This week we welcome Deborah Ager as our guest author. Deborah is the author of Midnight Voices (2009) and co-editor of The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poetry (2013) and Old Flame: Ten Years of 32 Poems Magazine (2012). She founded 32 Poems Magazine in 2003.
She’s received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation. She directs online advertising for a national humanitarian organization and lives in the Washington, DC area. Please visit deborahager.com to learn more about Deborah and her upcoming events in LA, NY, DC and elsewhere. She runs the monthly Poet Party on Twitter and can be found tweeting from @clickwisdom and @32poems.
On Wednesday, November 20, The New School Writing Program will host a forum with professor Edward Mendelson, who will read and comment on poems by W. H. Auden and then take questions. David Lehman will moderate.
Edward Mendelson -- the Lionel Trilling Professor in the Humanities at Columbia -- is the author of "Early Auden" and "Later Auden." He has edited numerous standard editions of Auden's work, including the "Selected Poems" (Vintage; enlarged edition 2007), "Collected Poems" (third ed. 2007), and the multi-volume "Complete Works." Professor Mendelson has published widely on a range of subjects, including a recent piece on Norman Mailer in the "NY Review of Books." He has also written "The Things That Matter: What Seven Classic Novels Have to Say About the Stages of Life" (2006). He has taught at Yale and Harvard and holds the Ph.D from Johns Hopkins University.
It will be a wonderful opportunity to hear from the world's foremost authority on a poet whom he has aptly characterized as "the first poet writing in English who felt at home in the twentieth century, and the first who understood its special temptations."
Exactly one month after she won The Ruth Lily Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Poetry in June, Marie Ponsot donated a quarter of that $100,000 check to her alma mater, St. Joseph's College for its new MFA, The Writer's Foundry. Join St. Joseph’s to honor Ponsot ’40, her poetry and her teaching legacy:
Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m.
University Club, 1 West 54th St.
RSVP required to Sally Solis,
firstname.lastname@example.org or 718 940-5732
Deen and Ponsot at Lily Award
OK, I can hear readers applauding the generosity of Ponsot, her poetry, her staunch opposition to war and her many honors – Lily, Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America, Chancellor at the Academy of American Poetry, NYC Literary Legend.
But also thinking really, how could the world possibly need another MFA in writing? St. Joseph’s answer is to immerse the 19 students in the inaugural Foundry deep into Ponsot’s techniques, including observations instead of critique.
Ponsot’s summary of her pedagogy: “The method is give them writing to do that cannot be done wrong except by not doing it.”
Ponsot, 92, and her friend, fellow teacher and poet Rosemary Deen published Beat Not the Poor Desk in 1982 after teaching writing to remedial students at Queens College.
Jackson Taylor, who guides the Writer's Foundry, has experimented with the ideas of Ponsot and Deen before in many settings, including classes for women and men in prison, homeless writers at soup kitchens, and those in graduate courses. In each and every setting, the principles and practice generate great excitement because they discover that good writing can come from any background, he said.
A sample below: a Ponsot sonnet followed by observations by Deen.
WALKING HOME FROM THE MUSEUM
by Marie Ponsot
The pleasure of walking, Brother Angel,
calls to mind your Paradise panel
of radiant saviors. They step the vertical
at ease in their deathlife, delectable.
You show among slow green leaves their bliss in place
In the vivid repose of each breathless face.
I lack leaves and their air-changing grace.
I lack gold leaf and your burin skill. Here I walk
east and west of death, toward their lute-led talk,
its pure sound split from song. In their words’embrace
strangers partner. Their redeeming speech spans
time and tune. Solo, they also move as a throng
conversing, had lifted to open hand,
their speech sung as if not split from song.
From Easy: Poems, 2009 by Knopf
14 OBSERVATIONS ON A SONNET
by Rosemary Deen
1. The ordinary action (“walking home”) of the title brings the speaker into the stepping of the “radiant saviors” of the panel. And they, in Paradise, are also “walking home.”
2. A little of the “vertigo” of poetry sets in in paradoxes and double meaning: “death-life,” “breathless faces,” but balance (as in a dance) prevails.
3. Walk turns into talk, somehow. By the grace of rhyme, I suppose, and by con-versing?
4. The poem recalls the speaker’s friend, Leonard Deen, in the title of his book: Conversing In Paradise, and perhaps recalls the morning she read new poems under the slow green leaves and startled him into tears.
5. The sonnet divides by spacing into two parts: 6 lines and 8 lines, reversing the sonnet’s old imperative to keep tense and turn late. The sonnet trades tension for ease.
6. If you allow rhyme in unstressed syllables, the first four lines rhyme a,a,a,a. (Rich rhyme is song-like.) Or you could say the lines “rhyme” in their rhythm: a couple of trochées (angel and panel) and a couple of dactyls: vertical, (de)lectable. (The poem dances.)
7. From this primal unity of sound, the rhymes of the next three lines (place, face, grace) span the stanza break and stretch to line 10: embrace. So there are three rhymes in 10 lines. The triplet “-ace” rhyme embraces (as it were) the interesting couplet: walk/talk.
8. The governing pronoun at first is you: direct address to the painter, who is related to the poet as “brother.” They are both poietes, makers, and are together in the museion, the shrine of the muses.
