First, this just in: Plume at AWP: Friday, April 10, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm in the Minneapolis Convention Center, Conference Room 209, A & B, Level 2, there will be a joint reading with Plume & Fulcrum (with a full bar). I am looking for readers! The time slots will be short (brief? small?) — 5-8 minutes. Perhaps not so taxing then, yes?
Those of you who might be interested, and have appeared (or will be appearing) in our pages, please contact me at email@example.com
If more than we can accommodate express a desire to read, we’ll operate on the first come, first served basis.
Now, then –
December: Month of dread for many, those recluses and cynics among us, under whose soiled banners I, too, have marched for too long, I think. And if not dread, a kind of surrender to the holidays’ dolphin’s smile as it has come to be: its soul-crushing perfunctory-ness.
But: for others: something like real joy: the opportunity to give to and of themselves, sincerely and without reservation. And how fortunate we are that they are among us! It is to them, then, that we turn now, happily.
The premise was simple. In fact, I quote its entirety here, from the email I sent to some of our contributors:
Name the book that you would like to receive for Christmas this year
Name the book that — supposing you had lots of money lying about — you would press on your most cherished friends
Below, then, their replies, some short and sweet, others with a bit of (interesting, illuminating) explanation, amended where needed to fit this forum. In order of their arrival in my Inbox:
1. The book I would like to receive for Christmas this year:
C.G.Jung, The Red Book (Philemon)
2. The book I would press on my friends if I had lots of money lying about:
The Collected Poems of John Crowe Ransom, ed. Ben Mazer, Un-Gyve Press
A book I would press upon my friends: Laura Sims’ My God is This a Man (Fence Books).
The books I’d like to receive for Christmas (assuming a Santa with deep pockets): the five volume Bollingen edition of The Notebooks of Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
The book I’d press on friends (and in fact have pressed on at least one person): Vasily Grossman’s novel Life and Fate, translate by Robert Chandler, published by The New York Review of Books Classics Series. This novel has changed my life.
I already have “Marvelous Things Overheard” by Ange Mlinko (FSG), but it should have gotten lots more attention than it did, so I’m endorsing it! It’s just over a year old, and recently out in paperback.
If I could have but one book as a gift for the holiday this year …
Paul Strand: Master of Modern Photography
Yale University Press (published 11/11/14)
The book I would like to give as a gift is: Federico Fellini’s The Book of Dreams, which my friend Pamela Painter gave to me before it was $645 as it lists now on Amazon.
The book I would like to receive is the newly published
New York School Painters & Poets: Neon in Daylight Hardcover – by Jenni Quilter
Mark Wunderlich’s The Earth Avails (Graywolf)
I would give any one in the series of about 40 volumes in the animal series put out by Reaktion Books in the UK. Might start with SWAN, PIG, DOG–it makes little difference as the series is as addictive as salted peanuts.
I would love to receive the new reissue of the classic THE POETICS OF SPACE by Gaston Bachelard from Penguin Classics. My copy of the original is frayed.
I’d love to receive the new novels by Toni Morrison and Kent Haruf, though I think neither novel is yet available. SO: I’d like to give (if I had bottomless pockets) “The Manuscript Books of Emily Dickinson” to my friends. This is the two-volume oversized hardback boxed collection of all her poems, in her handwriting. That is, these are copies of all the fascicles, in her arrangement. Harvard University Press. This changes how you see and understand the poems.
The one I’d like to receive would be Pieter Bruegel by Larry Silver. To give, I’d “press” (gently, since it’s a boxed set of 7 volumes) August Sander: People of the 20th Century, edited by Susanne Lange and Gabriele Conrath-Scholl.
Which book would I want to get for Christmas? I’ll go with “The Banquet: The Complete Films, Plays, and Librettos” by Kenneth Koch. Which I will probably just end up buying for myself at some point.
And which book would I give to all my friends? I’m sure you’d get a thousand different answers depending on when you asked me, but right now I’m in love with Brenda Hillman’s latest book, “Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire.”
Book I would like for Christmas: The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson’s Envelope Poems. Even the outside is so gorgeous I can hardly stand to look at it!
