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, April 24, 2008

Jeffrey Frank on Zbigniew Herbert

The Spring/Summer 2008 issue of Valparaiso Poetry Review contains “Poetry and the Cosmopolitan," an essay by Jeffrey Frank on the poetry of Zbigniew Herbert. I am pleased to present here the work’s preface and a link to the rest of the essay.

Poetry and the Cosmopolitan: Zbigniew Herbert’s Collected Poems

In “Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism” Martha Nussbaum argues that patriotism causes moral blindness and should be supplanted by cosmopolitanism. Nussbaum's cosmopolitanism emphasizes rights and universal reason over loyalty to country or attachment to local cultures. The cosmopolitan must not let her attachments to country or local community blind her to her obligations as a citizen of the world. As a world citizen, she must strive—often a lonely and difficult process that leads to something like exile—to break down the prejudices that cause her to see humans from other countries or other communities as foreign, and hence beyond the purview of her ethical concern. Her cosmopolitan worldview is not determined by the country or the community that she is born into. Her worldview is ever-expanding and ever-growing. The goal of this process is that none of the varieties of human experience will be alien to her. Patriotism, for Nussbaum, hinders the development of this expansive worldview.

Nussbaum's cosmopolitanism is as inspiring as it is problematic. Reading the responses to her essay collected in For Love Of Country? one begins to see just how contentious an issue the cosmopolitan is. Reflecting on these responses, Jeremy Waldron writes “it is as though the critics always know exactly what to say, and what ancient terms of abuse to dust off and wheel out, whenever claims in behalf of humanity are put forward in opposition to traditional allegiances to blood, kin, and nation.” (1) This blow is meant to glance many of the respondents, but its real force is thrown at Robert Pinsky. I find this disappointing. Far from wheeling out old defenses, in “Eros Against Esperanto” Pinsky offers an alternative—though also a potentially complementary—framework for thinking about cosmopolitanism.

Rather than pitting patriotism against the cosmopolitan, Pinsky suggests that the patriotic impulse is founded on an eros of the local. Patriotism is not necessarily an infantile passion that adults blindly hang onto for fear of facing difference. Instead of looking at patriotism from the outside, Pinsky shows that when one seriously thinks about what it means to live as member of a country or a community, the meaning of patriotism changes. It is a complex passion that is as alluring as it is terrifying; near at hand and at the same time alien. To illustrate this point, Pinsky describes his experience of the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Dodgers are domesticated; an American institution; the object of simple passions. And yet when one looks closer, the Dodgers resemble the city they play in. Brooklyn is “historic and raw, vulgar and urbane, many-tongued and idiosyncratic, a borough of Hispanic blacks and Swedish carpenters, provincial enough to have its own newspaper yet worldly beyond measure.” (2) This insight into the dual-nature of the local teaches Pinsky that patriotism, far from being a simplistic passion that leads to blindness, is teaming with contradictory powers that are always in process. Because of its richness and complexity, Pinsky argues that one can do better than substituting an abstract concept of the cosmopolitan in its place. The eros of patriotism needs to be counterbalanced by an eros of the cosmopolitan.

Though Pinsky does not fully develop this counterbalancing eros, he creates a framework for its development by establishing two things. First, the cosmopolitan is an appealing concept, capable of generating its own eros. Rather than leading to the state of exile described by Nussbaum, cosmopolitanism may lead one to something like membership in a new yet unapproachable Brooklyn. Pinsky’s Brooklyn is premised on Emerson’s idea of America; a country taken by the romance of change and enamored with—and hence also afraid of—the possibility of drawing a new circle around the limited horizon of each accomplishment and each achieved idea. Second, though the cosmopolitan gains in appeal by becoming less abstract, it also gains complexity. A love relationship, though proximally close, always retains the distance of difference. The relationship teaches “how extreme an act of imagination paying attention to the other must be, in order to succeed even a little” (p. 88).

In this essay I will read Zbigniew Herbert’s poetry within Pinsky’s framework so as to begin developing an eros of the cosmopolitan. Though imposing an alien framework onto Herbert’s poetry may initially appear disquieting, I hope to dispel this feeling at the outset by showing how Herbert develops a similar framework for the cosmopolitan in his prose work. Thus instead of proving an arbitrary limitation to Herbert’s work, Pinsky’s framework will illumine cosmopolitan eros, while leading to an appreciation of unexplored aspects of Herbert’s poetry.

[Please read the rest of Jeffrey Frank’s essay on Zbigniew Herbert in the new issue of VPR.]

1 comment:

wholesale jewelry lots said...

Herbert in the light of Pinsky is a killer combination, there are definitely a lot of angles to consider and perhaps methods to follow as well.