9. Then the governing pronoun becomes I, the poet speaker--but in her negatives: “I lack….I lack….”
10. These “lacks,” as it were, turn the poem to the fullness of they. Or, to put it another way, the makers, the poietes, give way to the poiema, the thing made.
11. The poem is filled w/ the sense of telos: the end that is there in the beginning. The dancers, for instance, here in the great end, Paradise, make their poiema, their redeeming speech--which was there in the beginning in the burble and warble of infant “speech”: “pure sound spilt from song.”
12. The sonnet ends with speech as poiema: “speech sung as if not split from song.”
13. So the sonnet and the painting turn the impacted end, death, into a telos, a stepping-toward, the purposeful speech/dance of paradise.
14. Speech itself walks from solo, a song alone, into con-versing: the “together-turning” of speech as dance with others, in whose ease, strangers partner in their words’ embrace.
Catherine Woodard is co-publisher ofStill Against War/ Poems for Marie Ponsot. Her poems have appeared in Painted Bride Quarterly, Bellingham Review and other journals and are at www.catherinewoodard.com.Woodard has been a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Hambidge Center in Georgia. She worked to restore Poetry in Motion to the NYC subways and is a board member of the Poetry Society of America.
This week we welcome Molly Peacock as our guest author. Molly is a widely anthologized poet and biographer who is
also the Series Editor of The Best
Canadian Poetry in English. Her latest
work of nonfiction is The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life’s Work
at 72. Her most recent collection of
poems is The Second Blush. Her work appears in The Best American Essays, the Best
American Poetry, and the Oxford Book
of American Poetry. One of the creators of New York's Poetry in Motion
program, she co-edited Poetry In Motion: One Hundred Poems From the Subways
and Buses. A dual citizen of the US and Canada, she now makes her
home in Toronto with her husband, Michael Groden. Find out more about Molly here.
The Academy of American Poets writes to announce that the deadline for its Walt Whitman Award has been extended to December 1.
The Walt Whitman Award brings first-book publication, a cash prize of $5,000, and a one-month residency at the Vermont Studio Center
to an American who has never before published a book of poetry. The
winning manuscript, chosen by an eminent poet, is published by Louisiana
State University Press. The Academy purchases copies of the book for
distribution to its members.
New York University Bookstore (Broadway and Waverly Place, NYC)
Reading followed by conversation with NPR's Ken Tucker
“Very few writers can actually shape how you see the world. David
Lehman is such a writer.” —Robert Olen Butler
“Inventive and often winningly sincere…Lehman is candid as well as
ironic—sometimes, both at once. He generates a maniacal, irreverent,
fast-thinking range of references to movies, poems, history.” —Robert Pinsky, Washington Post Book World
“Lehman uses many conveyances—including the prose poem, the
sestina, and curt rhymes—to travel across the writing life of a poet whose
instinctive romanticism is always bracing and tough-minded, brimming with a
rare generosity.”—Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly
This week we welcome Sherrie Flick as our guest author. Sherrie is author of the novel Reconsidering Happiness (Bison Books) and the flash fiction
chapbook I Call This Flirting
(Flume). Her work appears
in many journals and anthologies including, recently, Tom Hazuka's Flash Fiction Funny, Cortland Review, and Redux. She writes a regular food column for Pittsburgh
serves as series editor for At Table, the food writing book list at University
of Nebraska Press. For 10 years she served as Artistic Director for the Gist Street Reading Series and is currently co-founder
of Into the Furnace, a writer-in-residence program in Braddock, Pa. She lives in Pittsburgh. Visit her website www.sherrieflick.com and follow her on twitter @SherrieFlick .
I had the happy chance to review Ron Padgett's Collected Poems (Coffee House Press) for Publishers Weekly. Here are my first two grafs and a link to the rest. -- DL
<<< Long a mainstay of the New York School’s second generation, Ron
Padgett—the self-styled “Tulsa Kid,” as the title of one of his books
has it—left Oklahoma to attend Columbia University
and become a big city poet. He studied with Kenneth Koch, met Frank
O’Hara, made the pilgrimage to Paris, read and translated Reverdy,
Apollinaire, Cendrars. From the start his poems had a joyous nonchalance
about them—the Renaissance term for it is sprezzatura. Five decades
fuel his Collected Poems, a tome teeming with Padgett’s trademark
traits: comic energy, good humor, alert intelligence, constant
curiosity, and the determination to put it all into poems.
is prolific, buoyant, confident that the day will yield its poem,
nothing forced. He has written affecting memoirs of Ted Berrigan and Joe
Brainard, two close friends from Tulsa days. His Collected highlights
an array of New York School
strategies. But though he mentions his wife and friends in poems, even
ending a poem with the phone number of one of them (Larry Fagin),
Padgett’s poems are not crowded with people and events in the O’Hara
manner. If there is a consistency of purpose it is Padgett’s devotion to
an esthetic path, his trust in the imagination and the associative
logic that powers it. In “My Room” the logic leads quite naturally (and
hilariously) from a lamp that Ted Berrigan once took from a hotel room
to the value of studying Latin. >> Continue here