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Carolyn Forché’s parrot… and other news from the magazine
I let the Chicago Reader (happy 40th birthday, CR!) scoop us on this, but check out our appearance in, of all things, a bona fide gossip column: What Was Arcade Fire’s Will Butler Really Doing at Poetry Magazine? My lips are sealed – except to say that when Will Butler appeared in the doorway of my office with his friend and former teacher, Christian Wiman, I was genuinely starstruck and speechless. I somehow stuttered something about being a fan of the band, and Will pointed to a copy of Poetry and said he was a fan… of the magazine… after which, without missing a beat, he gently quipped: “There’s some good editing in there.” It’s not everyday you meet a rock star who majored in poetry and Slavic studies.
We recorded another of our award-winning podcasts this week. This new episode, which accompanies our May 2011 issue, features an interview with Carolyn Forché in which she revisits and updates her idea of “poetry of witness;” readers and listeners might like to hear us discuss how the concept holds up in this new century, almost a decade after she published her well-known anthology, Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness. We also feature Kay Ryan, who just received the Pulitzer Prize in poetry, describing her rather negative feelings about poetry readings – after which she reads a few poems… really beautifully. And Fanny Howe describes how a painting inspired her to rush home to write “What Did You See?” She also reveals the identity of the mysterious artist “Peter S.,” to whom the poem is dedicated. As an aural bonus, when you listen to our chat with Carolyn, you’ll also hear something unexpected, poignant, and strangely charming: the voice of her blue parrot.
You can hear the May 2011 episode by clicking here or via iTunes,
“Just wanted to thank Poetry for the Sophie Cabot Black poems in the May issue. All three were astounding. I opened this issue on a very turbulent flight from Phoenix to Philadelphia, and hardly noticed the bumping as I read through those poems at least a half dozen times, underlining lines and circling words (I always read with a pencil).
‘… To believe
I know what will happen next;’
‘Sing the song she wanted sung back to her.’
and I love the line break of ‘nothing // More to say.’”
We were pleased to see that the essay by Daniel Handler (“Lemony Snicket”) we published in our January 2011 issue (“Happy, Snappy, Sappy”) has been reprinted in the May/June Utne Reader. Looks good! And happy, too, that Andrew Sullivan “Dish”-ed on his blog about our March feature on Kabir.
Wish us luck on May 9th as we await the verdict, at the Katie Couric-hosted National Magazine Awards ceremony in New York, on the award for general excellence in print, in the category of Literary, Political and Professional Magazines. We’re finalists, alongside Lapham’s Quarterly, The Paris Review, The Sun, and VQR.
Before Nikki Giovanni’s reading at the Harold Washington Library in Chicago, Poetry‘s associate editor had lunch with Giovanni; poet and translator Jacquelyn Pope; YOUmedia poetry mentor Jennifer Steele; performer Morris Gearring; and a few other folks at the Custom House Tavern here in Chicago.
Giovanni recently answered a few questions about “her favorite books, poems, and people” on this website. When asked what she thinks of when she thinks of Chicago she said, “My good friend Morris Gearring and the great steaks and great conversation we have shared.” Everyone made good on topics of windy-city politics, royal hats, church going, and the nuance of a strong audience. Also discussed: her encounter with the CIA, Puffy, and dancing.
Enough gossip and horn-tooting. Here’s a glimpse of what’s in the pipeline:
Poems, translations, or prose by:
Valzhyna Mort, Susan Howe, Tess Taylor, Kevin Young, Susan Stewart, Kay Ryan, Stephen Yenser, Marcus Wicker, Fanny Howe, D.A. Powell, Linda Gregerson, Sarah Lindsay, Sophie Cabot Black, Ange Mlinko, Rae Armantrout, Liz Waldner, Dan Beachy-Quick, Terese Svoboda, Brooklyn Copeland, Lucia Perillo, Philip Metres, Calvin Forbes, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Reina María Rodriguez, Kristin Naca, Mary Ruefle, Brenda Shaughnessy, Nikki Giovanni, Camille Dungy
Photos by Thomas Sayers Ellis
Collages by David Shapiro
Uncollected poems by Anthony Hecht
“Views From Here” by some very surprising folks…