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

Friday, April 24, 2009

Robert Penn Warren: "Pure and Impure Poetry"

Robert Penn Warren was born on this date (April 24) in 1905. Later this year will mark the twentieth anniversary of his death on September 15, 1989. Warren is best known for his fiction and poetry. Indeed, he is the only writer to have received the Pulitzer Prize in both genres—once in fiction for All the King’s Men (1947), and twice in poetry for Promises: Poems 1954-1956 (1958) and Now and Then (1979). However, Warren also excelled in expressing various significant perspectives in his essays of literary or social criticism. Furthermore, with Cleanth Brooks, he co-authored one of the most important and influential textbooks of modern critical study, Understanding Poetry, published in 1938.

Perhaps Warren’s most often cited passages of critical commentary are included in “Pure and Impure Poetry,” an article that began as a lecture in 1942, under the title “Pure Poetry and the Structure of Poems,” and appeared in the Kenyon Review the following spring. Later, it was included in Warren’s 1958 volume, Selected Essays.

“Pure and Impure Poetry” advocates in favor of an examination of concerns regarding conventional approaches to poetry. In this consideration of poetry, Warren asserts that the impure poem better reflects the complex conditions usually explored in examples of accomplished poetry. This perspective counters Edgar Allan Poe’s original notion of pure poetry, outlined in his essay titled “The Poetic Principle.” Poe believed that poetry ought to be compact and include only elevated language, and he suggested that long poems or poetry that does not limit itself to elegant language of lyrical intensity would be better presented in pieces of prose. Warren suggests the purity of poetry can be attained through poetic tactics that might be regarded as impure or appear contradictory to the notion of pure poetry. At the heart of Warren’s thesis, he states his case:

“Poetry wants to be pure, but poems do not. At least, most of them do not want to be pure. The poems want to give us poetry, which is pure, and the elements of a poem, in so far as it is a good poem, will work together toward that end, but many of the elements, taken in themselves, may actually seem to contradict that end, or be neutral toward the achieving of that end. Are we then to conclude that neutral or recalcitrant elements are simply an index of human frailty, and that in a perfect world there would be no dross in poems, which would, then, be perfectly pure? No, it does not seem to be merely the fault of our world, for the poems include, deliberately, more of the so-called dross than would appear necessary. They are not even as pure as they might be in this imperfect world. They mar themselves with cacophonies, clichés, sterile technical terms, headwork and argument, self-contradictions, cleverness, irony, realism—all things which call us back to the world of prose and imperfection.”

Robert Penn Warren, one of the great figures of twentieth-century American literature, was the author of many impressive works, including sixteen collections of poetry, ten books of fiction, more than a dozen books of nonfiction, and a play. He received just about every honor an American writer could achieve, including three Pulitzer Prizes, the National Book Award, the National Medal for Literature, the Bollingen Prize in Poetry, the Edna St. Vincent Millay Prize, the Van Wyck Brooks Award, the Emerson-Thoreau Award from the Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Copernicus Award from the Academy of American Poets, the Harriet Monroe Prize for Poetry, the Shelley Memorial Award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Hubbell Memorial Award from the Modern Language Association, and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. In 1944 Warren was appointed as Chair of Poetry at the Library of Congress, and in 1986 he was selected as the first official Poet Laureate of the United States.

[Readers are invited to visit previous posts at “One Poet’s Notes” concerning Robert Penn Warren: “Robert Penn Warren ‘Birth of Love’” and “Robert Penn Warren: ‘The Nature of a Mirror.’”]


Emily Cannon said...

Purity is polished away as we fit the words every which way. Tenacity; tools and technique, pedigree and passion, which of these matters most for the birth of pure poetry? I desire just one perfect pure poem - inspiration animated; it lives, whispers, dances in a perfect rhythm . . .

Big Robert Penn Warren Fan said...

I love that image of Robert Penn Warren. A true master of poetry, and one of my favorites