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21 April 2008 @ 09:00 pm

From Odes

From Meditations in an Emergency


From Lunch Poems

Other Works


Links to other resources online

Here: The official Frank O'Hara website where you can find audio and visual clips of Frank reading his / talking about poetry
Here: Art Reviews that Frank O'Hara wrote between 1953-1955
Here and Here: for links to his poems that are direct responses to art by Larry Rivers and Joseph Cornell, respectively.  The poem called "Joseph Cornell" is supposed to depict his art, which is framed in boxes. 
Here: Frank O'Hara reads "Having a Coke with You"
Here: for more biography

Thank You,
and buy tight pants! 

17 April 2008 @ 12:43 pm

Francis Russell O'Hara (June 27, 1926 – July 25, 1966)


My Heart

I'm not going to cry all the time
nor shall I laugh all the time,
I don't prefer one "strain" to another.
I'd have the immediacy of a bad movie,
not just a sleeper, but also the big,
overproduced first-run kind. I want to be
at least as alive as the vulgar. And if
some aficionado of my mess says "That's
not like Frank!", all to the good! I
don't wear brown and grey suits all the time,
do I? No. I wear workshirts to the opera,
often. I want my feet to be bare,
I want my face to be shaven, and my heart--
you can't plan on the heart, but
the better part of it, my poetry, is open.   


Frank O’Hara was born Francis Russell O’Hara in Baltimore on June 27, 1926 to a middle class Catholic family and was soon afterwards moved to Grafton, Massachusetts.   During his youth, he recognized early on, his own homosexuality, and thus broke with the Catholic church and rejected all religious beliefs.  During that time, O’Hara studied piano and played proficiently and was heading toward becoming a great pianist and composer by 17 (he studied piano at the New England Conservatory in Boston from 1941 to 1944).  In 1944, he began a 2 year stint in the navy and served as a member of the shore patrol as well as served on the destroyer U.S.S. Nicholas.  Though he was never in combat, he was exposed to it.   When he returned in 1946, he attended Harvard and decided to major in English, not music.  He met John Ashberry his senior year at a party.  In that time, he was already a dedicated and serious writer who considered poetry his saving force from death.  In 1950, he earned a master’s at the University of Michigan, and then joined Ashberry in New York where he secured a desk job at the Museum of Modern Art.  Frank O’Hara loved New York City.  It’s evident in his poetry – its many gestures of love for the city and its pleasures.  He has become known as America’s most enthusiastic poet of city life.  Frank O’Hara was very social and had numerous lovers, one being Joe LeSueur, whom he roomed with in New York for 11 years. 


While in New York, O’Hara became a central figure in the art and literary scene, during one of its most creative periods (abstract expressionism movement).  He wrote influential art criticism and was friends with painters such as Willem de Kooning and Larry Rivers (he even appears in some of his paintings).  He was a curator who was “at home” among the group of newly emerging artists, bringing a non-establishment style into the art world. 


On July 24, 1966, O’Hara was struck by a beach buggy on Fire Island when he and his friends were waiting for a beach taxi to pick them up after a party.   He died the next morning.   


O’Hara wrote prolifically.  He got his writing done in spur of the moment opportunities, whenever there was time and inspiration (lunch breaks, parties, etc).   Many of his poems were left around his apartment or sent in letters to friends.  By the time of his death in 1966, he had published only a fraction of more than 700 poems he wrote in his lifetime.  His first book was A City Winter and Other Poems (1952), followed by Oranges (1953), and Meditations in an Emergency (1957 – his first book with a commercial press).  O’Hara first received national attention when his work was published in Donald Allen’s anthology, The New American Poetry 1945-1960.  All the volumes published during his life contained no more than half of his poetry; only 1 book of poems (Lunch Poems) was available outside of New York in his lifetime.  Frank O'Hara has been criticized for his subject matter, that what he writes about are not necessarily the subjects found in "good poetry."  However, he is a life poet, who seems to write on the transience of being and experiencing, where he establishes a sense of formlessness (rather than order) in his poetry.  In his opinion, he disliked theorizing about poetry where his attitude towards the craft of poetry was that "there ought not to be much."  And when it comes to his poetry, there's a sense that he's not moralizing, rather he aims to capture the fleeting pleasures of observances and feelings, creating poetry with an alluring and desiring pull.   

O’Hara’s Books (published during his lifetime)

A City Winter and Other Poems.
Oranges: 12 pastorals.
Meditations in an Emergency.
Second Avenue.
Lunch Poems.
Love Poems (Tentative Title)

A statement made by O’Hara on writing poetry: " if you’re going to buy a pair of pants you want them to be tight enough so everyone will want to go to bed with you."  Click below to read more. 



From A City Winter

At night Chinamen jump
on Asia with a thump

while in our willful way
we, in secret, play 

affectionate games and bruise

our knees like China’s shoes.
The birds push apples through 
grass the moon turns blue,

These apples roll beneath 
our buttocks like a heath 

full of Chinese thrushes
flushed from China’s bushes. 

