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

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Richard Hugo: "Death of the Kapowsin Tavern" (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 those 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.”

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, Alfred Corn, Robert Creeley, James Dickey, Alan Dugan, Stuart Dybek, B.H. Fairchild, Alvin Feinman, Allen Ginsberg, Louise Glück, Marilyn Hacker, 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, Sandra McPherson, James Merrill, W.S. Merwin, Frank O’Hara, Marge Piercy, Robert Pinsky, Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich, Grace Schulman, Anne Sexton, Charles Simic, Louis Simpson, Dave Smith, W.D. Snodgrass, Gary Snyder, Gary Soto, 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, Howard Nemerov, and Richard Wilbur, among others—appear just outside the selected dates.

Consequently, I have decided to present a regular Contemporary Poetry Series on “One Poet’s Notes” exemplifying poetry by the individuals mentioned above, displaying a sample piece from each author as an introduction and an invitation for readers to seek further works by the poet featured. The chosen poems might not represent the most famous or most highly regarded pieces by every one of these poets, because many of those are already well known to readers or are 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.

Today, I offer a poem by Richard Hugo.


I can’t ridge it back again from char.
Not one board left. Only ash a cat explores
and shattered glass smoked black and strung
about from the explosion I believe
in the reports. The white school up for sale
for years, most homes abandoned to the rocks
of passing boys—the fire, helped by wind
that blew the neon out six years before,
simply ended lots of ending.

A damn shame. Now, when the night chill
of the lake gets in a troller’s bones
where can the troller go for bad wine
washed down frantically with beer?
And when wise men are in style again
will one recount the two-mile glide of cranes
from dead pines or the nameless yellow
flowers thriving in the useless logs,
or dots of light all night about the far end
of the lake, the dawn arrival of the idiot
with catfish—most of all, above the lake
the temple and our sanctuary there?

Nothing dies as slowly as a scene.
The dusty jukebox cracking through
the cackle of a beered-up crone—
wagered wine—sudden need to dance—
these remain in the black debris.
Although I know in time the lake will send
wind black enough to blow it all away.

—Richard Hugo

Richard Hugo (1923-1982) served as a bombardier in Europe during World War II. After the war he studied with Theodore Roethke at the University of Washington, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, then worked for more than a decade as a technical writer at Boeing. His first book of poems, Run of Jacks, appeared in 1961. Among his many later collections of poems, readers might find such fine examples as The Lady in Kicking Horse Reservoir (1973), What Thou Lovest Well Remains American (1975), 31 Letters and 13 Dreams (1977), and Death of the Kapowsin Tavern (1985),

Hugo began a new career teaching English and creative writing in the early 1960s at the University of Montana, where he remained for nearly two decades and developed a reputation as an extraordinary mentor for young poets. His poetry often reflects an appreciation for the Northwest region, especially those small-town locations or forgotten farmhouses that evoke a sense of loss or longing.

His teaching technique and his fondness for such settings combined in his production of The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing, a 1979 book containing practical advice for composing poetry that has influenced many authors in following generations. Indeed, in a previous piece about Richard Hugo on “One Poet’s Notes” I presented a section of his advice on triggering the imagination in which Hugo states: “I suspect that the true or valid triggering subject is one in which physical characteristics or details correspond to attitudes the poet has toward the world and himself. For me, a small town that has seen better days often works.”

Consequently, I select here “Death of the Kapowsin Tavern,” which appears a perfect example demonstrating such a type of Hugo’s work. In addition, as I was preparing today’s page, I recalled the evening in October of 1982, still in graduate school at the University of Utah, when whispered words shared the news of Richard Hugo’s death. My fellow poets and I were at our usual Friday night spot, a dark and dingy tavern named The Twilite Lounge, where we would drink bad watered-down beer, shoot pool with our bets on the table edge, punch numbers on the jukebox for the same songs over and over, and discuss writing, often quoting Hugo’s lines of poetry or tidbits of advice, until closing time in the early morning hours or we were too groggy to continue. That night the pitchers of warm beer were all bought for repeated toasts to Richard Hugo in honor of his vision of so many places much like the one in which we found ourselves.

In “Richard Hugo: Getting Right,” a lovely essay from Dave Smith’s Local Assays: On Contemporary American Poetry (University of Illinois Press, 1985), Smith writes about the individuals from Hugo’s poems frequently found in Western taverns or saloons: “These are survivors. They gather in bars and cantinas within the fellowship of shared vision and frontier virtues: courage, loyalty, self-reliance, tolerance, affection—what one expects from home. Bars become, as in 'Death of the Kapowsin Tavern,' recognizably home as well as 'the temple and our sanctuary.'”

[Readers also are invited to visit other posts about Richard Hugo: “Richard Hugo’s Letter to Charles Simic” and “An Elegant Epigraph: Richard Hugo on Triggering the Imagination.”]

1 comment:

Marinela said...

Thanks for sharing this article!