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On Being Asked for a –

posted November 10, 2010

Posted by Erin Brown in poetry



In anticipation of returning to Ireland after seventeen years, I’ve been reading Yeats again, wondering if I will find the country much changed, as some say it is; wondering, too, what words there are to describe where we are now, in November 2010.

Here is a poem on the virtue of speechlessness.

On Being Asked for a War Poem

I think it better that in times like these
A poet’s mouth be silent, for in truth
We have no gift to set a statesman right;
He has had enough of meddling who can please
A young girl in the indolence of her youth,
Or an old man upon a winter’s night.

From The Wild Swans at Coole (1919)

A New Twist on Public Poetry

posted September 14, 2010

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in marketing poetry

Flux Film 001 | Morse from Proper Medium on Vimeo.

Artist John Morse has come up with a clever way of spreading haiku around Atlanta. His project, dubbed “Roadside Haiku,” uses bandit signs, those not very attractive, cheap white plastic corrugated advertisement signs that are ubiquitous in metropolitan areas. In keeping with the general aesthetic of bandit signs, Morse uses large black lettering, and the poems begin with catch phrases commonly found on bandit signs.

Morse has written 10 haiku, each printed on 50 signs for a total of 500 scattered across Atlanta. Here are some examples:

In the comfort of your home!
Read to your children.

Feel Happier! Healthier!
Dump your bigotry.

You can also check out the signs on Morse’s Facebook page.

For more information on the project, visit Flux Projects or see this article from the Guardian.

Cool New Poetry Book Covers

posted June 10, 2010

Posted by Anne Healey in book design poetry

What is it with poetry book covers? They’re so often boring or ugly. I think a major reason for the ugly ones is simply that small presses can’t afford to hire a proper designer. And there’s an understandable concern about overinterpreting the poetry itself. Also, there’s a general idea that the cover must be staid in order to convey the seriousness of the book’s contents. But so many poetry books seem to be saying glumly, “Oh, don’t mind me, I’m poetry. You’re probably not going to like me unless you already know me. I don’t blame you. I’m kind of boring.”

Come on, poetry books! Don’t be so modest. You’re too beautiful to sit around in that frumpy old bathrobe. Here are a few looks you could try on!

book cover for Shot by Christine Hume Book cover for The Crow's Vow by Susan Briscoe

Fancy Beasts, by Alex Lemon book cover Book cover for Wait: Poems by C.K. Williams

Book cover for The Plot Genie by Gillian Conoley Book cover for Lucifer at the Starlite: Poems by Kim Addonizio

Christine Hume, Shot; Counterpath Press, 2009

Susan Briscoe, The Crow’s Vow; Signal, 2010

Alex Lemon, Fancy Beasts; Milkweed Editions, 2010; Cover and interior design by Christian Fuenfhausen

C.K. Williams, Wait; Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010

Gillian Conoley, The Plot Genie; Omnidawn Publishing, 2009

Kim Addonizio, Lucifer at the Starlite; W.W. Norton & Company, 2009

French Pop Song of the Week: “La Corrida” by Francis Cabrel

posted April 18, 2010

Posted by Thomas Riggs in music poetry translation world literature


Although Francis Cabrel has been one of the best-selling songwriters in France since the late 1970s, he’s hardly had the typical life of a celebrity. Raised in the village of Astaffort, in the southwestern French department of Lot-et-Garonne, he still lives there with his longtime wife, Mariette. His first hit, “Petite Marie” (“Little Marie”; 1977), was dedicated to her.

Below is a video of Francis Cabrel performing “La Corrida” (“Bullfighting”), a song from his 1994 album Samedi soir sur la terre (“Saturday Night on Earth”), which sold three million copies. I love the tall, French windows at the back of the stage.

The lyrics describe the horror of bullfighting from the point of view of the bull, and the song shares with Cabrel’s other music a dreamlike quality and a yearning to say something that feels essential. Andalousie (Andalusia), mentioned below in the lyrics and translation, is a region in southern Spain known for bullfighting. The French expression “dormer sur ses deux oreilles” (“to sleep on both ears”) means to sleep deeply. In the song it’s used as a pun. After killing a bull the bullfighter is sometimes given its ears as a gift.

Francis Cabrel – La corrida
envoyé par dimigardien. – Regardez la dernière sélection musicale.

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French Pop Song of the Week: Apollinaire’s “Le Pont Mirabeau”

posted April 9, 2010

Posted by Thomas Riggs in authors music poetry translation world literature


Although poet Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) is not a pop lyricist, the words to one of his best-known poems, “Le Pont Mirabeau” (”The Mirabeau Bridge”), were put to music by Marc Lavoine, pictured above on the cover of his CD titled simply Marc Lavoine (2001). “Le Pont Mirabeau,” the first track on the CD, is a bridge in Paris that spans over the Seine River. Apparently Apollinaire had to walk over the bridge to get to the home of painter Marie Laurencin, his girlfriend from 1907 to 1912. It is also the bridge where poet Paul Celan likely killed himself in 1970. His body was found miles downstream.

Below is Lavoine, since the 1980s a successful French actor and crooner, singing “Le Pont Mirabeau.”

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