Third Factory/Notes to Poetry

art is autonomous

Attention Span 2009 – Joshua Edwards

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Eleanor M. Bender, ed. | Open Spaces, Number 29, Spring | 1980

I came across this not long ago, while looking through books at my parents’ home. It’s a 64-page staple-bound poetry magazine. On the cover is a photo my dad took of two young poets. One of them is Harryette Mullen, and it turns out she was poet-in-residence at the Galveston Arts Center, where my dad directed the gallery. I always thought that I’d never met a “poet” until I left Texas and went to college in Oregon, but she was a friend of my parents when I was one year old. More proof that they’re far cooler than I gave them credit for when I was in high school. The magazine also includes work by Ahmos Zu-Bolton II, Marge Piercy, X. J. Kennedy, Susan Ludvigson, Robert Wilkinson, Tess Gallagher, Carolyn Kizer, and Marilyn Hacker.

August Kleinzahler | Sleeping It Off in Rapid City | Farrar, Straus and Giroux | 2008

Kleinzahler keeps me on my toes with his vocabulary, wit, and formal variety, and this book makes me want to write poems in ballparks, streetcars, hotel rooms, and diners. I’ve just moved to the Bay Area, and I’m sure I’ll often wander through the fog with these poems in mind.

Eugene Ionesco, trans. Donald Watson | Rhinoceros | Penguin | 2000

If Beckett had dropped acid and interpreted certain themes in Moby Dick in a play …

Kenneth Rexroth, trans. | One Hundred Poems from the Chinese | New Directions | 1971

For ten months I was in Shanghai, so this anthology of T’ang and Sung Dynasty poets was a constant companion as I tried to figure out what was under the sidewalk besides the subway. Su Tung P’o (a.k.a. Su Dongpo or Su Shi) is represented by some amazing poems.

Kenneth Rexroth, trans. | One Hundred Poems from the Japanese | New Directions | 1977
Kenneth Rexroth & Ikuko Atsumi, trans. | Women Poets of Japan | New Directions | 1977

I was too busy eating during a month-long trip around Japan to read much of anything, but ever since leaving I’ve pulled these classics from the shelf and have been rereading them constantly. Lady Otomo No Sakanoe’s “Have I learned to understand you?” is perhaps the most beautiful rhetorical question I’ve ever read.

Rimbaud, trans. Wallace Fowlie | Complete Works, Selected Letters | The University of Chicago Press | 1966

“Mon triste cœr bave à la poupe” says it all.

Sawako Nakayasu | Hurry Home Honey | Burning Deck | 2009

In the wrong hands love can get old fast, but Sawako Nakayasu’s fantastic and inventive poems are as contemporary as Cupid’s arrows get. This book is a must-read for anyone who has a heart.

Tod Marshall | The Tangled Line | Canarium Books | 2009
Ish Klein | UNION! | Canarium Books | 2009

We were super lucky to get Tod’s and Ish’s books for our first two Canarium single-author titles. I’ve read them both at least a dozen times, and I keep coming back for more.

Haruki Murakami | What I Talk About When I Talk About Running | Knopf | 2008

I like this book but only because I’ve been on a running kick and Murakami makes writing prose seem fun. But overall, it’s poorly organized and often flat—it should have been called something like “Notes Toward a Book About Running.” Still, good for anyone training for a road race or a triathlon, etc., and often funny.

More Joshua Edwards here.

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