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, May 2, 2009

Carol Ann Duffy Chosen Poet Laureate in Britain

Carol Ann Duffy has been named the new Poet Laureate in Britain, a post first held by John Dryden in 1668 during the reign of Charles II. Other notable poets who have held the position include William Wordsworth, Alfred Lord Tennyson, John Masefield, Robert Bridges, John Betjeman, and Ted Hughes. Until recently, the appointment as laureate was for a lifelong term; however, during the Tony Blair administration, the period of service was changed to ten years for each poet. In the 441-year history of the laureateship, Duffy stands as the first woman poet to be selected, something she considered in her deliberation about accepting the role as Poet Laureate, stating: “my decision was purely because there hasn’t been a woman and I kind of look on this as a recognition of the great women poets we now have writing, so I’ve decided to accept it for that reason."

The Scottish-born poet, originally from Glasgow, was considered a finalist for the honor in 1999, when Andrew Motion was chosen. Some news reports indicated she was overlooked at the time because she is openly gay. Although well known in England among readers in both academic circles and the general public, many in the United States are not as familiar with Duffy and her work. Indeed, Duffy’s reputation as a poet who writes lines that are accessible and often witty or satirical may make her a suitable pick for the position, which sometimes involves composition of pieces for public occasions and national events.

In addition to her authorship of more than twenty books of poetry, Carol Ann Duffy (who was born in 1955) has produced picture books for children, as well as popular and critically acclaimed plays. Her collections of poetry have received the Somerset Maugham Award for Selling Manhattan (1987); the Whitbread Poetry Award and the Forward Poetry Prize for Mean Time (1993); and the T.S Eliot Prize for Rapture (2005). Also, she has been the recipient of an Eric Gregory Award (1984), a Cholmondeley Award from the Society of Authors (1992), the Dylan Thomas Award from the Poetry Society (1989), and a Lannan Literary Award from the Lannan Foundation (1995). She was awarded an Order of the British Empire in 1995 and a Commander of the British Empire in 2001. She was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1999.

Duffy once declared “no self-respecting poet” would create verse for birthdays and weddings of nobility; yet, the job usually includes such activities. However, Duffy has commented that she will be more selective in the reasons she writes her poetry during her tenure. She once observed: “I wouldn’t publish anything that didn’t feel true to me as a person and as a poet. You never know when poetry will come. I once felt impelled to write about the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. But I wouldn’t like to write about royal events that don’t have that initial energy.”

Last year, Duffy’s poetry became a center of controversy and debate when one of her works, “Education for Leisure,” included in many school anthologies was removed from the education system’s syllabus as a possible subject for examination questions after complaints about the poem’s focus on teenage violence. The poem depicts a troubled teenager who engages in violent behavior, including a suggested knifing incident, which worried a number of parents or school administrators that had witnessed a spree of knife crimes in society. Duffy, who viewed the poem below as an educational tool that was anti-violence perfect for educating young people and initiating discussion about the topic, responded to the commotion over her piece by composing a typically witty poem that listed possible exam questions about the violence evident in a number of Shakespeare’s plays.


Today I am going to kill something. Anything.
I have had enough of being ignored and today
I am going to play God. It is an ordinary day,
a sort of grey with boredom stirring in the streets
I squash a fly against the window with my thumb.
We did that at school. Shakespeare. It was in
another language and now the fly is in another language.
I breathe out talent on the glass to write my name.
I am a genius. I could be anything at all, with half
the chance. But today I am going to change the world.
Something’s world. The cat avoids me. The cat
knows I am a genius, and has hidden itself.
I pour the goldfish down the bog. I pull the chain.
I see that it is good. The budgie is panicking.
Once a fortnight, I walk the two miles into town
For signing on. They don't appreciate my autograph.
There is nothing left to kill. I dial the radio
and tell the man he’s talking to a superstar.
He cuts me off. I get our bread-knife and go out.
The pavements glitter suddenly. I touch your arm.

—Carol Ann Duffy


Bruce Oksol said...

From Scotland! Awesome. The best writers and thinkers are British, and the best British writers and thinkers are Scottish. (Ted Hughes was from Yorkshire, so far north of London, on the Scottish border, that he was Scottish for all intents and purposes.)