As we love at night 
birds sing out of sight, 

Chinese rhythms beat 
through us in our heat,

the apples and the birds 
move us like soft words,

we couple in the grace 
of that mysterious race.


Let's take a walk, you
and I in spite of the
weather if it rains hard
                     on our toes

we'll stroll like poodles
and be washed down a
gigantic scenic gutter
                     that will be

exciting! voyages are not
all like this you just put
your toes together then
                     maybe blood

will get meaning and a trick
become slight in our keeping
before we sail the open sea it's

And the landscape will do
us some strange favour when
we look back at each other


A City Winter
I understand the boredom of the clerks
fatigue shifting like dunes within their eyes
a frightful nausea gumming up the works
that once was thought aggression in disguise.
Do you remember? then how lightly dead
seemed the moon when over factories
it languid slid like a barrage of lead
above the heart, the fierce inventories
of desire. Now women wander our dreams
carrying money and to our sleep's shame
our hands twitch not for swift blood-sunk triremes
nor languorous white horses nor ill fame,
but clutch the groin that clouds a pallid sky
where tow'rs are sinking in their common eye.

My ship is flung upon the gutter's wrist
and cries for help of storm to violate
that flesh your curiosity too late
has flushed. The stem your garter tongue would twist
has sunk upon the waveless bosom's mist,
thigh of the city, apparition, hate,
and the tower whose doves have, delicate,
fled into my blood where they are not kissed.

You have left me to the sewer's meanwhile,
and I have answered the sea's open wish
to love me as a bonfire's watchful hand
guards red the shore and guards the hairy strand,
our most elegant lascivious bile,
my ship sinking beneath the gutter's fish.

How can I then, my dearest winter lay,
disgorge the tasty worm that eats me up
falling onto the stem of a highway
whose ardent rainbow is the spoon's flat cup
and in the vilest of blue suited force
enamored of the heated needle's arm
finds the ministrant an own tongue's remorse
so near the blood and still so far from harm,
thus to be eaten up and gobbled down
volcanoes of speedometers, the strike
that heats the iris into flame and flow'rs
the panting chalice so a turning pike:
you are not how the gods refused to die,
and I am scarred forever neath the eye.

What are my eyes? if they must feed me, rank
with forgetting, in the jealous forest
of lustrous blows, so luminously blank
through smoke and in the light. All faint, at rest,
yet I am racing towards the fear that kills
them off, friends and lovers, hast'ning through tears
like alcohol high in the throat of hills
and hills of night, alluring! their black cheers
falling upon my ears like nails. And there
the bars grow thick with onanists and camps
and bivouacs of bears with clubs, are fair
with their blows, deal death beneath purple lamps
and to me! I run! closer always move,
crying my name in fields of dead I love.

I plunge deep within this frozen lake
whose mirrored fastnesses fill up my heart,
where tears drift from frivolity to art
all white and slobbering, and by mistake
are the sky. I'm no whale to cruise apart
in fields impassive of my stench, my sake,
my sign to crushing seas that fall like fake
pillars to crash! to sow as wake my heart

and don't be niggardly. The snow drifts low
and yet neglects to cover me, and I
dance just ahead to keep my heart in sight.
How like a queen, to seek with jealous eye
the face that flees you, hidden city, white
swan. There's no art to free me, blinded so.

From Love Poems (Tentative Title)

Having a Coke with You

is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian
partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt
partly because of the fluoresent orange tulips around the birches
partly because of the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary
it is hard to believe when I'm with you that there can be anything as still
as solemn as unpleasantly definitive as statuary when right in front of it
in the warm New York 4 o'clock light we are drifting back and forth
between each other like a tree breathing through its spectacles 

and the portrait show seems to have no faces in it at all, just paint
you suddenly wonder why in the world anyone ever did them
                                                                                             I look
at you and I would rather look at you than all the portraits in the world
except possibly for the Polish Rider occasionally and anyway it's in the Frick
which thank heavens you haven't gone to yet so we can go together the first time
and the fact that you move so beautifully more or less takes care of Futurism
just as at home I never think of the Nude Descending a Staircase or
at a rehearsal a single drawing of Leonardo or Michelangelo that used to wow me
and what good does all the research of the Impressionists do them
when they never got the right person to stand near the tree when the sun sank
or for that matter Marino Marini when he didn't pick the rider as carefully
as the horse
                   it seems they were all cheated of some marvellous experience
which is not going to go wasted on me which is why I am telling you about it


