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

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Muriel Rukeyser on Poetry and Politics

In the final week before Election Day, “One Poet’s Notes” has been offering a daily series of diverse and differing views expressed in the past by well-known poets about the relationships they perceive between politics and poetry. For ages, connections between these two arenas of interest have been central to many debates concerning the proper place for poetry and other arts in discourse regarding decisions influencing actions responding to contemporary circumstances surrounding social or political issues, whether local or national.

Perhaps Walt Whitman’s famous line from the opening section of “Song of Myself” in Leaves of Grass remains a perfect starting point for any such examination and still stands as a succinct summation:

“The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem.”

Nevertheless, disagreements over the appropriateness or effectiveness of artists—particularly poets—engaging in overt political observations and recommendations (perhaps seeing such activity as an obligatory part of their professional position) or promoting social or political agendas in their works (maybe even if accomplished more subtly) continue with each round of elections, as well as during every controversial political occurrence or crucial social event that arises.

Some suggest poetry may be unable to address the most horrendous acts of our times, such as the Holocaust. Indeed, George Steiner and Theodor Adorno appeared to declare the atrocities of Auschwitz beyond the reach of poetry. Other figures, agree with the line in W.H. Auden’s poem, “In Memory of W.B. Yeats,” that claims “poetry makes nothing happen”; yet, readers also recall Auden authored the magnificent poem of political reflection, “September 1, 1939.” Of course, William Carlos Williams seemed to respond to Auden’s sentiment when he presented his opinion on the essential nature of poetry: "It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there."

Today’s commentary by Muriel Rukeyser comes from her book, The Life of Poetry, originally published in 1949 and reprinted by Paris Press in 1996.

Always our wars have been our confessions of weakness. They have not been like the individual’s need for confession to another person, but carried further and made grotesque. They have been like the cascades of guilt and self-punishment that certain psychotic criminals have been known to pour out before their judgment.

Those psychiatrists who have been working for more than adjustment in the individual have understood the role of confession. And we all have been aware that action, taken in time, is the child of appropriate response: we then stop fascism as it begins, taproot by taproot in our daily lives, and never need to go to war with each other, pouring out in death our bombs, our plagues, the men and women of our future.

The appropriate release of our decisive forces, and the confession carried to its most human chance. Do these have anything to do with war and peace? Do they have anything to do with poetry?

Confession to another person, to a priest or a psychiatrist, is full of revelation. The self-understanding that comes with the form, with the relation made among memory, conscience, and imagination, brings cure and forgiveness! These are the places where “sooth” and “soothe” meet; places of truth and healing. Confession to divinity, to the essential life of what one loves and hopes, on a level other than the human, is full of revelation. The detachment, here, from conscious and unconscious emotional values, has power to change one’s life.

But there is another confession, which is the confession to oneself made available to all. This is confession as a means to understanding, as testimony to the truths of experience as they become form and ourselves. The type of this is the poem; in which the poet, intellectually giving form to emotional and imaginative experience, with the music and history of a lifetime behind the work, offers a total response. And the witness receives the work, and offers a total response, in a most human communication.

Such action does release aggression; or, rather, the making of a poem is the type of action which releases aggression. Since it is released appropriately, it is creation.

For the last time here, I wish to say that we will not be saved by poetry. But poetry is the type of creation in which we may live and which will save us.

[Sunday, “One Poet’s Notes” will present an additional view on the relationship between poetry and politics by Stanley Kunitz.]

Other voices in the Poetry and Politics series:

Robert Pinsky
Stanley Kunitz
Howard Nemerov
Carloyn Forché

1 comment:

Usiku (oo-SEE-koo) said...

Poetry, if it is to be a true art form, which it is, must touch upon every aspect of life lived and life imagined.

If we can be saved, poetry will be on the front lines with its truths, insights and comparisons showing us another way.