Friday, April 10, 2015

Pacifist Jazz

© Mark Butkus

Nights are always long
When you are left alone
When memories are left to chance

Maybe that’ll be good enough
to remember some day
Maybe that’ll be
A good line someday

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Baudelaire's À une Dame créole

Au pays parfumé que le soleil caresse,
J'ai connu, sous un dais d'arbres tout empourprés
Et de palmiers d'où pleut sur les yeux la paresse,
Une dame créole aux charmes ignorés.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Library Walk: Julia Alvarez

Last five lines of sonnet from "33."

Of the more than 40 plaques laid out on Library Way in 1998 honoring famous writers and literary quotes, less than 10 were of living authors. Julia Alvarez is one of three that still thrives and writes today. Curiously, the quote of hers on Library Way is from her 1984 collection of poetry, Homecoming.

In particular, the quote is from one of 33 sonnets that make up the bulk of her book entitled 33. The age she was when she confronted her own mortality and her next steps in life. On Library Walk it is the last five lines of one of these sonnets that have been immortalized in bronze.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Charles Bane Jr.'s The Chapbook — Robert Frost

Robert Frost homestead in Vermont through the 1920s.
The Robert Frost Stone House Museum in South Shaftsbury, Vermont.

What does it mean, in the end?
Am I the wood I dreamed,
a handsomeness of gold and shadow
girls reach to with a hand?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Sunless Morning

Pyramid in Mexico

On a sunless morning in Mexico
with leaves falling in winter
and budding again
the next day
while raucous birds with
rainbow plumes
cluck and coo,
screech and crow,

Friday, March 20, 2015

Solo a Sayulita

El lugar donde los sueños se realizan.

25 pesos a Sayulita,
vaya con el Jesusito rojo.
La noche de crickets y el mar crashing
duerme, duerme, dormir
y me senté en la playa
sin hacer nada con nadie.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Poets on 2015 PEN Literary Awards Longlists

The longlists for the 2015 PEN Literary Awards include titles by poets Claudia Rankine, Allison Adelle Hedge Coke and Venus Thrash. The poets were longlisted for the PEN Open Book Award that recognizes, "an exceptional book-length work of literature by an author of color published in 2014." A new translation of the revered Mexican poet Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz by Edith Grossman is one of four titles translated from the original Spanish vying for the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation for a book-length translation of poetry into English published in 2014.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

First Lines Second Thoughts — Tristram Shandy

Just another cock and bull story?

First Lines Second Thoughts is a look at the first lines of well known literary works. On second thought, do these opening words stand alone as poetry? In keeping with the day's green theme we look at the work of a son of Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland — Laurence Sterne.

Tristram Shandy, properly titled, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman is purported to be the autobiography of the titular character though by the end of the book the reader still knows little of Tristram himself as his thoughts tend not to stay focused on the job at hand — narrating the accounts of his life. Tristram's propensity for digression is such that the recounting of his birth does not occur until volume IV!