Monthly Archives: September 2014

On the “New Generation” of British poetry

New_British_PoetryEnglish spoken here

by David Yezzi

The best books of poetry being published in the United States these days are not by Americans; they’re by Brits. For American readers of poetry—typically poets themselves, alas—this will come as a bitter pill, though I suspect few will quiet their amour-propre long enough to swallow it. The pat arguments against British poetry—too well-mannered, too mired in tradition—have become so pervasive and entrenched that one almost forgets that sceptered isle ever produced a Herbert or a Milton. (Never mind how much these two meant to Americans like Bishop and Lowell, respectively.)

Contemporary American poets like to sound American, as well they should. No one wants to read about blokes in Wichita tucking into steak and kidney pies at the Ferret and Trouserleg. For many American poets, however, capturing the way that English is spoken here and now is not the primary goal, or even a goal at all. A poem can only be truly American, they would argue, if pushed to some stylistic extreme, to a radical innovation of some kind; poetry must be willing to break though boundaries of precedence and even sense.

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Alastair Reid obituary: Essayist who graced the columns of the New Yorker for 40 years, poet, and translator of many Hispanic authors

Alastair_ReidThanks to Anne Fletcher for digging up some more information about the Scottish poet, Alastair Reid, whose translations of Pablo Neruda we read during our session on the Chilean poet on Thursday, September 25. Coincidentally, Reid died just last week, on 22 September 2014. Read his obituary in The Guardian: Alastair Reid obituary.

Listen to Alastair Reid read his marvellous poem “Curiosity”

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Madness and the Muse


We’re captivated by the idea of the troubled genius. But is it a fiction?

Nancy Andreasen is not a smooth performer-of-ideas in the TED vein, the sort who roams the stage wirelessly mic’d, dispensing wisdom with Broadway-caliber aplomb. She does it old school, podium and PowerPoint, describing her research as she clicks through slides. The 400 or so people gathered for a mid-afternoon session of this summer’s Aspen Ideas Festival were drawn by the promise of learning “The Secrets of the Creative Brain” from Andreasen, a literary scholar turned psychiatrist and neuroscientist, winner of the National Science Medal, and author of a landmark study that found that eight out of 10 writers had experienced some form of mental illness during their lives. When the study was published in 1987, it was taken as scientific confirmation that there is indeed a link between creativity and mental illness, that most of our geniuses are fragile, moody, and perhaps a bit mad.

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Today’s Birthday: T.S. Eliot

TS_Eliot_birthdayThomas Stearns Eliot was born in St. Louis, Missouri,  on September 26, 1888. He lived in St. Louis during the first eighteen years of his life and attended Harvard University. In 1910, he left the United States for the Sorbonne, having earned both undergraduate and masters degrees and having contributed several poems to the Harvard Advocate.

After a year in Paris, he returned to Harvard to pursue a doctorate in philosophy, but returned to Europe and settled in England in 1914. The following year, he married Vivienne Haigh-Wood and began working in London, first as a teacher, and later for Lloyd’s Bank.

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Neruda on Thursday!

Neruda_poemsA final reminder that this Thursday, September 25, we will be reading and discussing the works of the great Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda.

Please go to the SCHEDULE PAGE for a list of the Neruda poems to be examined.

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Views of the Roundhouse Poetry Circle blog by Country ending 2014-09-21 (Summarized)


Country Views
Canada FlagCanada 7,877
United States FlagUnited States 1,216
United Kingdom FlagUnited Kingdom 273
India FlagIndia 129
Australia FlagAustralia 49
France FlagFrance 42
Philippines FlagPhilippines 32
Germany FlagGermany 28
Greece FlagGreece 28
Brazil FlagBrazil 23
Spain FlagSpain 20
Portugal FlagPortugal 20
Russian Federation FlagRussian Federation 17
Ireland FlagIreland 16
Italy FlagItaly 15
Japan FlagJapan 14
New Zealand FlagNew Zealand 13
Israel FlagIsrael 10
Singapore FlagSingapore 10
Switzerland FlagSwitzerland 10
Turkey FlagTurkey 10
Pakistan FlagPakistan 9
Thailand FlagThailand 9
Ukraine FlagUkraine 8
Netherlands FlagNetherlands 8
Poland FlagPoland 7
Romania FlagRomania 6
South Africa FlagSouth Africa 6
Malta FlagMalta 6
Bangladesh FlagBangladesh 5
Korea, Republic of FlagRepublic of Korea 5
Algeria FlagAlgeria 5
United Arab Emirates FlagUnited Arab Emirates 5
Colombia FlagColombia 5
Egypt FlagEgypt 4
Saudi Arabia FlagSaudi Arabia 4
Sri Lanka FlagSri Lanka 4
Belgium FlagBelgium 4
Hong Kong FlagHong Kong 3
Chile FlagChile 3
Argentina FlagArgentina 3
Mexico FlagMexico 3
Puerto Rico FlagPuerto Rico 3
Slovenia FlagSlovenia 3
Indonesia FlagIndonesia 3
Nigeria FlagNigeria 3
Taiwan FlagTaiwan 2
Sweden FlagSweden 2
Luxembourg FlagLuxembourg 2
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Denmark FlagDenmark 2
Armenia FlagArmenia 2
Tunisia FlagTunisia 2
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Peru FlagPeru 2
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Hungary FlagHungary 1
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Nila reading at Central Vancouver Public Library on Sunday, September 28, at 12:30pm

