SOUTH: EXPERIMENTAL WRITING IN THE SOUTH, edited by Bill Lavender;
University of Alabama Press, 2003
Q: Will the other southerners dig this stuff?
A: "Who is worthy to open the book?
Bed of the dragon's rage
where lamentation was written"
(from The Bicameralization by Ralph Adamo).
THE HUB OF THE FIERY FORCE: COLLECTED POEMS, 1934-2003, by Harold
Norse; Thunder's Mouth Press, 2003
What wisdom can we derive from this astonishing life of poetic practice?
A: "Stretched near Scotch purse we lay
talking intil the motors died.
You turned and swore in the grass,
cursing the grandees who killed for gold
at the mission trading posts.
You wanted to slay history's ghosts.
On a eucalyptus branch
a pelican sat. A porpoise nosed
the wave. We watched
hibiscus braid the coral wall,
mingling blood-red with bone-white.
Something you said made me keep still:
"Bitter is love words have to prove."
A Plane swooped down, a bayonet
aimed at our hearts. My nerves jammed.
Across the inlet palms shook.
Hunkered down on my haunches
I fondled a cross-barred Venus.
Body language said it all.
(The Bay, Key West, 1942)
POEMS 1950-2000, by Nathaniel Tarn; Wesleyan University Press, 2002
What is the anthropology of now?
A: "And I am become a land of ghosts
as a tree full of bird song but no birds
where the mist clings to branches like cotton
and the wind drawls mourning
From the other side, it waa as if we had been calling for this,
as if the weight of our
need were such that it had magnetized the seas, and called a great
pole to ourselves
up from the place where the sun sets, and which we had named: the
and had placed all our dreams there, in who knows what hands..."
(from La Traviata (11): The Last Illusion, 1975).
PLATE, NEW & SELECTED POEMS, by Faye Kicknosway; Wesleyan University
How deep do the tangled roots of paradise reach?
A: " Christopher Columbus was a thief,
then he was a beggar.
Florida was a postcard to him.
That's as close as he got.
Jonah climbed in his window.
It was the size of a spoon.
He had a sailor's face,
all weeds and sticks that wouldn't burn.
He asked Columbus to take it off of him.
But Columbus was made of ashes.
Thistles of light fell
and priests, like fat toys
from coloring books, came to Columbus
to ask him why.
He said it was because their map
had no exit.
But neither did his.
Green flies flooded his heart.
He put it in a biscuit tin
under his bed.
Geometry ate it, spitting in it first."
(Short Take 20)
MIDNIGHT, by Susan Howe; New Directions, 2003
How often must the experiment be repeated?
A: "Often you must turn Uncle John's books around and
upside down to read the clippings
and other insertions pasted and carefully folded inside."
BIRD ONE STONE, 108 AMERICAN ZEN STORIES, by Sean Murphy; Renaissance
Books, 2002. (with some drawings by Keith Abbott).
What is the sound of one turtle snapping?
A: "'All right,' I accost Bob,who points his kitchen
knife menacingly at mee. 'I'll gladly bring you the
temple treasures. But first, if you're such a master theif,
show me how to catch one of the koi in thes pond without getting
your hands wet!'"
TO BORDEAUX, by Ludwig Harig,1965, translated from German by Susan
Benofsky; Burning Deck, 2003, No. 6 in the Dichten series edited
by Rosmarie Waldrop.
Will we have flashbacks?
A: "As we have showed you before, once matters had begun in
the accustomed manner, the company clearly and at once saw that
our preparing to rouse ourselves was wasted effort, for commonly
when we had set our minds to rousing ourselves in the accustomed
manner, what ensued thereon was the near immediate conclusion of
the said rousing, notwithstanding whatever effort we might give
ourselves. An attempt beforehand at rousing ourselves had already
resulted in the said rousing's near immediate end, as commonly
ensues in the accustomed manner following the attempt at rousing."
(from The Hurly Burly)
MAGIC WHIP, by Wang Ping, Coffee House Press, 2003
Does the whip sing?
