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

Friday, December 28, 2007

Poet of the Year: John Ashbery

With December coming to a close, in the spirit of year-end reviews popping up all across the media that name a prominent figure for recognition, I have decided to join the fun, and I have picked the “Poet of the Year” for 2007. As with Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” or other publications’ selections of individuals for such labels as “Athlete of the Year” or “Entertainer of the Year,” the poet chosen has demonstrated achievement and influence during the last twelve months in a way that has set him apart from a number of worthy candidates who also were considered for this distinction.

In the past year John Ashbery, after more than a half century of publishing poetry—and more than thirty years since he won the triple crown of publishing awards with the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, and National Book Critics Circle Award for Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror—continued to produce new poetry that both delights and disorients its readers. In addition, his influence was chronicled in numerous reviews appearing upon publication of a collection of selected later works. Moreover, many in the literary world took time to look back at his long and distinguished career through retrospective essays and profiles accompanying celebrations of the poet’s 80th birthday in July.

Early in the year, John Ashbery’s 26th book of poems, A Worldly Country, appeared and assured readers of his ongoing ability to simply amaze, or possibly to antagonize, with singular lyrics that are daring even as they frequently defy definition. Before the end of the year, Notes from the Air: Selected Later Poems—including works from his ten previous collections and spanning nearly two decades—once again proved the impact Ashbery steadily has had on contemporary poetry. Responses to this book also have indicated how much sway his poetry has had over a couple of generations of poets who have paid homage to him and who have exhibited evidence of his influence in their own works through the last few decades.

During the summer, as articles noted John Ashbery’s 80th birthday, and poets across the country gave tribute in readings or on blogs, some made the most of the opportunity by reexamining his body of work. The Poetry Foundation marked the occasion by making available the original 1974 publication in Poetry of “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror.”

Recently, Angie Mlinko lamented in the Nation that John Ashbery has not received even greater recognition for the cumulative collection of innovative and inventive poetry he has delivered in the past five decades: “Every year that the Nobel committee passes over poet John Ashbery for a socially responsible novelist, it proves that the prize for literature is just an arm of the Peace Prize, rather than—like the Nobels for physics or chemistry—a prize for radical discovery in the field.” An article appearing in The Economist considered Ashbery alongside Robert Lowell as the two great American poets since World War II: “Just as Norman Mailer, John Updike and Philip Roth were at various times regarded as the greatest American novelist since the second world war, John Ashbery and Robert Lowell vied for the title of greatest American poet.”

Harold Bloom repeatedly has championed John Ashbery as the contemporary poet perhaps most worthy of inclusion with other great Romantic American writers, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, and Wallace Stevens. Indeed, in Marjorie Perloff’s current Bookforum essay on Ashbery, “Necessary Deranger,” she furthers Bloom’s comparison between Stevens and Ashbery:

The first thing worth observing, perhaps, is that the evolution of Ashbery’s lyric mode is startlingly similar to that of Wallace Stevens. Both poets gained recognition relatively late (Stevens was forty-four when Harmonium was published in 1923, Ashbery forty-nine when Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror appeared in 1975); in both cases, the themes and stylistic habits of the verse (even when, in Ashbery’s case, it is prose) remain the same, but in the late work, the rhythms become more relaxed, the vocabulary and syntax more informal and inconsequential, and there is a new willingness to take risks, even if that means striking out now and again. In late Ashbery, as in late Stevens, “the edges and inchings of final form” (“An Ordinary Evening in New Haven”) are never far away, but Ashbery (unlike Stevens) assumes a playful stance to what one of his titles calls “Autumn on the Thruway.” Laughter, laced though it is with anxiety, echoes through these pages. Given the times we live in, these poems suggest, the comic modality—burlesque, parody, satire, and always a measure of irony—is surely our Necessary Angel. If Ashbery is, in Harold Bloom’s lexicon, the ephebe of Stevens, he is an ephebe for the information age, our blog- and cell-phone-crazed universe in which, to cite the first poem in Some Trees, “Everything has a schedule, if you can find out what it is.”

In a New York Times interview that appeared at the beginning of the year, when asked about having never been appointed as the U.S. Poet Laureate, Ashbery replied that he didn’t think he was “poet laureate material.” However, perhaps as support for Perloff’s observation that Ashbery remains a poet of “the information age, our blog- and cell-phone-crazed universe,” his postmodern poetry also now appears to be accepted by the iPod and MTV generation. In August, MTV selected the 80-year-old Ashbery as its first “poet laureate” and featured 18 of his poems on their website, each accompanied by a brief visual spot promoting the poetry.

Ashbery once began his poem, “My Philosophy of Life,” with the following two lines: “Just when I thought there wasn't room enough / for another thought in my head, I had this great idea . . ..” Readers certainly hope there will be more great ideas and more provocative poetry from John Ashbery in the upcoming year and many others to come.

[Previous entries this year on “One Poet’s Notes” concerning John Ashbery: “John Ashbery: ‘Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror’”; “John Ashbery: ‘My Philosophy of Life’”; “Painting, Poetry, and Economy: Rothko, Warhol, and Ashbery.”]

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