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, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Offering

In this season for giving thanks, I am grateful to all who regularly have been reading “One Poet’s Notes” by conveniently subscribing or by returning repeatedly to examine added items, and I welcome the many new readers who have found their way to this website in recent months.

As the Valparaiso Poetry Review editor’s blog nears its 100th post, weekly readership has multiplied numerous times, month after month, since its initial presentation in January. Although this site has not been designed to draw the large audiences some other popular or literary sites admirably achieve, I appreciate the increased numbers indicating an ever-growing readership with monthly totals of visits to VPR and “One Poet’s Notes” combined apparently now averaging almost 6,000, a modest figure that nevertheless has been increasing steadily over time.

I am indebted to many readers for their kind messages containing complimentary comments and continually supportive statements about the blog’s content or its form. As well, I am pleased to report there have been many emails over the months communicating notes of praise for the individual works of various poets highlighted by the blog from the contents of Valparaiso Poetry Review’s archives of the past nine years. I especially would like to acknowledge again the fine contributions by all those poets.

Readers also have corresponded with pieces of feedback that often single out for comment books reviewed in VPR or on the blog throughout the year—some first books by poets they were pleased to discover and other volumes written by familiar authors they report being delighted to rediscover. Additionally, I have enjoyed hearing from readers and learning differing perspectives about literary issues raised or discussed in some posts.

Consequently, I wish each of you a happy holiday weekend. I hope you will continue to visit in the future to find interesting and informative writings. Finally, as a token of my appreciation to all, on this one occasion I humbly offer a timely poem of my own:



At first, one row of clouds fell below that nearby
mountain ridge and we could feel the swift wind

of winter’s initial cold front suddenly sweeping
across a gray field, still darkened by their stain,

or throwing about those leaves blowing like snow
into drifts along the ground all around our rented

house; even today, we know there is no way this
day will ever recede very far from our memories.


Not much more than a few hours earlier, you
and I had again awakened long before morning’s

sunrise, though our windows were then whitened
by moonlight, to the sound of our young son’s

cries for someone to come to him. As if those
roaming shadows that had emerged were thieves,

he’d felt loss move through his room from dresser
to desk to chest; an absence had already taken place.


Who knew the hospital would be so far away?
Beneath black branches, wind-thinned and arching

overhead, almost as dark as those cavern walls
we’d visited earlier in our vacation, a stark road

wound around the edge of town, coiling toward
some distant hint of morning light just beginning

to glint up ahead; at last, with each shallow swallow
he’d breathe, we now could see how close we were.

[“Thanksgiving: Before Leaving for Home” was first published in Connecticut Review, and it is among the poems that will be included in my forthcoming collection, Seeded Light, to be released by Turning Point Books.]


Anonymous said...

oh Ed!!!! this poem is stunning! Thank you. I'll look forward to reading your new book.....


Pat Fargnoli

Anonymous said...

Your Thanksgiving offering is a familiar ache in the heart for parents who know the joy and pain of loving a child so much...

Edward Byrne said...

Hi, Pat and Mary:

Thanks for your kind comments, especially since I often find difficulty objectively judging the quality of my poem or its impact on others when I feel so close emotionally to the original incident that inspired the composition of the lines.

Anonymous said...

I've always felt like poems have the magic of being able to go straight to the heart of the person who needs that particular poem -- simply because they will be able to relate to it. So in this way, the poem automatically reaches its intended audience, taking you off the hook!

I've enjoyed reading the poems listed on your website.I had a question about word usage in one of your poems. Will you take a question? I can understand if poets don't like to explain or answer questions on their poetry, so I thought I'd ask first.

Edward Byrne said...

Of course, I am pleased to hear a positive reaction to the poetry featured on my personal website. I am thankful for such interest.

Although those poems will appear in my forthcoming book, I already regard them as slightly older works, and I admit I may have to dust off my memory a bit to recall my reasoning for all the choices I made during composition.

However, as I inform my creative writing students, one should be able to justify decisions made during composition and take responsibility for paths followed in final drafts of poems—whether word choice, form, line and stanza breaks, or other options chosen. This seems especially true when writing free verse in order to avoid even an appearance of arbitrariness.

Therefore, if I can, I'd be happy to give it a shot and answer any inquiries anyone might have about my work. Please feel free to email me with thoughts and questions about the poems anytime.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much. The poem that I was so touched by is "Night Vision" because I felt drawn to the descriptive nature of the poem, the phrasing and the emotional nature of it. However, I feel a little "stuck" on a few elements, so I could use some clues. I really want to be able to see if I can figure out the poem's full meaning because right now, I feel like I understand 75% of the poem...which makes me feel like if I don't get the final 25%, then maybe I'm not getting it at all! If the final pieces of the puzzle are not what I thought they may be, then it'll probably change what I was thinking the overall meaning was. Either way, I'll learn more about poetry. To sum up, I think I get this poem...but I'm not sure.:)

If you can answer these questions, then I think it may help me when I go back to re-read the poem. If they are questions that are way off the mark in making sense (like they are not relevant or there is no deeper meaning), don't be afraid to tell me that. If you don't have the answers because it's been quite some time since you wrote this poem, I totally understand. Here are my (perhaps goofy) questions:

1) Is the "you" from "In my dream, you were also there" referring to the same person who is inside the house? That will help a lot, so I do not feel "split" on two different paths to take in understanding this poem.
2)My favorite part of the poem is the ending: "I was only a child passing by, running toward blinding sunlight, following in my father's shadow." I love that! However, I can't quite grasp the full meaning of "blinding sunlight" (for instance, does that represent going someplace happier or better, or something like going forward full-force but without clearly seeing where the subject is going?). I also don't think I understand the full meaning behind "father's shadow" (for instance, does that mean something along the lines of behaving much the way one's father did, like modeling after him? Or perhaps something about being more interested in other things, etc?).

