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Archive for January, 2011

Hamlet's terrace, Kronborg, Denmark

 

Horatio: If your mind dislike any thing, obey it: I will forestall their repair hither, and say you are not fit.

 

Hamlet: Not a whit, we defy augury. There is special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come–the readiness is all.

 

William Shakespeare, Hamlet, V. ii. 217-222

 

We are readying ourselves for our March reading period. If you have a manuscript, we hope you’ll send it our way for our inaugural Editors’ Prize. More details available if you click on our Submissions tab.

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Enjoy the weather and come hear some poetry at the Rubin tonight!

TONIGHT at 7pm!

Kimiko Hahn, Saskia Hamilton, Noelle Kocot, David Lehman, Ben Lerner, Brenda Shaughnessy, and Stacy Szymaszek will read poems by themselves and others reflecting absence, emptiness, and nothing—themes inherent in Buddhist art and philosophy.

Poems about Nothing is one in a series of programs inspired by the museum’s current exhibition, Grain of Emptiness: Buddhism-Inspired Contemporary Art. Like Poems about Nothing, the five artists’ works featured in Grain of Emptiness have been influenced by the tenets of Buddhism, namely, its central principles of emptiness and the fleeting nature of all things.

Programming Producer Tim McHenry notes, “Ancient Zen Buddhist koans are famous for presenting the reader with mysterious questions that are cryptic and paradoxical. Emily Dickenson, Robert Frost and many Western poets have confronted what “nothing” could be. But what is the contemporary poet’s relationship to the subject of “nothing?” I’m so pleased we can bring these seven celebrated poets together to excavate the multitudes of meaning behind nothingness, and to celebrate the ephemeral nature of the spoken word.”

Tickets
$12; $7 students with I.D. Tickets include admission to the galleries
Online: http://www.rmanyc.org/tickets; Box office: 212-620-5000 x344; or in person

Rubin Museum of Art
150 West 17 Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues
By subway: 1 to 18th Street; 2, 3, F, M to 14th Street; N, R, Q, 4, 5, 6 to Union Square
www.rmanyc.org; 212-620.5000

The Poets

Kimiko Hahn is the author of eight books of poems, including: Earshot(awarded the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize); The Unbearable Heart (an American Book Award); The Narrow Road to the Interior, which utilizes Japanese forms; and her latest Toxic Flora, poems inspired by science. Hahn is a recipient of a number awards—the most recent area Guggenheim Fellowship, PEN/Voelcker Award and The Shelley Memorial Prize—and she is a distinguished professor in the MFA Program in Creative Writing and Literary Translation at Queens College, The City University of New York.

Saskia Hamilton is the author of As for Dream (2001) and Divide These(2005), the editor of The Letters of Robert Lowell (2005), and the co-editor of Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell (2008). Her poetry has appeared in the Kenyon Review, the New York Times Book Review, the New Yorker, and elsewhere. She teaches at Barnard College and lives in New York.

Noelle Kocot is the author of four books of poetry, most recently, Poem for the End of Time and Other Poems (Wave Books, 2006) and Sunny Wednesday (Wave Books, 2009), as well as a discography forthcoming in 2010 from Wave, and a full-length poetry collection, The Bigger World(Wave, 2011). She has won awards from The American Poetry Review, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Fund for Poetry and The Academy of American Poets, among others. She lives in New Jersey.

David Lehman is the author of Sign of the Times: Deconstruction and the Fall of Paul de Man, several books of poetry, and is Series Editor of The Best American Poetry. His essays, poems, and reviews have appeared in all the major literary publications, from the Times Literary Supplement, to The New Yorker to The Paris Review. He is the recipient of numerous prizes and fellowships, including a Guggenheim and the Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institution of Arts and Letters. Mr. Lehman’s book A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs recently won the 42nd Annual ASCAP Deems Taylor award for outstanding print, broadcast and new media coverage of music. He lives in New York City.

Ben Lerner earned a BA in political science and an MFA in creative writing from Brown University, and was a Fulbright scholar in Madrid. Lerner is the author of several full-length poetry collections, including Mean Free Path (2010) and Angle of Yaw (2006), which was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Northern California Book Award. His sonnet sequence, The Lichtenberg Figures (2004), won the Hayden Carruth Award, was chosen by Library Journal as one of the year’s 12 best poetry books, and was a Lannan Literary Selection. His poetry has also been included in the anthologies Best American Poetry, New Voices (2008), and 12×12: Conversations in Poetry and Poetics (2009).

Brenda Shaughnessy received her B.A. in literature and women’s studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and she earned an M.F.A. at Columbia University. She is the author of Human Dark with Sugar (Copper Canyon Press, 2008), winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, and Interior with Sudden Joy (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1999), which was nominated for the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry, a Lambda Literary Award, and the Norma Farber First Book Award. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, Bomb, Boston Review, Conjunctions, McSweeney’s, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Yale Review, and elsewhere. She is the poetry editor at Tin House magazine and currently teaches creative writing at Princeton University and Eugene Lang College at the New School.

Stacy Szymaszek was born in Milwaukee, WI. She is the author of the books Emptied of All Ships (Litmus Press, 2005) and Hyperglossia(Litmus Press, 2009), as well as numerous chapbooks, including Orizaba: A Voyage with Hart Crane (Faux Press, 2008), Stacy S.: Autoportraits (OMG, 2008), and from Hart Island (Albion Books, 2009). From 1999 to 2005, she worked at Woodland Pattern Book Center in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood. In 2005 she moved to New York City where she is the current Artistic Director of the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church.

