Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Birthday Walt Whitman! (1819-1892)

This is Walt Whitman with Peter Doyle, a man with whom Whitman is believed to have had an intimate friendship. Does it matter so much? Their ease in the photo is what draws me in. I've never been (dare I admit) a huge Whitman fan, but I love the influence he has had on American poetry. I can't imagine Adrienne Rich's Atlas of a Difficult World without the work of Whitman or more recently, Mark Doty's Mercy on Broadway or Mathew Dickman's All-American Poem. Whitman allows, I think, for the grand gesture, the wide wave of our daily world transfigured into America with a capital A (or at least the United States - which is what I mean here).

A few years ago I attended a conference where Cody Walker was teaching a class and using Walt Whitman as his text. I don't remember the exact subject of the session, but I do remember how much Cody loved Whitman's work. And for that two hours, I fell in love with Whitman, too. Here is one of the poems that I re-discovered that day. It's stayed with me and at the moment I am using it as a shadow poem for one of my poems. Thank you Cody, thank you Walt Whitman.

When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer


When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and
measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much
applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.

The Writer's Life: What to Say After the Reading

I've read at seven different events in the last two months and while it's been fun, it's also been slightly insane. My daily life tends towards the quiet. I've been thinking a great deal about what makes a good reading and what is best to avoid, but here's a new topic: what to say after the reading. As both a reader and an audience member, here are some things I've discovered.

1. Whenever possible, tell the poet something specific that moved you about the reading. If you don't do this, she may think it all passed over you in a dark cloud of confusion.

2. If you are at all inclined, buy the writer's book. They will remember this and love you forever.

3. If your finances or poetic beliefs don't allow for this, tell the writer what they did well ... don't lie ...but find something to show you were listening. It can be as simple as "you have a lovely reading voice." Again, do not lie -

4. Recount one line or a fragment of a line that stayed with you. At La Conner last week a man told me as we walked out that I had read something about a crow he had been moved by. "The wild crow cry why" I said to him and we both smiled.

5. If you read with someone else, acknowledge your peer in some way before you walk off. Yes, it's been a long night or afternoon, but if you just disappear your co-reader may take it personally.

6. Whenever possible go out for a drink or dessert after the reading. This makes for a more festive evening and allows for actual conversations about poetry.

7. Thank your audience. Always look people directly in the eyes when they ask you to sign their books or approach you with a question. Give yourself totally over to that reader for the course of the conversation. A person who is interested in your work is precious. Treat her as such.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Poet as Gardener - Emily Dickinson's Night Gardening

I seem to be wanting more of  Emily Dickinson's words, "A lunatic on bulbs," and gardening skills lately. I didn't know that she liked to garden at night until I read the New York Times article excerpted below. The poet Deborah Digges also gardened at night. This summer I plan to try it, too. So far, all I've done at night is kill slugs and snails.

This year, Mark Doty was in Seattle as part of the Seattle Arts and Lectures Poetry Series and he spoke about visiting Walt Whitman's grave as well as places Whitman lived. I like the idea of paying respect to the poets that have inspired me in this same way. Instead of a religious pilgrimage to Lourdes, I went to the Lake District and broke into Wordsworth's garden (many years ago). I'm interested in seeing places Elizabeth Bishop lived - Key West, Brazil, Worcester, MA. I used to love to visit the houses of famous writers when I was younger (Mark Twain's house in Connecticut, for example) but it's been years. I'd love to hear of poetry pilgrimages others have gone on. Is it cheesy or inspiring? My sense is that I would want to go to pay my respects more than anything else. Or maybe to get another glass of lemonade in Emily's garden.


We now suspect that one reason Dickinson preferred night gardening was because of vision problems: for several years in her early middle age, sunlight stung her eyes. But no such explanations are needed to justify the indoor-outdoor format of “Emily Dickinson’s Garden: The Poetry of Flowers,” an ambitious, multipart show, opening Friday at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, that considers Dickinson equally as a horticulturalist and a poet, and forges links between the two.

To read the rest of the article click here

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Letters From the Emily Dickinson Room - You Can Pre-order Now!


