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, March 31, 2011

Opening Day Poetry

Today is the opening day for baseball season. As a kid growing up in New York who loved playing baseball (see photo), the first day of baseball, which usually occurred at least a week into April, always seemed to be the real beginning of spring, its poetic unveiling. However, over the past few decades the major leagues have pushed the start of their season back until now it happens on the final day of March. Despite predictions of a possibility for rain and snow this afternoon, the first pitch of 2011 is scheduled to take place at Yankee Stadium. Weather permitting, I will be watching the game from the comfort of my own home, but I will be thinking of all those folks braving the cold in the Bronx and sitting in the stands, which also brings to mind John Updike’s poem, “Tao in the Yankee Stadium Bleachers.”

I will also be thinking back to those early spring days when I would oil my baseball glove to soften it after a long winter on the top shelf of a bedroom closet. I will recall the sound of the ball popping each time I snagged an infield liner or backhanded a hot ground ball during practice, as I awaited my own season normally still at least a few weeks away. I will be looking forward to milder weather in Indiana when my son Alex and I will be able to visit the nearby baseball field, actually visible from Alex’s bedroom window and throughout the frigid winter months always a reminder of summer warmth.


Distance brings proportion. From here
the populated tiers
as much as players seem part of the show:
a constructed stage beast, three folds of Dante’s rose,
or a Chinese military hat
cunningly chased with bodies.
“Falling from his chariot, a drunk man is unhurt
because his soul is intact. Not knowing his fall,
he is unastonished, he is invulnerable.”
So, too, the “pure man”—“pure”
in the sense of undisturbed water.

“It is not necessary to seek out
a wasteland, swamp, or thicket.”
The opposing pitcher’s pertinent hesitations,
the sky, this meadow, Mantle’s thick baked neck,
the old men who in the changing rosters see
a personal mutability,
green slats, wet stone are all to me
as when an emperor commands
a performance with a gesture of his eyes.

“No king on his throne has the joy of the dead,”
the skull told Chuang-tzu.
The thought of death is peppermint to you
when games begin with patriotic song
and a democratic sun beats broadly down.
The Inner Journey seems unjudgeably long
when small boys purchase cups of ice
and, distant as a paradise,
experts, passionate and deft,
hold motionless while Berra flies to left.

—John Updike

Readers are invited to visit a couple of previous posts about baseball: “Baseball and Poetry: David Citino”and “David Bottoms: 'Sign for My Father, Who Stressed the Bunt.'”

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