Avenue A
We hardly ever see the moon any more
                                                          so no wonder
   it's so beautiful when we look up suddenly
and there it is gliding broken-faced over the bridges
brilliantly coursing, soft, and a cool wind fans
       your hair over your forehead and your memories
              of Red Grooms' locomotive landscape
I want some bourbon/you want some oranges/I love the leather
                jacket Norman gave me
                                                and the corduroy coat David
     gave you, it is more mysterious than spring, the El Greco
heavens breaking open and then reassembling like lions
                                                 in a vast tragic veldt
     that is far from our small selves and our temporally united
passions in the cathedral of Januaries

     everything is too comprehensible
these are my delicate and caressing poems
I suppose there will be more of those others to come, as in the past
                                                  so many!
but for now the moon is revealing itself like a pearl
                                                  to my equally naked heart


Light     clarity       avocado salad in the morning
after all the terrible things I do how amazing it is
to find forgiveness and love, not even forgiveness
since what is done is done and forgiveness isn't love
and love is love nothing can ever go wrong
though things can get irritating boring and dispensable
(in the imagination) but not really for love
though a block away you feel distant the mere presence
changes everything like a chemical dropped on a paper
and all thoughts disappear in a strange quiet excitement
I am sure of nothing but this, intensified by breathing

To be continued....

14 April 2008 @ 08:58 pm

Since we all talked about publishing today and cover letters and such, I thought all y'all would find this page of use:

14 April 2008 @ 10:31 am
Rae Armantrout


Born in 1947 in Vallejo, California and then a resident of San Diego for the majority of her childhood and adult life, Rae Armantrout has been one of the major contemporary artists associated with the Language Poets. Armantrout attended the University of California, Berkeley and graduated in 1970. She received her MFA at San Francisco State University in 1975, and went on to become one of the founding members of the West Coast Language group. These poets, hailing back to the foundations of Gerturde Stein, were an influential group of poets that identified their work not so much in the lyrical trend, but in the context of the language used, the sounds it carried, and its "nonreferentiality." However, Armantrout's work could never and can not be grouped so simply: although operating within the mediums of language poetry with her sparse, concise, brief, and seemingly "disjunctive" style from stanza to stanza and line to line, Armantrout's work does indeed touch on the lyric form. She is very fascinated in the political and domestic world in which we live as well as her own experiences as a writer and individual. She is highly self-conscious, highly observant, and highly aware in her work. Some of her poetry is also down-right narrative in its form while it plays and meddles with language and language's many forms. Thus, Armantrout has been considered "the most lyrical of the Language Poets."

One major theme that is found in Armantrout's work is the theme of deception and doubt--both on the level of content and language. Armantrout's style is very conversational--stark, quiet and minimal. Yet her words speak volumes off the page--resonating meaning, emotion, and reflection while using very basic elements of syntax and craft. Thus, one could say Armantrout "deceives" her audience with seemingly simplistic poems that actually carry depths within their tightly-bound structure. As Ron Stillman states in the preface to Veil , Armantrout writes "poems that at first glance appear contained and perhaps even simple, but which upon the slightest examination rapidly provoke a sort of vertigo effect as element after element begins to spin wildly toward more radical...possibilities."

Armantrout has been compared to the likes of Emily Dickinson, William Carlos Williams (two influences she has noted) Jack Spicer and Arthur Rimbaud. Her poems range from very terse and short (like Williams and Dickinson), with three to four monostich stanzas carrying the poem to fruition; to longer, prosaic poems that can stretch two to three pages. (However, her most insightful and powerful poems, in my opinion, are her shorter pieces.) Armantrout often writes about pop-culture, current philosophies, the media, politics and domesticity. Armantrout's work is both light-hearted and bleak, but all the while, her concision with the colloquial language at hand is what lets her poems breathe and live off the page long after the book has been closed. They contain layers of meaning in just a few simple words and can never be tailored to one direct explanation. Thus, Armantrout's work is always shifting to fit one imagination to the next, depending upon reader, context and circumstance.

But, this sparse poetic voice does not come so easily. Stillman also notes of Armantrout that she is "perhaps the most rigorous and obsessive reviser--revision in some vital inner-driven sense is her process of writing." Each line, each word to Armantrout is as vital gem in her overall work. Thus, her concision is not without precision.


From Veil

From Up to Speed

From Next Life

Other Points of Interest

This is Armantrout’s essay entitled Cheshire Poetics, (http://epc.buffalo.edu/authors/armantrout/poetics.html)
in which she discusses her influences (mainly William Carlos Williams and Emily Dickinson) and her poetic background. She also makes note of her association with the “language poets” and how she considers her work as “cheshire poetry,” or poetry that “involves an equal counter-weight of assertion and doubt.” Armantrout’s focus here is that her poetry speaks on many levels and meanings, and sometimes, those levels and meanings can seem dissonant and disjunctive—but intentional all the while.

Here is a link to many audio clips featuring Armantrout, including a full reading at Kelly Writer’s House that took place in September of 2007. Armantrout reads some new and unreleased material at this reading. Be sure to look out for her next book!

Here is a YouTube video of an Armantrout reading that took place on September 27, 2007 at University of California-Berkeley. Watch this and it will be as if you're in the audience at her reading!

