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Written in honor of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, Voice Over is a collection of poetry which serves as a final farewell to Breyten Breytenbach’s dear friend.  The series of poems found in Voice Over were created shortly after the death of Darwish, and they were written as the author traveled through Catalonia and Friesland.  What results is a moving collection of verse.

This small 41-page collection gives a powerful look at the language of Breyten Breytenbach, a writer and human rights activist from South Africa. He’s taken a lifelong stance against apartheid and was even imprisoned for seven years for high treason after sneaking back into his country illegally.  Such a turbulent and strongly humanitarian past is evident in the voice of his prose. 

 Winner of the Hertzog Prize for Poetry (1999 and 2008), Breytenbach has written numerous books and produces countless paintings and drawings which have been viewed worldwide. He is considered to be one of the greatest of the Afrikaans poets. Still very active in taking a stand, Breytenbach divides his time between the U.S., Europe, and Africa.  Definitely a writer worth looking into, this creative powerhouse will give you some real literature to sink your teeth into.  

Voice Over is published by Archipelago Books.

Scan through the archives of carp(e) libris reviews and you’ll find quite a selection of poetry. As I learn more and more about poetry, and as we learn to have a deeper appreciation for it through reviews and giveaways, I’m refining my tastes in the craft a little more with each book. The Opposite of Clairvoyance holds something of a blend of strength of voice and gentleness of spirit that I keep finding myself drawn into. Gillian Wegener’s selection of poems in her new book (published by Sixteen Rivers Press) covers a multitude of subjects that keep continuity through Wegener’s unique voice and musical rhythm. I often wonder how poetry would sound when read aloud by the poet, and this book is no exception.

Whether you’re a nature lover, someone who gains solace from reading heartbreak, or a mom in love with her kids, you’ll find something to relate to in The Opposite of Clairvoyance. But don’t make the mistake of thinking this poetry is cotton candy and tulips. There is a power to the voice as well as an edge, and many of the poems have an undercurrent of longing or reveal a disappointment in life. Regardless of the topic, each one ends leaving the reader to pause and reflect. For me, this is one of the main reasons to read a poem – reflection, either on the positive or negative aspects in life, and possibly the hope that the poet feels the same way we do, expressing it in ways we never thought to attempt.

To win your own autographed copy of The Opposite of Clairvoyance, read on.

3 Ways to Win:

1.) Leave a comment telling me what you look for when choosing poetry. Do you like something you can relate to? Easy to understand? Or do you like something more abstract? Have fun with your comment! Winners are randomly chosen, but if the name drawn doesn’t respond, I choose the next winner by comment.
2.) Email subscribers are entered into this and all future giveaways, for as long as their subscription is active. Simply place your email address in the little white box at the top of my sidebar on the right. (Please make sure to verify your Feedburner subscription by responding to the email they send you. If you don’t receive it, check your junk mail. Only verified subscriptions are entered for all the giveaways.)
3.) Blog about this giveaway on your blog with a link back to this post. Come back and leave me a Comment with a link to your blog post.
Do all three, and you’ve got three entries to win! You have until midnight EST on Monday, September 1, 2008, to enter.

 

If you’ve been following my series of reviews of The Cahier Series published by Sylph Editions, then you know Cahier #4 is next in this wonderful line-up. Alan Jenkins’ love for the poet Arthur Rimbaud shines forth in his cahier, which features the famous Drunken Boats (Le Bateau ivre), translated from the French by Jenkins. Also featured are two original works by Jenkins celebrating the style of Rimbaud and his passion for the sea.

I think most amazing to me was to learn that Rimbaud had not only written Drunken Boats at the age of seventeen, but that he had never been to sea before writing it. Anyone who has had the pleasure of reading this work will know that you can’t read it without experiencing vivid imaginings of a vast and complex sea. Jenkins’ translation is smooth and seemingly effortless, giving the poetry lover something rich to visit again and again. 

Alan Jenkins’ own two poems are also a great pleasure to read, evoking images of Rimbaud’s sea. The three works in one volume make for a powerful combination, enhanced all the more by the incredible artwork I’ve been learning to expect from The Cahier Series.  

13. August 2008 · Comments Off on The Poetry of Kemal Faruquee · Categories: Book Talk, Interesting Links · Tags: , ,

We’ve been talking about poetry around here quite a bit lately. So when Kemal Faruquee asked me to check out his poetry website, Kemal Poems, I just had to take a look. Kemal started his site in 2004, and he’s filled it with the poetry he’s written. Kemal’s books, Naive Lip and The Uptake of the Disappointment Concept, are both available on his site.  But you can also peruse his site and get plenty of poetry for free if you’re in need of a little fix. Since I seem to be on a mission as of late to bring people back into poetry, a site like this may be just what you need to get your toes back in the prose. (And there is a prime example of why I am not a poet.)

One interesting feature on Kemal’s site is the “New Additions and Poem Genres” category.  By clicking on links such as Birthday Poems or Friendship Poems, Kemal is starting a collection of poetry for many occasions.  He even encourages readers to send in some they’ve found and would like to share, so if you’ve written some or found a gem, he may just post it for you.

