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, February 14, 2008

Edward Hirsch: ON LOVE, "D.H. Lawrence"

Since most readers of “One Poet’s Notes” share a love for literature, particularly poetry, I sought to present today a post that acts as a sort of valentine, a note about one poet’s work frequently containing characteristics of physical and emotional love combined with a passion for poetry and a literary ardor. I felt I would recommend a writer whose poetry often unabashedly admits to giving critics cause to pause and consider the risk he exhibits when he explores the sharp edges separating emotion and sentimentality.

Indeed, when literary critics discuss the tenuous balance between genuinely evocative emotional poetry and a distracting tendency toward sentimentality among some contemporary American poets, the name of Edward Hirsch occasionally arises. Throughout his career, Hirsch has written different types of poetry—at times in relaxed and intimate language, elsewhere sounding more formal and seemingly a bit distant. However, in most of his poetic experiments Edward Hirsch’s emphasis often has been placed upon poems that appear to promote his long-held personal preference for characteristics attached to the Metaphysical poets or associated with Romantic lyrics.

Hirsch first admired the Metaphysical poets when he was a young man. In a Kenyon Review interview with Tod Marshall from Spring 2000, Hirsch once commented: “I loved (and still love) the way that intellect and feeling come together in the work of John Donne, Andrew Marvell, and others. I love the wild ingenuity of their best conceits. George Herbert was also a poet who was important to me.” Later, Hirsch adopted an affection for the more Romantic mode of poetry displayed by Wallace Stevens, as well as his predecessors like Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, and Shelley: “I felt and still feel much closer—in terms of the passions of poetry—to Keats and Shelley, who give such high priority to emotion. Intensity is all.”

Readers will note that priority on emotion and attempt to exhibit intensity in Hirsch’s poetry, and for some these traits may provide a subject for debate. Although complimented for the passion one might find in his poetry, Hirsch also has endured criticism for the ease with which he may present emotion. As he has acknowledged, his “style has not always met with critical approval.” The mixed reception for his poems might be detailed in statements by David Wojahn reviewing Wild Gratitude (“Hirsch’s tenderness sometimes threatens to become merely ingratiating”) and Stephen Dobyns reviewing The Night Parade (“Too many poems become sentimental or seem willed rather than come from the heart”).

Nevertheless, most critics have praised Hirsch’s heartfelt messages and his ability to control the tone in his poetry, evoking emotion while conveying credible and compelling circumstances within well-written lines. In addition, readers ought to appreciate Hirsch’s daring and willingness to address emotion so openly in his poetry. Perhaps the most obvious collection in which Hirsch displays this determination would be his 1998 volume, On Love. In this book, Hirsch delivers a typically experimental series of meditations on the emotional and physical aspects of love through the use of monologues supposedly spoken in the voices of two-dozen well-known literary figures—such as Charles Baudelaire, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oscar Wilde, Federico Garcia Lorca, Gertrude Stein, and others—after whom the poems are titled.

Describing the series in the Kenyon Review interview, Edward Hirsch confided how he blended intellect and emotion in these pieces: “There’s a dialectic in the poems between separation and fusion, between autonomy and blur, between the lover and the beloved. The voices of the speakers in the poems are ways to think about love. Each one represents some aspect of love . . .. I don’t think they are exactly dramatic monologues because I don’t think you are meant to believe that the previous historical voices are really speaking. I think you see the poet peeking through the mask, speaking through the voice. It’s a little like a drag show where you put on different voices and costumes and they allow you to get at certain feelings and emotions. At the same time, each one tries to be as true as possible to the voice that the poet is inhabiting.”

Hirsch concluded that his compilation of poems in various voices was meant to “offer some kind of encyclopedic portrait of modern love.” Therefore, as today is Valentine’s Day, I thought I would revisit the poems included in On Love and share an example from the book’s extended sequence of love poems, show one work that combines intellect and emotion, physical lust and a literary passion, “D. H. Lawrence,” which Hirsch has mentioned as representing “a wildly Dionysian ethic”:


A Short History of Love

After the sweet red wine and the dry lecture,
“The History of Love in Western Imagination”
(history is loveless without imagination)
we could not abide another listless lecture

and so we slipped into the castle library
and pushed highbacked chairs against a door
that refused to lock (so jam the door!)
and knelt to each other in the library.

I confess my fear of patrolling watchmen;
you seemed courageous and sure, as always:
I have learned to adore your myriad ways
of taking us back into man and woman . . .

And when we lay naked among the books,
the bookshelves enclosed a sacred garden
for Adam and Eve safely restored to Eden,
ourselves immersed in a paradise of books.

Edward Hirsch has expressed his ongoing love for literature, particularly poetry, in a book of commentary, How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry, published by Harcourt in 1999. He continues to serve as an ardent advocate for poetry, and readers can view a full video of Hirsch delivering a lecture presentation on poetry at Wellesley College, with a closing question and answer period, at the WGBH web site.

Edward Hirsch is the author of a half-dozen volumes of poetry, including Wild Gratitude, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award. In addition, he has received numerous honors, including the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award, the Prix de Rome, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Award, the American Academy of Arts & Letters Award for Literature, and a MacArthur Fellowship.

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