A Diamond is not a Stone

A car is not a purse
I want to say to the man
down the road whose house
is so full of things
he can’t throw away
he buys car after car,
fills them with newspapers
he plans to read, letters
he hopes to answer.

The cars still run
when he abandons them,
weighed down like trees
with too much fruit,
like the trees in his yard.

by Wyn Cooper

© Wyn Cooper, 2010. ‘A Diamond is not a Stone’ is taken from the book Chaos is the New Calm, and reprinted by permission of BOA Editions.

Notes courtesy of BOA Editions:

Wyn Cooper has published four books of poems: The Country of Here Below (Ahsahta Press, 1987), The Way Back (White Pine Press, 2000), and Postcards from the Interior, (BOA Editions, 2005), and, most recently, Chaos is the New Calm (BOA Editions, 2010), as well as a chapbook, Secret Address (Chapiteau Press, 2002). His poems, stories, essays, and reviews have appeared in PoetryPloughsharesThe Southern Review, CrazyhorseSlate, and more than 75 other magazines. His poems are included in 25 anthologies of contemporary poetry, including The Mercury Reader, Outsiders, and Ecstatic Occasions, Expedient Forms.

Chaos is the New Calm, from which ‘A Diamond is not a Stone’ comes, is a book of sonnets and sonnet-like poems, some rhymed, some not. Starting with the idea of the sonnet as a fourteen-line lyric poem, this book plays with the form, putting rhymes in unusual places, inventing new stanza forms, and addressing an unusually broad variety of subject matter. You can find out more about the book here, and more about Wyn Cooper here.

BOA Editions, Ltd., a not-for-profit publisher of poetry and other literary works, fosters readership and appreciation of contemporary literature. By identifying, cultivating, and publishing both new and established poets and selecting authors of unique literary talent, BOA brings high quality literature to the public. Support for this effort comes from the sale of its publications, grant funding, and private donations. To find out more about BOA Editions, visit the website.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.

Accents

I lay down under the cherry trees
in our garden where the grass was balding

a little, and looked up into the branches.
I was learning the catechism,

and I went over a few questions
and answers as absolutes; I was thinking

of a dance I had been to on a farm
a dress I wore, something I said

too revealing of feeling;
those chicks left in an open crate

in the shade behind the farm, near a wall,
came into my mind. I thought of how

they might have struggled all wet
out of their eggs, like light escaping;

Senorita Morales came into my thoughts too,
her long fingernails when she pointed out

where the accents should go over the words
on the blackboard, and the way she said

penultima silaba and antepenultima;
and all these thoughts lightly hooked together

like young girls walking down the street
holding each others’ hands by the little finger.

by Jane Duran

© Jane Duran, 2010. ‘Accents’ is taken from the book Graceline, and reprinted by permission of Enitharmon Press.

Notes courtesy of Enitharmon:

As a young girl, Jane Duran moved to Chile with her family, travelling from New York to Valparaiso on the Santa Barbara, one of the Grace Line fleet. This long journey, passing through the Panama Canal and down the Pacific coast of Latin America, has inspired her collection of poems Graceline. These meditative poems cross over continually between illusion and reality, past and present. Although they evoke the journey, and the extraordinary landscapes of Chile, they also explore darker undercurrents. Her sequence ‘Panama Canal’ evokes the terrors of the Canal’s construction; a sequence on the regime of Augusto Pinochet (‘Invisible Ink’) interweaves cityscapes and landscapes with allusions to the cruelties and bereavements of that time. But the poems are also about her life as a young girl in Chile, the impact of the Chilean landscape on her, and convey a powerful feeling of love for that country. You can learn more about her book here, and more about Jane Duran here. At the second link you can hear her reading from her own work.

Enitharmon Press takes its name from a William Blake character who represents spiritual beauty and poetic inspiration. Founded in 1967 with an emphasis on independence and quality, Enitharmon has been associated with such figures as Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter and Kathleen Raine. Enitharmon also commissions internationally renowned collaborations between artists, including Gilbert & George, and poets, including Seamus Heaney, under the Enitharmon Editions imprint. Discover more about Enitharmon here.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.

Flood Song

I sensed the knife in your past,
its sharp edge shanked from the canyon stream—
a silver trickle between the book jacket,
nihízaad
 peeled open inside a diabetic mouth.

The waters of my clans
flash flooded—
I fell from the white of its eyes—
our fathers had no children to name their own
no baby’s cry to place between argument and arguments.