A: "A laughing Ariel!
Your smile is not a mask but a shrieking delight--
a horizon expanding
between your wobbling feet.
(from First Step)
ON THE LAKE: TWENTIETH-CENTURY TELUGU POETY FROM INDIA, edited and
translated from Telugu by Velcheru Narayana Rao; University of Wisconsin
Will the flowers fade and the lake go dry in the twenty-first century?
A: "The dance of the oceans
with their hair disheveled
and waves curled up--
will it end at last?
The boat that's cayght
in the middle of the storm--
will it safely reach the shore?"
(from Really?,by Sri Sri, 1941)
VERMONT, by William Corbett, Zoland Books, 1999.
How do you keep jet skis out of paradise?
A: "Flying low up 93
who is American lives change
even if standing still
the past accelerates
by twenty-seven he ages
in perpetual nostalgia
mother's sky-blue Buick
"a lonely teenager in love"
passes pink tipped grasses faster."
SELECTED POEMS, by Philip Whalen; Penguin Books, 1999.
How big is life?
A: "There's no question of going or staying
A home or wandering
Here we are"
(from The War Poem for Diane di Prima, 1966)
THE TIME TREE, by Hu'u Thinh, translated from Vietnamese by
George Evans and Nguyen Qui Duc; Curbstone Press, 2003.
What does the tree remember?
A: "The land quickly passes through the sea.
It takes much longer for people to pass through suffering."
(from This Land, 1994)
PUERTAS VISIBLES: AN ANTHOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY POETRY BY MEXICAN
WOMEN, edited and translated from Spanish by Jen Hofer; University
of Pittsburgh Press, 2003.
What does the window frame?
A: "It was the left side of the sky where all the games are
games of chance.
It was a puddle of piss.
It was a prehistoric quagmire."
(from Third World, Cristina Rivera-Garza)
INVISIBLE PRESENCE: SIXTEEN POETS OF SPANISH AMERICA 1925-1995,
selected by Ludwig Zeller, translated from Spanish by Beatriz Zeller;
Mosaic Press, 1996.
When we see in the dark, what are we seeing?
A: "Look at me
I am searching for a golden cantharide at the bottom of a well
and in order to save the night I kill sleepwalkers.
Look at me until the sources stop flowing
and the tremors are consumed
in the stillness of your eyes.
(from I Have Found the Secret of Your Eyes, Aldo Pellegrini, 1952)
IT WAS PARADISE: SELECTED POEMS, by Mahmoud Darwish, translated
from Arabic and edited by Munir Akash and Carolyn Forche, with Sinan
Antoon and Amira El-Zein; University of California Press, 2003.
Why did it take four minds to make these translations?
A: "The poem is neither here nor there, and with a girl's
it can illuminate the nights.
With the glow of an apple it fills two bodies with light
and with a gardenia's breath it can revive a homeland!"
(from Poetic Regulations, 1999)
TRILOGY, by Pentti Saarikoski, translated from Finnish by Anselm
Hollo; La Alemeda Press, 2003.
Where do you walk when your feet leave the earth?
A: "as the water riises
the sea enters his nostrils
but he dances
salt stings his eyes
through his hair"
(from Post Scriptum, 1983)
by Tomaz Salamun, translated from Slovenian by Joshua Beckman and
Tomaz Salamun; European Poetry Series # 3, Ugly Duckling Presse,
Is it poker the game, or the tool?
A: "Between any two points in space
you can always draw a straight line
but where is the way
between the same place"
by Fanny Howe, University of California Press, 2003.
Is gone going, or forgetting?
A: "The stations of my humiliation traveled
from telephone to telephone machine
I hit a knob and lost every message
to an illuminated blackness
A prayer reminds me of a telephone call"
(from The Passion)
VISION, by Michael Rothenberg, La Alemeda Press, 2003.
If you begin to notice everything will you go mad?
