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

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Marilyn Hacker Reviewed By Zara Raab

When the latest issue of Valparaiso Poetry Review was released last month, this blog’s notice reported that the journal had undergone a transition to updated software and a new format. In the process, the many changes created a number of challenges. However, I was pleased the appearance of VPR’s Fall/Winter 2010-2011 issue (Volume XII, Number 1) occurred almost without any problems. Nevertheless, one glitch occurred; although Zara Raab’s review of Marilyn Hacker’s Names could be viewed on most browsers, it was not visible for users of Safari. When I contacted my technical advisor at the university about this error, I was informed “the page contained a bunch of junk code,” which now has been eliminated.

Consequently, I would like to use this opportunity to bring the review by Zara Raab to everyone’s attention:

“How are you American?”

Marilyn Hacker is an American poet with deep roots in Europe and friendships with poets, living and dead, past and present, in places like Pakistan, St. Petersburg, and Paris. English is this poet’s mother tongue, but as she says, “it travels” (51). An American by “language, economic determination” (68), she has New York City, where she studies Arabic in a café with the young Palestinian-American poet Deema Shehabi; but as a Jew, she also has diaspora. Given that in the years of the second Bush presidency with war in Iraq and Afghanistan,

‘God Bless America’ would be blasphemy
if there were a god concerned with humanity (50)

the poet longs for asylum or exile—but where is there a place on earth not torn by war or oppressed by despots?

Names is in part a ghazal of longing for a better—more just—country than the one “our” America has become. Even if you do not share Hacker’s vision of justice, these poems are well worth the effort in their power of imagery and metaphor, in their skill and complexity of form. Names is also a book about writing—words, names—and about the Writer’s Life—the risk, danger, and sacrifice. It’s about the daily lives of those who choose not simply to experience life, but to distill that experience. Against the diasporan poet’s need to travel, there is a corresponding need for “staying put” that

Provides the solidest
Comfort as daylight diminishes at four:
The street becomes, again, a palimpsest
Of hours, days, months and years that came before
And what is better was, and what is best
Will be its distillation. (21)

She is aware of the power and misuse of power writers wield, when “a speechwriter drafts the ukase / which, broadcast to a military base, / sends children and their city up in flames.” (31) Of the large cast of writers in Names, each has a mission, whether it’s the Algerian novelist Kateb Yacine, or the novelist Nathalie Sarraute working underground as a journalist for the French Resistance. Above all, Hacker connects to the political and personal risks of speaking out—exile, imprisonment, death—as well as the paranoia of living in a repressive society. . . .

[I invite readers to examine the rest of the review, and I hope all visitors will also browse the entire new issue of Valparaiso Poetry Review. In addition, I remind readers that VPR: Valparaiso Poetry Review, a Facebook fan page, has now been established, available to all on the Internet, whether or not they have Facebook accounts. Therefore, visitors are invited to record their enthusiasm for the journal by becoming a fan of Valparaiso Poetry Review.]


Maureen said...

Thank you for making this review available in full. It's a wonderful reading of Hacker's work.

Anonymous said...

Marilyn Hacker is one of the most important American poets of our generation, a national treasure. Thank you for the review. Yvette Christianse