what poetry are you reading

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my *selected berryman* showed up last night and man

those fuckin sonnets

"Maybe our safeties…come for our risk’s sake."

i have the new brutal HOOS if you want it (BIG HOOS aka the steendriver), Thursday, 6 February 2014 16:26 (six years ago) link

aw i'm just about to pick up dream songs, from the library, cause i never tended to berryman much
& then i read something last week on a blog that knocked me for six, like wow

& i didn't post the ceravolo poem because it was too simple, out of context
like you needed the mess of the whole thing
he is really interesting!, i think. maybe because sometimes i am cruising this sorta in-love-with-eileen-myles wave of tumblr poetry that takes this elemental small-scale form as a template but has this maybe predictable voice?, now, like there's not a solipsism but a fixed reach to it? a formula by which it roams. & the ceravolo is crazy, it's like frank o'hara free jazz, i can't believe he gets so far with so little, eschewing so much, relying on you so much
maybe i'll post it later

mustread guy (schlump), Thursday, 6 February 2014 17:55 (six years ago) link

ah yeah i just read that one last night too, damn near devoured the whole little selected in a few hours

so much to chew on

i have the new brutal HOOS if you want it (BIG HOOS aka the steendriver), Thursday, 6 February 2014 19:01 (six years ago) link

those fuckin sonnets

I'm an admirer of Berryman's sonnets, too. He leaves enough of the trad structure intact that it frees his sense of language, imagery and ideas to climb forward, and his plays against the trad sonnet structure gain extra weight because they are so deliberate.

Aimless, Thursday, 6 February 2014 19:02 (six years ago) link

i got halfway through this great long thing on berryman on the bus home last night, stopped reading to start reading the selected, then picked it back up and realized the whole thing is sort of a long-form review of the selected itself. happy accident.

i have the new brutal HOOS if you want it (BIG HOOS aka the steendriver), Thursday, 6 February 2014 19:04 (six years ago) link

man sharon olds' the dead and the living just came in and i tried to read a bit of it before bed

fuckin mistake.

just awful dark stuff, not meant for the pillow.

mary karr's viper rum is winning me over though. every third one or so is a gut punch, like a slightly unstiffened O'Connor. and i like my O'Connor just fine.

i have the new brutal HOOS if you want it (BIG HOOS aka the steendriver), Wednesday, 12 February 2014 21:10 (six years ago) link

This has a lovely cover, but the prose poems it consists of did nothing for me.
I found them facile and pseudo-profound (the nod to Khalil Gibran in Lydia Davis's introduction should have tipped me off), but plenty of people disagree with me.

ornamental cabbage (James Morrison), Thursday, 13 February 2014 01:08 (six years ago) link

there is just so much in Olds; they're not even so panoramic, just so full and imaginable. three a day, max.

mustread guy (schlump), Thursday, 13 February 2014 03:09 (six years ago) link

& wait is TDATL the recent one?

mustread guy (schlump), Thursday, 13 February 2014 03:09 (six years ago) link

nah its one from the early 80s.

i have the new brutal HOOS if you want it (BIG HOOS aka the steendriver), Thursday, 13 February 2014 03:41 (six years ago) link

Petrarch b/w English Alliterative Revival stuff; then a reading of Villon's Testament to close the middle ages

my collages, let me show you them (bernard snowy), Thursday, 13 February 2014 17:25 (six years ago) link

two weeks pass...


xyzzzz__, Friday, 28 February 2014 20:50 (five years ago) link

Seaton's version of Cold Mountain Poems.

Aimless, Friday, 28 February 2014 20:52 (five years ago) link

read a.e. housman's 'a shropshire lad' on my kindle a few weeks ago. uneven but some great stuff.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Friday, 28 February 2014 21:15 (five years ago) link

rereading Walcott after all the attention over the new collected poems.

Bryan Fairy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 28 February 2014 21:20 (five years ago) link

i read goethe and herrick, felt very leisured and cultured

j., Saturday, 1 March 2014 00:59 (five years ago) link

like an Englishman in 1841.

Bryan Fairy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 1 March 2014 01:00 (five years ago) link

xp ya Housman's great, seems underappreciated (maybe due to the conservatism of his forms?) but the books qua books hold together really well

my collages, let me show you them (bernard snowy), Saturday, 1 March 2014 21:05 (five years ago) link

Housman attracted such immoderate adulation in his day that there had to be a reaction against him for a time. Now it's safe to dust him off and put him back into his niche.