The commercial flashed a blue path
across the lakes of our veins
the bluest glint, a rock in the ear
told our tongues entwined,

that I was reaching for the corn field inside you,
that I was longing to outlive this compass
pointing toward my skull
gauzed inside this long terrible whisper

damp in a desert canyon,
white-washed by the ache of  fog lights
reaching to unravel                my combed hair.

by Sherwin Bitsui

© Sherwin Bitsui and Copper Canyon Press, 2010.

‘Flood Song’ is taken from the book Flood Song, and reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.

Notes courtesy of Copper Canyon:

“I bite my eyes shut between these songs.” So begins Flood Song, a concentrated, interweaving, painterly sequence in which Native tradition scrapes against contemporary urban life. In his second book, Sherwin Bitsui intones landscapes real and imagined, populated with the wrens, winds, and reeds of the high desert and constructed from the bricks and gasoline of the city. Reverent to his family’s indigenous traditions while simultaneously indebted to European modernism and surrealism, Bitsui is at the forefront of a younger generation of Native writers. His poems are highly imagistic and constantly in motion, drawing as readily upon Diné (Navajo) myths, customs, and medicine songs as they do contemporary language and poetics. “I map a shrinking map,” Bitsui writes, a map tribal and individual, elemental and modern — and utterly astonishing.

Sherwin Bitsui is originally from White Cone, Arizona, on the Navajo Reservation. He is Diné of the Tódích’ii’nii (Bitter Water Clan), born for the Tlizílaaní (Many Goats Clan). He holds an A.F.A. from the Institute of American Indian Arts Creative Writing Program and is currently completing his studies at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He is the recipient of a 2005 Lannan Foundation Residency in Marfa, Texas, and the Whiting Writers Award in 2006. He also works for literacy programs that bring poets and writers into public schools where there are Native American student populations. Bitsui has published his poems in American PoetThe Iowa ReviewFrank (Paris), LIT, and elsewhere. His poems were also anthologized in Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century. Flood Song is the Winner of the 2010 PEN Open Book Award and a 2010 American Book Award. You can read more about Bitsui here and at his own website here, and more of his work here.

Copper Canyon Press is a nonprofit publisher that believes poetry is vital to language and living. Since 1972, the Press has published poetry exclusively and has established an international reputation for its commitment to authors, editorial acumen, and dedication to the poetry audience. As the preeminent independent publisher of poetry, Copper Canyon Press fosters the work of emerging, established, and world-renowned poets for an expanding audience. Copper Canyon Press publishes new collections of poetry by both revered and emerging American poets, translations of classical and contemporary work from many of the world’s cultures, re-issues of out-of-print poetry classics, anthologies, and prose books about poetry. Click here to visit the Copper Canyon website.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.

My Brother Was Writing Poetry

While I was writing my verses, my brother was working on his boat. He carefully dismantled the seats. He upturned the boat, sanded it down to white (making the cherry-tree turn white). Then he took it to a master to be given a number, to pass the test more easily. He applied putty for hours, then an undercoat, the way people polish teeth against tartar or put plasters on grazed knees. He circled it and wondered what to christen it. He named it after the hero of his favourite film. While I was working, my brother was writing poetry.

by Tsvetanka Elenkova

Copyright © Tsvetanka Elenkova, 2005. Translation copyright © Jonathan Dunne, 2010.

‘My Brother Was Writing Poetry’ is taken from the volume The Seventh Gesture by Tsvetanka Elenkova, translated by Jonathan Dunne, and reprinted by permission of Shearsman Books.

Notes courtesy of Jonathan Dunne and Shearsman Books:

Tsvetanka Elenkova was born in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 1968. She is the author of three poetry collections – The Stakes of the LegionAmphipolis of the Nine Roads and The Seventh Gesture – together with a book of essays, Time and Relation. Her work has been translated into twelve languages and, in English, has appeared in magazines such as Poetry ReviewModern Poetry in Translation and Absinthe. An English edition of The Seventh Gesture, which Sarah Crown called ‘an unusual, uplifting collection’, was published by Shearsman Books in 2010. She translates poetry from English, Greek and Macedonian, including collections by Raymond Carver, Bogomil Gjuzel and Fiona Sampson, and has been a guest at several literary festivals (Vilenica, Poeteka, Tinos). Her translation of the anthology of Indian mystic poetry Speaking of Siva was nominated for the Hristo G. Danov National Literary Award in 2000. She is the Bulgarian Writers Association’s representative at the International Writers and Translators Centre of Rhodes, and also co-directs the publishing house Small Stations Press. You can find out more about Elenkova here, and read more of her work here.

Shearsman Books is a very active publisher of new poetry, mostly from Britain and the USA, but also with an active translation list. You can learn more about the publisher here.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.