red cherry, st lucia, straylight
From today's reading:
Maram Al-Massri's A Red Cherry on a White Tile Floor, Khaled Mattawa's brisk translation from Arabic of a Syrian poet living in France-- her first US publication, but a book that appeared in Britain years ago (check out this flamethrowing negative review). These are short, rough poems that remind me more of Catullus than of other modern poetry from Arabic in translation: most of them are about sex or about sexism, and some of the best are about both. It's not something I expected to find memorable, especially not since most of the sound patterns from inherited Arabic forms appear to have been eliminated (perhaps inevitably) in the scoured surfaces and sharp edges of Mattawa's translations. And yet it turns out that they work. I'll post a poem Monday if I can; in the meantime, here's a revealing interview with the author (beware: ugly web page, at least if you're using a Mac). Two more recent readings, with queries, below the fold.
These are books I'm rereading because I'm teaching them next week: each one provokes, this weekend, an open-ended query for Harriet's readers.
The first is William Gibson's Neuromancer, from which all cyberpunk fiction descends. Holy cow, is this an enormous study guide! My question for you: other than Cathy Park Hong's Dance Dance Revolution, is there any cyberpunk poetry? Has there ever been? Should there be? Was it any good?
The second is a group of poems from the 1960s and 70s by Derek Walcott, and the question they raise is...
American critics find it pretty easy to think about Anglophone Caribbean poetry in the context of Walcott and Brathwaite, or Walcott versus Brathwaite (which doesn't mean Americans get the answers right). And we can certainly find and read some Anglophone Caribbean poets of later generations: I've been following the Jamaican poet Mark McMorris, e.g., for a few books now. But I don't have a sense of the shape of the literature for Anglophone Caribbean poets of McMorris's generation, nor (more generally) of what the monuments and the reference points are for poets who grew up in the Anglophone Caribbean in the 1970s or 1980s or 1990s, and I do have a sense that I've missed a lot. What have I missed? What should I have read?
Stephanie (also Steph; formerly Stephen) Burt is a poet, literary critic, and professor. In 2012, the New York Times called Burt “one of the most influential poetry critics of [her] generation.” Burt grew up around Washington, DC and earned a BA from Harvard and PhD from Yale. She has published four collections of poems: Advice...