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

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

“Revision by Lamplight”

Yesterday, I participated in an annual university event that I count among my favorite activities during the academic year. I was invited to read a poem at the campus gathering designed to celebrate various accomplishments of more than two dozen student writers throughout the spring and fall semesters. Some have won awards for poems, short stories, or essays; others have seen their work published in journals or as parts of books.

I am always pleased by the communal recognition given to these young writers, a number of them from my current creative writing classes or past courses I have taught. Since the act of writing usually takes place in solitude and, even when published, the works are encountered by readers in isolation, I appreciate this rare opportunity to witness beginning writers receiving public acknowledgment and acclaim for their pieces, having their efforts openly reaffirmed by an audience. Indeed, beyond viewing the students’ names in the printed program or observing them collect the prizes handed to each one, I especially enjoyed watching the authors accept words of congratulation, encouragement, and praise presented to them by friends, family, or faculty during a reception following the reading.

When I had been asked to read one of my poems for the occasion, I immediately knew what I would select. “Revision by Lamplight,” which appears in Seeded Light, explores the solitary process of writing, the way I normally compose a poem, moving from idea or abstraction to images and actions—developing an exact language that also carries connotations or exhibits metaphor invoking additional implications. The lines also suggest how my poems try to derive elements of atmosphere, tone, rhythm, or lyricism from the descriptions of scenes and objects. Moreover, the poem highlights the importance of revision, which I repeatedly emphasize to my students.

As a student myself, I had been advised by my creative writing teachers that every poet ought to write a poem about the process he or she knows so intimately, maybe even produce some sort of contribution to the tradition of ars poetica. Perhaps this piece qualifies as my humble offering.


. . . . . Images are not quite ideas,
. . . . . they are stiller than that . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . —Robert Hass

Most of my time I’ve spent trying to find
. . . . . ways to state natural facts about abstract

thoughts with word images on a page,
. . . . . knowing to save only those ideas I felt

at least I needed. Then, late at night
. . . . . under lamplight when reading aloud

what lines I have written, I listen for their
. . . . . lessons I still seem incapable of learning—

hoping to obtain the wisdom I desire.
. . . . . Instead, I always seem to find myself

distracted while revising, seeing again
. . . . . another language present its sentence

with something as simple as the rhythm
. . . . . of rainfall or a whisper of wind outside

my window, where aligned hundred-watt
. . . . . bulbs of house security lights are now

shimmering and shining up from those
. . . . . shallow puddles offering their own bright

reflections as guides in the dark, replacing
. . . . . this night sky’s far array of missing stars.

. . . . . —Edward Byrne

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