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, April 17, 2011

Susan Rich Reviewed by Rachel Dacus

The current issue (Spring/Summer 2011: Volume XII, Number 2) of Valparaiso Poetry Review was released this month, and the journal includes a review by Rachel Dacus of Susan Rich’s The Alchemist’s Kitchen.


What’s cooking in an alchemist’s kitchen? It can only be transformation, and Susan Rich’s third collection serves up some tasty conjurations indeed. The book’s three sections, “Incantation,” “Transformation,” and “Song” reveal her intentions: evocation, revelation, and music. In subjects that range from tulips to Sarajevo to ice cream, from terrorist training to mid-life romance, Rich proves herself a born traveler and a poet who can pack a lot into a lyric. As in her book The Cartographer’s Tongue, she spans history, war, politics, relationships, travels, and life-stages. This new book deepens and enriches her themes and raises the pitch of her musical language.

A poet of what might be called political empathy or compassionate witness, Rich writes about many tragic recent conflicts—in Sarajevo, Srebrenica, and Bosnia, to mention just a few. She writes with sensitivity and evocative detail about places most of us only encounter through the media. Rich brings authority to these topics because she has worked as a staff person for Amnesty International, an electoral supervisor in Bosnia Herzegovina, and a human rights trainer in Gaza and the West Bank. Rich has lived in the Republic of Niger, West Africa, and South Africa. Interestingly, she can locate the whole of the Middle East in a community college classroom, as she does in “Paradise Now at Highline Community College,” a poem that delicately explores the world of the suicide bomber through a student discussion in which “the black ash of question marks begin to rise / reluctantly above their freshmen heads.” Her sensitive observation shows the doubts these young men entertain about the righteousness of the bomber’s endeavor, as the questions “shiftshape some through to another side.”

In her travels, Susan Rich has seen the world’s heart to be selfish and compassionate by turns. With a strong musical sense and command of rhythms, she imparts the destruction and cruelty she has witnessed, and also the paradoxical beauty she found in even the most devastated scenes. In the stunning poem “What To Make of Such Beauty,” which is reminiscent of Elizabeth Bishop’s Brazil poems, she writes of the attack that destroyed the Sarajevo National Library by capturing small details of its aftermath: the pieces of pages that floated down in the same way that the destruction of New York’s Twin Towers released a shower of paper scraps. In bearing witness to cultural devastation, she recreates the beauty of what was lost, making literature out of the loss of literature . . . .

[Visitors are invited to read the rest of this review in the new issue of Valparaiso Poetry Review.]

1 comment:

Maureen said...

Excellent review of a wonderful collection, which I've read several times.