When I was in grad school in Bowling Green, Brian Ownbey introduced me to Frank Stanford. The 1991 collection The Light the Dead See had just come out. It contained selections from most of Stanford’s books. At the time no other book made a greater impact on me. Today is his birthday.
Here’s an article at the Poetry Foundation web site all about him.
My friend and fellow Pennsylvanian Ray Greenblatt just released his latest book, Bleached Spines, from Poetica Publishing. I think this is his 14th collection. Ray frequents the Mad Poets events around Philadelphia and shows up at Schuylkill Valley Journal readings, which has published a lot of his work.
I know a little bit about this book, since I wrote the back cover blurb, so I’ll share that with you here:
“Ray Greenblatt’s poetry is one of authority, observation and a devotion to the moment. His poems are populated with characters, landscapes, rooms and personal shadows, and he lets these fragments become instruments toward understanding.
Poets often instruct newer writers to include details, to pay attention to the small things that make the world real and specific, yet details without insight makes for a boring and unenlightened art. Greenblatt clearly believes this too, because he rummages around through streets and trails for the particulars, yet always employs them as means toward a greater insight. It’s that openness to insight, a willingness to let the world show you something new and surprising, which makes life interesting, and these poems wonderful and instructive. You can see this openness to surprise throughout the book. In “Earth Stood Still” the speaker moves from a pastoral description into the revelation “I tried to dance / but felt like a tree in growth.”
Sorting through those transcendent moments seems to be a constant and fruitful preoccupation. Moments such as we find in “Expectation” in which the poet observes “we have already placed / in memory sun-slanted colors / transient odors” show us a poet who is loyal to his environment. That, I believe, is an important point—a poet earns the reader’s trust by his authenticity, honesty and his ability to match the words to the experience, not twist the words into something artificial. There’s nothing artificial here. Greenblatt’s words work because he has put the time and attention into earning them.”
You can see one of the poems from the book here. Ray will be reading at various spots around Philly probably this fall, so I urge you to buy a copy directly from him. You can send $15 to:
P.O. Box #39
Charlestown, MD 21914