Aimless, Saturday, 1 March 2014 21:09 (five years ago) link

Aimless I forget, are you a UK poster?

my collages, let me show you them (bernard snowy), Sunday, 2 March 2014 02:15 (five years ago) link

that Shambhala Editions Cold Mountain Poems has caught my eye many times in B&N without my ever buying it... I've put so much effort into learning to appreciate european poetry these past few years, it's made me very reluctant to explore other traditions, but I'm sure it's just a matter of time

my collages, let me show you them (bernard snowy), Sunday, 2 March 2014 02:18 (five years ago) link

I post from Oregon, USA, where I've lived about 57 of my 59 years. But when you love literature and are a monoglot in English, you learn to love English lit.

Aimless, Sunday, 2 March 2014 02:53 (five years ago) link


― xyzzzz__, Friday, February 28, 2014 8:50 PM (4 days ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink


i have the new brutal HOOS if you want it (BIG HOOS aka the steendriver), Tuesday, 4 March 2014 19:41 (five years ago) link

two weeks pass...

At the moment, I've been dipping into my copy of Padraic Colum's poetry, titled Poems, a late compilation that does not identify itself as a 'collected poems of'. Padraic can't be described as anything but a "minor poet", but he had a nice touch when he keeps his loftier ambitions in check. Methinks the mere existence of Yeats lifted the work of every Irish poet well above what they could have achieved without him.

Just before that I was paddling around in the poetry of Stevie Smith and in doing so I decided to remove her from my shelves and sell her off during my next selling spree. A few of her early poems have charm, but her charms are very rapidly exhausted.

Aimless, Thursday, 20 March 2014 16:12 (five years ago) link

yknow, i think i would really enjoy a history of american poetry whose driving narrative was basically repetitions of

'i am the poet of america!!!'

'no you're not fukk u'

j., Thursday, 20 March 2014 22:30 (five years ago) link

america's one true poet was t.s. eliot iirc

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Thursday, 20 March 2014 22:34 (five years ago) link


Aimless, Thursday, 20 March 2014 22:43 (five years ago) link

rrrr tom you know me TOO WELL fukk u

no you know what ts eliot was the one true poet of 20th c. britannia and after that you guys have been up shit's creek, no bard to sing your songs, how does it feel

j., Thursday, 20 March 2014 23:01 (five years ago) link

i mean we got like. geoffrey hill and shit, i dunno

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Thursday, 20 March 2014 23:43 (five years ago) link

rereading an old Helen Vendler collection published in the late seventies. Essays on Moore, Merrill, Stevie Smith, Lowell, Stevens, and Gluck.

Bryan Fairy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 20 March 2014 23:47 (five years ago) link

and, like, carol ann duffy

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Thursday, 20 March 2014 23:47 (five years ago) link

all bases covered, is what i'm saying

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Thursday, 20 March 2014 23:47 (five years ago) link

albion liveth still and everafter

j., Friday, 21 March 2014 00:23 (five years ago) link

but they'll be doing it in the Championship come August

fhingerbhangra (Noodle Vague), Friday, 21 March 2014 00:43 (five years ago) link

can't see how anybody cd mistake Eliot's hyper-tense class paranoia for anything other than oh shit hold on

fhingerbhangra (Noodle Vague), Friday, 21 March 2014 00:45 (five years ago) link

so yeah i really don't have the stomach for louise gluck

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Friday, 21 March 2014 08:17 (five years ago) link

she's a bit of a psychosexual hack tbh

Bryan Fairy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 21 March 2014 10:48 (five years ago) link

nah that was your mother

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Friday, 21 March 2014 16:54 (five years ago) link

which Gluck you been reading? I dig the two most recent collections, particularly A Village Life, where she sounds like an aging writer trying to age faster(?)

Many American citizens are literally paralyzed by (bernard snowy), Friday, 21 March 2014 21:09 (five years ago) link

Ararat and The House on Marshland. The first book felt too glib.

