The wrap: poetry in the news (w/e 2 May 2013)
A British scholar finds Vita Sackville-West’s poem to her mistress, Violet Trefusis, when it falls out of a book, while a Canadian poet constructs a found poem from reviews of books by women in major publications (but switches the pronouns to male). Par exemple: “Much of his novel seems held together with a kind of teary hormonal paste”. In Women’s Poetry: Poems and Advice, Professor Daisy Fried proclaims “The Poetess has long felt that women’s equality should be founded in the notion that a woman is no worse than a man” and proceeds to declare Charles Bukowski “our greatest living poetess”. Appalachian Elegy, legendary-feminist bell hooks’ new book of poems, honours the first-people in her native state of Kentucky, while the first known Native American literary writer, Bamewawagezhikaquay (Woman of the Sound the Stars Make Rushing Through the Sky), is remembered on the last day of National Poetry Month. On Poetica Spike Milligan’s poem “Manic Depression at St Luke’s Wing, Woodside Hospital Psychiatric Wing, 1953” opens: “The pain is too much, a thousand grim winters grow in my head, in my ears the sound of the coming dead”, while the working papers to “Sheep in Fog” reveal how Sylvia Plath arrived at the poem’s grim end: “They threaten / To let me through to a heaven / Starless and fatherless, a dark water”. A Washington Post critic fears Charles Simic’s whip-smart metaphors are wielding less of a bite, but a professor of economics explains conceptual poets peak early, and experimental poets peak late. Meanwhile a book of cat-themed poetry – I Could Pee On This – swishes its tail on the NPR best-seller lists, amid self-help books and memoirs, while a bemused editor curates a gallery of insouciant feline poems.