POETRY FROM PARADISE VALLEY

POETRY FROM PARADISE VALLEY
Click Image to Visit the Pecan Grove Press Web Page for Poetry from Paradise Valley

POETRY FROM PARADISE VALLEY web page

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, July 10, 2008

Giorgio de Chirico: Painting Poetic Images


I often have written about the relationship existing between poetry and painting. Repeatedly, I have discussed various similarities in perspective and portrayal one might find among the works of these two linked forms of expression. Today, I’m reminded once more of the ties connecting poets and painters, as I recall that Giorgio de Chirico, one of the artists usually most closely associated with poetry, was born on this date (July 10) in 1888.

The years during which de Chirico’s career seemed to reach its peak—the decade between 1910 and 1920—correspond with a time period most important to the development of modernism. Certainly, the symbolism, cubist angles, and dreamlike atmosphere in de Chirico’s pieces produced during this stretch of his life resemble examples set forth by contemporaries known as modern masters. However, de Chirico’s paintings depart significantly from the paths followed by others, and the distinctiveness of his artwork remains unmistakable.

In the early segment during this stage of development, de Chirico received support for his work by poet and art critic Guillaume Apollinaire, an originator of surrealism who labeled de Chirico’s composition style as “metaphysical landscape.” Apollinaire, whose portrait Giorgio de Chirico once painted, even assisted in creating some of the poetic titles for de Chirico’s strange yet seductive scenes. Indeed, some of the best known works—with titles like The Poet’s Muse, The Uncertainty of the Poet, The Disquieting Muses, Nostalgia of the Infinite, Melancholy and Mystery of a Street, The Philosopher’s Conquest, The Anguish of Departure, The Anxious Journey, and The Philosopher and the Poet—consciously allude to the literature of poetry and philosophy when arranging an atmosphere to be considered in the viewers’ minds.

Although the streets, squares, and statues frequently seen within the frames of his paintings are commonly drawn from real locations, particularly in Turin, where de Chirico spent many of his days during this period, and the symbolic images are adopted from past aspects of his childhood or adapted from other memories of his personal biography, the artist’s poetic depiction of the objects suggests a more mysterious and almost otherworldly environment. In fact, the nearly complete absence of human figures from the imaginative landscape creates an even greater edginess and unique sense of uneasiness despite the seemingly serene mood or static setting on the canvas. Moreover, the cold presence of statues or incomplete sculptured profiles in a number of de Chirico’s works further emphasizes an absence of people in this apparently urban environment.

John Ashbery, whose early and enigmatic book of poetry, The Double Dream of Spring, derives its title from a de Chirico painting, once wrote in Newsweek while reviewing a retrospective exhibition of the artist’s work: “Like Picasso, Gertrude Stein, Guillaume Apollinaire, and others who played vital roles in the astonishing artistic ferment in Paris on the eve of World War I, de Chirico was a displaced person. He was born in 1888 to Italian parents in Greece, where his father worked as a civil engineer designing railroads in the province of Thessaly. (Childhood memories of the Greek landscape and the tools of his father’s profession were to haunt the painter’s canvases throughout his life.)” Perhaps Ashbery’s appreciation for de Chirico is enhanced by the poet’s own recollection involving feelings of displacement or a consciousness of absence experienced during his decade living and working in Paris.

Mark Strand—whose background includes formal studies in painting, publications of art criticism, and creation of his own artwork—represents another contemporary author who has produced poems one might identify as influenced or inspired by Giorgio de Chirico, and whose style of writing contains characteristics parallel to those displayed in de Chirico’s paintings. Both figures regularly include in their works images that might be characterized as surrealist or fanciful—equally engaging and enigmatic.

The situations the two depict seem serene yet somehow suggest a submerged tension. Strand’s poems and de Chirico’s paintings often emphasize a sense of absence or at least an aloneness that invites contemplation, especially since the tranquil surface appears as a camouflage for possibly more difficult circumstances. Even the repetition of particular details associated with each man’s works appears to initiate feelings of familiarity, while hinting at interpretations that might imply changes ahead with some puzzling or troubling conclusions. Strand and de Chirico enjoy arresting time within the scenes they describe, as if to halt the possibilty of any dangerous changes or to avoid the reality of mortality, and their landscapes play on contrasting light and dark with foreshadowing figures or objects occasionally cloaked by the lengthening shadows looming in evening.

In The Shock of the New, Robert Hughes’ critical yet entertaining examination of modernism’s rise and enduring impact on culture, the author explains a typical impression left upon viewers by a de Chirico painting during those years of the decade coinciding with World War I: “It is an airless place, and its weather is always the same. The sun has a late-afternoon slant, throwing long shadows across the piazzas. Its clear and mordant light embalms objects, never caressing them, never providing the illusion of well-being. Space rushes away from one’s eye, in long runs of arcades and theatrical perspectives; yet its elongation, which gives far things an entranced remoteness and clarity, is contradicted by a Cubist flattening and compression.”

In his Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of poetry, Blizzard of One, Mark Strand offered two poems responding to artworks by Giorgio de Chirico. Both poems are formal, written as villanelles, and were commissioned by a pair of art museums. In an interview about the inception of the two pieces and the formal choice he made, Strand once stated: “The Art Institute [of Chicago] asked a number of writers to choose a painting from their collection to write a prose piece or a poem about. Around the same time, the University of Iowa Museum asked me for something along the same lines. Iowa had a de Chirico and so did Chicago. So I thought I’d give it a try, and I decided on the form of a villanelle. The lines keep coming back, and in de Chirico’s paintings you have the same things coming back, the flags, the towers, the boats, the trains, the shadows, long shadows. So I chose the form that I thought came closest to the painting’s spirit.”

Strand’s poem written about The Philosopher’s Conquest [pictured above], produced in 1914 and housed at The Art Institute of Chicago, originally appeared in Transforming Vision: Writers on Art, a 1994 anthology edited by Edward Hirsch that presented ekphrastic pieces responding to works in the museum’s collection. This poem, particularly with its clever repetition and richly achieved resonance afforded by the constant rhyme in the villanelle form, eloquently and compellingly combines the power of de Chirico’s painting with the persuasiveness of Strand’s lyrics. Consequently, the piece demonstrates how poetry and painting may best be blended, and it marvelously exemplifies ekphrastic poetry, presenting an excellent interlocking of words and images:

THE PHILOSOPHER’S CONQUEST

This melancholy moment will remain,
So, too, the oracle beyond the gate,
And always the tower, the boat, the distant train.

Somewhere to the south a Duke is slain,
A war is won. Here, it is too late.
This melancholy moment will remain.

Here, an autumn evening without rain,
Two artichokes abandoned on a crate,
And always the tower, the boat, the distant train.

Is this another scene of childhood pain?
Why do the clockhands say 1:28?
This melancholy moment will remain.

The green and yellow light of love’s domain
Falls upon the joylessness of fate,
And always the tower, the boat, the distant train.

The things our vision wills us to contain,
The life of objects, their unbearable weight.
This melancholy moment will remain,
And always the tower, the boat, the distant train.

—Mark Strand

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