Book I would give to friends: Andrew Solomon, Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity. Best book ever about what it is like to be a parent and a human being in the world.
The History of Rock n’ Roll in Ten Songs–Greil Marcus
Lisa R. Spaar
The book I’d most like to receive and press on my beloveds is a catalogue published in conjunction with an art exhibit I’d very much like to view at Christie’s Mayfair in London (you see, the necessity of airfare &c!):
THE BAD SHEPHERD: THE BREUGHEL DYNASTY IN CONVERSATION WITH CONTEMPORARY ART
The exhibition opened on 10 October 2014 and runs, I believe, into January 2015. In addition to bringing the astonishing work of the Breughels into visual dialogue with contemporary artists, the catalogue contains glosses by the exhibition curators (Darren Leak, Jacob Uecker, and Alexis Ashot) but also texts by poets such as William Carlos Williams, for whom the quotidian, luminous work of the Breughels has been a touchstone.
The book I have (but which I’d buy for all my friends) would be Mark Strand’s Collected Poems, out this year.
O! Tricky Cad & Other Jessoterica (Siglio Press)
David Hinton, Hunger Mountain: A Field Guide to Mind and Landscape (Shambhala)
Without making the exchange precious—that is, books that are exorbitant in price, or otherwise overly special—I would gravitate to the simple conversational exchange of books I’m interested in at the moment. And there are always books I’m interested in at the moment. The one I’d press on someone else right now is When My Brother was an Aztec, by Natalie Diaz. The poems are unlikely subject matter made to rise, and we are made to care. The book I’d like to get comes as something of a confession—To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s just one of those things that happens, but I never read it, not really. I pretended to read it in high school, and that was that. I’ve come to know better. It’s time, and I now want to read it.
I would most like to receive a book of photographs by Charles Feger, called Wilder Mann: The Image of the Savage. The book documents European traditions of costuming in the form of animals, monsters, demons. It’s a gorgeous and strange group of photos.
As for a book I would love to give to everyone, I really love Matias Viegener’s book 2,500 Random Things About Me Too, published last year by LesFigues Press. The book is a memoir of sorts, attempting to be “random.” The result is a moving, smart and beautiful book.
I’d liked to receive The Appointment by Herta Muller
I’d liked to give Maureen Seaton’s New and Selected Poems Fibonacci Batman
Receive: ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, Anthony Doerr
Give: A CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENA, Anthony Marra
Mark Doty’s Fire to Fire, Ruth Stone’s Collected: What Love Comes To, and Lucille Clifton’s Collected: 1965-2010. I would like to give this bound trilogy to as many people as possible who, after they read them from cover to cover, would have a bird’s eye view of a poetry America can be proud of producing. Mark Doty is one of the clearest voices writing today. He takes us through the streets of New York, lushly revealing its beauty and pathos, and documenting the tragedy of the AIDS pandemic in language as stark as the skeletal men he has loved and lost. Ruth Stone has probably been writing for the longest, watching the world move from the heart of the home to outer space, from the simple shape of the circle to the complexity of the fractal. Lucille Clifton speaks the loud, full, rounded truth of the black woman who has dared to live through the worst of our country’s history and emerge triumphant. Three brilliant, various and distinctive voices representative of important aspects of our cultural psyche.
I spend so much time with books of words that I often take refuge in books of pictures, where my eyes may feast on reproductions of paintings I love. Of these, the one I would wish for every friend is Giorgio Morandi 1890-1964: Nothing Is More Abstract Than Reality. The catalog of a 2008-09 exhibition organized by the Met in New York and the Museo d’Arte Moderna in Bologna, this volume contains a rich selection of Morandi’s work, including a series of vase paintings that always and ever calm me with their intimate scale and pale, tender palette. Morandi often has been called a painter-poet; his cloistered life and impassioned, eccentric sensibility make me think of Emily Dickinson. Never easy or sentimental, Morandi’s paintings nonetheless provide a respite from our noisy, often heart-breaking world.
A book I’d be glad to have for Christmas is Richard Holmes’s The Age of Wonder, How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science (Vintage, 2009). For whatever reason this book had escaped my attention, but I just read a great article by Holmes in The New York Review of Books and I learned about this book. Why? I think we’re still living with the influence of Romanticism.
