Poetry, Fine Arts, Interviews
© Gilles Jourdan
READ MORE: Pierre-Albert Jourdan

À la taverne d’Abû-Nuwâs
Retour au Huang-shan
ce qui s’enracine       se perd…
BY Auxeméry
TRANSLATED BY Nathaniel Tarn

Les Sandales de paille
BY Pierre-Albert Jourdan
TRANSLATED BY John Taylor

Ecrits francais

Sonnets à diverses personnes
BY Pierre de Ronsard
TRANSLATED BY Laurie Rosenblatt

oiseaux de mauvais augure
contrée incertaine pétrifiée endeuillée
BY Amina Saïd
TRANSLATED BY Marilyn Hacker

When Eyes Are on Me

I am a scrappy old lion
who’s wandered into a Christian square
quavering with centuries of forged bells.
The cobblestones make my feet ache.

I walk big-shouldered, my head raised
proudly. I smell the blood of a king.
The citizens can only see a minotaur in a maze.
I know more than a lion should know.

My roar goes back to the Serengeti,
to when a savannah was craggy ice,
but now it only frightens pigeons from a city stoop.
They believe they know my brain’s contours & grammar.

Don’t ask me how I know the signs engraved
on a sundial, the secret icons behind a gaze.
I wish their crimes hadn’t followed me here.
I can hear their applause in the dusty citadel.

I know what it took to master the serpent
& wheel, the crossbow & spinal tap.
Once, I was a leopard beside a stone gate.
I am a riddle to be unraveled. I am not

& I am. When their eyes are on me
I become whatever is judged badly.
I circle the park. Hunger shapes
my keen sense of smell, a lifetime ahead.

EXCERPT FROM When Eyes Are on Me
BY Yusef Komunyakaa


Interior
(Oil on canvas, 116 x 92 cm)
FROM Interiors and Jerusalem
BY Yacov Gabay
Arrezzo
(Tuscany, 2008)
FROM Images, 2006-2009
BY Blake Dieters

Opening Excerpt from Mural
Truce with the Mongols
by the Holm Oak Forest

BY Mahmoud Darwish
TRANSLATED BY Fady Joudah

That’s What I’m Talking About
BY Richard Jackson

Getting Out and Afterward
BY Robert Lietz

Around the World

Four New Poems
BY Tomaž Šalamun
TRANSLATED BY Thomas Kane
AND Sonja Kravanja

It Arrives
BY Lee Sharkey

At the Bois de Boulogne
Reply
BY Song Lin
TRANSLATED BY Dian Li

Interview

Betty Adcock
BY Nicholas Graetz

I’ve listened to the talk among my husband’s serious musician friends, heard them argue and detail the way jazz works, and I know something of that has influenced my own approach to poetry … working on poems has a lot in common with jazz improvisation — the dialogue between the poet and his/her poem … being similar to the dialogue between the player and the tune, a “striking off” each other — the play between the conscious and the unconscious, the given and the new, pattern and then abandonment and return, the poet and other voices he/she hears. I feel very much at home among jazz people. And I discover that most of my poet friends are jazz buffs…

FROM Poetry is a Way of Seeing:
A Conversation with Betty Adcock

BY Sally Molini AND Betty Adcock


Piermont Marsh
(Piermont, New York, 1985)
FROM The Hudson River
BY Joseph Squillante
Agafaya in Her Wedding Dress
FROM Personnages from
The Marriage

BY Pamela Howard
Kris Hardin Looking
Out a Hotel Window

(Lake Como, Italy)
FROM Traveller
BY Michael Katakis

Vegetation Blues

Someone tore a square out of the sidewalk
and planted a ginkgo, tamped a few bricks flat
with the butt of a spade, the small shoot
seeming to rise up from the cement.
Years later, see how the roots have broken
the backs of the bricks, lifted them, starting
the process of eviction. Inside the cove
of a traffic signal starlings have built a nest,
dead weeds and fluffs of cotton
hanging from the lip. They’ve chosen the yellow light
for its intermittent warmth. We’ve discovered
vaccines for a thousand diseases, distilled oil
from the olive, found a use for bat guano.
We’ve reassembled the bones of a pterodactyl
then sewn to its pinioned wings a delicate
life-like shroud. Landed a man on the moon…

EXCERPT FROM Vegetation Blues
BY Dorianne Laux


Restraining a Cow / Attrappant une vache
(Taung, 1986)
FROM Le Blues de l’apartheid / Apartheid Blues
BY José Bidarra
Meditation
(Clearwater, Florida)
BY Mamadou Ndiaye
[Read / Hide Bio]

MAMADOU NDIAYE, a photographer located in Indianapolis, Indiana, is originally from Senegal, Africa. He writes, “The shot entered into the deep silence and patience of a beautiful bird on the beach … He stood and posed for me for fifteen minutes. His mind was somewhere else.”