And how is the poetry of Kemal Faruquee?  I rather enjoyed reading through them.  There’s something of a rambling melodic quality about it that I found made it easy to fall into the flow of the poem.  In particular, I was drawn to Imagining Myself an Old Man.  It’s romantic and sentimental without the sugary sweetness that can sometimes trip up a poet.  Overall, his poems are worth a look–and like I said they’re free.  If you’re just meandering around the poetry pool,  Kemal Poems is offering you Free Swim Day.  Kick off those flip flops and jump in.

And the winner is…. Ed!  Thanks, Ed, for being a longtime visitor.  Hope you like the book!

I swore I’d never do it. When I started carp(e) libris reviews, I swore I wouldn’t review a book that was self-published. After all, the risk is great. Sure, there are some award-winning self-published books out there, but it just seemed a gamble. So when I got an email from the wife of a poet, a woman who published her husband’s work because she so believed in it,   curiosity got the best of me and I checked the author’s website. After reading a couple of his poems online, I thought, “What is carp(e) libris reviews for, anyway, if not to discover writers we might otherwise never hear of?” I wasn’t sorry. Patrick Walker is an excellent poet with over 35 years of poetry writing to share.

Pegasus at the Plow
is a poetry collection with a truly unique voice. The style is most decidedly classical, and although you can somehow envision a dashing Robin Hood reciting them to his Maid Marian, the subject matter is often ironically modern. I really enjoyed the melding of old and new; how many poems of his did I read wondering how they’d be set to music? Yes, it would have to be to the sounds of a lute and a drum, methinks. (Oh, gosh. Did I just say “methinks”?) A wonderful feature of this book is the artwork, done by Patrick’s talented wife Virginia Cody, who he refers to as a force of nature. The sketches throughout complement the poetry, making the book as a whole a desirable addition to the poet-lover’s collection.

If you’re a poetry lover and you’d like to experience this book firsthand, I have an autographed copy that Patrick Walker was gracious enough to send along for one of you. Just follow the rules below.

3 Ways to Win
:

1.) Leave a comment telling me if you usually read poetry, and if so, who are your favorites?

2.) Email subscribers are entered into this and all future giveaways, for as long as their subscription is active. Simply place your email address in the little white box at the top of my sidebar on the right. (Please make sure to verify your Feedburner subscription by responding to the email they send you. If you don’t receive it, check your junk mail. Only verified subscriptions are entered for all the giveaways.)

3.) Blog about this giveaway on your blog with a link back to this post. Come back and leave me a Comment with a link to your blog post.

Do all three, and you’ve got three entries to win! You have until midnight EST on Friday, August 8, 2008, to enter.

10. July 2008 · Comments Off on The Death of the Poem and Other Paragraphs by Justin Courter · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,


Not too long ago, I reviewed an exceptional book called “Skunk: A Love Story,” one of those rare finds in literature you know you’ll not forget. Fortunately for me, and anyone else lucky enough to have discovered Skunk, author Justin Courter has not pulled a Margaret Mitchell on his readers by producing one great work and calling it quits. The Death of the Poem and Other Paragraphs is poetry (in paragraphs) that demands to be heard. I haven’t laughed out loud so much since–well, since Skunk. From the very first poem, Courter had my attention.

The poems, fun and edgy, sarcastic and all too true, sometimes had me initially perplexed until the “aha” light came on, compelling me to read each one at least twice so I could laugh some more, feeling good about getting it. Don’t be thrown, though, by all my talk of laughter. There is something deliciously biting about the poetry as well. And if you’ve ever worked in an office job while staring out the windows saying, “There must be more, oh why can’t I just create all day and skip the paper clips?” well, let’s just say this is poetry you’ll want to memorize and recite out loud just to irritate and mortally confuse your coworkers who live to file, sort, and staple. As Courter would say, “…the office is a kennel full of rabid bunny rabbits. Stomp softly and carry a carrot stick.”

And since I’m wearing out my copy of The Death of the Poem and Other Paragraphs, this Courter guy just got himself another Goldfish Award. Get a copy.

 

 

 


Part of the Quarternote Chapbook Series from Sarabande BooksContents of a Minute gives us a look into the poetry of Josephine Jacobsen, celebrated poet. This 29-page collection is filled with recently discovered and previously unpublished poetry and is a great collection whether you’re just discovering Jacobsen’s work or you’re already a fan.

Jacobsen’s poetry is filled with depth and rhythm. If you’re new to poetry, I would suggest someone like Jacobsen for her ability to pull the reader into a scene without being confusing. This is not to say her poetry is simple–it is anything but. In fact, the subject matter often has dark undertones, speaking of death or longing. But it is not so heavy as to drag the reader down and leave them wallowing. There is something redeeming about the beautifully swaying beat and the unusual rhyming schemes in many of the works, such as in the poem Natural, one of the recently discovered. It is almost sung, and even if you’re not the poetry-spouting type, you may just find yourself trying to commit a fragment or two to memory for later.

