When my daughter called from college to talk about coming home for Thanksgiving, she mentioned in passing that she’d just seen something she thought I might enjoy at the library—a display of first edition poetry books, including a first edition of Paradise Lost. Now I readily admit that Milton has been one of my blind spots, one of the few pieces of canonical literature I haven’t warmed to, although I keep trying and I think I’m getting closer. Still I thought I might like to see this book.
Our new website and blog have been up for a couple months now, and here’s a taste of what folks have been saying: Fiction Writers Review reviewed the new MQR website, and Randall Mann’s “The One Sentence Review” buzzed around Book Forum, The Poetry Foundation’s Harriet: The Blog, and The Rumpus. In addition, posts have been tweeted about on Twitter and posted on Facebook. In short, the conversation is on the move. There’s only one problem…
Jaimy Gordon, who to her surprise just won the National Book Award for her novel Lord of Misrule, called me up the week before the award ceremony, when she was still just a nominee. She’s published a couple pieces in MQR, so I was happy to hear from her—and pleased to discover the reason for her call.
There’s a song that my husband likes to sing to our son at bedtime. It’s not a traditional bedtime song, by any means, but sung slowly and softly, it’s sweeter than any lullaby I know. And few things are quite as delicious as hearing a two-year old sing lines such as
Everybody’s wonderin’ what and where
They all came from
Everybody’s worryin’ ’bout where they’re gonna go
When the whole thing’s done
But no one knows for certain and so it’s all the same to me
I think I’ll just let the mystery be
with both great expression and the lisps and omissions characteristic of toddler speech. I thought of this song when I heard the sad news that poet Steve Orlen had suddenly passed away. During a class in Warren Wilson College’s MFA Program for Writers, Steve once concluded an insightful discussion of Anthony Hecht’s “A Hill”—a poem that grapples with the mysterious workings of memory—by saying something like, Once in a while, something jumps out from your unconscious mind and scares the s**t out of you.
I’m a sucker for shiny objects—scarves, bracelets, candy wrappers—and drawn to nearly anything bearing deep, saturated colors. Had I encountered Indivisible: An Anthology of Contemporary South Asian American Poetry in my local bookstore, I would have been magnetically attracted to the book’s rich magenta cover, which is embellished with a U.S. map suggesting the sheen of an embroidered sari. But even a quick peek into this new collection from the University of Arkansas Press proves that the volume is not just eye candy. With titles such as “September 10, 2001,” “The Mascot of Beavercreek High Breaks Her Silence,” “Urdu Funk: The Gentle Art of Subtitles,” and “Generica/ America,” the collection’s table of contents hints at the diversity of voices and themes among contemporary South Asian American poets.