I am so excited to see my friend Kelli Agodon's new book, Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room is now available from Amazon. Of course, it's always best to do book orders from your local bookseller, or White Pine Press, or Kelli herself. But I can't help but be happy when I see a book come on to Amazon for pre-order. It signals to me that the book will soon be in the world. Like a coming attraction at the movie theater. I thought I would also include a poem of Kelli's here, "How Killer Blue Irises Spread" is one of my favorite. This was originally published in The Atlantic.

How Killer Blue Irises Spread


       —Misheard health report on NPR
The quiet ones, the flowers
the neighbors said
kept to themselves,
Iris getagunandkillus, shoots
and rhizomes reaching
beneath the fence.
The shifty ones,
Mickey Blue Iris, the tubers
that pretend to be dormant
then spread late at night into
the garden of evil and no good.
They know hell, their blue flames
fooling van Gogh, the knife
he stuck into soil before he sliced
the bulbs in three, nights
he spent painting in a mad heat.
They swell before the cut
and divide of autumn.
An entire field of tulips,
flattened. Daylilies found
like lean bodies across the path.
The wild blue iris claims
responsibility, weaves through
the gladioli, into the hothouse
where the corpse flower blooms
for a single day, its scent
of death calling to the flies.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Writer's Life: The Boys of May ~ Oliver and Allen


Tonight's reading with Allen Braden (top) and Oliver de la Paz (bottom) at Open Books in Seattle was a stellar double-header. These poets were engaging, humorous, and their poems evoked the pain and wonder of what it means to be alive in this world. There were jokes about life in small towns (Oliver) and about oblivion (Allen). Mostly, there were poems that I am now ready to delve into more deeply. I recommend both Reqiuem for the Orchard and A Wreath of Down and Drops of Blood wholeheartedly.My photography skills, however, still leave much to be desired. Thank you to Allen and Oliver for a powerful evening of poetry and community. I am honored to call you friends.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Laughing Poets - My Favorite Poetry Weekend - Skagit River Poetry Festival


This moment: poems shared, happy listeners, the four of us appreciating the afterglow of a good reading. I'd even presume to use the word great because we read in a stellar space - the Skagit Historical Museum, enjoyed each others poetry (OK - I enjoyed the poetry of others - can't speak for them) and more than anything else - connected with our audience in the realm of pleasure and playfulness. Here's a poem that  Lorna Crozier read. She had me bent over and belly laughing.

PEAS

Peas never liked any of it.
They make you suffer for the sweet
burst of green in the mouth. Remember
the hours of shelling on the front steps,
the ping into the basin? Your mother
bribing you with lemonade to keep you there,
popping them open with your thumbs.

Your tongue finds them clitoral
as it slides up the pod.
Peas are not amused.
They have spent all their lives
keeping their knees together.

Lorna Crozier, from The Blue Hour of the Day

I will never think of peas in the same way again. "burst of green in the mouth" and "keeping their knees together" are my favorite lines tonight. I have been at each Skagit River Poetry Festival since 2000, attending just after I moved to Washington. I hope to be at every festival from now until I die.

The lyrical river town, the welcoming homes, museums, and community center -- the superwomen volunteers, the magician of a director Molly McNulty, incredible audiences, goodwill of my fellow presenters ~ all of this leads to why this is my favorite poetry festival on the planet.

In this photo Tim McNulty, Lorna Crozier, Matthew Dickman, and I are taking a photo at the request of the festival photographer. An added touch this year was that each presenter went home with a photo of one of her performances. My friend Kelli Agodon (thank you!) clicked this "unofficial" picture from the side view.

And although I consider myself to be a strong introvert, for this weekend, once every two years,  I do my best to shed my shyness and dive into this community. The third weekend of May almost always includes May 20th. If he were still alive, my father would have been 89 this weekend. In some very specific ways I believe he attends with me each year as well.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Writer's Life: How to Have a Great Poetry Group

I think poetry would be a great deal less fun without my poetry group. The South Grand Street Poets have been meeting for almost twenty years (give or take a year). I've been a member for five years and hope my membership never expires. This is my third writing group in Seattle and so I deeply appreciate the chemistry that makes for the success of this group. Here are just a few observations of what contributes to the overall positive atmosphere.