A young Armantrout

From a reading at UPenn, 2007


Poetry (Armantrout has published 9 books and 1 collection since her debut)

Extremities 1978
The Invention of Hunger 1979
Precedence 1985
Necromance 1991
Made to Seem 1995
writing the plot about sets 1998
Veil: New and Selected Poems 2001
The Pretext 2001
Up to Speed 2004
Next Life 2007

(N.B. Armantrout, although a major poetic voice since the late 1970s, has been known as a "poet's poet" and has not been very well received by the world of popular literature until more recently with the publication of Veil. Now, Armantrout's work is more widely read and continues to garner more and more popularity, and not just among the high literary circles.)


True 1998 (a prose memoir)
The Grand Piano: An Experiment in Collective Autobiography 2007
Collected Prose 2007
13 April 2008 @ 06:15 pm

John Berryman was born in 1914 in Oklahoma, originally named John Smith. At age 12 his father, also named John Smith committed suicide, and this was to haunt him his entire life. His mother went on to remarry, and he took his step-father’s name, Berryman. He attended Columbia University, graduating in 1936, and then went to Cambridge University on a fellowship. He went on to teach for the rest of his life, at schools including Wayne State University in Detroit, Harvard, and Princeton, and he taught at the University of Minnesota from 1955 until his death. Although he published Poems in 1942 and The Dispossessed in 1948, it wasn’t until Homage to Mistress Bradstreet, published in 1956 that he began to gain recognition, already in his forties.

77 Dream Songs, published in 1964, won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, and is Berryman’s best known work. It follows Henry, someone much like Berryman in many ways, but not quite, and an unnamed second character who refers to Henry as Mr. Bones and often uses minstrel-esque language. Henry’s voice often leads people to speak of the Dream Songs as confessional poems, and Berryman as a confessional poet, but Berryman rejected this label, despite his similarities with his character.

Berryman also struggled with alcoholism for the greater portion of his life, and this topic comes up in his poetry. Later in his career, he witnessed the premature deaths and suicides of quite a few contemporary poets and artists, such as Randall Jarrell, Theodore Roethke, Sylvia Plath, R. P. Blackmur, Yvor Winters, William Carlos Williams, and Delmore Schwartz. In his later Dream Songs, he includes quite a few poems in memorial to his peers. To Schwartz he dedicated a number of Dream Songs, 146-157, and 344. Berryman’s life was always tumultuous and self-destructive. For example, this excerpt from a famous Paris Review interview (Full Text):

"INTERVIEWER: Where do you go from here?
BERRYMAN: My idea is this: The artist is extremely lucky who is presented with the worst possible ordeal which will not actually kill him. At that point, he’s in business. Beethoven’s deafness, Goya’s deafness, Milton’s blindness, that kind of thing. And I think that what happens in my poetic work in the future will probably largely depend not on my sitting calmly on my ass as I think, “Hmm, hmm, a long poem again? Hmm,” but on being knocked in the face, and thrown flat, and given cancer, and all kinds of other things short of senile dementia. At that point, I’m out, but short of that, I don’t know. I hope to be nearly crucified.
INTERVIEWER: You’re not knocking on wood.
BERRYMAN: I’m scared, but I’m willing. I’m sure this is a preposterous attitude, but I’m not ashamed of it."

He published various other books, none quite with the success of 77 Dream Songs, and also began a novel, Recovery, about a recovering alcoholic. However, it was never finished, and Berryman never recovered from his own alcoholism, and at the age of 57 in 1972 Berryman committed suicide by jumping off the Washington Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis.

Another common theme in Berryman’s poetry is that of teaching and scholarship. Berryman was quite the scholar, and an expert on Shakespeare. He devoted much of his life to these pursuits, and this is evident in his poetry. Additionally, he writes often about writing, and even makes multiple references to the magazine Poetry in his work.

Berryman worked predominantly in very structured forms, despite his experimentation with language and voice. One book is entirely sonnets, Berryman’s Sonnets. The Dream Songs follow a strict form that also has a rhyme scheme, although he does occasionally break from this. Generally speaking, each poem in Dream Songs is eighteen lines, and divided into three equal stanzas. There is often a complex rhyme scheme, which is sometimes difficult to identify.  In contrast to these formal elements, he is prone to push language to its limits, using slang, fragments, odd spellings, colloquial speech, and the occasional joke. This combination makes The Dream Songs, and much of his other work, quite astounding. He is unmatched in his ability to commit to a strict structure while remaining incredibly natural and compelling in his words.

It must be noted that in studying Berryman today, it is crucial for each reader to somehow come to terms with his use of minstrel language and appropriated culture, as most notable in The Dream Songs. Part of this tendency clearly comes from his interest in formal versus informal language, and possibly a belief that minority cultures were more likely to have a genuine and unhindered experience of life (which can also be found in other poets around that era, such as Ginsberg). Berryman himself explains Mr. Bones and Henry in the preface to The Dream Songs:

"The poem then, whatever its wide cast of characters, is essentially about an imaginary character (not the poet, not me) named Henry, a white American in early middle age sometimes in blackface, who has suffered an irreversible loss and talks about himself sometimes in the first person, sometimes in the third, sometimes even in the second; he has a friend, never named, who addresses him as Mr Bones and variants thereof."

