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

Sunday, December 28, 2008

An Elegant Epigraph: Richard Hugo on Triggering the Imagination

As a new year approaches only days away and many are seeking inspiration to complement their resolutions to write more poetry, perhaps this is the perfect time to remind all of Richard Hugo’s wonderful book, The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing, that has aided many among the past few generations of poets. In particular, today I highlight a bit of Hugo’s commentary on selecting subject matter for poetry:
“The initiating subject should trigger the imagination as well as the poem. If it doesn’t, it may not be a valid subject but only something you feel you should write a poem about. Never write a poem about anything that ought to have a poem written about it, a wise man once told me. Not bad advice but not quite right. The point is, the triggering subject should not carry with it moral or social obligations to feel or claim you feel certain ways. If you feel pressure to say what you know others want to hear and don’t have enough devil in you to surprise them, shut up. But the advice is still well taken. Subjects that ought to have poems have a bad habit of wanting lots of other things at the same time. And you provide those things at the expense of your imagination.

“I suspect that the true or valid triggering subject is one in which physical characteristics or details correspond to attitudes the poet has toward the world and himself. For me, a small town that has seen better days often works. Contrary to what reviewers and critics say about my work, I know almost nothing of substance about the places that trigger my poems. Knowing can be a limiting thing. If the population of a town is nineteen but the poem needs the sound seventeen, seventeen is easier to say if you don’t know the population. Guessing leaves you more options. Often, a place that starts a poem for me is one I have only glimpsed while passing through. It should make impression enough that I can see things in the town—the water tower, the bank, the last movie announced on the marquee before the theater shut down for good, the closed hotel—long after I’ve left. Sometimes these are imagined things I find if I go back, but real or imagined, they act as a set of stable knowns that sit outside the poem. They and the town serve as a base of operations for the poem. Sometimes they serve as a stage setting. I would never try to locate a serious poem in a place where physical evidence suggests that the people there find it relatively easy to accept themselves—say the new Hilton.

“The poet’s relation to the triggering subject should never be as strong as (must be weaker than) his relation to his words. The words should not serve the subject. The subject should serve the words. This may mean violating the facts. For example, if the poem needs the word ‘black’ at some point and the grain elevator is yellow, the grain elevator may have to be black in the poem. You owe reality nothing and the truth about your feelings everything.” — Richard Hugo

—From “Writing Off the Subject,” an essay in The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing by Richard Hugo (W.W. Norton, 1979).

[“An Elegant Epigraph” serves as the recurring title for a continuing series of posts with entries containing brief but engaging, eloquent, and elegant excerpts of prose commentary introducing subjects particularly appropriate to discussion of literature, creative writing, or other relevant matters addressing complementary forms of art and music. These apposite extracts usually concern topics specifically relating to poetry or poetics. Each piece is accompanied by a recommendation that readers seek out the original publication to obtain further information and to become familiar with the complete context in which the chosen quotation appeared as well as other views presented by its author.]


Matthew said...

great post, thanks for putting this up

Jana Bouma said...

This excerpt provides the perfect antidote to my struggle with some current subject matter. Thanks!