1. Good food and lots of wine. (And the truth is I hardly drink.)  Everyone feels better with something to nibble and a little to drink. It keeps the mood light and festive and often keeps the energy high.

2. Generous hearts. We always begin with praise. After the poet reads their poem and then the poem is read a second time by another person in the group, we start with what we loved.

3. Strong critique. The act of praise allows for a deeper entry into the poem. What questions arise? Where does a poem drift? Is "worn underwear" too distracting? Oftentimes there are passionate differences in what the group wants from a poem. This means we need to support our ideas and the conversations are exploratory rather than prescriptive.

4. A range of poets -- but not a whirlwind. There are nine of us on nights when everyone attends - usually we have seven or eight people. Some poets focus more on the natural world, others are working on historical projects, still others do something utterly different each month. While we would probably all agree that the poem needs a certain "sense" --- our styles are somewhat diverse. Although after years of working together, perhaps not as diverse as we once were...

5. Traveling from house to house. So that no one poet shoulders the burden (or power) of hosting, we each take turns offering our homes. This leads to a variety of houses all over the city. I like having the group at my house in the summer when we can be outside -- and also during Christmas break. When the group meets at my house I can choose which poet starts us off. The host for the evening in some ways sets the tone.

6. A delicate balance. Groups are alive, ours consists of people with busy lives and complex relationships to poetry and the world. As it should be. I'm sometimes amazed that we can come together, share such an intimate pursuit, laugh a great deal, and come away with renewed energy for a craft most of us actually take quite seriously. Each time we meet I am grateful again that this delicate balance of different souls endures.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Skagit River Poetry Festival - May 20-22nd

I love the Skagit River Poetry Festival. I love it years when I am presenting, like this year - and I love it perhaps even more, when I am a free floating participant. This year's star line-up includes Sherman Alexie, Elizabeth Austen, Terrance Hayes, Ted Kooser, and Robert Wrigley. This year there is a dinner Thursday night,  more workshops offered (how I wish I was free during the time Terrance Hayes is teaching) and more options for how much (or how little) of the festival you have time to take in. This will be the first festival without the wondrous Sekou Sundiata -- and I already miss him...

My first year living in Seattle, I found my way to this festival and have not missed one yet. The town of La Conner becomes a town filled with poetry from its churches to its museums, its community center and bed and breakfasts. Where else can a person sleep, eat, live and breathe poetry for a spring weekend? My favorite place to stay in town is Katy's Inn.  Hope to see you next weekend! It's a magical place and time.

Emily Dickinson in the New York Times - Art & Design



I love seeing Emily Dickinson in the morning paper. Today she is front page news in the New York Times' Art and Design section. Holland Cotter describes his first visit to The Homestead in Amherst, Massachusetts as a young man. I remember my first visit there vividly as well. I had just returned to Amherst after dropping out of college. I was finishing my senior year at the University of Massachusetts, studying with the poet Madeline DeFrees. Mostly, I was trying to figure out how to be a poet in the world, and in particular, a young woman poet who was very shy and not very confident.I remember Dickinson's bedroom most, and the quality of sunlight -- I felt no touch on the shoulder, but I did feel what it meant "to dwell in possibility." Here is where writing happens. Here is where one woman created a life where words and ideas took precedent over convention. And yes, the homemade lemonade in the back garden also added to the sweetness of the afternoon.


Here is the opening paragraph from Cotter's article:

“Growing up in New England, I’d known about her life, or the romantic version of it — how she was a recluse, how she dressed in white — for years. And I’d read many of her nearly 1,800 poems. I was a bookish, verse-writing odd-fit kid with authority issues, looking for a hero. By a hero I mean someone you admire but, more than that, identify with and somehow want to be. In Dickinson I found what I was after.” 