A contemporary African American poet, Kevin Young, in his introduction John Berryman: Selected Poems, says:

“for Berryman, as for many white rock and roll artists, black dialect (however imaginary), provides a gateway to a wider sense of American language, not a sign of cultural decay but of cultural vitality. The fearlessness through which Berryman breaks through the polite diction of academic poetry into a liberating variety of idioms is a major part of his legacy.”

Another way to look at it is how we look at Lear’s Fool, as Berryman was a Shakespeare scholar. The character that refers to Mr. Bones speaks the truth, regardless of how he speaks it. (This insight courtesy of Mary Jo.) I find this an interesting and fruitful way to approach this language, which at first was so off-putting and disconcerting, that I found it easiest to simply move on.  Fortunately, I was able to come back later and look at them again in a new light. Examples of this sort of language are included here in Dream Song 40 and 366.

For other views on this:

A Link to a scholarly website which includes scholarly interpretation of much of his poetry, and also comments on his use of minstrel-esque language:

Link to him reading Dream Song 1 (very very slowly.):

Link to an essay by David Wojahn, “In All Them Time Henry Could Not Make Good”: Reintroducing John Berryman:

Links to Poetry and Wikipedia Bios.

List of notable works:


Poems (1942)
The Dispossessed (1948)
Homage to Mistress Bradstreet (1956)
His Thoughts Made Pockets & the Plane Buckt (1958)
77 Dream Songs (1964)
Berryman's Sonnets (1967)
Short Poems (1967)
His Toy, His Dream, His Rest (1968)
The Dream Songs (1969)
Love and Fame (1970)
Delusions, Etc. (1972)
Henry's Fate and Other Poems (1977)


Stephen Crane: A Critical Biography (1950)
The Arts of Reading (1960)
Recovery (1973)
The Freedom of the Poet (1976)

09 April 2008 @ 03:00 pm
Wallace Stevens

Wallace Stevens looks happy.  Maybe it's because he's such a BA. 


     Wallace Stevens (1879-1955) was born in Reading, PA.  He spent a few years attending Harvard before finnacial woes forced him to withdraw before getting his degree.  On campus, he wrote and edited for a number of the schools literary journals.  Although he became involved in writing at an early age, most of his literary output came much later in life.  After college, he spent time a short time as a journalist before recieving a law degree and working as a lawyer, another profession that did not last long.  Eventually, Stevens found himself selling insurance for The Hartford, and slowly worked his way up the company until he was named Vice President in 1934.  He spent the remainder of his life working for The Hartford, even turning down a job as Professor at Harvard to stay with The Hartford.
     His first book of poems, Harmonium, was published in 1923, when Stevens was 44.  The collection, now known as one of the most important collections of American Poetry from the 20th century, was met with decent critical reception, but ultimately was not a huge success.  One site I encountered even claimed that the first edition printing sold only 100 copies.  Stevens became dismayed with this lack of success and did not publish a new book until 1935 with Ideas of Order.  With a re-printing of Harmonium and the publishing of The Man with the Blue Guitar (1937), Stevens began to receive widespread attention from the literary world.  His work was praised for it's imaginative spirit and it's Impressionistic composition.  He continued to publish until his death in 1955, winning along the way The National Book Award twice and the Pulitzer for his Collected Poetry.

     When reading Stevens, I couldn't help be struck by the imagination and exciting mystery that envelops much of his poetry.  His tone is simple but not brought to a lower level...he addresses objects, situations, and times with a degree of incredible precision and yet many of his poems had a very mystical quality to them, even when the relation between the object and poem was clear to me.  The poems constantly elucidated a feeling that I had not gleaned all they had to offer, even (or especially) those that I thought I understood best.  In that, Stevens is poetry is like the best of art: the more we understand the more questions we have.
    Much of Stevens' work, especially later work, directly addresses poetry itself in a metapoetic manner, and yet these poems didn't feel like Ars Poetica to me, but rather the development of a philosophy through poetry--He spoke of poetry to speak higher than poetry, and many critics have discussed Stevens' idea of "supreme fiction", or to put it plainly, how we make sense of a world in which the old comfortable religious notions have been replaced?  One of Stevens' answers was: poetry, not as an end, but as an example method. 
    Perhaps the thing I found most fascinating about Stevens is his attention to, to use one of his titles, "Not ideas about the thing, but the thing itself,".  I think one of the reasons that Stevens' poetry resisted a full capture for me is this address to the things themselves, to the objects of relation.  While the relation is certainly important, and makes up the "why?" of the poem, the "things" themselves seem to be given equal importance as whatever statement is being made with them.  The blackbirds are important, not just because of what they say about our humanity, but because they are blackbirds.  Stevens' accepts and plays with this notion, which led me to continue to draw thought from the poems long after I had "understood" the relation at hand.