I hope these questions are not confusing. If so, it explains my confusion! :) Again, if they are not answerable, that is just fine. You can't be expected to remember every single detail about the poems you write. I appreciate your willingness to try. Sorry this is so long.

Edward Byrne said...

I certainly appreciate your close and careful reading of the poem.

Your conclusion is correct that the “you” at the end of the poem is the same as in the house earlier. The consistency is important for the poem to maintain clarity. Also, your reading of the poem’s closing lines is mostly on target as well. The lines about the child running toward the blinding sunlight are meant to suggest the boy is heading toward the life ahead of him, represented by the sun, but the blinding light tells readers what will happen in his life is yet unknown to him. The future will always remain a mystery.

The image of following the father’s shadow was meant to imply that the boy in the dream would move forward with the guidance his father had set as a role model, but also to suggest the father was now dead in the present tense of the man’s actions in the poem. Going back and forth between the present and the past (represented in the dream) without causing undue confusion proved the trickiest part in writing the poem.

In fact, I will confide here that the poem began with nothing more than the image of the father, since I wrote it as an example for an exercise I give my poetry-writing students: “compose a poem containing your earliest memory.” My very first memory is that of myself at about two or three walking unsteadily up a slight rise in a local park and following my father who was silhouetted by the sun in front of him as he led the way for me.

Again, thanks for considering the poem so closely.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking the time to explain this to me. I think I was especially drawn to this poem because of the father aspect in it. My Dad passed away a few years ago. Although I am a feature magazine writer, I am most certainly not a poet. However, a week before my Dad's funeral, I woke up in the middle of the night with a poem "written" in my head. It was such a magical experience for me -- suddenly having the words to express feelings about my Dad. It was unusual that it came to me in the form of a poem because other than college class assignments, I've never written a poem in my life! But in this case, I sat at my computer in the wee hours and typed up a poem for my Dad, as though I was copying it from my head. I shared the poem with my Mom, who (being my biased mother) thought it was beautiful and promptly put it in the funeral bulletin. I will never forget all the people who came up to me after the funeral to tell me how touched they were by the poem. One distinguished, rather reserved man started crying as he spoke to me about it; it was the first time I fully realized how powerful poetry is.

Regardless, one poem does not a poet make. I have always been of the mindset that some people are born to be writers. I feel perhaps even more strongly that other people are born poets. Thank you for sharing your poetry and for helping others understand poetry better. It opens up a new world that is so worthwhile. I feel rather out of place being on this blog and commenting at all on poetry because I know I am not gifted in this way. I do admire the craft very much.

As an aside, congratulations on the "presents" you opened early from Santa (regarding your Dec. 22 post). I'm really happy for you.

Edward Byrne said...

I am sorry to hear about your father, but heartened to learn that poetry provided a way to honor him while consoling yourself and others. I have written a few times at length elsewhere about my deep appreciation of the positive impact elegiac writing can have. Indeed, I also have written numerous elegiac poems about my father, including an entire series that fills half of Tidal Air.

As Shakespeare and other poets have suggested, an elegy offers the most powerful gift. It allows us an ability not only to preserve the memory of one we love, but in a sense also to keep alive that person in the actions described by the poem. In fact, an elegy supplies a certain degree of immortality, the greatest gift one can present, since the loved one will remain vital (in both meanings, lively and important) as long as others are able to read the lines of the poem.

In addition, the elegy can comfort those mourning the loss of a loved one. As some have commented in the past, a further significance of the elegy may be that it often seems as revealing about the emotions and perceptions of the speaker as it is about the person who is the subject of the poem. The poem permits its author an opportunity to sort and comprehend his or her true feelings and share them with others who are engaged in a similar process, particularly during grieving.

Since you felt compelled to write the poem and it appeared almost to write itself, one could construe the act as an indirect expression of the subconscious, a way of opening a path to your most private thoughts and emotions.

As for your comment about feeling “rather out of place” commenting on poetry because you regard yourself more as a reader of poems than as a poet: I believe that would characterize most visitors to the blog, which is meant to encourage readers of poetry (whether at VPR or elsewhere) rather than exist as a site primarily for poets or creative writing—thus the subheading, “Recommended Readings of Recent Contemporary Poetry.”

I hope everyone who reads and enjoys poetry will feel comfortable perusing the poetry on the blog or participating by contributing in the blog’s comments, as you have.

Oh, and thanks much for the note about Santa’s early presents. I hope Santa was generous to you as well this Christmas.