Welcome to Issue # 31 of Plume.
January: And one thinks of the recent cold snap — and Antisthenes, who according to Plutarch, says that in a certain faraway land the cold is so intense that words freeze as soon as they are uttered. Not an altogether charitable definition of poetry itself, yet an image that does it no real disservice, either, perhaps.
And now, for our “bonus” poem — available only to those of you who read this Newsletter — a growing number, it seems, according to Slimstat. The selection returns to the surrealists, formative influence of my youth and first love, as with the previous Robert Desnos selection. This one comes from the equally remarkable Louis Aragon and is translated, as was the Desnos piece, by the great and much-missed Michael Benedikt, whose seminal “The Poetry of Surrealism: an Anthology” is fetching, I hear, upwards of $100.00 online — if you can find one.
I’ll Reinvent the Rose for You
I’ll reinvent the rose for you
For you are that rose which cannot be described
These few words at least in the order proper to her ritual
That rose which only words distant from roses can describe
The way it is with the ecstatic cry and the terrible sadness which it translates
From the stars of pleasure above love’s deep abyss
I will reinvent for youth rose of adoring fingers
Which create a nave as they interlace but whose petals then suddenly fall away
I will reinvent for you the rose beneath the balconies
Of lovers whose only beds are their arms
The rose at the heart of sculpted stone figures dead without benefit of confession
The rose of a peasant blown to bits by a landmine in his field
The scarlet scent of a letter that has been “discovered”
In which nothing’s addressed to me neither the insult nor the compliment
Some rendezvous to which no one has come
An entire army in flight on a very windy day
A maternal footstep before prison-gates
A man’s song at siesta-time beneath the olive trees
A cock-fight in a mist-enshrouded countryside
The rose of a soldier cut off from his own home country
I’ll reinvent for you my rose as many roses
As there are diamonds in the waters of the seas
As there are past centuries adrift in the dust of the earth’s atmosphere
As there are dreams in just one childish head
As there can be reflections in one tear
Translated by Michael Benedikt
Taken from The Poetry of Surrealism: An Anthology, ed. Michael Benedikt (Boston & Toronto: Little, Brown and Co., 1974).
Ah, but, as those lines linger in your mind, alas, we turn to Plume news.
News which this month focuses on the upcoming print Plume Anthology of Poetry V2, which is nearing completion and will, as noted, make its debut in late February, at AWP. There will be a reading in the Tap Room (a few minutes’ walk from the convention) to celebrate. The lineup of readers is somewhat in flux, but, as I view it as is: stellar. Complete details next issue, along with an announcement of other readings. Once more, many, many thanks to the MadHat/Fulcrum team of Marc Vincenz, Jonathan Penton, and Alex Cigale, not to forget our own Jason Cook.
Do be sure to note below David Cudar’s take on new books: always interesting reads. A long review is in the offing as well: no word from David, per usual, on the subject. I’ll let you know as soon as I learn it myself.
Our cover art this month comes from Bianca Stone, whose work was represented in January’ online issue and will appear as well in the print anthology Entitled “Family” it’s a fine piece from the grand-daughter of Ruth stone. More on Bianca can be found at Poetry Foundation
Our January Featured Selection comes from Juan Gelman, translated by Lisa Rose Bradford. From the initial paragraph of Lisa’s Introduction:
Hoy (Today) is the latest volume of poetry by Argentine writer-in-exile, Juan Gelman. Though selections of Gelman’s verse have been published in more than a dozen languages, the poems of this captivating new work have yet to be translated. Poet and critic Jorge Bocannera recently stated that Hoy is “one of the most revealing works of our times, a sort of Guernica of the written word, [â€¦] a showcase of tiny polished gems.”Gelman’s musing on art and justice are composed in a profoundly unsettling manner, exhibiting once again a perception and an artistry that have established him as Argentina’s foremost contemporary poet.
Upcoming in February in the Featured Selection is Martha Collin’s Up North, with a whale of an introduction by the author. As always, I would urge you to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a project in mind for this venue — one of our most popular new features. March should see the multimedia work of Hank Lazer.
Finally, for new work received this month, please see our Editor’s Note this issue.
David Cudar’s New Reading
1.Moments that Made the Movies by David Thompson
A coffee table book that is also a history of cinema. David Thompson is one of the great minds of cinema history and his vision into back lots, soundstages, and movie sets is cause enough for celebration, that he is an excellent writer only increases the value of this spectacular book.
2. Zona: A book About a Film About a Journey to a Room, by Geoff Dyer
Geoff Dyer is a writer of wide ranging intellect. He writes about jazz: But Beautiful, he writes about writer’s block: Out of Sheer Rage, but Zona is unclassifiable even for him. It is a fascinating, new book, by a writer whose work continually defies simple description
3.Best of the Best American Poetry: 25th Anniversary Edition by David Lehman and Robert Pinsky
The best of the best American poetry collected over the last 25 years. We have our eyes on you, Mr. Lehman.
4. Traveling Sprinkler by Nicholson Baker
Baker is an acquired taste: if you do not like him he is digressive, opinionated, meandering; however, if you like him he is witty, endearing, and hilarious. I was a skeptic until I read U & I — about his obsession with John Updike. Now I am a Bakerite.
5. Orfeo by Richard Powers
There is little to be said about Richard Powers’ newest novel except that it is written by Richard Powers. With the exception of Pynchon (and, possibly, DeLillo), for sheer magnitude of knowledge and ability, Powers has no peer.
As always, I do hope you enjoy the issue.