If I could peruse a top-flight used bookstore I’d be on the look-out for anything by Vachel Lindsay. I love his spirit. He picked up the torch from Whitman. I’d also be glad to have complete editions of Robert Hayden’s first two books from the 1940s.
Book I plan to give: Hillary Mantel’s The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher—eerie, complex stories from this moment’s very best writer of fiction. When a short story is perfect, as many of these are, I think of them as poetry in prose.
Book I’d like to receive: HEADWATERS by Ellen Bryant Voigt published by Norton
Book I’d give to others: BEFORE THE DOOR OF GOD: AN ANTHOLOGY OF DEVOTIONAL POETRY ed. by Jay Hopler and Kimberly Johnson and published by Yale.
Paul Celan, Breathturn into Timestead, translated, with commentaries, by Pierre Joris (FSG, 2014)
For both: Emily Dickinson’s The Gorgeous Nothings, facsimiles of her scribbles on envelopes and various other small pieces of paper. Fabulous!
A first edition copy of Hart Crane’s The Bridge is what I’d love to have. I’d give Memoirs of Hadrian (Margarite Yourcenar) to all my friends.
Book for the holidays (any denomination): Kei Miller, THE CARTOGRAPHER TRIES TO
MAP A WAY TO ZION. A mythic Jamaican poem.
To Receive and to Give: Agha Shahid Ali, The Veiled Suite
Again, I thank you, and Amex no doubt thanks you, for these recommendations. (And my gift to you: respite from youthful ramblings in this Note. Our “secret poem: will reappear next issue, too.)
But: again, to business:
The print Plume Anthology of Poetry 2014 is almost complete – we have our Featured Poet – and I think you will be pleased. Not naming just yet – I want to keep something up my sleeve.
(Again: on the off chance that you, poets, are interested in reading for PLUME or might want to organize a reading in your own neighborhood, please, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’ll make every effort to accommodate you, I promise.)
Our cover art this month is from Margo Berdeshevsky, currently living in Paris. Her newest collection of poetry is “BETWEEN SOUL & STONE” (Sheep Meadow Press/2011.) Her book of illustrated stories, “BEAUTIFUL SOON ENOUGH” (University of Alabama Press/ 2009) received the American Book Review/Ronald Sukenick Award for Innovative Fiction. Her poetry collection, “BUT A PASSAGE IN WILDERNESS,” was published by Sheep Meadow Press in 2007. She writes the “Letters From Paris” column in Poetry International.
Note: some changes alluded to in the previous issue’s Note remain afoot and will be fully realized after the start of the new year.
Next up, after this issue’s Featured Selection of Five South African poets (introduced by Harry Owen), in no particular order, Luljeta Lleshanaku, translated and with an introduction/ interview with Ani Gjika conducted byour Nancy Mitchell; Emmanuel Moses, translated and with an introduction by Marilyn Hacker; Daniel Bourne and Tadeusz Dziewanowski in collaboration; Gennady Aygi and the great Russian Tatar painter Igor Vulokh, also in collaboration; Nin Andrews, Linda Pastan; Chris Kennedy; Tess Gallagher and Lawrence Matsuda; with others just appearing on the horizon. (Here, too, again, let me add as always: those with projects that might be suitable for the Featured Selection please do contact us with your proposal at email@example.com ).
Finally, the list of New Work Received this month, as we continue gathering material for the print anthology as well as the online issues. Yet more to come, but for the moment: Sandra Gilbert, Hank Lazer, Bob Hicok, Rae Armantrout, Barbara Ras, Rosanna Warren, Chase Twichell, Chelsea Wagenaar, Maurice Manning, Benno Bernard (translated by David Colmer), D. Nurkse, Mark Irwin, Terese Svoboda, Jane Springer, Kate Falvey, Lisa Russ Spaar, Catherine Breese Davis (with thanks to Martha Collins), Ye Mimi (translated by Steven Bradbury), Karthinka Nair. David Huerta (translated by Mark Weiss).
As always, I do hope you enjoy the issue!