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

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Walt Whitman and American Independence

Each year around the Fourth of July, I find myself returning to the writings of Walt Whitman, his poetry and his prose, hoping to rediscover the excitement and energy I had experienced reading his work when I first encountered Whitman as a student. I am never disappointed.

Having grown up in Brooklyn, where Whitman labored for a while in the newspaper industry (one of my uncles worked at the original Brooklyn Eagle, the paper for which Whitman once served as editor for two years), and later lived near Whitman’s Long Island home, I felt an early personal identification with the great poet.

However, along with so many others, I also quickly recognized Whitman’s importance as the Father of American Poetry, the nation’s poet, or as Harold Bloom has characterized him, “the center of the American canon.” Whitman established an American voice and allowed this country’s authors an opportunity to fulfill the wish for literary independence mentioned in Emerson’s 1837 “American Scholar” address: “Our day of dependence, our long apprenticeship to the learning of other lands, draws to a close. The millions, that around us are rushing into life, cannot always be fed on the sere remains of foreign harvests. Events, actions arise, that must be sung, that will sing themselves. Who can doubt, that poetry will revive and lead in a new age, as the star in the constellation Harp, which now flames in our zenith, astronomers announce, shall one day be the pole-star for a thousand years?”

Therefore, this holiday week wrapped around Wednesday’s Independence Day, I recommend revisiting Whitman’s poetry in Leaves of Grass, but also those two wonderful prose pieces: the “Preface” to Leaves of Grass, an original case for distinctively American poetry, and “Democratic Vistas,” an interesting and invigorating essay investigating philosophical perspectives on political and literary democracy.

“The Americans of all nations at any time upon the earth, have probably the fullest poetical nature. The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem.”

“America prepares with composure and goodwill for the visitors that have sent word. It is not intellect that is to be their warrant and welcome. The talented, the artist, the ingenious, the editor, the statesman, the erudite … they are not unappreciated … they fall in their place and do their work. The soul of the nation also does its work. No disguise can pass on it … no disguise can conceal from it. It rejects none, it permits all. Only towards as good as itself and toward the like of itself will it advance half-way. An individual is as superb as a nation when he has the qualities which make a superb nation. The soul of the largest and wealthiest and proudest nation may well go half-way to meet that of its poets. The signs are effectual. There is no fear of mistake. If the one is true the other is true. The proof of a poet is that his country absorbs him as affectionately as he has absorbed it.”

[Excerpts from the “Preface” to Leaves of Grass, 1855]

“Our fundamental want to-day in the United States, with closest, amplest reference to present conditions, and to the future, is of a class, and the clear idea of a class, of native authors, literatures, far different, far higher in grade than any yet known, sacerdotal, modern, fit to cope with our occasions, lands, permeating the whole mass of American mentality, taste, belief, breathing into it a new breath of life . . ..”

“At all times, perhaps, the central point in any nation, and that whence it is itself really sway'd the most, and whence it sways others, is its national literature, especially its archetypal poems. Above all previous lands, a great original literature is surely to become the justification and reliance, (in some respects the sole reliance,) of American democracy.”

“. . . there could hardly happen anything that would more serve the States, with all their variety of origins, their diverse climes, cities, standards, &c., than possessing an aggregate of heroes, characters, exploits, sufferings, prosperity or misfortune, glory or disgrace, common to all, typical of all -- no less, but even greater would it be to possess the aggregation of a cluster of mighty poets, artists, teachers, fit for us, national expressers, comprehending and effusing for the men and women of the States, what is universal, native, common to all, inland and seaboard, northern and southern.”

“. . . a new Literature, perhaps a new Metaphysics, certainly a new Poetry, are to be, in my opinion, the only sure and worthy supports and expressions of the American Democracy . . ..”

[Excerpts from “Democratic Vistas,” 1871]


One song, America, before I go,
I’d sing, o’er all the rest, with trumpet sound,
For thee—the Future.

I’d sow a seed for thee of endless Nationality;
I’d fashion thy Ensemble, including Body and Soul;
I’d show, away ahead, thy real Union, and how it may be accomplish’d.

(The paths to the House I seek to make,
But leave to those to come, the House itself.)

Belief I sing—and Preparation;
As Life and Nature are not great with reference to the Present only,
But greater still from what is yet to come,
Out of that formula for Thee I sing.

—Walt Whitman

1 comment:

independence day sms said...

Its very nice resource.I really appreciate you.You done a great job.Thanks for sharing with us.Don't stop your bloging.Keep it up....