Bryan Fairy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 22 March 2014 02:30 (five years ago) link

i was reading the other one that starts with a and the one with the boat on the cover

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Saturday, 22 March 2014 14:55 (five years ago) link

Meanwhile, apropos of the ongoing surrealism obsession mentioned on the other "what are you reading" thread, I picked up the recent (1990s) English translation of Breton's Clair de terre, which is mostly baffling, occasionally charming (as in the 'poem' listing off all of the Bretons in the Paris phonebook), and lacks a parallel French text due to copyright issues (boo!). Also bought a Gerard de Nerval selected works (not the Penguin edition, an older one, translated by Wagner--the Encyclopedia of Literary Translations into English praises his handling of the poetry, moreso than the novellas), which I am enjoying in spite of its hermetic density of allusion & personal mythology.

Many American citizens are literally paralyzed by (bernard snowy), Sunday, 23 March 2014 00:11 (five years ago) link

I should clarify: de Nerval's prose works (of which I've only tackled 'Sylvie' thus far) do not strike me as terribly obscure; but the poetry, which abounds in allusions both Classical and Medieval (thank heaven for endnotes!), seems also to take for granted a familiarity with the prose.

Many American citizens are literally paralyzed by (bernard snowy), Sunday, 23 March 2014 00:16 (five years ago) link

I haven't read De Nerval in years, but I enjoyed the copy I use to have. I think it was published by Exact Change. My favorite surrealist was Eluard, but sadly I never found a complete translation of him. I always wanted to like Lautréamont, but I never enjoyed actually reading him. Have you read Revolution of the Mind: The Life of Andre Breton by Mark Polizzotti? Breton was such a curious guy, I sort of hate him and love him.

JacobSanders, Sunday, 23 March 2014 01:19 (five years ago) link

the Polizzotti biography was recommended in the other thread; I may look into once I finish the Balakian, or if a cheap copy falls into my lap.

Maldoror is wonderful in small doses & particular moods, but the narrowness of its emotional range can get kind of suffocating. I don't know what to make of the Poesies, and I find the body of critical literature around Lautreamont somewhat maddening (possible exception: Gaston Bachelard's monograph, which I remember being decently insightful... I can't make heads or tails of Blanchot's long essay, though, & I usually dig his criticism)

Many American citizens are literally paralyzed by (bernard snowy), Sunday, 23 March 2014 03:33 (five years ago) link

Marvell. I don't know why

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Sunday, 23 March 2014 21:17 (five years ago) link

I recently finished Anne Carson's latest book, Red Doc>, her oblique successor to Autobiography of Red, and while I enjoyed it I found it frustratingly diffuse in comparison to the earlier book or Nox. The strongest passages in the book, which focus on the death of G/Geryon's mother, follow from the Celan-pastiche lyrics on mourning in Decreation but seem a little too loosely connected to Red Doc>'s earlier wisps of narrative. I'll probably find more in it on a second reading, though.

one way street, Monday, 24 March 2014 01:31 (five years ago) link

To be clear, I don't generally read Carson for the sake of narrative.

one way street, Monday, 24 March 2014 01:44 (five years ago) link

i think the exact change edition of nerval had the poems translated by robert duncan from memory and they used the earlier wagner translations for the stories. and yeah, the chimera poems are pretty dense with classical/esoteric allusions (haven't read the wagner edition i have of his work yet, but it has a lot more editorial matter than the exact change). aurelia is a trip, and if you ever see a copy of his journey to the orient it's a+ 19th century orientalism

i read maldoror in snatches over lunch breaks while studying and loved it, so maybe it's best to approach it in pieces? (also have his complete works sitting here unread, so need to read poesies sometime too)

i think i prefer what i've read of the parasurrealist poets more than the actual thing, people like michaux & daumal, etc

no lime tangier, Monday, 24 March 2014 06:38 (five years ago) link

which reminds me of the very to the point and hilarious open letter daumal wrote to breton after rejecting the latter's invitation to join the surrealists which ends with daumal inviting breton to join his own group and includes this classic kiss off: "beware of eventually figuring in the study guides to literary history"

no lime tangier, Monday, 24 March 2014 06:58 (five years ago) link

well what else are ya gonna do

j., Wednesday, 7 September 2016 02:16 (three years ago) link

two years pass...

charles wright's 'homage to paul cézanne' is wonderful. i liked how he described the process of writing it here:

