Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Lost Pencil

I see the path I have traveled
A wheel turning
On the curvature of days
Seeking happiness here
Some love, some peace there

Monday, June 29, 2015

Elizabeth Barrett Browning's A Child’s Grave at Florence

A. A. E. C.
Born, July 1848; died, November 1849.

 Of English blood, of Tuscan birth   
  What country should we give her?   
Instead of any on the earth,   
  The civic Heavens receive her.   

And here among the English tombs           
  In Tuscan ground we lay her,   
While the blue Tuscan sky endomes   
  Our English words of prayer.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

En el mar de mis sueños

Soñé que estaba en el mar de nuevo,
flotaba ligera y sin rumbo,
flotaba como un cuerpo inerte
o como alguien que espera pacientemente
que la vida llegue como las olas
o la muerte como la brisa;

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Juan Felipe Herrara Named First Latino Poet Laureate of United States

The Library of Congress announced today that Mexican American poet Juan Felipe Herrara will succeed Charles Wright as the 21st Poet Laureate of the United States.

Herrara is currently the Poet Laureate of his home state California and will officially become U.S. Poet Laureate  with a reading at the commencement of Hispanic Heritage Month on September 15.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Library Walk: Alfred Kazin and Room 315 of the NYPL

photo © Mark Butkus 2011

The plaques on Library Way across from the main branch of the New York Public Library grab quotes from history, famous literary works and from the lion of literature — the authors. Alfred Kazin's quote is different.

Kazin's quote is of the library itself. Room 315 in particular — the Main Reading Room.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Charles Bane Jr.'s The Chapbook — Blackfoot Camp

photo © Mark Butkus 2014
Two Medicine Territory, 1870

You must go from here.
This is not good.
There was a raid today.
Many times I counted coup.

But where I should have seen an enemy,
I saw you and my face was soft.
You must go away.
But then I would follow I think
to fold grasses for your sleep.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Night and Day with Allen Ginsberg and Guerrilla Poetics

"This poem may be the last best hope for real literary art. It is the cave wall where we record our passing."

So begins the bookmark placed inside my recently purchased copy of Allen Ginsberg's The Book of Martyrdom and Artifice. It was "smuggled into this book by one of our Special Operatives" at the Guerilla [sic] Poetics Project.

The Guerilla Poetics Project was a marketing strategy to bring underground poetry to the mainstream by placing broadsides in selected books. From 2006-2008 selected poems of more than 50 poets reached new, unsuspecting audiences in this manner. How the Bar None Group came to stumble upon a broadside at a bookstore in University Village in Chicago in 2015 is somewhat surprising.

Curiously — and probably by happenstance — the broadside which spoke of morning was placed next to a Ginsberg poem which spoke of the evening. Reading the two pieces of poetry together seemed like the proper thing to do...like watching The Wizard of Oz while listening to Pink Floyd. You end up with an inter-generational poetic mash up. One that I am sure Ginsberg would be keen to explore himself.