Click Image to Visit the Pecan Grove Press Web Page for Poetry from Paradise Valley


Poetry From Paradise Valley

Pecan Grove Press has released an anthology of poems, a sampling of works published in Valparaiso Poetry Review during its first decade, from the original 1999-2000 volume to the 2009-2010 volume.

Poetry from Paradise Valley includes a stellar roster of 50 poets. Among the contributors are a former Poet Laureate of the United States, a winner of the Griffin International Prize, two Pulitzer Prize winners, two National Book Award winners, two National Book Critics Circle winners, six finalists for the National Book Award, four finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award, two finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, and a few dozen recipients of other honors, such as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, etc.

Readers are encouraged to visit the Poetry from Paradise Valley page at the publisher's web site, where ordering information about the book can be found.

Best Books of Indiana 2011: Finalist. Judges' Citation: "Poetry from Paradise Valley is an excellent anthology that features world-class poetry, including the work of many artists from the Midwest, such as Jared Carter, Annie Finch, David Baker, and Allison Joseph. It’s an eclectic and always interesting collection where poems on similar themes flow into each other. It showcases the highest caliber of U. S. poetry."
—Indiana Center for the Book, Indiana State Library

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Poetry's Odd Couple

In a recent post on “One Poet’s Notes” (“The Departure of Parnassus,” June 23, 2007) I commented about the end of a thirty-five year run for Parnassus: Poetry in Review, the longtime literary magazine devoted primarily to poetry criticism. Throughout the past few decades, Parnassus maintained a well-deserved reputation for thoughtful and thought-provoking articles on modern or contemporary poetry. Editor Herbert Leibowitz has published Parnassus basically as a labor of love, and he plans on closing production of the journal this fall with a final six-hundred-page special issue. In Leibowitz’s words: “Funding has become an insuperable obstacle. I love editing, but the good fairies did not give me any entrepreneurial gifts at birth.”

In that previous piece, I suggested readers and writers of poetry owe Leibowitz an enormous debt for his endeavors over the years, especially for the way he maintained substantial quality with superb standards for comprehensive critical commentary that informed and analyzed, but kept a very high level of readability rather than allowing the reviews to slip into cryptic theoretical treatises or arduous academic jargon. For his extended service to literary criticism, Leibowitz now has been selected to receive the initial Randall Jarrell Award in Criticism presented by the Poetry Foundation. The award carries with it a $10,000 prize, which perhaps would partially represent an official validation of Leibowitz’s tremendous efforts in the field.

Apparently, the prize money for this new award offered by the Poetry Foundation stands as another benefit made possible by the estimated $100-200 million endowment recently donated by Ruth Lilly. Reportedly, Poetry also will soon be housed at new multi-million-dollar offices in a twenty-five-thousand-square-foot building under construction in Chicago for the Poetry Foundation. In contrast, as Willard Spiegelman notes in his article, “Fortune as Fate: The Story of Two Poetry Magazines,” appearing in the July 25 edition of The Wall Street Journal, Parnassus always has had to scramble for cramped spaces, and at one time even published out of the bedroom for Leibowitz’s infant son.

Poetry magazine enjoys a current yearly budget of about $1.4 million, and a continuation of the journal’s regular release of issues appears assured as it approaches its 100th anniversary in 2012. Meanwhile, Parnassus has published on a somewhat irregular schedule during its history, currently existing within a budget of well less than ten percent of the amount afforded Poetry. Certainly, when taking into account the two journals’ relative economic status, one might easily regard this pair of publications as poetry’s odd couple among literary magazines. Indeed, there appears to be an element of irony in a situation where the publisher of literature’s richest poetry journal rewards the editor of another poetry review with a monetary prize just as he announces the review’s discontinuation due to a lack of funds.

As most readers of poetry know, Christian Wiman, Poetry’s new editor, has used a portion of the funds from the Lilly gift recently to refashion the journal just a bit as he also places a personal signature on the content with his poetic taste. During the last year I have heard various assessments, both positive and negative, by readers of the magazine’s new editorial directions. In many cases the evaluations merely mirror the readers’ own particular taste in poetry. However, one legitimate criticism leveled against a few issues of the journal concerns the larger number of pages devoted to prose rather than poetry.

In an ideal world I’d like to witness one member of the odd couple welcoming the other under its roof, the way Oscar welcomed Felix, and to see some of the Lilly money committed to sustain publication of Parnassus: Poetry in Review as a companion periodical to Poetry. Such an arrangement would provide a continuing location for poetry commentary, reviews, and analytical essays in Parnassus, perhaps while also allowing more of an opportunity for Poetry to be solely a source of fine poems in its pages.

Nevertheless, I commend the Poetry Foundation for acknowledging the decades of work by Herbert Leibowitz and by bestowing upon him the Randall Jarrell Award. The Poetry Foundation describes this prize as one that “recognizes and rewards poetry criticism that is intelligent and learned, as well as lively and enjoyable to read. The prize is intended for criticism aimed at a large general readership rather than an audience of specialists.” I can’t think of anybody more worthy of this recognition than Herbert Leibowitz.

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