Poet C. D. Wright, a one-of-kind major force in poetry, died on January 12, 2016——a shock to those who knew of her work, and a loss to the poetry world. This obit in The New Yorker by Ben Lehrer tells the story.
It’s impossible to select “representative” work for her, since her poetic style changed in dramatic ways over her career, so the best I can do is post a poem I like.
Everything Good between Men and Women
By C. D. Wright
has been written in mud and butter
and barbecue sauce. The walls and
the floors used to be gorgeous.
The socks off-white and a near match.
The quince with fire blight
but we get two pints of jelly
in the end. Long walks strengthen
the back. You with a fever blister
and myself with a sty. Eyes
have we and we are forever prey
to each other’s teeth. The torrents
go over us. Thunder has not harmed
anyone we know. The river coursing
through us is dirty and deep. The left
hand protects the rhythm. Watch
your head. No fires should be
unattended. Especially when wind. Each
receives a free swiss army knife.
The first few tongues are clearly
preparatory. The impression
made by yours I carry to my grave. It is
just so sad so creepy so beautiful.
Bless it. We have so little time
to learn, so much… The river
courses dirty and deep. Cover the lettuce.
Call it a night. O soul. Flow on. Instead.
My poem, “Edna Hong’s Bread,” is a semifinalist in the Naugatuck River Review Narrative Poetry Contest, with Patricia Fargnoli as judge. It will be published in the winter issue of the magazine (print), which should be out soon. This is, for me, huge! And a lovely surprise. For subscription and other information about the Naugatuck River Review, please check their website. A great venue for narrative poetry!
The latest Raintown Review, a fantastic issue, includes my review of Dante’s Vita Nova, translated by Andrew Frisardi. I can’t copy it here (yet), but suffice it to say that this is a superb translation of Dante’s first book, devoted mainly to the subject of love, in which we are introduced to Beatrice, with whom he was in love, and who became, in a transformation of the nature of his love in the the very text of this “little book,” the exalted central inspirational figure in his masterpiece, the Paradiso. The text contains both poetry and prose, and Frisardi’s skills as a poet, particularly in the type of poetry Dante wrote, really bear fruit here. The introduction and notes present fascinating background info written quite engagingly. More information can be found here, where the book can also be purchased.
One of the most unique of poets, Christopher Middleton, prolific, with a style so varied one could never quite pin it down but always eminently readable and energetic, died on November 29, 2015, in Texas, at the age of 89. British-born, he served in WWII in the RAF, and moved to Texas in 1966 where he taught Germanic languages at UT Austin and literature for 32 years. So he was an award-winning translator as well as a major poet in English. Here is a sample of his work:
The Paradox of Jerome’s Lion
By Christopher Middleton
Local his discourse, not yet exemplary,
Nowadays he is old, the translator,
So old he is practically transparent.
Good things and otherwise, evils done
Come home to him, too close to the bone
And so little transformed,
Him so transparent,
They float in and out of his window.
Killing fields and the pumpkin patch,
The combat boot putrid in a cherry tree,
Stroke on stroke the mortal build-up,
All the constraint, all the letting go,
So insistent in his attentions
That he needs a breathing block.
For lack of a monitor he might levitate,
The testy old bird, at his wondow;
He needs an animal, a sure thing,
One to imagine, at last. Speechless
As bedrock, a rough reminder of that.
A dog might be vigilant enough,
Intact, all heart, a yellow desert dog.
Avoirdupoids. A leopard? Markings
Regular, talons to swat
Any hurt away. Knowing
Hunger, not the greed. Sufficient
Unto itself, svelte, clean of limb;
Free through self-discipline, yes,
Yes, through self-discipline free,
And fierce, yet doing no violence
The wild by right he will restore
To a holy place, in time.
For want of that sort of a beast,
He might make do with a frog.