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

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ernest Hemingway: The Writer's Life

When I prepared for my Ph.D. tests, the university required students to choose four major areas on which they would be judged through written and oral exams. As a poet, I selected three topics covering various periods in poetry: Elizabethan Lyric Poetry, Nineteenth Century Poetry, and Twentieth Century Poetry. However, for my fourth section I chose Ernest Hemingway and Modern American Fiction. That final choice resulted from advice that one should include a second genre as a change of pace in readings and as a way to make oneself more eligible for possible teaching positions. (Indeed, for similar reasons I completed an independent program in Film Studies.)

As it turns out, over the years some of my favorite courses to conduct have been my seminars on Hemingway, as well as related classes concerning William Faulkner and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The different rhythms of prose and the array of approaches in the narratives of fiction frequently offer to me a fresh perspective that later informs my views on various styles of poetry as well. In fact, snippets of scenes in the condensed short stories or the vignettes one finds in Hemingway’s writing sometimes resemble contemporary free verse or prose poem pieces.

However, on this date (July 21) that marks Hemingway’s birth in 1899, I am again reminded of the author but not by such concerns. Instead, I note the current controversy surrounding the release of a new version of A Moveable Feast by Hemingway’s publisher, Scribner—a text chronicling the author’s life and early writings in Paris that is listed as a “restored edition.” The debate concerning this volume can easily be seen in a couple of contrasting notices about the book’s appearance. In yesterday’s New York Times commentary, A. E. Hotchner, a close friend of Hemingway and author of books about the novelist, takes Scribner to task for its involvement, declaring the publisher has a duty, as “guardian of the books that authors entrust to them,” to preserve A Moveable Feast in the manner it was originally released. Although the book was published posthumously, Hotchner believes Hemingway’s intended work was maintained in the first edition since it did not differ from the pages he’d read about the writer’s life. He reports: Hemingway “gave me the completed manuscript of the Paris book to give to Scribner’s president, Charles Scribner Jr.”

The new version of A Moveable Feast has been edited by Sean Hemingway, the grandson of Ernest’s second wife, Pauline, who does not receive the most favorable treatment in the initial version. Indeed, in today’s issue of The Writer’s Almanac, the 1964 edition is described as having been fashioned by Hemingway’s fourth wife, Mary, who “edited extensively the memoir manuscript, patching stuff together from various sources. She included things he'd explicitly stated that he didn't want published, and excluded other parts of his unfinished memoir manuscript.” The Writer’s Almanac aligns itself with Sean Hemingway, a curator at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, who is described as correcting the record for his grandmother, “a woman who was much maligned in the edition of the memoir edited by Mary.”

In opposition, Hotchner claims: “Because Mary was busy with matters relating to Ernest’s estate, she had little involvement with the book.” He also suggests Mary did not create anything extra that the novelist did not wish to be included in his memoir. Instead, Hotchner labels the new book “a frivolous incursion.”

Writing, at its best, is a lonely life.

Apparently, readers will have to make up their own minds about this matter. Nevertheless, this debate and the newly edited version of A Moveable Feast should serve to spark interest in Hemingway once again, for both his writing and his life, which so many times seemed as dramatic or adventurous as those lives of the characters in the fictions he composed.

On his birth date, I’d prefer readers view another statement Hemingway presented about life and writing. In 1954 when Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, he informed the selection committee he could not attend the banquet to receive the honor due to health issues, and he issued a statement to be read at the Stockholm ceremonies by John C. Cabot, the United States Ambassador to Sweden:
Having no facility for speech-making and no command of oratory nor any domination of rhetoric, I wish to thank the administrators of the generosity of Alfred Nobel for this Prize.

No writer who knows the great writers who did not receive the Prize can accept it other than with humility. There is no need to list these writers. Everyone here may make his own list according to his knowledge and his conscience.

It would be impossible for me to ask the Ambassador of my country to read a speech in which a writer said all of the things which are in his heart. Things may not be immediately discernible in what a man writes, and in this sometimes he is fortunate; but eventually they are quite clear and by these and the degree of alchemy that he possesses he will endure or be forgotten.

Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer's loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.

For a true writer each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed.

How simple the writing of literature would be if it were only necessary to write in another way what has been well written. It is because we have had such great writers in the past that a writer is driven far out past where he can go, out to where no one can help him.

I have spoken too long for a writer. A writer should write what he has to say and not speak it. Again I thank you.

Ernest Hemingway later recorded his speech, the audio of which is available.


Trée said...

"out to where no one can help him"

I think this thought will remain with me for all my days. Thank you for posting. Thank you for sharing.

John Guzlowski said...

I'm re-reading Farewell to Arms for the first time in about ten years, and what I find really interesting is how smooth the writing in.

Since reading it last, I've started writing fiction, and writing fiction I've discovered how difficult it is to write fiction. For me one of the most difficult things is transitioning, moving from scene to scene, moving from character to character.

Reading Hemingway is an education in transitioning. Smooth.

But it's only one of the things he does very well. Dialogue, scene structure, character development, plotting--all are super, and I think writers will probably always be looking to Hemingway for writing lessons.

Lyle Daggett said...

One of my early poetry writing teachers (my last year in high school, 1971-72) told us that Hemingway (at some stage or other during his life) would habitually write for eight hours a day, and that he would write standing up because he had a bad back.

Hart Crane was born the same day as Hemingway, also on July 21, 1899. It's always struck me as a somewhat startling coincidence, in light of the fact that they both ended their lives in suicide.

My own writing has mainly been poetry, and I've never made any serious attempts at writing fiction. But there's much in Hemingway's writing that I've deeply enjoyed.

I read someplace once that Hemingway rewrote the last page of For Whom the Bell Tolls something like 17 times. When some interviewer asked him what the difficulty was, he said "Getting the words right."

Probably the passage in Hemingway that has moved me the most, that I go back and read from time to time just to hear it and feel it again, is the last paragraph of chapter 4 of The Sun Also Rises. It's the paragraph that ends, "It is easy enough to be hard-boiled about everything in the daytime, but at night it is another thing."