Third Factory/Notes to Poetry

art is autonomous

Attention Span 2012 | Joshua Edwards

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Roberto Bolaño, trans. Chris Andrews | Amulet | New Directions | 1999

Amulet is a strange, short, lyrical novel that confuses time and identity as it explores questions of community and politics in Mexico City in the 1960s and 1970s.

Inger Christensen, trans. Susanna Nied | alphabet | New Directions | 2000

The moment I finished this book I thought, “I wish I had read that a lot earlier.” These are the sort of poems that inspire people (more ambitious than myself) to learn a new language.

E. M. Cioran, trans. Richard Howard | A Short History of Decay | Arcade | 1998

A deluge of aphorisms, darkness, and humor. Reading it is like going for a brisk morning jog in a waste land. “In every man sleeps a prophet, and when he wakes there is a little more evil in the world.”

Teju Cole | Open City | Random House | 2011

This novel made me want to write a novel. Its narrator elegantly meditates on travel, cities, walking, politics, history, love, and solitude.

Cid Corman | O/I | The Elizabeth Press | 1974

Corman and I share a birthday (separated by 54 years). Although having admired his work in bits, I hadn’t read a single collection until this one, which I love. Spare and sensual, full of ideas, friends, and places, O/I has great range and an easy wisdom that puts other poets—who posture to be called wise—to shame.

John Glassco | Memoirs of Montparnasse | New York Review Books | 2007

This is a joyous, beautifully-written memoir about being a young and in love with life. It’s also about Paris and the literary set there in the 1920s.

Kenzaburo Oe, trans. Kunioki Yanagishita and William Wethrall | A Quiet Life | Grove | 1996

I bought A Quiet Life knowing only that it was one of the few novels by Oe that I hadn’t yet read. His work always seems to magically arrive at just the write moment, there are many things in this book (which blends critical study, fiction, and memoir) that have helped me work through my own recent writing.

Georg Trakl, trans. Robert Firmage | Song of the West | North Point | 1988

I picked up this selected bilingual edition of Trakl because I’d only read a few of his poems and I remembered enjoying them. Hopefully after a year in Germany I’ll be work my way through the originals, but I loved Robert Firmage’s translations. His images are the sort that instantly send tremors through my sense of things. “Toads emerge from silver water.”

John Williams | Stoner | New York Review Books Classics | 2006

This is a depressing novel about a child of farmers who becomes an academic. If anyone out there knows of an uplifting novel about a child of academics who becomes a farmer, please contact me.

Nick Twemlow | Palm Trees | Green Lantern | 2012
Lynn Xu | Debts & Lessons | Omnidawn | forthcoming 2013

These two soon-to-be-released collections by two of my Canarium co-editors / closest friends / biggest influences/ favorite poets, Lynn Xu and Nick Twemlow, are flat-out incredible. They’ll both shake the world.


Joshua Edwards directs and co-edits Canarium Books. He’s the author of Campeche (Noemi Press, 2011) and Imperial Nostalgias (Ugly Duckling Presse, forthcoming), and the translator of Mexican poet María Baranda’s Ficticia (Shearsman Books, 2010). He and his wife, Lynn Xu, live in Marfa, Texas and Stuttgart, Germany, where he’s currently a fellow at the Akademie Schloss Solitude.

Joshua Edwards’s contributions to Attention Span for 2011, 201020092007. Return to 2012 directory.

Written by Steve Evans

November 23, 2012 at 6:17 pm

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