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

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Stuart Dybek: "Windy City"

I always enjoy observing writers whose work I have long appreciated and admired receive recognition or rewards for their efforts. Therefore, I was pleased to see Stuart Dybek honored this week with a MacArthur Fellowship, the so-called “genius grant,” which carries a prize of $500,000. The announcement of Dybek’s selection came just as my students and I reached his poetry in our anthology for discussion. I particularly like discussing Dybek’s poetry and short fiction in my courses because Valparaiso University is located so close to Chicago, a city that serves as the focus for much of Stuart Dybek’s writing.

Indeed, Dybek is noted for his ties to Chicago, the Windy City, and his writing cannot be separated from this location or its people that have inspired him. Since many of my students are from the Chicago area or now feel it is a second home, they find Dybek’s settings and characters in short stories, as well as his poems’ personae, familiar or fascinating. Once, when Dybek came to campus as a visiting writer, the students responded to his stories or poems and his personality as they would to a friend telling tales from a neighboring community.

For Stuart Dybek, place is important. As he notes in his comments from Contemporary American Poetry: Behind the Scenes, an anthology we are examining in class: “In fiction it’s a given that a sense of place can be a significant element in the makeup of a writer’s voice, and, to my taste, a recognizable voice, whether in poetry or prose, is important. It’s impossible to imagine the unique voices of, say, Eudora Welty or James Joyce without summoning up the places that each writer made on the page—words made from voice, yet from which voice in turn seems to spring. In such writers place informs style as well as content. The same relation between place and individual voice is no less true of poets like Yeats and Frost. Poets—Homer and Dante, being two rather sturdy examples—have always been world makers.”

On this day when the Chicago Cubs have won the Central Division title as they again make one of their rare efforts to enter and win the fall classic, I offer an appropriate example of Stuart Dybek’s images from fall in the city with which he is so closely associated:


The garments worn in flying dreams
were fashioned there—
overcoats that swooped like kites,
scarves streaming like vapor trails,
gowns ballooning into spinnakers.

In a city like that one might sail
through life led by a runaway hat.
The young scattered in whatever directions
their wild hair pointed, and gusting
into one another, they fell in love.

At night, wind rippled the saxophones
that hung like windchimes
in pawnshop windows, hooting through
each horn so that the streets seemed haunted
not by nighthawks, but by doves.

Pinwheels whirred from steeples
in place of crosses. At the pinnacles
of public buildings, snagged underclothes—
the only flag—flapped majestically.
And when it came to disappear

one simply chose a thoroughfare
devoid of memories, raised a collar,
and turned one’s back on the wind.
I remember closing my eyes as I stepped
into a swirl of scuttling leaves.

I have noticed a number of news items regarding Dybek’s selection as a MacArthur fellow, but none has directed readers to the Lannan Foundation site where one can listen to an interview and a reading by Stuart Dybek. I recommend that readers visit this site and revisit the Windy City in Dybek’s prose and poetry.

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