Tom & Pete
BY Victoria Chang

In the World of Levitating Halves
The War Against Magic
BY Erin Gay

Sustenance
BY Joseph Hutchison

Prose Poems

Retrieval
Six Rising Prose Poems
BY Ray Gonzalez

Epistle
BY Rebecca Reynolds

Fiction & Essays
Oil Spot

Poems from Paintings:
A Collaboration

BY Tess Gallagher
ART BY Josie Gray

Assissi

Why Remember?
BY Maryanne Hannan

Dining at Home

Dinner at Home
BY Paulette Licitra

Hieronymus Bosch

Apnea
BY Josip Novakovich

Vietnam / United States

“I know we have only just met,” Dúc says in his slightly musical English, the strobe lights like lightning, “but I need a suitcase.” He pulls out a pack of Vietnamese cigarettes, the box dragon-red and elegant, private. On the dance floor people are wriggling to Madonna’s “Holiday.” Watching them, their liquored gyrations, you remember that in Vietnamese the word for dance is just one tone away from the word for puppets.

The strobe lights have turned the world into an old black and white movie — you’re Bette Davis, Myrna Loy, Dietrich in some hole-in-the-wall cabaret just one town over from the Western front, the smoke streaming from your lips. Now would be the time to do some fancy trick, French inhale, the smoke on a continuous loop in and out of your nose.

Dúc tamps a cigarette on the table filled with dirty glasses, lights it in his mouth, then offers it to you. The strobe lights have turned the world into an old black and white movie — you’re Bette Davis, Myrna Loy, Dietrich in some hole-in-the-wall cabaret just one town over from the Western front, the smoke streaming from your lips. Now would be the time to do some fancy trick, French inhale, the smoke on a continuous loop in and out of your nose. But you can’t so you don’t, your throat already burning from something in this Vietnamese cigarette, something bitter and foreign, something you never want to taste again. Dúc nods his head carefully to the music as though it were a cold bath, something he’s trying to get into. “Is it wrong for me to ask? Please say,” he says, his palms down flat on the table. You shake your head. “Good,” he says. “Let us meet in the parking lot by the student union. Say one o’clock tomorrow.”

FROM Freedom, WI
BY Quan Barry


Selections from Gray Days
(Self-published, 2009)
BY Ian Aleksander Adams
[Read / Hide Bio]

Born in 1986 in New York City and raised in Massachusetts, IAN ALEKSANDER ADAMS fled to the south to study art and escape the ice. Among other projects, he creates large scale information-centric installation work and tiny word-light photo books. View more of his work at www.ianaleksanderadams.com, where he also features art criticism and general visual culture commentary.

Texas

In the daytime Annika watched out of the lockshop window the zombie-eyed grackles, their eerie flashes of blue and green in the relentless sun, their relentless beaks on the glass. In the morning, Lizette opened the window to pour a line of corn on the sill to appease them, and Annika was always afraid one would flap its way in. Who knew what one of those things would do if it got inside? Dive straight for the eyes — Annika’s gray eyes, not so very lowered with guilt, or Luis’s carefully nonchalant and dark ones — to punish them for what they had done.

FROM In San Jacinto
BY Cheri Johnson

Bolivia

It is dangerous when it rains, Maria tells me by way of introduction. The whole city is built on sand. Houses fall every year. Water loses itself off the windshield, sky deep and cupped. Up in El Alto the city is an accident, tan building blocks spilled all over the mountain. The shape of bare earth on the mountainside is like someone bending over, someone walking, but I am prone to see people in natural structures. Solitary skies like these make more room for God.The shape of bare earth on the mountainside is like someone bending over, someone walking, but I am prone to see people in natural structures. Solitary skies like these make more room for God. God, or whatever name you have for vastness.

I don’t know yet what holds us. I arrive in La Paz from Quito at night. The taxi descends into a bowl of lights. Bolivia’s independence day, groups crowded around backs of trucks. I am here to meet the Diva but she is still away; her daughters, Maria and Isa, wait with a sign at the airport. I say as we dip and dip that this is the one place where old people could say, When I was your age I had to walk uphill both ways to school, and actually be telling the truth.

FROM Disturbing the Spirits
BY Ming Holden


Untitled
(Cape Porpoise Snowfall, 2008)
BY Susan Lynn Smith
[Read / Hide Bio]

SUSAN LYNN SMITH‘s work has been featured at several venues in New York, including the Visual Studies Workshop, Gallery Henoch, Gulf and Western Gallery, The School at the International Center for Photography, and Cantor Film Center. Bay Area exhibitions include Depth of Perception (MarinMOCA), Eighteen Months: Taking the Pulse of Bay Area Photography (San Francisco City Hall), Inhabited (Diego Rivera Gallery), TASTE (Root Division), and On Second Thought (Fort Mason Center). She received a BFA from New York University and an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. Forthcoming exhibitions include Landscape Interrupted at Coconino Center for the Arts in Flagstaff, Arizona, and On Second Thought at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California. Visit www.susanlynnsmith.com.

Editors’ Favorites

Fiction

A Robe of Feathers

A Robe of Feathers
BY Thersa Matsuura
(Counterpoint, 2009)

What is daily life like if reality presents itself as superstition, myth, legend, folktale or gossip, stretching past and present into the beyond? In these 17 sublimely appetizing and discreet stories based in Japan, Matsuura reveals how monsters, spirits or ghosts — both terrifying and intriguing — enter the decisive life episodes of common people who either muse over or deny the strange shadows of happenings… or shall I say, destiny?

— Greta Aart

L'Amant

L'Amant (The Lover)
BY Marguerite Duras
TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH
BY Barbara Bray
(Pantheon, 1998)

From the moment a ferry crosses the Mekong to the moment the narrator departs colonial Saigon, Duras fashions a singular voice which models the power of writing to shape one’s memory. Vignettes of family violence and erotic discovery form a fragmented, “unfathomable mystery” — a roman à clef to be relished one luxuriant scene at a time.

— Karen Rigby

The Blue Sky

The Blue Sky
BY Galsan Tschinag
TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN
BY Katherina Rout
(Milkweed, 2006)

Every mountain, every animal has its own story; each river, each people its destiny. In the native voice of a nomadic Tuvan, Galsan Tschinag colorfully evokes his ascetic childhood atop the High Altai Mountains. With stories inherited from his affectionate, adopted grandmother, he speaks with courage that his dog had humbled him, about constant doubts in the face of struggles with survival and omnious portents of modernity or Communism. In Tschinag’s own words, “It ends with my rejection of Father Sky.”

— Greta Aart

Poetry

7 Poets, 4 Days, 1 Book

7 Poets, 4 Days, 1 Book
BY Marvin Bell, István László Geher, Ksenia Golubovich, Simone Inguanez, Christopher Merrill, Tomaž Šalamun
AND Dean Young
(Trinity University Press, 2009)

In the introduction, Merrill writes “In October 2007, in a sunlit room at the University of Iowa, six poets… and I joined in an experiment designed to strengthen the bonds of friendship — and to make something new on the page.” This little book is the result of the poets’ four-day convergence, with the word union as the starting point and the French Surrealists as their models. 7 Poets, 4 Days, 1 Book is filled with fresh and lively poems sprung from the infinite possibilities of literary collaboration.

— Sally Molini

Basho: The Complete Haiku

Basho: The Complete Haiku
TRANSLATED FROM THE JAPANESE
BY Jane Reichhold
(Kodansha International, 2008)

Astonishingly refreshing and inspiring as ever, this long-awaited complete deluxe edition of 1011 haikus by Matsuo Bashō (1644-1694) comes with Jane Reichhold’s densely annotated notes (accompanied by the Japanese texts) and an informative introduction. Presented creatively in seven phases of the Japanese master’s life, his haikus precede a glossary of terms, and a valuable appendix on haiku techniques, among other surprises.

— Greta Aart

Archicembalo

Archicembalo
BY G.C. Waldrep
(Tupelo Press, 2009)

Winner of the 2008 Dorset Prize, this collection is aptly titled, filled with unexpected melodies and complex associations. The archicembalo was a sixteenth-century harpsichord with extra keys and strings that allowed for greater musical range and experimentation. A singer and conductor in his college days, Waldrep adeptly weaves music with language in fifty-six wise, humorous, probing and wry pieces. A masterful and innovative work of prose poetry.

— Sally Molini

Chez Nous

Chez Nous
BY Angie Estes
(Oberlin College Press, 2005)

Populated with icons such as Madame X, Cleopatra, Rita Hayworth and Greta Garbo, Chez Nous combines poems on femme fatales with French phrases, literary allusions, and subjects as diverse as the House of Worth or the art of typography. Estes’ third collection may seem cool on its surface, but rewards the reader with sonic patterns and vigorous inventions. Elegance has seldom looked this composed and simultaneously effortless.

— Karen Rigby

Ordering the Storm

Ordering the Storm: How to Put Together a Book of Poems
EDITED BY Susan Grimm
(CSU Press, 2006)

Arranging a large number of poems into a publishable whole can feel like “herding birds,” and these eleven essays offer both guidance and comfort for what can be a frustrating, seemingly never-ending maze-like process. Topics on how a poetry collection can be “more than the sum of its parts,” and “finding the central impulse in your body of work” as a starting point and foundation are included among other methods and points of view. Insightful quotes and discussions of how other writers (Mary Oliver, John Ashbery, and Tess Gallagher, to name a few) assembled their books are found throughout. A useful addition to any poet’s library.

— Sally Molini

Fine Arts

Pierre Bonnard: The Late
Still Lifes and Interiors

EDITED BY Dita Amory
(Yale University Press, 2009)
PUBLISHED IN ASSOCIATION WITH
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

“The spectral figures who appear and disappear at the margins of these canvases, overshadowed by brilliantly colored baskets of fruit, dishes, or other still-life props, create an atmosphere of profound ambiguity and puzzling abstraction,” presents the curator Dita Amory. A solid volume of essays and catalogue that accompanies the most recent exhibition of Bonnard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, this book reflects a highly focused effort in rendering this French master’s work and life of art accessible to both a critical and broad audience.

— Greta Aart

Films

The Best of Youth

La Meglio gioventù (The Best of Youth)
DIRECTED BY Marco Tulio Giordana
(BiBiFilm, 2003)

A six-hour epic drama that chronicles the journey of the two Carati brothers and their family against the gripping historical backdrop of Italy from the sixties till today — this film is a true jewel in world cinema. With a meticulously and richly written text that reveals humanity in every emotion as well as breathtaking cinematography, you rejoice, cry, mourn, aspire and struggle with each personnage through these transformative years that are unrefutably The Best of Youth.

— Greta Aart

Joyeux Noël

Joyeux Noël
DIRECTED BY Christian Carion
(Nord-Ouest Production, 2005)

If “history existed only as spirit and not as an objective reality” (Modris Eksteins), the “taboo” episodes of fraternisation on different fronts among the French, German and Scottish soldiers on Christmas Eve 1914 are more than moments of goodwill, friendship and peace. Inspired by true historical events, this film re-questions the notion of authority, revealing a journey to the interior — in the no man’s land where a Christmas ode, however brief, was able to insurrect silence and respect.

— Greta Aart

Nonfiction

Corvus

Corvus: A Life with Birds
BY Esther Woolfson
(Counterpoint, 2009)

From a young age, the author learned not to have “any false ideas of the superior place human beings occupy in the world.” It is this rare view and Woolfson’s respectful curiosity and compassionate sensibility that lead to a life of living with uncaged birds in her home. Worth the price of the book alone is the story of Madame Chickeboumskaya (“Chicken”), a very intelligent and personable rook. Corvus is nature writing at its best.

— Sally Molini

The Long-Winded Lady: Notes from The New Yorker

The Long-Winded Lady:
Notes from The New Yorker

BY Maeve Brennan
(Counterpoint, 1997)

“New York does nothing for those of us who are inclined to love her except implant in our hearts a homesickness that baffles us until we go away from her, and then we realize why we are restless. At home or away, we are homesick for New York not because New York used to be better and not because she used to be worse but because the city holds us and we don’t know why.” With witty, nostalgic musings about New York in the sixties, Maeve Brennan the “Long-Winded Lady” sketches with a quick swerve of her pen, never failing in her signature elegance, sharpness, vibrance and humor.

— Greta Aart

The Periodic Table

The Periodic Table
BY Primo Levi
TRANSLATED FROM THE ITALIAN
BY
Raymond Rosenthal

(Schocken Books, 1995)

Though he was more reknown for Survival in Auschwitz, Primo Levi also wrote autobiographical essays using his background as a chemist. His analogies between the elements and his memories of friends, relatives and work-related incidents enchant the general reader as well as the science aficionado. They mine the “labyrinthine tangle” of the Piedmont region, among other locations. Levi converts the personal chaos of World War II into an homage to a seemingly unlikely candidate; like its forerunner alchemy, chemistry becomes a storied and often mysterious vocation.

— Karen Rigby

Printed from Cerise Press: http://www.cerisepress.com

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