Happy Frank Stanford Day

ImageWhen 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.

New Book by Ray Greenblatt

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:

Ray Greenblatt
P.O. Box #39
Charlestown, MD 21914

Interview with Nathaniel Perry on APR

I recently conducted an interview with Nathaniel Perry, author of the very fine collection of poems Nine Acres.

I encourage you to get over to the the American Poetry Review to read the whole thing.

Here’s a brief excerpt from the interview:

Grant Clauser: Did the concept for this book develop after you’d already written a few of the poems, or did you envision the collection and then write to fit within the mode?

Nathaniel Perry: I did write a few of the poems first and then the concept came to me pretty quickly. I think the first poem I wrote was the one with the seed catalog (“Vegetable crops to Avoid and to Choose”), and it happened to be in that form of simple rhymed quatrains in tetrameter, and I had maybe thought of doing a group of 10 or so with the titles from the M.G. Kains book, but the form felt fun, and was engaging for me, and I soon decided I was going to do all of the chapters.  I guess I didn’t initially even realize it was going to be book-length.

GC: I find this book to be very much like a journal—recounting the events of a year. Like a journal it tells a story, without relying on narrative. How fully formed in your head was this narrative when you were writing it?

NP: Strangely, not really at all as I was writing it. I assumed that I would put the poems in the order that they appeared in the original book, but then somebody pointed out to me very late in the process after I had already written all of the poems that there were 52 poems which was equal to the weeks in a year and it dawned on me that they could fit into the cycle of a single year. I remember taking all the poems and just sorting them out by spring, summer, fall, winter and seeing what that looked like and being pretty happy with that. I’m still happy with it.

GC: I noticed shifts and waves in the relationship between the husband and wife throughout the book.

NP: Well, you’re married. There are always shifts and waves. I won’t hide behind the fact that many of these poems are sentimental and sweet, but I like to think that’s still possible without being necessarily bad, and so the way to do that is to be true to the way relationships are. They can be hard and frustrating and full of doubt while simultaneously being joyful and intimate and full of starlight, so I wanted to show what an actual relationship looks like.

Nathaniel Perry

New Jack Gilbert Collection

No, I don’t mean there’s a new Jack Gilbert–just a new book by the same old Jack Gilbert. At least I hope it’s the same Jack Gilbert–by that I mean I hope the new poems in this collection are just as rich and delicate and ache-inducing as the others.

To have a new Jack Gilbert book out is pretty exciting and surprising. He’s 87 now, and from the last video of a reading he did in Washington I didn’t think there were going to be more poems coming out of him. Anyway, people who know me know that Gilbert is one of my favorite poets, and I was thrilled to meet him years ago in Newtown, thanks to Allen Hoey.

The book is described as a collected works (I already have all his books) combined with some previously unpublished poems. I don’t know how many or if they’re older or newer, but I’ll go for it anyway. You should too. The New York Times review promises lots of nipples.