Thursday, January 28, 2016

Don Paterson / Reading Shakespeare’s Sonnets / Review

40 Sonnets review – the perfect vehicle for Don Paterson’s craft and lyricism

The poet tugs and stretches a demanding form to its limit in work of vividness and potency

Sarah Crown
Saturday 26 September 2015

on Paterson has a thing for sonnets. Back in 1999 he brought out an anthology of 101 of his favourites, and in 2012 he delved deeper into their history with Reading Shakespeare’s Sonnets, a passionate, personal response to the great man’s form-defining sequence. Nor has he confined himself to curation and criticism: in 2006, he produced a warm, responsive reworking of Rilke’s 55-sonnet cycle, Orpheus, while his original collections are punctuated by his own efforts, some of which (such as Landing Light’s superlative “Waking with Russell”) count among his finest poems. “The square of the sonnet exists for reasons which are almost all direct consequences of natural law … and the grain and structure of the language itself,” he said, attempting to explain the form’s abiding appeal – and his own fascination with it – in an article in this newspaper. “Or to put it another way: if human poetic speech is breath and language is soapy water, sonnets are just the bubbles you get.”

Monday, January 25, 2016

Juana Inés de la Cruz / She expresses her loving respect

She expresses her loving respect, explaining what she means when she says Her Ladyship the Vicereine, Marquise de la Laguna, belongs to her.

by Juana Inés de la Cruz

My divine Lysis
pardon me if I dare
then to address you thus,
since to be called yours exceeds my merit
and to this I cannot presume. 
To call you mine I would be placed
at the mercy of your sovereign darting rays
if in my boldness I have overreached, and dared.
It is an error of the tongue
when that which is called imperial
and mastered, and of the dominion
appear to be the slave’s possessions.
“My king” declares the vassal,
“My prison” claims the prisoner, 
and the most humble slave
without the slightest offense can claim her master as her own.
Thus when I call you mine
I am not in the least pretending
that you will be adjudged to belong to me, 
but solely that I wish to be yours.
I saw you – but just stop there:
in order to say there is a fire
it is sufficient to show the cause
there is no need to affix blame on anyone for the result.
To see you so elevated
does not impede my audacity, 
for there is no deity who can remain beyond
the reach of  lofty flights of cogitation.
And yet there are those, more deserving – 
in their proximity to heaven – 
equally placed is the humble valley
as the superbly high mountain.
Finally, I must be confessed
of this sin, which is my adoration –
and if you wish to chastise me,
your chastening will be my reward.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Antonio Cicero / Perplexity

Portrait of a Dead Man
by Damien Mammoliti
by Antonio Cicero
Translated by Emiliano Battista

Antonio Cicero / Perplexidade (Pessoa)

Not sure just where I lost my way,
Or whether I lost it at all.
Still, I can't help thinking it odd
That this had always been my lot.

Friday, January 15, 2016

John Ashbery / The Art of Poetry

John Ashbery

The Art of Poetry 

No. 33

Interviewed by Peter A. Stitt

Winter 1983
No. 90

The Art of Poetry No. 33 Manuscript

The interview was conducted at John Ashbery's apartment in the section of Manhattan known as Chelsea. When I arrived, Ashbery was away, and the doorman asked me to wait outside. Soon the poet arrived and we went up by elevator to a spacious, well-lighted apartment in which a secretary was hard at work. We sat in easy chairs in the living room, Ashbery with his back to the large windows. The predominant decor was blue and white, and books lined the whole of one wall.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Ted Hughes / The Art of Poetry

Ted Hughes

Ted Hughes

The Art of Poetry 

No. 71

Interviewed by Drue Heinz

Spring 1995
No. 134

The Art of Poetry No. 71 Manuscript

Ted Hughes lives with his wife, Carol, on a farm in Devonshire. It is a working farm—sheep and cows—and the Hugheses are known to leave a party early to tend to them. “Carol’s got to get the sheep in,” Hughes will explain.
He came to London for the interview, which took place in the interviewer’s dining room. The poet was wearing a tweed jacket, dark trousers, and a tie whose predominantly blue color matched his eyes. His voice is commanding. He is often invited to read his work, the flow of his language enlivening the text. In appearance he is impressive, and yet there is very little aggression or intimidation in his look. Indeed, one admirer has said that her first thought sitting opposite him was that this was what God should look like “when you get there.”