Friday, May 14, 2010

Top 25 Words in Cures Include Travel


I don't know how to explain that "one" is number one again or how many of my words have stayed the same over the past two books (one, light, come, heart, blue, body, world, time). Just and World were both used 18 times each - but never together. I love that beach is here, yet water is not. What to make of it all? Perhaps I need to infuse my work with new words? Perhaps a list that encompasses an entire book will by its very nature need to be less specific than say, chocolate or pumpernickel. I am surprised that no food appears...



one
light
come
along
blue
body
heart
day
how
off
back
again
just
world
hand
go
life
night
year
first
word
beach
say
over
time

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Top 25 Words in The Alchemist's Kitchen

Today on Book of KellsKelli Agodon posted a link to Word Counter where writers can put the entire text of a book into the site and within seconds find out their most frequently used words. I remember that with The Cartographer's Tongue my top words were light, body, and cream. This time I was utterly surprised that one is my top word. I wonder if that includes "someone" and "everyone" because after reading several poems, I don't see many ones. The positive nature of the words is also unexpected. However, I do love having tulips on the list as well as blue and travel. It allows me an insight into my own obsessions. Thank you, Kelli!

 Word

one
life
new
day
light
review
blue
how
over
sky
water
still
tulip
heart
know
open
myra
love
travel
call
come
body
world
time
thank

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Writing Life: Poet-Preneurs


I learned the world "poet-preneur" at January O'Neil's site Poet Mom today. Here is  an excerpt from her very smart posting.

Why Poets Are Like Entrepreneurs

I have often said that poets and entrepreneurs have a lot in common. We’re self-starters. We often work alone, and work long hours for little or no pay. We’re creative types willing to take risks in our craft and in our development as writers. But we have a vision, so we know how to arrange our lives to follow our passion—writing poetry. Poets, in some respects, share a kinship to social entrepreneurs, because what we do has the ability to bring together a community and to benefit society as a whole.

January's words resonate with me especially now, with The Alchemist's Kitchen newly out in the world. It's a wonderful thing to have a new book in the world -- and it is also a sad thing. Poetry books are quiet, they are passed from reader to reader, there is no Oprah Book Club for poetry, not yet anyway. Sometimes I wonder how anyone finds out about a book of poems other than hearing about it from another poetry reader. And so, because we believe in our books as we believe in our friends or our children, we give readings, interviews, go on blog tours ... we do our part to send our poetry out into the world with a warm send-off. It's the proverbial message in the bottle - hoping that our hard-won words find an empathetic ear. A stranger on a far-off shore that hears the music.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Do-It-Yourself Book Tour ~ Virtually Speaking


I have been thinking lately about why, how, and if I would like to do a virtual book tour. Since I have had a blog for only six months, I'm still unsure about how all these new technologies translate into traditional readers who like to sit curled up with a book, a cat, and a cup of tea.

My imagination likes the idea that I could be "appearing" in London and the next day in Lahore. I love to travel, so why not virtually?

But what happens on a virtual book tour? I could create files of me reading a few poems, I could write about a poem from idea through its revisions, I could offer party favors (could I?) but what else is involved?

Have you taken your book on a virtual tour? Was it fun? I need your help on this one. Even if you haven't done a virtual book tour, I would love to hear your ideas on what would inspire you to be part of one. Maybe sometime over the next few months? A book stop in Boston or even Bosnia ...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Poetry of the Sacred: Seeds by Alfred Nicol


I found this poem this morning at the Thomas Merton Institute site. The poet, Alfred Nicol, is completely new to me. I love the surprises throughout the poem - that first image of the watermelon giving elephants holds my attention and lets me know that the poet is playful as well as smart. Looking at Nicol's poems on line, I feel I should know his work -- or rather -- his work makes me happy. It makes me wonder how many other poets on the other side of the country I am missing. Although I am from Massachusetts, my poetry world is where I live now - the Pacific Northwest.  Maybe it's time for me to visit Massachusetts again; it's been five years... Here is the poem that made me happy to be alive this morning. Thank you Alfred Nicol.

