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 21, 2008

Revisiting the Gotham Book Mart and Greg Rappleye's FIGURED DARK

When I read news reports last week about the disposition of contents from the defunct Gotham Book Mart, I recalled a few observations since its closing, which I noted here last year. At the time, I remarked upon the storied history of the bookstore, and spoke a bit of my personal recollections from those days I frequently browsed the shop’s shelves or when I attended readings and publication parties, including that for John Ashbery’s Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror, as well as an occasion for one of my own collections of poetry. In addition, I recalled Frances Steloff, the legendary owner of the Gotham Book Mart and continuing presence until her death in 1989 at the age of 101.

In that previous article I lamented the loss of such an historical literary place, oddly positioned on West 47th Street. Then, I wrote: “the shop was unusual in many ways, including this literary gem’s location in the center of the midtown diamond district, surrounded by wholesale outlets and appraisers of precious stones. Walking down 47th Street’s narrow passageway of storefront windows glittering with valuable gems and expensive jewelry, one would suddenly come upon the famous sign above the Gotham Book Mart’s entrance, Wise Men Fish Here,’ a reminder to all that the title alluded to a nursery lyric inspiration for the bookstore’s name—L. Frank Baum’s ‘Three Wise Men of Gotham’ from the Mother Goose rhymes.”

Moreover, I wondered what would become of its vast and unique inventory. However, due to the good fortune of an anonymous donor’s intervention, the Gotham Book Mart Collection will find a new location at the University of Pennsylvania Rare Book and Manuscripts Library. In addition, Penn Libraries plans a complete inventory of the collection’s contents will be made available through Franklin, the library’s online catalog, and particular materials will be digitized to make them accessible to all.

The Gotham Book Mart Collection contains more than 200,000 items, which one news article described as “primarily focused on modern and contemporary poetry and literature, but also encompassing art, architecture, jewelry, music, dance, theater, drama, and film. The collection includes many first editions, books from small presses, experimental literary magazines, outsider literature published by Black Sparrow Press, poetry published by St. Mark's Church, books from the personal libraries of Truman Capote and Anais Nin, proofs, advance copies, pamphlets, photographs, posters, reference works and catalogs, broadsides, prints, postcards, and items signed by Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Robinson Jeffers, Woody Allen, Wallace Stevens, and John Updike.”

In my writings from last year, I included the following picture, a famous photograph taken inside the Gotham Book Mart, and I detailed its content. Taken November 9, 1948, during a reception at the Gotham Book Mart for Dame Edith & Sir Osbert Sitwell (seated in the center). Clockwise, they are surrounded by W.H. Auden (seated on the ladder), Elizabeth Bishop, Marianne Moore, Delmore Schwartz, Randall Jarrell, Charles Henri Ford, William Rose Benet, Stephen Spender, Marya Zaturenska, Horace Gregory, Tennessee Williams, Richard Eberhart, Gore Vidal, and José Garcia Villa.

Coincidentally, at the end of last year the University of Arkansas Press released a wonderful book of poems by Greg Rappleye, Figured Dark. This excellent collection was published near the close of 2007, perhaps too late to be considered by many for their lists of best poetry books for the year. Although most readers would have encountered the volume in 2008, it does not qualify for this year’s lists either because of its publication date.

Nevertheless, I must state Figured Dark was among my favorite poetry books read during the last twelve months. Rappleye’s poems invite readers to engage in contemplations on various topics, such as the beauty and fragility of nature, the value of life and living while acknowledging aging and mortality, the poet’s appreciation for language and admiration of other arts. Rappleye’s work exhibits an ear for lyricism and an eye for detail; yet, the words flow so smoothly that they often imitate an intimate conversation with a wise and concerned companion frankly confiding his thoughts. Figured Dark is a book of poems to which I have returned repeatedly and enjoyed reading throughout the past year.

Therefore, I am pleased to use this opportunity to revisit and recommend to all Greg Rappleye’s poetry and to connect his voice with the ongoing narrative about the Gotham Book Mart through this marvelously appropriate poem, “Rainy Afternoon at the Gotham Book Mart,” one of the fine pieces in Figured Dark and one that aptly seems reminiscent of some works by a distinctly New York poet, Frank O’Hara:


The sign reads Wise Men Fish Here
and away from the slanting rain
is a miraculous draught of books:
old novels, first editions, an entire wall
of poetry. The center table spills over,
as if a trawler has just dropped
a thousand titles onto a raised deck.
I find Allen Tate’s Collected,
an anthology of Czech poets
in face-on-face translations
and a print of the famous photograph,
“A Collection of Poets”—the reception
in 1948 for Edith and Osbert Sitwell.
They are posed center-left
at the rear of this narrow room,
for what Elizabeth Bishop called “a party
in a subway train,” circled by Stephen Spender,
Marianne Moore, Tennessee Williams,
the famous and the now-neglected others.
To the right, that’s Bishop and Randall Jarrell,
in the foreground, Delmore Schwartz,
all in the shadow of Auden, who has draped himself,
Christ-like, across a black stepladder.
I’ve seen the article from Life,
with its gushy Sitwell headlines:
“They Sprang From a Famous Family,”
“They Brave New York,” six pages
spread among the adverts for Minit Rub
and Studebaker, for Lucky Strikes
and Apple Pyequick. This print
is one exposure after the one in Life.
See for yourself—this head turned,
a poet’s arm raised. Jarrell and Bishop,
who’ve been discussing Rilke, now look
stage-left and out of the frame, as if
already seeking an exit. Schwartz,
who interrupted them to press
some obscurity with Jarrell,
has gone slack jawed,
as if he’s just foreseen the years to come.
I go back to the shelves, where I find
Delmore Schwartz: Life of an American Poet,
with its 1961 photo: Schwartz, seated
in Washington Square—
destitute, averting his eyes,
his cigarette held in the familiar style,
a tabloid, headline screaming
tossed beneath the bench.
I pay for the books, the famous print,
and for an extra dollar, buy a plastic sleeve
to keep it safe, then step through the jangle-bell door
into the rain on West Forty-seventh—The rain
that slants from the crowded light, The rain
of pour and pouring down,—a storm
that Bishop told us Will roar all night.

—Greg Rappleye


Unknown said...

Thank you for this. I very much appreciate your kind comments about Figured Dark, and I will miss the Gotham Book Mart.

sexy said...
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