Between_LivesA reminder that as part of Word Vancouver, Nila will be reading from her new poetry collection, Between Lives (Oolichan $17.95), on Sunday, September 28, at 12:30pm, in front of the Central Vancouver Public Library, “Poetry on The Bus” on Homer Street.



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Autumn Poems: Poems to read as the leaves change and the weather gets colder


Among the Rocks by Robert Browning 

Oh, good gigantic smile o’ the brown old earth,
This autumn morning! How he sets his bones

Autumn by T. E. Hulme (Thomas Ernest Hulme) 
A touch of cold in the Autumn night—
I walked abroad,

November Night by Adelaide Crapsey 
Listen. .
With faint dry sound,

Autumn by Grace Paley 
What is sometimes called a
tongue of flame

Autumn Song by Dante Gabriel Rossetti 
Know’st thou not at the fall of the leaf
How the soul feels like a dried sheaf

The Beautiful Changes by Richard Wilbur 
One wading a Fall meadow finds on all sides
The Queen Anne’s Lace lying like lilies

Beyond the Red River by Thomas McGrath 
The birds have flown their summer skies to the south,
And the flower-money is drying in the banks of bent grass

Fragment 8: Thicker than rain-drops on November thorn by Samuel Taylor Coleridge 
Thicker than rain-drops on November thorn 

Hendecasyllabics by Algernon Charles Swinburne 
In the month of the long decline of roses
I, beholding the summer dead before me,

When the Frost is on the Punkin by James Whitcomb Riley 
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin’ turkey-cock,

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost 
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both

Sonnet LXXIII: That Time of Year thou mayst in me Behold by William Shakespeare 
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,

Mnemosyne by Trumbull Stickney 
It’s autumn in the country I remember.

How warm a wind blew here about the ways! 

Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio by James Wright 
In the Shreve High football stadium,
I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville,

Neighbors in October by David Baker 
All afternoon his tractor pulls a flat wagon
with bales to the barn, then back to the waiting
chopped field.

Beginning by James Wright 
The moon drops one or two feathers into the field.
The dark wheat listens.

Theme in Yellow by Carl Sandburg 
I SPOT the hills
With yellow balls in autumn.

The Empty House by Walter De La Mare 
See this house, how dark it is
Beneath its vast-boughed trees!

Halloween Party by Kenn Nesbitt 
We’re having a Halloween party at school.
I’m dressed up like Dracula. Man, I look cool!

Song of the Witches by William Shakespeare 
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.

Amoretti LXVII: Like as a Huntsman by Edmund Spenser 
Like as a huntsman after weary chase,
Seeing the game from him escap’d away,

My Autumn Leaves by Bruce Weigl 
I watch the woods for deer as if I’m armed.
I watch the woods for deer who never come.

To Autumn by John Keats
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

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The enduring horror of World War I

WW1Download the “Poetry off the Shelf” Podcast: Poetry Was Never the Same: The enduring horror of World War I  

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Today’s Birthday: William Carlos Williams

WC_WilliamsOn September 17, 1883, William Carlos Williams was born in Rutherford, New Jersey. He began writing poetry while a student at Horace Mann High School, at which time he made the decision to become both a writer and a doctor. He received his MD from the University of Pennsylvania, where he met and befriended Ezra Pound. Pound became a great influence on his writing, and in 1913 arranged for the London publication of Williams’s second collection, The Tempers. Returning to Rutherford, where he sustained his medical practice throughout his life, Williams began publishing in small magazines and embarked on a prolific career as a poet, novelist, essayist, and playwright.

Following Pound, he was one of the principal poets of the Imagist movement, though as time went on, he began to increasingly disagree with the values put forth in the work of Pound and especially Eliot, who he felt were too attached to European culture and traditions. Continuing to experiment with new techniques of meter and lineation, Williams sought to invent an entirely fresh—and singularly American—poetic, whose subject matter was centred on the everyday circumstances of life and the lives of common people.
 The Red Wheelbarrow
by William Carlos Williams

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

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