Seeds
By Alfred Nicol
Newburyport, Massachusetts


Summers at the zoo in Baltimore
the elephants are given watermelons.
Pleasure goes rippling through their tough hides.
You see it.  Elephants are obvious.
They’re made to traipse about savannas where
they trumpet their good spirits like rotund
and rosy husbands crooning in the shower.
The melons are so cool and green, they love them.
They wrap their trunks around them, raise them up
and smash then on the hard-packed earth.
You’d need an Africa to house such gladness then—
they bring the pieces to their mouths; they slurp them;
they eat up everything, the rinds and all.
There is a saying: The eating of a melon
will produce a thousand good works. So
these elephants have got it in them now
to build a Taj Mahal. They’re keen to start
transporting heavy stones.  All for love
they store up reservoirs of dawns. It’s possible
to work for days, shining from within.
Illustrious projects stem from their delight.
The harvest moon is nascent in the seed;
the tendrilled sun is folded there.  And though
the elephant is called Behemoth, he too
emerges from delight, big with the sun
he carries in his great heart.  The same one,
that hard, bright seed of Africa—that sun,
the sun that draws the melon from the vine.





 

Friday, May 7, 2010

Changes ~


Maybe beginning this project at 10:00 PM was a little late, but here we are. I have not made up my mind yet on whether I like this new style better than what I had -- but I do like the large size, more options for columns, and the background texture. It's been six months since I began this blog - guess it's time to put away the winter clothes and try on the new spring wardrobe. What do you think?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

My Favorite Picture of My Favorite Poet: Elizabeth Bishop


I am in need of Elizabeth Bishop tonight. Here is one of my favorite of her poems of travel.






Arrival At Santos

















Here is a coast; here is a harbor;
here, after a meager diet of horizon, is some scenery:
impractically shaped and--who knows?--self-pitying mountains,
sad and harsh beneath their frivolous greenery,

with a little church on top of one. And warehouses,
some of them painted a feeble pink, or blue,
and some tall, uncertain palms. Oh, tourist,
is this how this country is going to answer you

and your immodest demands for a different world,
and a better life, and complete comprehension
of both at last, and immediately,
after eighteen days of suspension?

Finish your breakfast. The tender is coming,
a strange and ancient craft, flying a strange and brilliant rag.
So that's the flag. I never saw it before.
I somehow never thought of there being a flag,

but of course there was, all along. And coins, I presume,
and paper money; they remain to be seen.
And gingerly now we climb down the ladder backward,
myself and a fellow passenger named Miss Breen,

descending into the midst of twenty-six freighters
waiting to be loaded with green coffee beaus.
Please, boy, do be more careful with that boat hook!
Watch out! Oh! It has caught Miss Breen's

skirt! There! Miss Breen is about seventy,
a retired police lieutenant, six feet tall,
with beautiful bright blue eyes and a kind expression.
Her home, when she is at home, is in Glens Fall

s, New York. There. We are settled.
The customs officials will speak English, we hope,
and leave us our bourbon and cigarettes.
Ports are necessities, like postage stamps, or soap,

but they seldom seem to care what impression they make,
or, like this, only attempt, since it does not matter,
the unassertive colors of soap, or postage stamps--
wasting away like the former, slipping the way the latter

do when we mail the letters we wrote on the boat,
either because the glue here is very inferior
or because of the heat. We leave Santos at once;
we are driving to the interior.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

She Said: Women's Lives Through Poetry and Prose

You are cordially invited to hear Elizabeth Austen, Janna Esarey, Monica Lemoine, Corbin Lewars, Midge Raymond, Katherine Whitcomb, and me for a wild reading at Hugo House, Wednesday, May 5th at 7:00 PM. Rumor has it that the bartender will serve special drinks to go along with our reading. I have suggested a "Myra Wiggins Mojito" and a drink with ingredients that promise eternal youth called "The Alchemist." Please join us!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Interviewing the Publisher Behind White Pine Press: Dennis Maloney



I am a loyal fan of Dennis Maloney, founder and publisher of White Pine Press. At twenty-two, after returning from Japan, Dennis began publishing translations of Japanese poets into English --  typing up the poems on an IBM Selectric -- "the technology of the time" as Dennis explains here.