I was doing a lot of looking at Cézanne’s paintings, and I’d been thinking about Cézanne a lot at that time. … I thought that certain painterly techniques – which is to say, using stanzas and lines the way painters sometimes use color and form – might be interesting. … So I worked on this poem not knowing how the poem was going to go. I thought it was going to be about ten sections. I knew it was going to be about Cézanne by the time I’d finished the first one. Not about Cézanne himself, but about the process of painting. I knew it was going to be nonlinear. I was going to write sections where each had to do with each other, but not consecutively or linearly. …


Karl Malone, Monday, 4 February 2019 06:46 (one year ago) link

does anyone else have southern cross? i guess cézanne is the opening poem, with a page devoted to each of its 8 sections, 16 lines each. southern cross is the closing poem, and i think i actually came across it a long time ago, but have forgotten it

Karl Malone, Monday, 4 February 2019 06:55 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

Any recommendations for essential poetry/poets from like the Renaissance through the late 18th Century? Assuming I'm aware of the big names from the period in question (and I've been firmly entrenched in post-1770 lit for the last six months so I'm well sorted from there on).

Gary Ornmigh, Heywood's son (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 6 March 2019 15:53 (eleven months ago) link

Taking big names as Spenser, Donne, Milton, Dryden, Pope… then Skelton, enjoying Fulke Greville a lot at the moment… actually that reminds me - here's a list from the time thomp asked me to list my top 25 c17th poets
Michael Robbins - Alien Vs. Predator (nb this book of poems is not about aliens, predators or their conflicts)
Before that… I'll repeat John Skelton, Wyatt, the Scottish Makars (Robert Henryson in particular), Campion, Southwell maybe.
Always say that the Penguin Book of Renaissance Verse is a great anthology.
After 1700 - Swift, Christopher Smart (stick to Jubilate Agno)… then I'm honestly a bit hesitant to recommend mid-late c18th stuff. It's a bit of an acquired or academic taste. I can read Collins, Gray etc, but they don't inspire me to proselytise. Things pick up with Cowper, but if you've been going in post-1770 you'll have run into him.

woof, Wednesday, 6 March 2019 17:37 (eleven months ago) link

Wow, that is a far more expansive and helpful response than I could've hoped for. Thank you!

Gary Ornmigh, Heywood's son (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 6 March 2019 17:43 (eleven months ago) link

No prob!
And a postscript - that Michael Robbins thread reminded me he's just edited a selection of Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle's poetry for NYRB books. I should look at it - if I ever knew her verse, I've forgotten it, but The Blazing World is one of the great strange sort-of-novels of the c17th and she is fascinating.

woof, Wednesday, 6 March 2019 17:53 (eleven months ago) link

John Hollander I'm reading now.

Let's have sensible centrist armageddon (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 6 March 2019 18:02 (eleven months ago) link

I've just discovered this thread. I like Hollander's criticism but I've not read his poetry. Where to begin?

I've been reading a bit of Les Murray and trying to ignore his more, ah, buffoonish commentary. Last Hellos is quite a thing.

Good cop, Babcock (Chinaski), Saturday, 16 March 2019 23:15 (eleven months ago) link

nine months pass...

With the LRB archive open (until the end of Jan, I think) I've been reading some of Helen Vendler's articles. This review of Motion's biography of Keats is scabrous and not entirely fair, I think: https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v19/n20/helen-vendler/inspiration-accident-genius

Loved this review of Hopkins' letters: https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v36/n07/helen-vendler/i-have-not-lived-up-to-it

Life is a meaningless nightmare of suffering...save string (Chinaski), Tuesday, 7 January 2020 20:57 (one month ago) link

Jay Wright.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 7 January 2020 20:59 (one month ago) link

Vendler taught me much about how to think about poetry, and I'm still fond of The Music of What Happens, but she's gotten idk hackish in recent years? She's old too, I suppose.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 7 January 2020 21:01 (one month ago) link

That review of Motion's biography was particularly, huffily critical of Motion's considerations of race, gender and class. It ponged of the anti-PC brigade.

Life is a meaningless nightmare of suffering...save string (Chinaski), Tuesday, 7 January 2020 21:03 (one month ago) link

I've been reading Michael Hofmann's One Lark, One Horse, and also started Rabindranath Tagore's Collected Poems and Plays.

o. nate, Wednesday, 8 January 2020 02:22 (one month ago) link

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