Archive for the ‘dlr Poetry Now 2010’ Category

First Review: Child of Nature, by Luljeta Lleshanaku

February 23, 2010

Here’s the Publishers Weekly review, just published, of Luljeta Lleshanaku’s new collection, Child of Nature (New Directions Press):

Child of Nature Luljeta Lleshanaku, trans. from the Albanian by Henry Israeli and Shpresa Qatipi. New Directions, $13.95 (112p) ISBN 978-0-8112-1847-4

“Two people form a habit,” writes Lleshanaku; “Three people make a story”: this harshly memorable collection (her second in English translation) overflows with stories, incidents of suffering, worry, and hardship related in verse fragments, in mysterious details, in horrifying or revealing asides. Albania, Lleshanaku’s native land, suffered through decades of poverty under a Stalinist dictatorship, then suffered again in the chaos and uneven development that came after 1989. Her tableaux of exhausted villagers, smuggled books, and constant frustration reflect her nation, caught between the Third World and the First: village eccentrics, exhausted mothers, and lost children stroll and scatter through her bedraggled gardens, looking up for airplanes overhead. The poems also reflect her self-critical, alert, and skeptical personality. “Monday feels like an odd shoe/ its other chewed by the dog tied at the gate,” one seven-part long poem begins; within her childhood memories, “Broken toys were my playthings.” In one of many poems about Albanian families trapped in collapsing small towns, a mountain in the distance offers eternal, impossible promises of better lives, while the citizens work themselves to death: “The electrocardiogram of sweat dried in the body/ spreads from shirt to shirt/ contagious as a flame.” (Feb.)

As mentioned last week, you can read an excerpt from Child of Nature online here, and you can also follow New Directions, one of the great independent US presses, on twitter for regular updates on Luljeta and other authors.

Luljeta Lleshanaku reads at dlr Poetry Now on Friday March 25th at 6.30pm with Justin Quinn and Philip Gross.  


John F. Deane wins Inaugural Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize

February 21, 2010

Congratulations to John F. Deane, winner of the Inaugural Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize, which has just been announced at this year’s Cork Spring Literary Festival. The prize, dedicated to the memory of the well-known Cork poet who died in 2005 was awarded to Deane for his poem ‘Shoemaker’. Deane received the first prize of €1,000 and the poem will be published in the next issue of Southward, a literary journal published by the Munster Literature Centre.

Deane, who has published five collections of poetry as well as founding Poetry Ireland, the Poetry Ireland Review and the Dedalus Press, is no stranger to prizes. He has won the O’Shaughnessy Award for Irish Poetry, the Marten Toonder Award for Literature and poetry prizes from Italy and Romania. Collections have been shortlisted for both the T.S. Eliot prize and The Irish Times Poetry Now Award, while in 2007, the French Government honoured him by making him “Chevalier de l’ordre des arts et des lettres”.

John F. Deane reads from his work alongside Czech poet Sylva Fischerová and Scottish poet and novelist John Burnside at dlr Poetry Now 2010 on Sunday 28th March at 4.00pm.

‘I know you’re the blues/ because loving you/ may kill me’: Kevin Young’s ‘Ode to Pork’

February 20, 2010

For those of you who might like a taster of what’s to come at this year’s dlr Poetry Now, below is a clip of the fastastic Kevin Young reading his poems at the 2008 Dodge Poetry Festival. Here he reads four, all from his latest book Dear Darkness; poems that, as the San Franscisco Chronicle has it, ‘seethe with energy and ambition.’ While the book turns around the death of the poet’s father it does so in a manner that is as celebratory as it sorrowful, amounting to a moving portrait of Young’s whole family and his upbringing in the Deep South. In particular, Dear Darkness is studded with a number of wonderful odes, not to nightingales or Grecian urns, but to Louisiana delicacies – Grits, Gumbo, Sweet Potato Pie to name but a few – that will have you literally scanning the yellow pages for a Smoke Pit. Here, along with ‘Aunties’, ‘Flash Flood Blues’ and ‘Ode to Boudin’, Young reads the devilish ‘Ode to Pork’:

‘Adam himself gave up
a rib to see yours
piled pink beside him.
Your heaven is the only one
worth wanting—
you keep me up all night
cursing your four-
letter name, the next
begging for you again.’

You can hear Kevin Young read with Vona Groarke and Catalan poet Joan Margarit at dlr Poetry Now 2010 on Saturday 27th March at 6.30pm.