In view of full disclosure let me say: I am honored  to be a White Pine poet with all of my books published by Dennis. It's been a little over ten years since I first received his email with the subject header "The news you've been waiting for" and then a two line message explaining that the Academy of American Poets Greenwald Fund would be supporting the publication of my work. Five years would pass until I would meet Dennis in person and during that time he seemed to me a magical presence --- communicating with me only through email.

Now, after ten years of working with Dennis, I know him to be a magical man. In  three years  White Pine Press will turn 40 - let the celebrating begin. Thank you Dennis for founding White Pine and for publishing more poets in translation than any other press last year. The poetry world - on a global scale -- is richer for your work.

SR:   Can you talk about what compelled you to start a publishing company at the tender age of twenty-two?

DM: I  studied Landscape Architecture in college and  spent my last semester doing an independent study project in Kyoto, Japan on Japanese Gardens. During my college years I began writing and later translating poetry. Two of my early influence were Robert Bly and Gary Synder. Bly was the first poet I heard read, which was in the spring of 1970. Our English professor at the time recommended his work  based on his anti- Vietnam war stance (this was the time of Teeth Mother Naked at Last).  I read his poetry and his work in translation led me to the Spanish and Latin American poets including Pablo Neruda, Antonio Machado, and Juan Ramon Jimenez all of whom I would later translate myself. He also introduced me to the work of a wide variety of poets including James Wright and Tomas Transtromer.

I intially discovered Gary Snyder’s work in used copy of A Casebook on the Beat, which was an early anthology of the Beat writers. I was blown away by both his own poetry and especially his translations of the crazy Chinese hermit-poet, Han-shan. I deeply read Snyder’s work and he lead me back into the long and rich Chinese and Japanese poetic traditions. I had the opportunity to hear Gary read a couple of time in college. He gave one of the best pieces of carreer advice for poets I ever heard. He suggested that one consider poetry an advocation rather than a vocation and that you learn a trade since there was little chance that poetry would support you.  Still I think good advice for a beginning poet.

While I was in Kyoto, in addition to my Japanese garden project I was also writing poetry and while I was there met two American poets, Edith Shiffert and Cid Corman, both long term residents of Kyoto. Cid was fairly well-known in the States thank to his magazine, Origin but Edith was not.
During college I began doing some translations from the Spanish with two years of high school Spanish and a big dictionary. That along with reading what I could find of work in translation  lead me to many wonderful voices that were little known in the US. I realized there was not a lot of  poetry in translation being published in the country aside from the small literary press pioneers like Bly’s Sixties Press. It occurred to me that it might be interesting to start something to publish both poetry in translation and the work of lesser known poets like Edith Shiffert, who I met in Kyoto. After returning home in the late spring of 1973 and graduating I decided to start a small publishing venture not knowing at all what I was doing or how to do it. I wrote to a couple of other publishers and magazines asking for some advice. I also had very little money so I started out doing poetry postcards and chapbooks. It was about five or six years before we did our first book with a spine on it.

Our early efforts look crude by today’s standards but reflect the technology of the time, which was the IBM Selectric typewriter. After Elaine LaMattina became involved with the press we were able to upgrade to professional typesetting and then with the advent of computers to computer typesetting. Her genius at design and layout has allowed us to produce the lovely books we publish on the shoestring budget we publish them on.

SR: Why the name White Pine? Are these trees that grow near where you live?

DM: When I was looking for a name for the press I wanted something that was connected to the land and the area of upstate New York, where I was from and lived. The White Pine tree was a major tree of the North-east forest and also had a prominent place among the Iroquois nations as the Tree of Peace. The tree was repeatedly logged out, except for a few small preserves set aside, because it was very useful as lumber.

SR: You are a poet as well as a publisher. Do you see these two roles as being complimentary in certain ways?

DM: I started the press because I was a poet and translator. That was the motivation to be crazy enough to try and figure out how to do this. Most of the small literary publishers of the time either were motivated by the need to get the work out or were letterpress printers who were interested in the craft of printing. Certainly none of us got in it for the money, since even to this day it is a struggle to keep such ventures going. I took Snyder’s advice to heart and since I learned the trade of Landscape Architecture in college put it use working for the City of Buffalo for thirty-four years as a landscape architect designing parks and urban spaces. I have since retired and am enjoying my retirement check each month.

