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

Thursday, July 22, 2010

On Edward Hopper's SUMMER EVENING

Edward Hopper was born on this date (July 22) in 1882. Perhaps no American painter’s works have inspired as many poets as Hopper’s have for more than half a century now. The ambiguously evocative nature of scenes and situations depicted in Hopper’s art seems perfectly suited for ekphrastic poetry, ideal for the invention and interpretation available in poetic language.

Many poets also identify with the locales or atmosphere presented in Hopper’s paintings. As Mark Strand has noted in the initial section of Hopper, his book-length commentary on more than thirty artworks by the iconic American painter: “I often feel that the scenes in Edward Hopper paintings are scenes from my own past. It may be because I was a child in the 1940s and the world I saw was pretty much the one I see when I look at Hoppers today. It may be because the adult world that surrounded me seemed as remote as the one that flourishes in his work. The clothes, the houses, the streets and storefronts are the same.”

“Summer Evening: Truro, 1947” represents my contribution to the extended collection of poems inspired by Hopper’s art. This poem responds to Hopper’s Summer Evening and it reflects researched records of Hopper’s attitude toward painting such circumstances.


. . . . . I have never been able to paint
. . . . . what I set out to paint.
. . . . . . . . . . —Edward Hopper

Sometimes, I never consider putting figures in
. . . . . until I actually start painting:

none ever appears in their preparatory sketches.
. . . . . I’d prefer to leave them out.

As an illustrator, I was always taken by archaic
. . . . . shapes of architecture or remnants

of ancient nature, but the editors wanted fiction—
. . . . . people placed on the page, waving

their arms about. And even today, as late summer
. . . . . rain again blurs these scraps

of landscape that now fill our window—the sprawl
. . . . . of pasture, thickening grassland

spilling toward those low rolling hills beyond
. . . . . a shallow pond—I also think

once more of an earlier August night in Nyack,
. . . . . though not so very long ago,

and how those lovers I thought I saw embracing
. . . . . on a neighbor’s lawn remain,

somewhat vaguely in my faulty recall, shaded
. . . . . beneath wind-shaken limbs

of an old oak, while its serrated silhouette is still
. . . . . traced distinctly in my mind

against an implausible light of stars yet drifting
. . . . . across a moonless sky. If only

truth were so easy to depict with such details;
. . . . . nothing I know, I can assure

you, is really like the scene I remember here.
. . . . . Instead of invented narratives,

I’d hope viewers notice contrast caused by sunlight
. . . . . brightening an empty room,

the bleaching of a beachfront cottage facade
. . . . . under summer’s noonday flare,

or the softening of solid objects during dusk.
. . . . . Thus, I must mix imagination

with any of my memories. I find, in working,
. . . . . always the disturbing intrusion

of elements not a part of my most interested
. . . . . vision. So, I will fill this spare

setting the way I often have before: the couple
. . . . . are now outside a closed door

and caught in another conversation that cannot
. . . . . be heard by anyone else; each

leans back supported by a front porch ledge;
. . . . . the bare floor of this porch

is squared by glare of an overhead light forming
. . . . . corners; the horizontal slats

of stark white siding are sliced by sharp lines edging
. . . . . a window sash or door frame;

twin entrance columns are darkened, wedged
. . . . . in shadow; the walkway approach

to the porch steps is lost in nightfall’s black border.
. . . . . After all is done, some may say

the young woman in this painting appears unhappy
. . . . . or reluctant and the young man

seems to be offering an explanation or attempting
. . . . . persuasion, that these two represent

tension and express discontent we’ve all experienced.
. . . . . But I know none of this is true.

Although others can endlessly speculate about
. . . . . the troubled lives of both figures,

their personal story was not a real concern for me
. . . . . nor what I most wanted to show.

It is an exercise in composition and form: merely light
. . . . . streaming down, the night all around.

. . . . . —Edward Byrne

[“Summer Evening: Truro, 1947” appears in my latest book of poems, Seeded Light (Turning Point Books, 2010).]


Maureen said...

I'd love a book that contained at least one the poems of all the poets who've ever written about Hopper's art. Yours is a keeper!

yobeb said...

i love poems but i could not create one. hopefuly i can have idea with this idealistic of yours