Third Factory/Notes to Poetry

art is autonomous

Attention Span 2011 | Joshua Edwards

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Srikanth Reddy | Voyager | California | 2011

At the time of this writing I’m in Berlin, and Reddy’s triple-erasure of Kurt Waldheim’s memoir would be an especially poignant reread here . . . had I the foresight to bring it along. Sadly, I didn’t bring any books except for the collected Yeats, so I’ve gotta depend on my shoddy memory. That said, before I left I’d read Voyager a couple of times already, and it’s one of my very favorite books of the past few years—a haunting portrayal of individual consciousness and collective ghosts.

Anne Carson | Glass, Irony and God | Vintage | 1995

Glass, Irony and God helps me read better and travel with a more astonished eye, and Carson’s wry, hyper-aware meditations are good for the (dare I say) soul.

Paul Valéry, trans. various | Selected Writings of Paul Valéry | New Directions | 1964

“All powerful, inescapable astral strangers, / Deigning to let shine far off in time / Something supernaturally sublime”

John Milton | The Complete Poems | Penguin Classics | 1999

Samson Agonistes and Paradise Lost are fundamental influences to the verse novella I’m at work on, so I’ve been living in a cool Miltonic shadow for the better part of two years.

Coral Bracho, trans. Forrest Gander | Firefly Under the Tongue | New Directions | 2008

Coral Bracho read in San Francisco earlier this year with another great Mexican poet, María Baranda (whose book, Ficticia, I translated), and it was wonderful to become reacquainted with the luscious, inimitable poems in this collection through her voice. The work in Firefly Under the Tongue is full of surprises of sound, phrases that redouble and move between meanings, and astonishing mindfulness. Forrest Gander’s translation is excellent.

Brandon Shimoda | The Girl Without Arms | Black Ocean | 2010

These poems come from out of the sacrebleu. The Girl Without Arms is intensely lyrical, disturbing, funny, and weirdly warm. Its syntax is slippery and unique. Its voice is that of a brilliant mind that perhaps belongs to another era wrestling with a maximalist world (perhaps akin to Ceravolo in this way). Shimoda’s got another book coming out soon—I can’t wait.

William Shakespeare | Macbeth | Royal Shakespeare Company | 2011

My partner Lynn and I went to an amazing production of Macbeth in Stratford this summer. It was especially good to see since I reread the play a month or so before, and I could therefore follow what was going on instead of getting lost in the play’s language, which is what usually happens to me with Shakespeare. As expected, it was creepy and exceedingly bloody.

Sappho, trans. various | Various | Various | Various

For quite some time this spring I always had an edition of Sappho in my backpack and a few others on my desk.

Cedar Sigo | Stranger in Town | City Lights | 2010

A lot of people told me about Cedar Sigo and I read a great chapbook of his published by House Press, then I got hold of Stranger in Town. His poems are supercharged with energy and life—they’re romantic, funny, and personal, and they hearken back to the sixties while also seeming to come from a parallel universe. Also, they’ve got great titles.

Alan Gilbert | Late in the Antennae Fields | Futurepoem | 2011

I’m always on the lookout for Alan Gilbert’s poems, and I think I’d read most of Late in the Antennae Fields before the collection came out. It’s great to now have all the work in one place—the poems accumulate force as the collection goes along, and I recommend reading it all in one sitting, then going back over each poem slowly to enjoy the book’s astonishing images and turns of phrase.

Susan Howe | That This | New Directions | 2011

I haven’t read as much of Susan Howe’s work as I feel I should have. Luckily, a friend of mine in Berlin has That This, and she lent it to me. It’s a beautiful book, extremely nuanced and challenging.

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Joshua Edwards is the author of Campeche and the publisher of Canarium Books. Edwards’s Attention Span for 2010, 2009, 2007. Back to 2011 directory.

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