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

Friday, May 23, 2008

Hart Crane: THE BRIDGE

Having been raised in Brooklyn, I knew the image of the great suspension bridge spanning the East River to Manhattan for many years before I ever read Hart Crane’s famous long poem, The Bridge. Inspired by that imposing structure the poet could see from his boardinghouse window in 1923—forty years after the Brooklyn Bridge’s opening on May 24th of 1883—Crane began writing his tribute in verse, creating a metaphor for various aspects of American power and excitement. Influenced by works of Walt Whitman and T.S. Eliot, Crane’s poem itself served as a bridge between nineteenth- and twentieth-century poetic sensibilities, connecting the past with the present, introducing the Romantic spirit and an emotional optimism to the complex intellectual or technical elements of modern poetry, joining ambition with ambiguity.

Crane’s vision of the modern city as depicted by the bridge linking Brooklyn with Manhattan could be seen as a complement and a contrast to Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” which had envisioned the same scene a decade before construction of the bridge began in 1869. One might also attach Crane’s Brooklyn Bridge to T.S. Eliot’s London Bridge in The Waste Land, while noting the differing tones presented by the two poets in their depictions of modern society.

As a boy, already I associated the extended steel cable strands and familiar stone arches of the Brooklyn Bridge with visits to Manhattan. Although Brooklyn and Manhattan are both boroughs of New York City, my friends and I always referred to family trips across the river as journeys into “the city.” When we were children, we would imagine what sort of different and magical existence people experienced among those towering buildings looming on the other side of the river. We frequently considered the Brooklyn Bridge as some mysterious entrance into a distant world of wealth and sophistication.

Only in history classes would we learn about the drama and difficulties encountered during the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. Designed by John A. Roebling—who died in 1869 due to an on-site accident before the actual assembly began in 1870—and with work subsequently supervised by his son, Washington Roebling, the process from excavation to erection of the bridge took nearly fifteen years and cost almost thirty lives, apparently including that of an Irish immigrant named Matthew Byrne. Washington Roebling also suffered injuries and poor health from working on the site when he experienced caisson disease (decompression sickness), and he had to oversee the last stages of construction as an invalid watching, as Crane later would, from a bedroom window overlooking the river.

Like the construction of the bridge, Hart Crane’s composition of The Bridge required a number of years to complete. Crane’s original inspiration and initial writing of lines occurred in 1923; however, the sequence of sections that make up the long poem was not finished until 1930. In addition to serving as a striking image symbolic of America in Crane’s poem, with its beauty, grace, and subtle strength the Brooklyn Bridge has continued as an icon of the nation it represents and repeatedly has held an emotional appeal for the American people and American artists, whether seen in a Joseph Stella painting or within a Woody Allen film. Additionally, the Brooklyn Bridge has appeared as a familiar and appealing backdrop in all other areas of creative expression or commercial enterprise throughout the twentieth century (and now, beyond into the twenty-first century), almost always evoking from audiences an array of sentiments, including admiration, awe, and affection.

As the 125th anniversary of the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge is upon us, perhaps this is an appropriate moment for readers to revisit The Bridge, beginning with the following proem Hart Crane offered in his extended work:


How many dawns, chill from his rippling rest
The seagull's wings shall dip and pivot him,
Shedding white rings of tumult, building high
Over the chained bay waters Liberty—

Then, with inviolate curve, forsake our eyes
As apparitional as sails that cross
Some page of figures to be filed away;
—Till elevators drop us from our day . . .

I think of cinemas, panoramic sleights
With multitudes bent toward some flashing scene
Never disclosed, but hastened to again,
Foretold to other eyes on the same screen;

And Thee, across the harbor, silver-paced
As though the sun took step of thee, yet left
Some motion ever unspent in thy stride,—
Implicitly thy freedom staying thee!

Out of some subway scuttle, cell or loft
A bedlamite speeds to thy parapets,
Tilting there momently, shrill shirt ballooning,
A jest falls from the speechless caravan.

Down Wall, from girder into street noon leaks,
A rip-tooth of the sky's acetylene;
All afternoon the cloud-flown derricks turn . . .
Thy cables breathe the North Atlantic still.

And obscure as that heaven of the Jews,
Thy guerdon . . . Accolade thou dost bestow
Of anonymity time cannot raise:
Vibrant reprieve and pardon thou dost show.

O harp and altar, of the fury fused,
(How could mere toil align thy choiring strings!)
Terrific threshold of the prophet's pledge,
Prayer of pariah, and the lover's cry,—

Again the traffic lights that skim thy swift
Unfractioned idiom, immaculate sigh of stars,
Beading thy path—condense eternity:
And we have seen night lifted in thine arms.

Under thy shadow by the piers I waited;
Only in darkness is thy shadow clear.
The City's fiery parcels all undone,
Already snow submerges an iron year . . .

O Sleepless as the river under thee,
Vaulting the sea, the prairies' dreaming sod,
Unto us lowliest sometime sweep, descend
And of the curveship lend a myth to God.



Thanks for the Hart info and Bridge excerpt. Im doing a piece about The Bridge and needed to refresh a few things.

Mike Valentine


Cidade Alta said...

It is valid to point out that the book originally had photographs by Walker Evans, the great American photographer.

Crane was the one who asked Evans for the photographs, which were done much in a Constructivist aesthetic.

Later, Evans would consider them too romantic.