Anne Stevenson in the Running for Oxford Post

February 20, 2010

You’ll recall, no doubt, the controversy over Ruth Padel’s appointment to, and resignation from, the Oxford Professor of Poetry post last year. Nominations have now opened once again for the post, and one of our headline readers at this year’s festival, Anne Stevenson, is among the names being suggested. The Guardian reports, though, that Stevenson considers the process by which a candidate must campaign for the post as one which might “cheapen” it; behaving “like a politician”, evidently, is not something she likes to do. Still, neither is Stevenson saying no to the idea:

… having practised the craft of poetry for more than half a century, I would be pleased to be asked, and I would certainly accept the post, grateful for an opportunity to illustrate and affirm the literary values to which I have given my creative life. I don’t, though, cheer myself with great expectations.

Other names in the ring include Geoffrey Hill, Douglas Dunn, Jorie Graham and even current poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, whom you might have caught at last year’s dlr Poetry Now. The position, which is 300 years old, is filled via an election in which Oxford graduates may vote; candidates must be nominated by at least 12 Oxford graduates by May 5. The professorship comes with a stipend of £7,000 and has previously been held by poets including Matthew Arnold, WH Auden, Robert Graves, Paul Muldoon and Seamus Heaney. Before Ruth Padel, the post was last held by the critic Christopher Ricks, who stepped down in 2009. (Incidentally, both Ruth Padel and Christopher Ricks were keynote speakers at dlr Poetry Now in recent years, and of course Paul Muldoon will be our keynote speaker in 2010).

If more than one candidate is nominated for the post this year, the result of the election will be announced in June, in time for the next academic term.

You can hear Anne Stevenson read with Paul Muldoon and the Mexican poet Homero Aridjis at dlr Poetry Now  2010 on Saturday, March 28th at 8.30pm.

Some Poems by Philip Gross: The Guardian

February 19, 2010

Philip Gross, the winner of this year’s T.S. Eliot prize for poetry, will read at dlr Poetry Now on Friday, March 26th; he’ll also give the children’s reading that same day. Earlier this month, the Guardian named Gross’s “What the Mountain Saw” as its poem of the week, and Carol Rumens provided a rich discussion of what she calls a “story-poem” – a discussion continued in the reader comments. You can also read some more recent poems by Philip Gross in the Guardian – see here for a link to “Betweenland I” and “Betweenland X”, two poems from his prizewinning collection The Water Table (Bloodaxe Books). Lastly, in a podcast with Guardian books editor Claire Armitstead (follow Claire on twitter here), you can hear Gross talk about The Water Table. Skip forward to 11.18 to hear him – though the preceding interview, in which poet laureate Andrew Motion (who also happened to be chair of the judging panel which awarded Gross the Eliot prize) talks about the Romantic poets and their importance today, is also well worth a listen. 

Luljeta Lleshanaku on Writing Behind the Walls

February 18, 2010

The Albanian poet Luljeta Lleshanaku, who will read at dlr Poetry Now this year, has been giving a couple of readings in the US lately which give a hint of what we can look forward to on Friday, March 25th; at the University of Nevada’s Black Mountain Institute last month, she was very aptly introduced as a writer of poems which are “vivid, bold, sometimes actually linguistically shocking.” Lleshanaku, who was born in 1968, grew up under virtual house arrest because of her family’s opposition to the Stalinist dictatorship of Enver Hoxha. When she did eventually get to attend university, in Tirana, after the fall of communism, she brought with her a huge store of poems, and quickly began to publish – four collections between 1992 and 1999. As you’d imagine, her poetry is pervaded by a sense of the oppression and the stark difficulties and realities through which she lived as a young woman and as a young poet. In Nevada last month, Lleshanaku talked about her experience of growing up, and starting to write, in an environment in which freedom of expression was impossible; “We only need somebody to hear us,” she said. “We only need somebody to tell our stories [to]”. While she could not publish, or attend university, she read – and much of what she read belonged to the category of “yellow books”, those books which were banned in communist Albania but which, nevertheless, still circulated, still found their way to readers, because readers needed them: “If you eat books, you will eat yourself, little by little,” Lleshanaku said, in a fascinating line.

In Nevada, Lleshanaku read from her new collection, Child of Nature, which has just been published by New Directions (that link allows you to read a preview of the collection, including a couple of her poems, “Winter Prelude” and “Narration in the Third Person”). She was the winner of the 2009 Kristal Vilenice Prize, past recipients of which have included Adam Zagajewski and Zbigniew Herbert. You can hear her reading at dlr Poetry Now on Friday, March 26th at 6.30pm, when she will appear with Justin Quinn and Philip Gross.