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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

Monday, July 20, 2009

Forty Years Later: "Moonlight in the City"

On this date forty years ago (July 20, 1969) the Apollo 11 astronauts landed on the Moon. There are few occasions in the chronicles of civilization that as clearly and immediately exemplified the ability of humans to achieve great accomplishments. Many regarded the lunar landing as one of the crucial events that mark and divide all of history. Indeed, after viewing Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking along that desolate and cratered surface appearing in ghostly images on television screens across the country and around the world, a nation’s shared pride seemed to indicate little remained impossible any longer, and one might think the distant perspective of Earth’s blue jewel—as seen in photographs from its satellite nearly a quarter-million miles away—almost certainly would contribute to a greater humility among all humanity. In fact, when they departed, the astronauts left behind a plaque declaring: “Here men from Earth first set foot upon the Moon July 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”

Nevertheless, despite the magnificent achievement demonstrated by a human presence on the Moon, as well as subsequent incredible advances in space technology, the luster of such a moment appears to have dimmed in the decades since then. Perhaps due to NASA’s abandonment of manned travel to the Moon or beyond, and maybe because the continual parade of scientific and technological discoveries over the following years has somehow overshadowed the daring exploration by those Apollo astronauts, the significance and impact of their brave adventure apparently now needs to be reintroduced to new generations.

Certainly, since that night I have always perceived the lunar expedition as symbolic of new hope and the possibility for a brighter future, as well as other critical elements of emotion. At the same time, I remember considering contrasts discerned between the close-up picture of footprints created by men loping over the pristine lunar surface and some difficult scenery evidenced among the everyday environment of my own urban neighborhood. Consequently, in my poetry I have drawn from memories of that day four decades ago, particularly in the following piece, which perhaps appropriately also happens to be the opening poem for my new collection, Seeded Light, due out from Turning Point Books in October. Therefore, an apt and timely preview of poetry from the new volume:


One July evening when I was eleven,
not a block from the waterfront, the day

yet hot, I waited by myself in the middle
of a vacant lot and watched as a fresh wash

of moonlight began to flow over rooftops,
and the sky beyond dust-covered billboards

just started to fill with clustered stars.
The splintered grids of far-off apartment

fire escapes glittered against their backdrop
of red brick as if lit by the flick of a switch.

In this distance, even the paired lines
of elevated train tracks, stretching like bars

along the edge of the shore, appeared
to shine, and those symmetrical rows

of windows on the warehouses below
seemed almost to glow. Warning lights

pulsed all along the span of that great
bridge over the river, as hundreds of bright

buds suddenly stippled those rippling
waters now deepening to the blue of a new

bruise. Steel supports wound around
one another into braided suspension cables

dipping toward either end and glinting
beneath that constellation still slowly

showing in the darker corridor overhead.
Already, I could see the outlines of lunar

topography, and I thought of that old
globe my grandfather had once given me

only days before he died—of how
I’d felt its raised beige shapes representing

the seven continents, and of the way
he told me he’d been to every one of them.

Somewhere in the city, summertime
sounds—the high screams of sirens

and muffled bass thumps of fireworks—
played like the muscular backup music

pumping from some local garage band.
But I stood listlessly under sharp-angled

shadows cast by street lamps, among
an urban wreckage of broken cinder blocks

and glistening shards of shattered panes,
and I listened to the wind-clank of chain-link

fencing around that grassless plot of land,
knowing that night my father was far away

again, driving deliveries along an interstate,
and my mother was sitting alone at home,

as were her neighbors, awaiting the first
broadcast of a man walking on the moon.

—Edward Byrne

[First appeared in Greensboro Review]


Marinela said...

Nice poem,I enjoyed reading it!!!!!!!!!!!

Patricia Fargnoli said...

beautiful poem Ed....it made me think of Stanley Kunitz's rooftop one ....it has a similar lyricism and light.