    All in all, there's no denying that Stevens is a poet of extreme importance, not just as a lesson of "where we came from", but as a way to understand what we're doing now.  Therefore, check out some poems!




  • The Necessary Angel (essays) (1951)
  • Letters of Wallace Stevens, edited by Holly Stevens (1966)
  • Secretaries of the Moon: The Letters of Wallace Stevens & Jose Rodriguez Feo, edited by Beverly Coyle and Alan Filreis (1986)
  • Sur plusieurs beaux sujects: Wallace Stevens's Commonplace Book, edited by Milton J. Bates (1989)
  • The Contemplated Spouse: The Letter of Wallace Stevens to Elsie, edited by D.J. Blount (2006)


-A site containing a short biography and some stories about Stevens as told by those who knew him can be found here
-A few more poems, one reading, and an extended biography here
-A BIG biography and even more poems here


Some of Stevens' most well known/ my favorites.

From Harmonium:

From The Rock

04 April 2008 @ 12:44 pm
Louise Elisabeth Glück was born April 22, 1943 in  New York City.  She attended Sarah Lawrence College and Columbia University.

She has received numerous awards and accolades for her books of poetry (some of which I've listed below).  On Aug 28, 2003,
Glück was named the Poet Laureate for the Library of Congress.  She taught at Williams College for a two decades and is now the "writer in residence" and teaches at Yale.  In 2001 Yale also awarded her the Bollingen Prize in Poetry.

contemporary Jewish-American author, there is not much available on the web about Glück's personal life. There is though much that can be gleaned from her work, if one chooses to read it that way.  Much of Glück's work focuses on topics that could be considered autobiographical, but she resists that label.  To her, it is not imperative that the reader see every detail that inspired the poem, but the result.  For example, in "Siren", she talks about being the "other woman" and while the main theme may correlate with her life, the specific details and reading of it are not as important.

Her stanzas and line length are rarely consistent, and cover a whole range (some lines are a single word, other times they are the full page length) and stanza also are not normally consistent even within the same poem.

Glück's work is known for her mastery and control of language, as well as integration of meter and rhyme.  Her topics range from mythical to biblical to historical to fairy tales.  The tone of much of her work, especially in the beginning, is a bit angry.  Much of her language though is not flowery or overwrought.  Here's a link to an interesting text where Glück argues for the use of simple language in poetry.

Read more about her here
Louise Gluck

List of Glück's poetry books (with a description of some)

Firstborn (1968)
Published when she was 25, it focuses on the themes of child-bearing and language.
The House on Marshland (1975)
The Garden
Descending Figure
The Triumph of Achilles
Won the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry
Ararat (1990)
Won the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry

The Wild Iris (1992)
Won the Pulitzer Prize and the William Carlos Williams Award
The First Four Books of Poems (1995)
Deals with the dissolution of marriage, and contains a lot of aspects of the Odyssey
Vita Nova (1999)
Won the Boston Book Review's Bingham Poetry Prize and The New Yorker's Book Award in poetry
The Seven Ages (2001)
A finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry in 2006

Selected poems

Listen to Glück
read Marathon [I hope this works for you, I was having trouble with the link])

From the House on the Marshland

From Descending Figure

From The Wild Iris


Listen to Glück read The Red Poppy

From Meadowlands

From Averno
(The book has two versions of Persephone's tale, this is the first)

Listen to Glück read Myth of Innocence

Links to recent Gluck poems published in Poetry Magazine in February 2008, entitled
Midsummer and

A link to a very recent poem published March 31, 2008 in the New Yorker, entitled


Lucie Brock Broido  is the director of the Writing Program at Columbia University; she has also taught at Harvard and Princeton University.  Lucie has published three books of verse including A Hunger, The Master Letters, and Trouble in Mind. She has been described by critic Stephen Burt as an elliptical poet i.e. a poet who " tries to manifest a person who speaks the poem and reflects the poet while using all the verbal gizmos developed over the last few decades to undermine the coherence of speaking selves". A New York Times critic, Maureen N. McLane, has spoken of the "acoustic gorgeousness" of her work. Others have spoken of the decadence of Lucie's writing.  From my reading of LBB, I tend to agree with these characterizations, however, I will add that Lucie is not a poet that can be explained away with any single label. Frankly, many of her lines are timeless gems of lyric poetry.

A bit more background: Lucie was born and raised in Pittsburgh. She received her B.A. and her M.A. from Johns Hopkins University, and her M.F.A. from Columbia University.

Her Awards: "Witter-Bynner prize of Poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Harvard Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Award, the Harvard-Danforth Award for Distinction in Teaching, the Jerome J. Shestack Poetry Prize from American Poetry Review, two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, and a Guggenheim fellowship."