The English are the financiers. But the Scots are the explorers, the writers, the thinkers.

knott said...

you can delete this if you like, but maybe your readers might be interested in this post from my now-defunct blog:

appreciation: Duffy's "TERZA RIMA SW19"

I think Carol Ann Duffy is the best contemporary British poet. Here's a beautifully-crafted early sonnet of hers, which vividly contrasts/connects the human and natural realms:


Over this Common a kestrel treads air
till the earth says mouse or vole. Far below
two lovers walking by the pond seem unaware.

She feeds the ducks. He wants her, tells her so
as she half-smiles and stands slightly apart.
He loves me, loves me not with each deft throw.

It could last a year, she thinks, possibly two
and then crumble like stale bread. The kestrel flies
across the sun as he swears his love is true

and, darling, forever. Suddenly the earth cries
Now and death drops from above like a stone.
A couple turn and see a strange bird rise.

Into the sky the kestrel climbs alone
and later she might write or he might phone.


(Vole (I had to look it up) is defined by the Oxford American Dictionary as: "any of several small animals resembling rats or mice." A kestrel is a small falcon. SW19: "Mostly Wimbledon, a classy suburb" of London.) (Note: Duffy did not include this in her Selected Poems (1994), nor in her New Selected Poems (2004).)

. . . Notice how effective the internal rhymes that Duffy uses are. In the first stanza, how "Far" echoes "earth" and "air." See the connections of: over—vole—below—lovers. And the el-sounds in: kestrel—till—vole—bel/ow—wal/king. Then: pond—un/aware.

Further down in the poem, find these: half—deft; crumble—stale—kestrel; love—for/ev/er —above. The alliterations of: Common—kestrel —walking.

In lines 1-11, this progression of verbs: treads—walking—stands—crumble—drops. Line 4, the link of 'feeds' and 'wants.'

The repetition in lines 1-9: lovers, loves, loves, love. How this last use of 'love' is followed so closely by 'death.'

In the third stanza the k-sounds reoccur: crumble— kestrel— a/cross; and then, in line 13, sky—kestrel—climbs. Line 14 is full of internal rhymes: late/r—might—write—might; she—he.

The connection between the wild kestrel and the tamer ducks, both wanting to feed, on 'mouse' or 'stale bread.'

Thread the verbs of communication down through the poem: says—tells—swears—cries—write—phone (contrast the first four present active verbs with the future conditional verbs of the final line).

Is the final verb assigned to her, "write," more distant than his verb, "phone"?

The "two lovers" (l. 3) don't dialogue: her response to his telling her he wants her (l. 4) is to half-smile and stand slightly apart (l. 5) and to silently say to herself (silently, I assume, since the italics here are also used to indicate the unvoiced words of "the earth"), He loves me, loves me not with each deft throw of stale bread to the ducks (l. 6).

It could last a year, she thinks to herself, possibly two (l. 7). He persists and swears his love is true (l. 8) and, darling, forever (l. 9).

Still, she won't speak; she won't even voice her doubts about his promised "forever." Instead the earth cries Now (the needs of now take precedence to the vows of forever) and death drops (lines 10-11).

They turn as one (a couple) to see a strange bird rise (l. 12) Why strange: as opposed to the domesticated ducks? Strange because its predatory interruption has somehow estranged them?—

To the temporary coupling of two it has introduced the terrible coup of its thirdness? Its terza has rima'ed them apart.

This deus ex machina dropping down 'like a stone' has shattered and split and left them each "alone" (l. 13).

The K's and L's and I's and E's have it: Into the sKY the KestreL CLImbs aLone / And Later shE mIght wrIte or hE mIght phone.

(The kestrel is alone presumably because it has swallowed its prey. What we devour is no longer 'apart' (l. 5) from us.)

('Apart' is the only endword in the poem which has no counterpart rhyme, a choice made probably for deliberate emphasis and reinforcement of the theme.)


knott said...

the italics she uses so brilliantly didn't make the software leap——

Anonymous said...

Homely poets write in form...