrong things.
~ Ray Skjelbred
Posted by donw714 at 08:35 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 14 September 2007 07:43 EDT
Friday, 7 September 2007
Persevering and Other Things
Persevering with Charles Wright's Scar Tissue has paid off; as with many a poetry volume, a gem or two may be found here or there.
The Woodpecker Pecks, but the Hole Does Not Appear
It's hard to imagine how unremembered we all become
How quickly all that we've done
Is unremembered and unforgiven,
Bog lillies and yellow clover flashlight our footfalls,
How quickly and finally landscape subsumes us,
And everything that we are becomes what we are not.
This is not new, the orange finch
And the yellow and dun finch
picking the dry clay politely,
The grasses asleep in their green slips
Before the noon can roust them,
The sweet oblivion of the everyday
like a warm waistcoat
Over the cold and endless body of memory.
Cloud-scarce Montana morning.
July, with its blue cheeks puffed out like a putto on an ancient map,
Huffing the wind down from the northwest corner of things,
Tweets on the evergreen stumps,
swallows treading the air,
The ravens hawking from tree to tree, not you, not you,
Is all the world allows, and all one could wish for.
~ Charles Wright
And the last verse from a poem called Pilgrim's Progress
In the end, of course, one's a small dog
At night on the front porch,
barking into the darkness
At what he can't see, but smells, somehow, and is suspicious of.
Barking, poor thing, and barking,
With no one at home to call him in,
with no one to turn the light on.
~ Charles Wright
Yes, it was worth the slog through. And, yes, it's probably time to pick it back up and start all over again.
When is a blog a journal? When no one posts responses? Hmn?
Back to the tour through back issues of Lilliput. This time it is number 118, which was a broadside of the poet M. Kettner, entitled Highku. A decidedly skewed take on the haiku form. The out-of-body experience as prosody ...
aerial surveillance of self
patent leather reflecting sun
Next time, homage to Issa - I hope. Or, maybe Whitman. Or not. Hmn.
Posted by donw714 at 16:34 EDT | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 7 September 2007 16:37 EDT
Friday, 31 August 2007
Within and Without: Revelation
Within and Without: Revelation
As I mentioned before I've been struggling with Charles Wright's recent volume of poems, Scar Tissue. This morning, Garrison Keillor highlights a fine poem by Wright in his Writer's Almanac: "After Reading T'ao Ch'ing, I wander Untethered Through the Short Grass," from his collection Appalachia. Check it out, it's worth the click.
Today is the birthday of the Irish songwriter/bard Van Morrison. Over the years, he has given the world such a wide array of quality music, from the cliched blue-eyed soul through the mystic to skiffle, country and beyond. One of his least lauded but very best albums, at least for the poets in the crowd, is 1980's Common One. It is simply, while simultaneously being about, revelation. Here is "Summertime in England":
Well, for a blog that should be highlighting the short poem, that's a stretch. Today's selection of poems from a back issue of Lilliput Review comes from issue #117. Perhaps there might be some revelation there:
EVERYTHING THE MYSTERY THE
WOOD THE SMALL ANIMALS THE
BIRDS DEEP BEDS OF PINE NEEDLES
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Thursday, 30 August 2007
Robert Crumb, Buk and Lilliput Review #116
Today is the birthday of the artist Robert Crumb, whose work embodies the torturous passage of the generations who grew up in the 50's and 60's. Truly a marriage made in hell, he did covers and artwork for a number of Charles Bukowski's books, one example being Bring Me Your Love, above. In recent years, Buk's books are being published by Ecco Press, an imprint of HarperCollins. Hardly reflective of his small press roots with Black Sparrow, but so it goes, as the poet said.
Continuing the tour of back issues that is the main purpose of Beneath Cherry Blossoms, here are some interesting poems from #116:
museum alcove --
incautious gum chewers
lean closer to Shiva
Posted by donw714 at 07:04 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Thursday, 30 August 2007 07:52 EDT
Saturday, 25 August 2007
Charles Wright, Charlie Mehrhoff and That One Nagging Question
Today is the birthday of the poet Charles Wright, whose recent volume, Scar Tissue, I am currently struggling with mightily. More palatable, at least for me, is the poem " Last Supper" by Wright, from his collection The Wrong End of the Rainbow, and posted on the poets.org website.
For a decidedly more small press approach to things, you might want to check out the website of exemplary poet Charlie Mehrhoff, one of our finest practitioners of the short form and someone I've had the honor to publish both in Lilliput Review and as part of the Modest Proposal Chapbook series. From his collection One Hand Clapping in that series comes the following:
From issue #115 of Lillie, this little gem:
And, hopefully, committing these words to the page, an old poet friend went some of the distance to their denial
A number of Shakespeare sonnets, such as, and Shelley again (see the August 4th entry of this blog) ...
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Updated: Thursday, 30 August 2007 07:46 EDT
Wednesday, 22 August 2007
John Lee loves Dorothy ...
Birthdays on this day include John Lee Hooker and Dorothy Parker; if ever there was a blues singer who wrote poetry and a poet who had the cosmic blues, these two fit the bill. Here's one by John Lee that Dorothy certainly could relate to:
And here's one from Ms. Parker that John Lee could probably have tapped his feet to ...
A Very Short Song
In keeping with the somewhat somber mood, two great short pieces by Albert Huffstickler from issue #113 of Lilliput Review:
Posted by donw714 at 09:12 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Wednesday, 22 August 2007 09:14 EDT
Sunday, 19 August 2007
Small press icons and a Hugh Fox broadside
This past week saw anniversaries of three of the small presses' most influential icons: Charles Bukowski (born 1920), Ed Sanders (born 1939) and Jack Spicer (died 1965). Also, today is the anniversary of the execution death of Federico Garcia Lorca.
Spicer translated some of Garcia Lorca's poems and a letter to him from Spicer on the art of translation may be found at the Spicer website at the University of Buffalo.
Ed Sanders, a founding member of the influential folk/poetry group the Fugs, has become known in recent years for his book-length historical poems, such as 1968: A History in Verse. There is an interesting interview with Ed posted online by Billy Bob Hargus that's worth a look see. One brilliant bit of short verse by him from Thirsting For Peace in a Raging Century: Selected Poems 1961-1985 follows:
And speaking of small press icons, issue #112 of Lilliput is a broadside of the work of Hugh Fox, entitled Slides.
Going back to my forest
through the suburbs
that are only thirty or
forty years old but
look eternal, a white-
man about sixty walks
out of one of the houses
he could be anyone.
As with all back issues of Lillie, this little ten slide broadside performance is available for $1.
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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:
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):
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:
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):
I have measured
my solitude on
the scale of
and come up with
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:
For cogent, in depth analysis of this little gem, check out Mark Doty's talk, which may be found at
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
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:
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
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:
I always felt that the song "Conquistador" by Keith Reid was a homage to Shelley's poem, so here it is in tandem:
Conquistador -- your stallion stands in need of company
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:
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.
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!
From the broadside Butterfly, Corkboard, issue #158:
Gary Hotham is one of our finest contemporary haiku poets. From his new chapbook, Missed Appointment, the following poem :
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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:
From the Lilliput archive, #107, two short poems:
The sun comes up,
reining a bleak wind,
Love is never enough.
Love is all there is.
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:
And from the Lilliput archive, issue # 106, September 1999, before the war:
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:
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:
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:
Posted by donw714 at 08:26 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 31 July 2007 09:26 EDT