Some of her poems that I like:

"Domestic Mysticism"

"After the Grand Perhaps"

"Did Not Come Back"

"How Can It Be I am No Longer I"

"Am Moor"

       To listen to a poem in Lucie's voice, click right here.

01 April 2008 @ 01:28 pm

(there will be more added within the next few days)




from Poets.org

“Edward Estlin Cummings was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, October 14, 1894. He began writing poems as early as 1904 and studied Latin and Greek at the Cambridge Latin High School. He received his B.A. in 1915 and his M.A. in 1916, both from Harvard.

In 1917, Cummings' first published poems appeared in the anthology Eight Harvard Poets. The same year, Cummings left the United States for France as a volunteer ambulance driver in World War I. Five months after his assignment, however, he and a friend were interned in a prison camp by the French authorities on suspicion of espionage (an experience recounted in his novel, The Enormous Room) for his outspoken anti-war convictions.

During his lifetime, Cummings received a number of honors, including an Academy of American Poets Fellowship, two Guggenheim Fellowships, the Charles Eliot Norton Professorship at Harvard, the Bollingen Prize in Poetry in 1958, and a Ford Foundation grant.

At the time of his death, September 3, 1962, he was the second most widely read poet in the United States, after Robert Frost. He is buried in Forest Hills Cemetery in Boston, Massachusetts.”


E.e.’s popularity may have derived from the attractive subjects (such as war and sex) and accessible language that usually permeate his works. However, the content of his poetry is secondary to his ability to extend beyond using craft by making poetry itself a craft. As a cubist artist, the holistic experience of words, the framing of image, and the slipperiness of construction (including syntax and punctuation), makes e.e.’s poetry a piece to be heard, not merely read. And they are not meant to be read (merely as a form of comprehension), but rather seen. Essentially, the texture of his pieces does not only lie in their audible value, but rather in their appearance on the page (e.e. is known for the usages of white space as a literal canvas, in which the words compose a mosaic). This Avant-garde imagist approach was influenced by those like Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein. View the poems below to see how e.e. straddles the line between elevating form over function and vice-versa.














 it may not always be so; and i say

that if your lips, which i have loved, should touch

another's, and your dear strong fingers clutch

his heart, as mine in time not far away;

if on another's face your sweet hair lay

in such silence as i know, or such

great writhing words as, uttering overmuch,

stand helplessly before the spirit at bay;


if this should be, i say if this should be--

you of my heart, send me a little word;

that i may go unto him, and take his hands,

saying, Accept all happiness from me.

Then shall i turn my face and hear one bird

sing terribly afar in the lost lands


        i have found what you are like
        the rain,


                (Who feathers frightened fields

        with the superior dust-of-sleep. wields


        easily the pale club of the wind

        and swirled justly souls of flower strike


        the air in utterable coolness


        deeds of green thrilling light

                                      with thinned


        newfragile yellows


                          lurch and.press


        -in the woods







        And the coolness of your smile is

        stirringofbirds between my arms;but

        i should rather than anything

        have(almost when hugeness will shut


                       your kiss



gee i like to think of dead it means nearer because deeper

firmer since darker than little round water at one end of

the well     it's too cool to be crooked and it's too firm

to be hard but it's sharp and thick and it loves,    every

old thing falls in rosebugs and jackknives and kittens and

pennies they all sit there looking at each other having the

fastest time because they've never met before


dead's more even than how many ways of sitting on

your head your unnatural hair has in the morning


dead's clever too like POF goes the alarm off and the

little striker having the best time tickling away every-

body's brain so everybody just puts out their finger

and they stuff the poor thing all full of fingers


dead has a smile like the nicest man you've never met

who maybe winks at you in a streetcar and you pretend

you don't but really you do see and you are My how

glad he winked and hope he'll do it again


or if it talks about you somewhere behind your back it

makes your neck feel pleasant and stoopid       and if

dead says may i have this one and was never intro-

duced you say Yes because you know you want it to

dance with you and it wants to and it can dance and



dead's fine like hands do you see that water flowerpots

in windows but they live higher in their house than

you so that's all you see but you don't want to


dead's happy like the way underclothes All so differ-

ently solemn and inti and sitting on one string


dead never says my dear,Time for your musiclesson

and you like music and to have somebody play who

can but you know you never can and why have to?


