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Old Masters, Neglected Masters, Non-Masters, and Gems

For Dust Thou Art by Timothy Liu Southern Illinois University Press, 2005. $14.95 No bland heterosexist suburban poems of backyard sparrows here, Timothy Liu’s latest book, For Dust Thou Art, offers a smorgasbord of impudent isms: onanism, terrorism, “jism,” and solipsism. Titillating perhaps, but stick to the salad bar. The book’s title from Genesis 3:19 misleadingly window dresses a store of randy words, from “good head easier to get than a vintage Merlot” from the first section of the book to “linen falling off our laps as boytoys bathe” from the last section of the book. They sandwich some unsurprising poems in the middle that fetishize 9/11—“A fireman’s boot / exhumed at last—strange trophy / from rubble still too hot to touch” or “Every possible pleasure to be indulged for the world was at an end.” The middle section’s mediocrity begs the question: what of the failure of any poet so far to achieve a “Wasteland” from 9/11? While these poems may stimulate, they fail to surprise, much less catalyze new understanding of people and …

Summer Reading Lists 2006

For the month of July we decided to embrace the spirit of summer vacation and feature the reading lists of our staff and volunteers. Amanda Bennett: “Heavy, heady stuff…” What Good Are The Arts? by John Carey Don’t Get Too Comfortable by David Rakoff Monkey Luv by Robert M. Sapolsky Why Do I Love These People? by Po Bronson Gatsby’s Girl by Caroline Preston William Bernhard: “This is what I have in my queue, which is often mercurial.” The Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes The Boy on the Step by Stanley Plumly The Wild Iris by Lousie Glück Without End by Adam Zagajewski The Plague by Albert Camus Her Husband by Diane Middlebrook David Biespiel: “What’s stacked in the living room…” Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert District and Circle by Seamus Heaney The Curved Planks by Yves Bonnefoy Will in the World by Stephen Greenblatt (“Actually this is in the car, and I admit, I’ve been reading it in traffic and in waiting rooms…”) Selected Lyrics by Cole Porter The Complete Prose of Marianne …

Spring & Summer 2006

C.K. Williams reads the sports page Robert Bly visits Chaco Canyon Marilyn Hacker faces disease Richard Kenney interviews a muse Jock Sturges discusses poetry and photography Plus: Talvikki Ansel, Peter Campion, Henri Cole, Debora Greger, Campbell McGrath, Stanley Plumly, Nance Van Winckel Cover art by Jock Sturges THIS ISSUE IS SOLD OUT. Get new issues in your mailbox. Subscriptions are available starting at $15.

Richard Kenney: “Muse Interviews”

Richard Kenney This month we feature a poem by Richard Kenney, “Muse Interviews,” from the Spring-Summer 2006 (v1.n1) issue of Poetry Northwest. Asked for a few remarks about the poem, the author writes: “The poem is an attack. Trapped in prose between the poles of explanation and ducking, I’d lean to the latter and say something like: insofar as satire is Calliope’s cautering iron, here’s a hiss for all of us. Pressed toward the prolix pole, I’d change the subject and inquire: is there a compound word for anvil-envy among hammers? Would it derogate the great poetries of Latin America or Central Europe, say– our teachers in many things– to note pressing political and formal errands closer to home, where all roads lead, evidently, somethwere between the Imperial Dream and McStupid? Somewhere amidst the wet Kleenex of our guilts and grievances and the shrinking fluids of our irony, American poets will have to find ink for the record. Should this strike us as a smaller artistic problem than Whitman’s? Do we have the instruments? Just …

Marilyn Hacker: “Ghazal: Style”

I’ve been interested in the ghazal as a form for a long time, an interest that was awakened by Adrienne Rich’s free-verse ghazals on one hand, and on John Hollander’s witty exposition-by-example of the “formal” ghazal in his prosody handbook Rhyme’s Reason. For me, as for many others, the interest took focus with Aga Sháhid Ali’s work in the form, and with his essay on the ghazal tradition, which appears, in different versions, in the anthology Ravishing Disunities and in the essay anthology An Exaltation of Forms.