A: "All Silence and Song
All Ecology and Liberty
All That In Summary Is Possible"
(from December 31: 24 Hourly Updates)
GRAND: THE FIN DE SIECLE POEMS, by Guy Birchard; Pressed Wafer,
Will we go mad if we don't notice everything?
attention elswwhere. The Shack rests
serene, detached, studiedly
(from A Matter of Indifference)
ON WATER: READING, WRITING, AND REVOLUTION, by Derrick Jensen; Chelsea
Green Publishing Company, 2003.
What's the most effective way to teach reading, writing, and
A: "Power. If I've got power or authority over someone,
it's my responsibility to use that only to help them. It's
my job to accept and praise them into becoming who they are. But
if I see someone misusing power to harm someone else, it's
just as much my responsibility to stop them, using whatever means
A BAD MAN AREN'T YOU?, by Susannah Breslin, Future Tense Books,
What happens to a bad man in the long run?
A: "Already, he could hear it, coming for him down the back
alleyways of his mind, and it was his own terrible penis, and it
was angry and it was carrying a suitcase filled to everflowing with
his whole, long, lonely life that he had been trying to leave behind."
(from E Is for Eunuch)
DANCER, by Pamela Uschuk; Wings Press, 2002.
there a dream behind the book?
A: "What I know are stories
that spring whole from a chance glance"
(from Dream Time)
OF MAX & MAXINE, by Skip Fox; Auguste Press, 2003.
What do Max and Maxine think of Mel Gibson's Passion?
A: "From gravity we come, to
gravity we shall return,
(from Maxine's Song, Electra Etcetera)
LINDEN: POEMS, by Matthew Zapruder; Tupelo Press, 2002.
Seen any good movies lately?
A: "Long night filled with boxes
of sparrows locked in hallucination
I'm sorry to wear you
like a cape
(from The Book of Leaves)
BRETON: SELECTIONS, by Andre Breton, Edited by Mark Polissotti,
Poets for the Millennium, edited by Pierre Joris and Jerome Rothenberg,
University of California Press, 2003.
What did the President know and when did he know it?
A: "I watch the Beast as it licks itself
The better to confound itself with all that surrounds it
Its storm-colored eyes
Are unexpectedly the pond dragging to itself the filthy linen the
The one that always stops man"
(from War, for Max Ernst, 1941, translated by Edouard Roditi)
SABINA: SELECTIONS, edited by Jerome Rothenberg, Poets for the Millennium,
edted by Pierre Joris and Jerome Rothenberg, University of California
What has the modern world forgotten?
A: "Mother of good palm
Mother of good hands
Your words are medicine
Your breath is medicine"
(from The Folkways Chant, translated from Mazatec into Spanish by
Alvaro Estrada and Eloina Estrada de Gonzalez, English translation
by Henry Munn, recorded 1956)
LOWERCASE JEW, by Rodger Kamenetz, Triquarterly Books, 2003)
What it the Judaic "heaven?"
A: "Three tiny dreams, than nothing."
(friom Sparrow Land)
WINTER, by Richard Katrovas, Carnegie Mellon University, 2004.
What is the bridge between Prague and New Orleans?
A: "I'd like to know that once or twice a year
an old man, whose hands are soft from idle thought,
comes, by bus or car, to gaze awhile
and simply marvel that the thing still stands."
(from The Bridge of Intellectuals)
ORPHANHOOD, by Sergey Gandlevsky, translated from Russian by Philip
Metres; Zephyr Press 2003.
What clothes do the kindred orphans wear?
A: "Dangerous conversations, the flooding rain,
Forbidden books, cigarette butts in an empty tin."
(from Dear God, let me recall my labors)
OF LOVE, by Edgar Gabriel Silex; Curbstone Press, 2004.
How do you know when love is an act?
A: "weighs nothing in comparison
to a mother who's child is dead
or dying from a curable disease."
(from What Weve Made)
BEAT GENERATION IN SAN FRANCISCO: A LITERARY TOUR, by Bill Morgan;
City Lights Books, 2003.