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, March 8, 2009

John Ashbery: "Forties Flick" (Contemporary Poetry Series)

In a past “One Poet’s Notes” article, “Rating Great Poets and Considering Contemporary Concerns,” explaining my views on that remarkable generation of poets born between the end of World War I and the end of World War II that may be credited with redirecting the course of poetry in the second half of the twentieth century, I listed 50 individuals of some significance and influence who contributed to the collective effect that group has had on American literature. In my article, I suggested: “Just as the modernists transformed poetry in the first half of the twentieth century, those poets born predominantly between the world wars shaped a transition toward today’s postmodern situation. Indeed, as individual volumes such as Eliot’s Waste Land and Stevens’s Harmonium impacted poetic direction in the country following the time of their publication, so too did particular collections by John Ashbery, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, W.D. Snodgrass, Mark Strand, James Wright, and others.” At the time, I wrote:

I find an amazing array of figures on the roster of poets, including the following born between 1923 and 1943: A.R. Ammons, John Ashbery, John Balaban, Marvin Bell, Robert Bly, Luicille Clifton, Robert Creeley, James Dickey, Alan Dugan, Stuart Dybek, B.H. Fairchild, Allen Ginsberg, Louise Glück, Donald Hall, Michael S. Harper, Robert Hass, Richard Hugo, Donald Justice, Galway Kinnell, Carolyn Kizer, Kenneth Koch, Maxine Kumin, Denise Levertov, Philip Levine, John Logan, William Matthews, Walt McDonald, James Merrill, W.S. Merwin, Frank O’Hara, Marge Piercy, Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich, Anne Sexton, Charles Simic, Louis Simpson, Dave Smith, W.D. Snodgrass, Gary Snyder, Gerald Stern, Mark Strand, Lucien Stryk, C.K. Williams, Charles Wright, and James Wright. Additional significant poets—Gwendolyn Brooks, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Larry Levis, Robert Lowell, and Richard Wilbur, among others—appear just outside the selected dates.

Consequently, I have decided to present a regular series on “One Poet’s Notes” exemplifying poetry by the 50 individuals mentioned above. Over the course of time I intend to display a sample piece from each author as an introduction and an invitation for readers to seek further works by the poet featured. For lack of a better title, the series simply will be known as the Contemporary Poetry Series. The poems I will choose may not represent the most famous or most highly regarded pieces by every one of these poets, because many of those might already be well-known poems to readers or too long for adequate presentation in this space; however, I hope the selections will offer a feel for one style of writing or concentration on subject matter readers might find characteristic in each poet’s collected work.

Since the article that began my compilation was initiated somewhat by a discussion about John Ashbery, I will begin with him and his poem, “Forties Flick,” the first sample work proposed for consideration in the “One Poet’s Notes” Contemporary Poetry Series:


The shadow of the Venetian blind on the painted wall,
Shadows of the snake-plant and cacti, the plaster animals,
Focus on the tragic melancholy of the bright stare
Into nowhere, a hole like the black holes in space.
‘In bra and panties she sidles to the window:
Zip! Up with the blind. A fragile street scene offers itself,
With wafer-thin pedestrians who know where they are going.
The blind comes down slowly, the slats are slowly titled up.

Why must it always end this way?
A dais with woman reading, with the ruckus of her hair
And all that is unsaid about her pulling us back to her, with her
Into the silence that night alone can’t explain.
Silence of the library, of the telephone with its pad,
But we didn’t have to reinvent these either:
They had gone away into the plot of a story,
The “art” part—knowing what important details to leave out
And the way character is developed. Things too real
To be of much concern, hence artificial, yet now all over the page,
The indoors with the outside becoming part of you
As you find you had never left off laughing at death,
The background, dark vine at the edge of the porch.

—John Ashbery

Readers are urged to listen to John Ashbery reading “Forties Flick.”

John Ashbery is the author of nearly two-dozen books of poetry, the latest release being the Library of America publication, John Ashbery: Collected Poems 1956-1987 (2008). Other recent volumes by Ashbery include Notes from the Air: Selected Later Poems (2007), A Worldly Country (2007); Where Shall I Wander (2005); Chinese Whispers (2002); Your Name Here (2000); Girls on the Run: A Poem (1999); Wakefulness (1998); Can You Hear, Bird (1995); And the Stars Were Shining (1994); Hotel Lautrémont (1992); Flow Chart (1991); and April Galleons (1987).