 SR: Publishing poetry in translation is a key component to what you do. Is there a growing interest in international poets as the world becomes more connected?


As pointed out above, poetry in translation was one of the main reasons for starting the press. Here we are almost four decades later and the percentage of literature in translation published each year in this country is less than three percent of the total amount of books published. So there is still clearly work to be done. Surprisingly, after four decades, it is still largely the small literary publishers and university presses that are publishing the majority of work in translation. The online translation website Three Percent tracts all the translations published in the country every year. In 2009 White Pine Press published more volumes of poetry in translation than any other publisher in the country, which I find both gratifying and shocking. I am stunned and amazed, particulary given our rather small budget, that we could have such an impact on the world of translated literature.

SR: It’s been nearly 40 years since you started White Pine. Is there a spiritual component of this work for you? This ushering of poetry into the world?

As a publisher we are akin to a midwife in the birthing of writing into the world. I certainly consider editing and publishing part of my practice. Gary Snyder once said of James Laughlin, the founder of New Directions, that he created a big Mahayana tent under which a great diversity of voices flourished. I like to think that we have created something similar minus the several  million dollars in inheritance that Laughlin had to start New Directions.

We recently published Finding the Way Home : Poems of Awakening & Transformation, an anthology I edited, that contains work that spans two milleniums and contains voices range from ancient China, Japan, and India to contemporary America and Europe. The work is mainly drawn from books we have published over the four decades and I think reflect this spiritual aspect you ask about.

The great Japanese poet Basho referred to his practice as Kado, the way of poetry. He thought of poetry as a way of life and source of enlightenment. He also suggested that as poets we ”don't follow in the footsteps of the masters but seek what they sought.”

I think the poets in this anthology reflect this idea. Some of the contributors include Han-shan, Du Fu, Li Po, Lu Yu, Ryokan, Issa, Buson, Ikkyu, Chiyo-ni, Nanao Sakaki, Ghalib, Lai Ded, Rumi, Antonio Machado,Juan Ramon Jimenez, Miguel Hernandez, Luis Cernuda, Tomas Transtromer, Olav Hauge, Rolf Jacobsen, Francis Ponge, Charles Baudelaire, Rainier Maria Rilke, Pablo Neruda, Gabriela Mistral, Marjorie Agosin, Roberto Juarroz, Denise Levertov, Jane Hirshfield, Phillip Whalen, Gary Snyder, Lew Welch, David Budbill, Louis Jenkins, Cid Corman, Michael McClure, Peter Blue Cloud, Maurice Kenny, Joseph Bruchac, Sam Hamill, Joy Harjo, James Wright, John Brandi, Joseph Stroud, Ilya Kaminsky, Robert Bly, and Chase Twichell among many others.

So I think have always been looking at poetry of the spirit and looked at publishing and editing as part of that larger practice of poetry.

SR: Thank you, Dennis.

We Are All Winners! The Editors' Choice Award - Broadsided Winner for My Alchemist Reading!!!

I am so happy to announce that this photograph (taken by staff photographer, Kelli Agodon) won the Editor's Choice Award at Broadsided Press for their Post-a-Thon. I love that this photo of friends Esther Helfgott, Martha Silano, and Linda Bowers (to name only a few) is now "famous." This group effort, this human broadside, this group of smiling people, allowed me to feel relaxed at my book launch because look at the positive energy that my friends and family -- along with a broadside, created. Thank you everyone who participated in this last Sunday at Open Books! To see the other winners (and the co-winner of the Editor's Choice Award)  click here.

Winners from the Great Poetry Giveaway!


Congratulations to the winners of the Poetry Book Giveaway 

Bridget Lossada wins a copy of Bellocqs' Ophelia by Natasha Tretheway

Eldrtich00 wins a copy of The Alchemist's Kitchen by Susan Rich - only Eldritch's email is not working...

Eldritch? If you are reading this, please email me so I can send you your book -- all the way to the Philippines ....

Happy Reading to All!

Susan