Saturday, May 14, 2005

Transtromer

Where have I been? I have this little book of Transtromer's translated by Robert Bly. It's been sitting on my shelf for years, and the last time I remember opening it, it was impenetrable and dull, an unforgivable combination. I suppose I was just impenetrable and dull that day, because today I opened it in desperation to read some kind of poetry with something that sparks, and --- top-of-head-blowing-off.

Bly's translations seem a bit breathily effusive, but interesting. Graywolf has a book of his, The Half-Finished Heaven. I'm going to get more by this wonderful poet. His imagery blows the language open, speaks in transformations and interior luminosities. "Mystical and sad," per Publishers Weekly; "Poems that are points of entry upward/into the depths of imagination" said the New York Times.

Where have I been? Has anyone else had this experience of suddenly "discovering" a poet who was right there in plain sight?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Celestial favor

I've been trying to find auspicious things for May 11 online, and came across this blog called The Human Flower Project, thanks to The Bookish Gardener. (The site's title makes me want to write a poem.) Nice to know it's an auspicious day in India, and that according to the Vedas, the day is lit with celestial favor. I count it a celestial favor to see the sun, after days of freakish May rains (freakish for California). Now I'm going to go walk and hope not to get hit by lightning, as I almost did day before yesterday.

May 11 - this day in history

Have you ever googled your birthday and the phrase "this day in history"?

I learned that on May 11, 1949, the day of my birth, Siam changed its name to Thailand. Well, if that doesn't set the tone for a whole life, I don't know what does. Could the name change be the reason I've never found the twin I've always suspected I was separated from at birth.

Should you want to try this experiment, and learn the hidden meaning of your life, you can find out at Infoplease. Better than googling your name.

Which is how I just found out that my new poetry book, Femme au chapeau, is officially available from David Robert Books. The title poem is based on a Matisse portrait of his wife displayed at SFMOMA. The painting stopped me in my tracks and initiated my portrait sonnet sequence, which continues on beyond this collection and into my current manuscript. I like the idea of pairing the similar challenges of capturing an entire person in 14 lines or one frame.

Ordering information on the page isn't yet up, but will be soon. You can contact me by email if you want to purchase a signed copy.

A very nice birthday present, indeed.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Stirring experience

I'm very pleased with the results of my guest editing stint at Stirring. Take a look at the May issue. Erin Elizabeth invited me to join the editorial group for this issue, which involved reading and commenting briefly on about thirty-five poems. After the initial hurdle of trying to come up with pithy things to say about murky responses to many of the submissions, I got into the swing. I'm pleased with the issue and would definitely do it again. I surprised myself with the selections, leaning more toward experimental verse than I would have expected. Good craft wins out over stylistic preference for me everytime. And learning to appreciate something different is the fun of editing, at least in this case.