December 1, 2012 |
Aylisha Brown has been writing poems since age 16, when she found it the best way to make sense of her crazy world. One of her first poems was included in a news story about her mother, Crystal Brown - a narrative of tragedy and triumph - published in The Inquirer in 2006. It was then that Aylisha learned that her biological father was also her grandfather, that her mother had long been abused by her father, and that that relationship had caused the progressive genetic disease leaving Aylisha in a wheelchair.
October 7, 2012
Stolen Air The Selected Poems of Osip Mandelstam Selected and translated by Christian Wiman Introduction by Ilya Kaminsky Ecco. 128 pp. $15.99 Reviewed by Frank Wilson This is a book not simply to read, but also to treasure. It takes the form of a triptych, Ilya Kaminsky's introduction ("Osip Mandelstam: A Lyric Voice" and Christian Wiman's translator's note ("Secret Hearing") bracketing Osip Mandelstam's poems. Kaminsky's introduction is itself a kind of prose poem, which is hardly surprising.
July 13, 2012 |
Margaret Atwood has always been one step ahead. The recent to-do over the use of the word "vagina" on the Michigan state House floor, for instance, would fit right in with the world she imagined in The Handmaid's Tale, which was published back in 1985. So maybe other adult novelists should take note of Atwood's latest move: She's jumped into the frenetic teen writing site Wattpad (www.wattpad.com). "I look forward to exploring the ways Wattpad connects people to reading and writing, and may help give them confidence through feedback from readers," Atwood writes on her author page.
July 8, 2012 |
Pity the Beautiful Poems By Dana Gioia Graywolf Press. 73 pp. $15 Is there anyone in the poetry world who does not know or at least know of Dana Gioia? Over the last 25 years, since he gave up a successful career as a business executive at Kraft Foods to pursue poetry and criticism full-time, he has lived a literary whirlwind. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should add that I know Gioia; in 1999 I produced the world premiere orchestral showcase of his first major opera, Nosferatu, at the Crested Butte Music Festival in Colorado.
May 31, 2012 |
Alternative visions of heaven are nothing unusual in concerts by the Crossing choir. But the one that will unfold this weekend, by the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Lewis Spratlan, portrays heaven in what looks like a 21st-century recession: Gaunt angels play bent harps, the sky is smoggy, and God is rumored to have Alzheimer's. Ostensibly a religious work, Vespers Cantata: Hesperus Is Phosphorus reflects the 71-year-old Spratlan's unwillingness to use a traditional religious text, especially when Crossing founder/director Donald Nally kept handing him unconventional writings by David Eagleman, whose 2009 book Sum contains 40 highly unorthodox visions of the afterlife.
May 20, 2012 |
Transfer By Naomi Shihab Nye BOA Editions. 119 pp. $16 Naomi Shihab Nye is one of the most spirited voices in American poetry. The author, editor, and translator of more than 30 volumes, she is best known for her poetry collections Fuel (1998) and You and Yours (2005), and her award-winning anthology of international poems for young people This Same Sky (1992), which represents 129 poets from 68 countries. In her affirming introduction for that book, she writes, "Whenever someone suggests ‘how much is lost in translation!
April 29, 2012 |
Death of Levon Helm Alt Country Blues Poem I'm washed up and the tribe is thinning. Lunch can be hit or miss — either way if I'm not hungry afterward what's to complain about? Turns out extinction is not the issue, not if the formats are steeped in formaldehyde and there is a regular circus. I'm worried when I get the box home I'll have two shoes for one foot and none for the other which will make me walk in circles like the groupies around Robbie Robertson in 1969 must have.
April 22, 2012 |
The Complete Poems of Philip Larkin Edited by Archie Burnett Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 768 pp. $40 Reviewed by John Timpane For about the last 60 years, Philip Larkin (1922-1985) has been, for many, the poet's poet, one of the best, a fastidious craftsman who let only choice, finished pieces out into the light. Now we have The Complete Poems, edited with devotion by Archie Burnett of Boston University. It is a sobering triumph. Or maybe I mean a triumph of sobriety.
April 21, 2012 |
The Camden area's literary community will celebrate next week the release of a book of previously unpublished poems by Nick Virgilio, a pioneer of contemporary haiku and a lifelong city resident. Compiled and published by former New York Times war correspondent Rick Black, the book features new works selected from collections at the Paul Robeson Library at Rutgers-Camden, where nearly 20,000 haiku and correspondence of the late poet reside. "Nick's poems just hit home for me in meaningful ways," Black, who reported on the first Gulf War, said in a statement.
April 19, 2012 |
PITTSBURGH — If you think Shakespeare's works have been performed so often there's not much left to do with them, think again. No one has ever filmed readings of all 154 sonnets by a succession of actors and nonactors in evocative locations around the world, and presented them in the order Shakespeare published them in 1609. Someone is doing it now, however: Jeff Monahan, president of 72nd St. Films in Manhattan and Connellsville, Pa., and Joanna Lowe, founder of Cup-A-Jo Productions in Pittsburgh.