Sunday, January 10, 2016

E.R. Kennedy / Jean Rhys

Jean Rhys
Illustration by Triunfo Arciniegas
Jean Rhys
I'm preparing myself for an extended period of loneliness
That will begin very soon I think
I've illegally downloaded two new depressing songs
I've placed a copy of Good Morning, Midnight under my pillow for easy reference
I've printed out the tablature for every Morrissey song I know so I can sing them to myself
Alone in my room
Just a few things are needed really
To make me calm
While I figure out a simple, clean, and effective way to kill myself,
With minimal stress for the person who has to find and dispose of my body
But I'll probably never think of a way
Because I'll probably never kill myself
I'll just lie in my bed suffocating myself with my pillows
While listening to the four songs you said were your favorite
And maybe burn myself a little with the iron
On special occasions
And the next time I'm in a subway station,
I'll stand a little further on the yellow line
Or maybe the next I'm at your apartment
I'll try a little harder

Ellen Kennedy, 
Sometimes My Heart Pushes My Ribs.
Muumuu House, 2009)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Elizabeth Bishop / Manners

Illustration by Nicoletta Ceccoli

by Elizabeth Bishop

For a Child of 1918

My grandfather said to me
as we sat on the wagon seat,
"Be sure to remember to always
speak to everyone you meet."

We met a stranger on foot.
My grandfather's whip tapped his hat.
"Good day, sir. Good day. A fine day."
And I said it and bowed where I sat.

Then we overtook a boy we knew
with his big pet crow on his shoulder.
"Always offer everyone a ride;
don't forget that when you get older,"

my grandfather said. So Willy
climbed up with us, but the crow
gave a "Caw!" and flew off. I was worried.
How would he know where to go?

But he flew a little way at a time
from fence post to fence post, ahead;
and when Willy whistled he answered.
"A fine bird," my grandfather said,

"and he's well brought up. See, he answers
nicely when he's spoken to.
Man or beast, that's good manners.
Be sure that you both always do."

When automobiles went by,
the dust hid the people's faces,
but we shouted "Good day! Good day!
Fine day!" at the top of our voices.

When we came to Hustler Hill,
he said that the mare was tired, 
so we all got down and walked,
as our good manners required.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Katherine Mansfield / The Storm

The Storm 
by Katherine Mansfield

I ran to the forest for shelter,
Breathless, half sobbing
I put my arms round a tree
Pillowed my head against the rough bark
Protect me, I said. I am a lost child.
But the tree showered silver drops on my face and hair.
A wind sprang up from the ends of the earth
It lashed the forest together
A huge green wave thundered and burst over my head.
I prayed, implored, "Please take care of me!"
But the wind pulled at my cloak and the rain beat upon me.
Little rivers tore up the ground and swamped the bushes.
A frenzy possessed the earth: I felt that the earth was drowning
In a bubbling cavern of space. I alone--
Smaller than the smallest fly--was alive and terrified.
Then for what reason I know not, I became triumphant.
Well kill me – I cried – and ran out into the open.
But the storm ceased: the sun spread his wings
And floated serene in the silver pool of the sky.
I put my hands over my face: I was blushing
And the trees swung together and delicately laughed.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Katherine Mansfield / Loneliness

by Katherine Mansfield

Now it is Loneliness who comes at night
Instead of Sleep, to sit beside my bed.
Like a tired child I lie and wait her tread,
I watch her softly blowing out the light.
Motionless sitting, neither left or right
She turns, and weary, weary droops her head.
She, too, is old; she, too, has fought the fight.
So, with the laurel she is garlanded.
Through the sad dark the slowly ebbing tide
Breaks on a barren shore, unsatisfied.
A strange wind flows... then silence. I am fain
To turn to Loneliness, to take her hand,
Cling to her, waiting, till the barren land
Fills with the dreadful monotone of rain.