dead's nice like a dance where you danced simple hours

and you take all your prickley-clothes off and squeeze-

into-largeness without one word     and you lie still as

anything    in largeness and this largeness begins to

give you,the dance all over again and you,feel all again

all over the way men you liked made you feel when they

touched you(but that's not all)because largeness tells

you so you can feel what you made,men feel when,you



dead's sorry like a thistlefluff-thing which goes land-

ing away all by himself on somebody's roof or some-

thing where who-ever-heard-of-growing and nobody

expects you to anyway


dead says come with me he says(andwhyevernot)into

the round well and see the kitten and the penny and

the jackknife and the rosebug

                              and you say Sure you

say (like that) sure i'll come with you you say for i

like kittens i do and jackknives i do and pennies i do

and rosebugs i do



may i feel said he

   may i feel said he

   (i'll squeal said she

   just once said he)

   it's fun said she



   (may i touch said he

   how much said she

   a lot said he)

   why not said she



   (let's go said he

   not too far said she

   what's too far said he

   where you are said she)



   may i stay said he

   (which way said she

   like this said he

   if you kiss said she



   may i move said he

   is it love said she)

   if you're willing said he

   (but you're killing said she



   but it's life said he

   but your wife said she

   now said he)

   ow said she



   (tiptop said he

   don't stop said she

   oh no said he)

   go slow said she



   (cccome?said he

   ummm said she)

   you're divine!said he

   (you are Mine said she)





you give us Things


bulge:grunting lungs pumped full of sharp thick mind


you make us shrill

presents always

shut in the sumptuous screech of



(out of the

black unbunged

Something gushes vaguely a squeak of planes



between squeals of

Nothing grabbed with circular shrieking tightness

solid screams whisper.)

Lumberman of The Distinct


your brain's

axe only chops hugest inherent

Trees of Ego,from

whose living and biggest


bodies lopped

of every



you hew form truly






Tulips and Chimneys (1923)
& (1925)
XLI Poems (1925)
ViVa (1931)
No Thanks (1935)
Tom (1935)
1/20 (1936)
Fifty Poems (1941)
1 x 1 (1944)
Xaipe: Seventy-One Poems (1950)
Ninety-five Poems (1958)
73 Poems (1962)
Complete Poems (1991)


The Enormous Room (1922)
Eimi (1933)








30 March 2008 @ 02:49 am

Just who is Faiz Ahmed Faiz?

From the Wikipedia article:

Faiz Ahmed Faiz (فيض احمد فيض), (1984 - 1911) was a Pakistani poet considered to be one of the most famous modern Urdu poets. He was born in Sialkot, in the Punjab of pre-independence India (now Pakistan).

After the partition of 1947, he decided to live in Pakistan, and died in Lahore. Faiz was a member of the Anjuman Tarraqi Pasand Mussanafin-e-Hind (Progressive Writers' Movement), and an avowed Marxist. In 1962 he was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize by the Soviet Union. In the 1930s Faiz Ahmed Faiz married Alys Faiz, a British woman. They had two daughters. Alys Faiz's influence on Faiz's life and poetry is reputed to have been great. He is also known for his use of the ghazal poetic form.

From the Academy of American Poets:

Faiz's early poems had been conventional, light-hearted treatises on love and beauty, but while in Lahore he began to expand into politics, community, and the thematic interconnectedness he felt was fundamental in both life and poetry. It was also during this period that he married Alys George, a British expatriate and convert to Islam, with whom he had two daughters. In 1942, he left teaching to join the British Indian Army, for which he received a British Empire Medal for his service during World War II. After the partition of India in 1947, Faiz resigned from the army and became the editor of The Pakistan Times, a socialist English-language newspaper.

On March 9, 1951, Faiz was arrested with a group of army officers under the Safety Act,READ MORE...Collapse )

Poetry in Translation:

Poems (1962) trans. by V.G. Kiernan
Poems by Faiz (1971) trans. V.G. Kiernan
The True Subject: Selected Poems of Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1988) trans. Naomi Lazard
The Unicorn and the Dancing Girl (1988) trans by Daud Kamal, ed. by Khalid Hasan
The Rebel's Silhouette (1991) trans. Agha Shahid Ali
The Rebel's Silhouette: Selected Poems (1995) rev. ed. trans. Agha Shahid Ali

See his official website for more information.

A selection of writing (click the title to read the poem):

You Tell Us What to DoCollapse )

When Autumn CameCollapse )

SpeakCollapse )

Blackout Collapse )

StanzaCollapse )

Lament for a SoldierCollapse )

Bangladesh IICollapse )

TonightCollapse )

Before You CameCollapse )

Spring Has Come (Bahar Aayee)Collapse )

MemoryCollapse )

I. For a Political Leader (Mahatma Gandhi)Collapse )

Shackles on your feetCollapse )

Be Near MeCollapse )

Want more Faiz Ahmed Faiz media?

Select MP3 recordings of Faiz Ahmed Faiz reading in Urdu, provided by the Library of Congress New Delhi Office's South Asian Literary Recordings Project

"Faiz, who was hounoured by Lenin Peace Prize in 1963, was seldom subjected to arrests by the right-wing pro-imperialist military regimes of Pakistan. Once, during the dictatorship of General Zia-ul-Haq, he was arrested and taken to the police station in front of the public. In this context, he wrote 'Aaj Bazar mein' (Shackles on your feet)."

This video is interesting not only because it shows Faiz reciting, but also because it demonstrates the different ways a translator can influence/interpret a poem. Here, the poem "Shackles on your feet," which appeared earlier in this post, is read: