Tag Archives: poet

Sum and Substance by K Pankajam

sumAuthorspress, New Delhi, 2014

ISBN 978-81-7273-962-1

Review by Shernaz Wadia 

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This is a collection of poems written in forthright, simple language. The poems have an undercurrent of morality but Pankajam does not write like a preacher or someone who believes her destiny is to change the world. It remains for the reader to glean the pearls from between her words and lines. She writes quietly, reflectively, spraying quotidian subjects – Bus Journey, A Surprise Visit, Signboards, My City Seldom Sleeps, Rain Skills, Before The Ink Dries – with freshness and vibrancy.
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Resolutions will immediately resonate with the habitual resolution makers. Many will ‘rewind’ with the poet and ‘think of the debt I could not pay, the promises I could not fulfill’  She takes us relentlessly through each month of the year to finally wind up where we started, with “a fresh list for yet another year”.
She finds Faith everywhere from a plain sheet of paper to everything in nature. It is ‘in our expectation of a daybreak after pitch-dark nights, while our existence next moment/seems beyond prediction.’  
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She writes lucidly about the Indian customs, rituals and ethos she is a part of. (The Pipal Tree, Vishukkani, Hopefully…, Gruhapravesham) Nor does she shy away from what might be termed ‘superstition’. In Stains (Pg. 33) she visits childhood memories of her grandfather’s quirks.  Language of Childhood bemoans the loss of innocence and voices the universal desire for a return to it while Second Childhood compassionately revives the memory of an uncle who had slipped into dementia.
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 When the world is tooting gender equality and women of substance are feted, her women-centric poems stop us in our tracks and compel us to take a look at a different reality. ‘Morning Blues, Yielding… ‘You Are (Not) a Working Woman’, is the dismal tale of every homemaker, whose relentless toil is taken for granted even though she works herself to the bones. 
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Inching slowly, she saunters towards the bed
And slithers into the waiting arms. He murmurs:
“Thank God you are not a working woman!”
Her day continues…
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‘Solitude’s Whimper’ is one poem that shatters our complacency. It shames us out of our apathy as we stare with a dumb ache and with “the walls bleed silently”
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If a philosophical vein peeps through poems like The Journey, A Little Secret, The Ultimatum…, the poet’s humour drips from poems like ‘A Surprise Visit to a Bachelor’s House’.  I couldn’t help but smile at ‘A Momentary Impulse’ a poem most will be able to relate to
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No sindhoor on the parting line/a milky path to the kingdom of love/that kindles his passion to leap a bit.
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In ‘An Orchestra’ she becomes ‘a song in the concert’. In Muse-Inspired she says,
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Salty breeze from Bay of Bengal….give rebirth to my sunken moods/ raises my spirit to its meridian splendour/and soaks my soul in the pavilion of passions.
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Some subjects have been written about endlessly, but they don’t lose their poignancy. Life Is a Circle is a heart-wrenching letter from a parent in an old age home which concludes with the lines
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I taught you all about life
maybe not about relationships
and I write to say:
Don’t tell your son I am here.
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Another evergreen subject for poets is Mother. Pankajam’s ode to her’s is ‘You Visit Me in My Sleep’.
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In my sugared memories of the past,
your face blooms like a lotus that meditates
unfolds at sunrise, upright,
with flawless beauty and virgin purity.
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In Sum and Substance Pankajam serves us a varied fare which is appetising, appealing and satiating. There is a sprinkling of nature poems, love poems, poems that throw a search light not only on society but on her inner realm. We are carried along on her words as she questions, wonders, dreams, empathises, hopes and muses.

 

 

Shernaz-Wadia3– Shernaz Wadia, a retired teacher, lives in Pune, India. A free-lance writer, her articles, short stories and poems have been published in many online journals and literary magazines like Muse India, Boloji, Kritya and The Enchanting Verses etc. Her poems have been anthologised in Poets International, Roots and Wings and Caring Moments. Shernaz is in the process of publishing her poems in a book titled Whispers of the Soul.. She has also co-authored a book of poems titled “Tapestry”, with Israeli poetess Avril Meallem. It is an innovative form of collaborative poetry writing developed by the two of them.

PII Gallery and Dave Worrell Seeking Poets and Writers

From Dave Worrell

pii

The Philadelphia International Institute gallery (PII) in Old City, Philadelphia, (242 Race StreetPhiladelphia, PA 19106) is looking for poets and creative writers of all kinds to take part in its August 7 First Friday opening event. The gallery show will feature abstract paintings — so if you have poems or prose pieces that are a little bit out there (or a lot), we want you.  This is your chance to let that wild side off the leash for a while — more or less within the limits of the law, of course. No need to write anything specifically for the occasion — just bring your most imaginative stuff.

We anticipate a sizable crowd so we may not be able to give folks more than a minute or two — sort of fast-moving tag-team marathon concept. Sometime in July, you will be able to see some of the paintings on the PII website. http://www.piigallery.com/

Dave WorrellTo get booked for this event please contact me by the end of June so we can you include your name in the publicity materials. daveworrell13@yahoo.com

 

Juan Felipe Herrera Named U.S. Poet Laureate

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Juan Felipe Herrera on Youtube

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=juan+felipe+herrera

Announcement from The Library of Congress

 News from the Library of Congress

June 10, 2015

Librarian of Congress Appoints Juan Felipe Herrera Poet Laureate

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington today announced the appointment of Juan Felipe Herrera as the Library’s 21st Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, for 2015-2016. Herrera will take up his duties in the fall, participating in the Library of Congress National Book Festival on Saturday, September 5 and opening the Library’s annual literary season with a reading of his work at the Coolidge Auditorium on Tuesday, September 15.

“I see in Herrera’s poems the work of an American original—work that takes the sublimity and largesse of “Leaves of Grass” and expands upon it,” Billington said. “His poems engage in a serious sense of play—in language and in image—that I feel gives them enduring power. I see how they champion voices, traditions and histories, as well as a cultural perspective, which is a vital part of our larger American identity.”

Herrera, who succeeds Charles Wright as Poet Laureate, is the first Hispanic poet to serve in the position. He said, “This is a mega-honor for me, for my family and my parents who came up north before and after the Mexican Revolution of 1910—the honor is bigger than me. I want to take everything I have in me, weave it, merge it with the beauty that is in the Library of Congress, all the resources, the guidance of the staff and departments, and launch it with the heart-shaped dreams of the people. It is a miracle of many of us coming together.”

Herrera joins a long line of distinguished poets who have served in the position, including Natasha Trethewey, Philip Levine, W. S. Merwin, Kay Ryan, Charles Simic, Donald Hall, Ted Kooser, Louise Glück, Billy Collins, Stanley Kunitz, Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass and Rita Dove.

The new Poet Laureate is the author of 28 books of poetry, novels for young adults and collections for children, most recently “Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes” (2014), a picture book showcasing inspirational Hispanic and Latino Americans. His most recent book of poems is “Senegal Taxi” (2013).

Herrera was born in Fowler, California, in 1948. As the son of migrant farm workers, he moved around often, living in tents and trailers along the road in Southern California, and attended school in a variety of small towns from San Francisco to San Diego. In 1972 he graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with a bachelor’s degree in social anthropology. He then attended Stanford University, where he received a master’s degree in social anthropology, and in 1990 received a Masters of Fine Arts at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Herrera has written over a dozen poetry collections, including “Half the World in Light: New and Selected Poems” (2008), which received the National Book Critics Circle Award and the International Latino Book Award. He is also a celebrated young adult and children’s book author. His honors include the Américas Award for both “Cinnamon Girl: letters found inside a cereal box” (2005) and “Crashboomlove: A Novel in Verse” (1999), as well as the Independent Publisher Book Award for “Featherless / Desplumado” (2005), the Ezra Jack Keats Award for “Calling the Doves” (1995) and the Pura Belpré Author Honor Award for both “Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes” and “Laughing Out Loud, I Fly” (1998).

For his poetry, Herrera has received two Latino Hall of Fame Poetry Awards, a PEN USA National Poetry Award, the PEN Oakland / Josephine Miles Award, a PEN / Beyond Margins Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Stanford University Chicano Fellows.

Herrera has served as the chair of the Chicano and Latin American Studies Department at California State University, Fresno, and held the Tomas Rivera Endowed Chair in the Creative Writing Department at the University of California, Riverside, where he taught until retiring in 2015. He is currently a visiting professor in the Department of American Ethnic Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle. Elected as a chancellor for the Academy of American Poets in 2011, he also served as the Poet Laureate of California from 2012-2015.

Background of the Laureateship

The Poet Laureate is selected for a one-year term by the Librarian of Congress. The choice is based on poetic merit alone and has included a wide variety of poetic styles.

The Library keeps to a minimum the specific duties required of the Poet Laureate, who opens the literary season in the fall and closes it in May. Laureates, in recent years, have initiated poetry projects that broaden the audiences for poetry.

In 2013-2014 Natasha Trethewey launched “Where Poetry Lives,” a series of on-location reports as part of the PBS NewsHour’s Poetry Series. These reports, in locations across the country, explored societal issues through poetry’s focused lens. For more information, visit www.pbs.org/newshour/tag/where-poetry-lives/.

Earlier, Rita Dove brought a program of poetry and jazz to the Library’s literary series, along with a reading by young Crow Indian poets and a two-day conference titled “Oil on the Waters: The Black Diaspora,” featuring panel discussions, readings and music. Robert Hass sponsored a major conference on nature writing called “Watershed,” which continues today as a national poetry competition for elementary, middle and high-school students, titled “River of Words.” Robert Pinsky initiated his Favorite Poem Project, which energized a nation of poetry readers to share their favorite poems in readings across the country and in audio and video recordings. Billy Collins instituted the website Poetry180, www.loc.gov/poetry/180/, which brought a poem a day into high-school classrooms in all parts of the country via the central announcement system.

Ten years ago, Ted Kooser created a free weekly newspaper column, at www.americanlifeinpoetry.org, that features a brief poem by a contemporary American poet and an introduction to the poem by Kooser. Donald Hall participated in the first-ever joint poetry readings of the U.S. Poet Laureate and British Poet Laureate Andrew Motion in a program called “Poetry Across the Atlantic,” co-sponsored by the Poetry Foundation. Kay Ryan launched “Poetry for the Mind’s Joy” in 2009-2010, a project that focused on the poetry being written by community-college students. The project included visits to various community colleges and a poetry contest on the campuses. For more information on Ryan’s project, visit www.loc.gov/poetry/mindsjoy/.

The Library of Congress’ Poetry and Literature Center is the home of the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, a position that has existed since 1936, when Archer M. Huntington endowed the Chair of Poetry at the Library. Since then, many of the nation’s most eminent poets have served as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress and, after the passage of Public Law 99-194 (Dec. 20, 1985), as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. The Poet Laureate suggests authors to read in the literary series and plans other special events during the literary season.

At NPR

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/06/10/412909814/juan-felipe-herrera-named-u-s-poet-laureate

At The Huffington Post

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/10/juan-felipe-herrera-poet-laureate_n_7550910.html

At The New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/10/books/juan-felipe-herrera-poet-laureate-with-a-working-class-voice-meant-to-be-spoken.html?_r=0

Even in Quiet Places By William Stafford

Even in quiet PlacesPublisher: Confluence Press; 1 edition (January 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1881090167
ISBN-13: 978-1881090168
 
Review by S. M. Page
 
William Stafford’s Even in Quiet Places is outstanding poetry.  Stafford is one of the greats who controls form and line using lyrical conversational meter.  The book is divided into four sections.  The first three were published as chapbooks and the last a garnering of poems Stafford wrote as a project for U.S. Forest Service (several being put on signs and posted along wilderness trails in the Cascade Mountains—that alone is a monumental achievement).  I read the book four times, three as it is ordered by editor and son Kim Stafford, and once in the chronological order the sections were originally written.   I like my last reading best, as it gives me better sense of Stafford’s final years in regards to his style, theoretical, and spiritual growth.  His poems topic nature, environmental destruction, and human to human apathy; even more so, how short human life and consciousness are compared to the Earth’s:
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This From Lookout Point
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The cast here, in order of disappearance, were
dinosaurs, saber tooths, many birds, pioneers,
Shoshones, Wolverines, Wolves, Grizzlies,
For some reason they don’t come around much anymore.
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Also certain people have gone away—saints,
explorers.  They didn’t want to disturb the air.
All those tracks in river and sand—gone.
And their fires, the charcoal—all washed away.
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So sometimes I choose a cloud and let it
cross the sky floating me off there too.
Or a bird unravels its song and carries me
as it flies deeper and deeper into the woods.
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Such times, laments are not necessary.  You could
wait here all winter and the mountains would
just stand there.  They wouldn’t say anything.  Why
should they care?  Someday everything will be goon.
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Hey, let’s hurry down and forget this.
It gets cold here.
 
 
 
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S. M. Page at a lookout point S. M. Page is the author of The Timbre of Sand and Still Dandelions.  He holds degrees from Palomar College, Columbia University, and Bennington College.  He is the recipient of The Jess Cloud Memorial Prize for Poetry.  He loves to teach, spend time with his family, and wander through the woods communing with nature. 

The Longest Pleasure by Vinita Agrawal

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Review by g emil reutter 

Vinita Agrawal is a poet of honest observation who is an imagist at heart. The poem, Wrought By The   Storm is about having tea with her father, the death of her mother is central as in this excerpt:.

The storm struck our prayer bell

Shook the Gods at the altar

Caused the fan to whir anti-clockwise

Jerked wildly in our pulse beats

Skewed our outer expressions of calm

Flickered like fear in our eyes.

She captures in stark images those left behind in economic prosperity and social reform in the poem, Pedder Road Flyover:

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Here they lived – under the canopy of opulence

on a road named after Mr. W.G. Pedder,

a British Municipal Commissioner of 1879 Bombay.

Politicians changed the name to Dr. G. Deshmukh Marg after a social reformer.

But somehow the families here still picked garbage,

waded around in stench, did death’s work,

stayed alive only because cholera was dead.

If you ventured out at the devil’s hour,

you’d have heard them groan into the darkness

as at last, traffic dimmed around three in the morning.

A few hours of oblivion must have felt good

with loyal street dogs curled up warmly by their sides.

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In the poem, Jovan Musk and Tiananmen Square, Agrawal writes of being there during the uprising. Of

…The screams of raw blood flooding a public street

Unaware, that on its silver jubilee, I’d be reminded with deadly hurt

Of what it was like to live in oppressions long shadow

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Azadirachta Indica is a poem about the shade of a Magosa. How they populate most courtyards in India of her walk with a doctor and the dangers of the Magosa and then:

Watch, he said, and picked up a golden yellow seed

popped it between his thumb and forefinger until oil oozed out.

He poured it on a worm down below, stunning it.

It retreated hastily. Didn’t stand a chance.

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Later, I dipped my sins in it,

hoping it would cauterize tissues of guilt

sterilize thorny voices in my head

that accused me of being unclean.

 

From the poem, Time Lag

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Despite loess caressing the roots

and the damp, earthy aroma of trees,

a brokenness clings to the winds;

fresh as a pistil that has just lost its flower.

Despite the wet tissues made of air and rain,

the tree branches look fractured

their leaves pale like pinched skin.

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Vinita Agrawal is a well-traveled poet who takes in all that she observes. Her honest and passionate images cause a stirring of thought and a desire of action. She is an urban poet who writes of the stark realities of the world and of her own pulse beats and broken drift wood of the heart.

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You can pre order the book here: https://finishinglinepress.com/product_info.php?cPath=4&products_id=2423

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IMG_1360-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. You can find him here: https://gereutter.wordpress.com/about/

 

 

 

 

Poetry in the News

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Book thief vents rage on laureate’s poetry with shotgun

http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2015/05/21/book-thief-vents-rage-laureates-poetry-shotgun/27711589/

Powerful language fires poetry of Clarke in Traverse

http://thechronicleherald.ca/thenovascotian/1288715-powerful-language-fires-poetry-of-clarke-in-traverse

Utah Cowboy Poetry Festival is ‘dad burn’ fun

http://www.sltrib.com/news/2538748-155/utah-cowboy-poetry-festival-is-dad

Les Murray finds brevity in poetry anthology Waiting for the Past

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/review/les-murray-finds-brevity-in-poetry-anthology-waiting-for-the-past/story-fn9n8gph-1227361535511

Rebel Poet’s 116th birth anniversary

http://www.thedailystar.net/backpage/rebel-poets-116th-birth-anniversary-86902

Debate continues in Chile over reburying the remains of poet Pablo Neruda

http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/lifestyle/2015/05/20/debate-continues-in-chile-over-reburying-remains-poet-pablo-neruda/

The Body Poetic: An Interview With Luna Miguel

http://thequietus.com/articles/17932-luna-miguel-interview-emily-berry-poetry-body-mermaids-alt-lit-death-los-estomagos

Polish Poet Zagajewski: ‘Being Optimistic Today is Rather Naive’

http://greece.greekreporter.com/2015/05/21/polish-poet-zagajewski-being-optimistic-today-is-rather-naive/

Esposito and McClung Welcome Summer to Ryerss

Featured Poets Laren McClung and Lynette Esposito

Featured Poets Laren McClung and Lynette Esposito

Memorial Day Weekend is the unofficial start of summer and Poets Lynette Esposito and Laren McClung warmed up the old mansion at Ryerss. The featured poets were followed in the open mic by Louise Sprouse, Wendy Schermer, Norman Lampert, Ethyl Treatman Burns and Rodger Lowenthal.

You can see photographs of the event at this link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/12065560@N04/sets/72157629096910438

Next up: Poets on the Porch 2015 July 11th @ 1 p.m.