Whether you’re a poetry buff or not, I encourage you to check out Jacobsen’s work. She won many awards in her lifetime, including the Robert Frost Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Poetry, the highest award a poet can hope for. If you’d like a copy for yourself, I have an extra one just for giving away.  Enter to win by midnight on Friday, June 20, 2008.

3 Ways to Win

1.) Leave a comment telling me something about your poetry reading habits. Do you ever read poetry, or is it something you’re hoping to try? (Something more than “I want this book” is kindly suggested.) If the randomly chosen winner doesn’t reply to my email telling them they’ve won, I often choose the #2 winner based on their comment.

2.) or Subscribers are automatically entered into this and all future giveaways. Just enter your email address in the little white box on the upper part of the right hand column. (Please make sure to verify your Feedburner subscription by responding to the email they send you. If you don’t receive it, check your junk mail.)

3.) or Blog about this giveaway on your blog with a link back.

If you do all three, you have three entries to win.

10. June 2008 · Comments Off on Walking on Air by Muriel Spark – Book Review · Categories: Book Reviews, Chapbooks, Poetry, Short Stories · Tags: , , , ,


Muriel Spark’s work can be found in every corner of the literary world: Novels, short stories, poetry, reviews, and many other written forms, best known for her novel The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Walking on Air, Cahier 2 of The Cahier Series published by Sylph Editions, was brought into being shortly after Spark’s death. These collected works of both poetry and prose were organized by Dan Gunn, some of them being published for the first time. Gunn’s process of pulling the pieces together for a cahier is what he hopes is its own sort of translation, and I must agree.

Walking on Air
features a few images of the author’s handwritten pages, complete with scribblings and rewrites, which was of particular interest to me. Most of my reviews and other writings are first handwritten (as is this one) with many such scratched out and reworded phrases. To see the written notes of someone of Spark’s caliber is certainly fascinating to any writerly mind.

The reader will also enjoy a few journal entries in which Spark discusses ideas for short stories and tidbits about her daily writing life. These entries are followed by a wonderful short story called The Ormolu Clock, which was discussed in the preceding journal entries.

Walking on Air wraps up with a few more pieces by Spark, including a short work on artist Piero della Francesca. Overall, this collection gives a unique look into the life of a great writer, leaving the reader with a sense of having had a personal encounter with Muriel Spark herself.


Poet Anne Coray was born and raised in Alaska. Her book of poetry, Bone Strings, reflects not only the beauty and grandeur that haunts anyone who has even seen a picture of the state, it presents the harshness and disquietude of Alaskan nature as well.

Bone Strings reads with a graceful rhythm, smooth and melodic. However, the poetry is often quite the opposite, describing the things that happen in nature we humans wish didn’t occur–like watching the wildlife channel and always hoping to see the rabbit escape the jaws of the wolf. Coray speaks from the vantage point of one who is well acquainted with all that is Alaska and its wilderness, and one who loves and honors it as well.

For the reader who loves the great outdoors and stands in awe of its complexities, its gentle beauty as well as its unforgiving hardness, Bone Strings will satisfy your urge to experience it all through poetry. I have one copy of Bone Strings to give away to a reader chosen at random. To win, enter here before midnight, Thursday June 12, 2008.

3 Ways to Win

1.) Leave a comment telling me something about your views on Alaska. Have you been there? Do you want to visit? Or do you live there? (Something more than “I want this book” is kindly suggested.) If the randomly chosen winner doesn’t reply to my email telling them they’ve won, I often choose the #2 winner based on their comment.

2.) or Subscribers are automatically entered into this and all future giveaways. Just enter your email address in the little white box on the upper part of the right hand column. (Please make sure to verify your Feedburner subscription by responding to the email they send you. If you don’t receive it, check your junk mail.)

3.) or Blog about this giveaway on your blog with a link back.

If you do all three, you have three entries to win.

Published by Scarlet Tanager Books.

 


I love reading translated works; I devour them. There’s a whole other world of literature outside the U.S. waiting to be read, and I mean to discover as much of it as I can. Translating Music, first of The Cahier Series published by Sylph Editions, is written by translator Richard Pevear, putting a whole new slant and appreciation on the way I perceive translated literature.

The first portion of this 35-page cahier is Pevear’s translation of the poem “The Tale of the Preacher and His Man Bumpkin” by Alexander Pushkin. Part Two discusses the work of a translator and how every translator presents the same text differently and why.

Pushkin’s poem contains his sketches and presents the work in its original Russian text on the left hand pages. On the right are Pevear’s translations. This merges well with Part Two as now the reader has had a taste of translated text.

I’m the first to admit I’ve been sloppy in the past about choosing translations. I never gave a thought to who translated my copy of War and Peace. But Pevear explains simply and clearly why one translation may be vastly different from another. Using several examples from Tolstoy’s War and Peace, the author gives the reader a whole new look and appreciation into the world of a translator.

Sylph Editions has published The Cahier Series in association with The Center for Writers & Translators at the American University of Paris. The series includes two “books” or sets of cahiers, each containing 6 volumes. Sylph has kindly sent me the entirety of Book One for review, and I’ll be sharing a new cahier with you every few days.  You can order The Cahier Series by visiting any of the links in this post.