Over the years John Ashbery has won almost all the major American awards offered for poetry. A Wave (1984) was honored with the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (1975) received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Some Trees (1956) was selected as a winner of the Yale Younger Poets Prize. He also has been awarded the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets; the Gold Medal for Poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; the Robert Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America; the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize from Poetry, the Modern Poetry Association, and the American Council for the Arts; the Bollingen Prize for Poetry from Yale University Library; the Harvard Arts Medal from Harvard University; and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. Among a number of awards offered by other countries, such as France and Belgium, last year John Ashbery was the International Prize winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize in Canada.

Additional articles concerning John Ashbery on “One Poet’s Notes” may be found at the following: “John Ashbery, Pierre Martory, and Jackson Pollock,” “John Ashbery and Fairfield Porter,” “John Ashbery: 'Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror,'” “Poet of the Year: John Ashbery,” “John Ashbery: 'My Philosophy of Life,'” and “Poetry, Painting, and Economy: Rothko, Warhol, and Ashbery.”


Bruce Oksol said...

I am thrilled to see this: the Contemporary Poetry Series. I am looking forward to your thoughts on these poets. If they were born between 1923 and 1943, it means they were probably writing between 1940 (assuming they started writing/published in their late teens/early twenties) and 2000, with much of their growing up actually occurring during WWII. And yet, I doubt much of their poetry will actually be about the war; poetry is very, very personal. It should be fascinating to watch. I wonder if you will be able to put their writing into context with other writers of this age; how much poetry changed during this period; etc.

Anonymous said...

Good idea.

Think I'll do the same thing at my own blog - except to put the focus on Contemporary Poets who use meter and rhyme.


Edward Byrne said...

Thanks, Bruce. I think some of the examples will display clearly how their influence on one another and elsewhere changed poetry during the post-World War II period. I am thinking of Ginsberg, Lowell, and Snodgrass as one instance or Ashbery, Koch, and O'Hara as another. There are a number of others as well.

Patrick: Many (if not most) of the poets on my list, some more than others, do write in meter, rhyme, and traditional forms, including Ashbery. John was my teacher, and he always emphasized poetry is not an either/or proposition. You might check out the title poem from SOME TREES, which I cited in the post, as just one example for his use of rhyme:


Alfred Corn said...

This list seems too much based on fame (with a couple of exceptions). I wouldn't make that comment except that other posts and comments made on this blog have pointed out the unreliability of fame as a guide for permanent value. By the way, a comment I made several days ago in response to Patrick (on the Lowell and "greatness" blog entry) didn't get posted, so I went back and sent it in again.

Edward Byrne said...

Hi, Alfred:

I based my arbitrary and obviously incomplete list mostly upon the date of birth for those poets I knew had some influence and significant critical attention, which might translate to a type of "fame," but not the sort we were discussing I don't think.

Also, I was not suggesting "permanent value" for any individual. Indeed, in my previous post I recommended "caution against pronouncements of greatness about anybody, even those we may believe worthy and whom we widely admire among present-day poets, including a designation of John Ashbery as great by David Orr." That is why I commented upon honoring the "collective generation" rather than any individual.

By the way, I have only now discovered your birth date is 1943 and just barely fits at the edge of the artificial timetable I'd set; therefore, I will add your name to the list. If you have additional nominees you think I should consider, please let me know.

Anonymous said...

//Many (if not most) of the poets on my list, some more than others, do write in meter, rhyme, and traditional forms, including Ashbery. John was my teacher, and he always emphasized poetry is not an either/or proposition.//

Hi Edward,

I don't think I implied that your list of poets didn't. And I don't see meter and rhyme and free verse as being in opposition. I'm not partisan on the subject, though I *do* have preferences.

Free verse is capable of great poetry.

Rephrase: My statement that I would focus on poets of meter and rhyme was not meant to be a criticism of your choices.

I saw Alfred's comment and responded. Orr's article and responses continues to fascinate me.

Alfred Corn said...

Thanks, Ed. And to Patrick for commenting on the earlier post under Lowell. Yep, I fall within the date cutoffs of Ed's honor roll. Just outside them, along with Wilbur, is Howard Nemerov. Within it are Alvin Feinman, Marilyn Hacker, Sandra McPherson, Robert Pinsky, Grace Schulman, and Gary Soto.

I can't speak for others on the list, but, putting aside aspirations to Greatness (and accompanying ridicule), I'd settle for the Will Continue To Be Read category.