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Indiana power plant after flood, 1913. Photograph by DJ Angus.

 

It is our great pleasure to present this poem by David Lehman, one of the readers at tomorrow night’s Poems about Nothing event at the Rubin Museum. “The Human Factor” appears in When a Woman Loves a Man (Scribner, 2005).

 

The Human Factor

 

The gambler knows nothing’s
more addictive than deception
with the chance that the betrayed one,
the spouse or the State, is pretending
or consenting to be deceived
for motives of vanity and greed
not different from his own,
leaving him with a choice to make
between his mistress and his self-respect –
which may be why the ideal reader
of Graham Greene’s novels went
to a parochial school, was married
and divorced, has lived abroad
in Europe or Asia, plays in a weekly
small-stakes poker game, works
for a newspaper, lies to make a living.

 

_____________________________________________________________________

David Lehman is the editor of  “The Oxford Book of American Poetry.” He initiated “The Best American Poetry” and continues as the series editor of the annual anthology. His latest books of poems are “Yeshiva Boys” and “When a Woman Loves a Man.” The most recent of his six prose books is “A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs” which recently won the 42nd Annual ASCAP Deems Taylor award for outstanding print, broadcast, and new media coverage of music.

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As we get closer and closer to our Event on Wednesday, we just want to thank everyone who was kind enough to help us get the word out. Thanks especially to The Academy of American Poets, The Best American Poetry BlogThe Rumpus, CUNY‘s MFA Program, and Adam at HTMLGIANT.

Also, we just received news that pre-sale tickets are going fast, but it’s not too late to buy online! Please note that student tickets at their special discount price will only be available at the door.

We can’t wait to see you there!

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Photograph by Andy Mastrocinque

Brenda Shaughnessy will be reading at the upcoming Poems about Nothing event at the Rubin Museum this Wednesday. This poem is from her forthcoming third book,  Our Andromeda (Copper Canyon Press 2012), and was originally published in The Nation (Fall 2010).

Miracles


I spent the whole day

crying and writing, until

they became the same,

 

as when the planet covers the sun

with all its might and still

I can see it; or when one dead

 

body gives its heart

to a name on a list.  A match.

A light. Sailing a signal

 

flare behind me for another to find.

A scratch on the page

is a supernatural act, one twisting

 

fire out of water, blood out of stone.

We can read us. We are not alone.

_______________________________________________________________________

Brenda Shaughnessy received her B.A. in literature and women’s studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and she earned an M.F.A. at Columbia University. She is the author of Human Dark with Sugar(Copper Canyon Press, 2008), winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, and Interior with Sudden Joy (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1999), which was nominated for the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry, a Lambda Literary Award, and the Norma Farber First Book Award. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, Bomb, Boston Review, Conjunctions, McSweeney’s, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Yale Review, and elsewhere.  She is the poetry editor at Tin House magazine and currently teaches creative writing at Princeton University and Eugene Lang College at the New School.

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Photograph by Hester Angus

 

This week we continue to post work by the readers at the upcoming Poems about Nothing reading at the Rubin Museum. The event will take place this coming Wednesday, January 26th–for more details, please click on the Upcoming Events tab above. Today, we are pleased to present a poem by Kimiko Hahn from her book Toxic Flora (W.W. Norton, 2010)

 

Heteralocha Acutirostris

When the stunning huia became scarce,
Maori priests would declare a ban
on killing these small black birds, so prized,
their tail feathers were presented as mementos
and worn in battle and funeral rites.
But the Europeans ignored the priests
and soon the Maori themselves did not listen.
So now, the males with their short sharp beaks
to drill through bark and the females
with their long bowed ones to pluck out the grubs
have perished but for museum specimens.
Is this how we admire success in pairing—
kill then stuff then display as exemplar?
Ah, my beloved, hold fast to me, in terror.

____________________________________________________________________________

Kimiko Hahn is the author of eight books of poems, including: Earshot (awarded the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize); The Unbearable Heart (an American Book Award); The Narrow Road to the Interior, which utilizes Japanese forms; and her latest Toxic Flora, poems inspired by science. Hahn is a recipient of a number awards—the most recent area Guggenheim Fellowship, PEN/Voelcker Award and The Shelley Memorial Prize—and she is a distinguished professor in the MFA Program in Creative Writing and Literary Translation at Queens College, The City University of New York.

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Stacy Szymaszek will be reading at the upcoming Poems about Nothing event at the Rubin Museum on January 26th. For more information about the reading, please click on our Upcoming Events tab. This is an excerpt from “Shift at Oars” which can be found in her book Emptied of All Ships (Litmus Press, New York, NY, 2005).

From “Shift at Oars”

water
relives
reservoir

boat
bottom
draft
displaced

º

lineal
thought
backward
body

no one
knows
the brains
I am now

_____

tree
an oar
origin

joints ruptured
soak in
deep ink
º

wallpaper
remnant
flower
float

chandelier

brief case
hundred words
logged

erode
my
Arabic

_____

congestion
of resin

person

forecasts
final position

restless sleep

º

width of
back
belted

sodium
poultice

exhausts
courtship

_____

agora

drain
a home
of you

wind
lashes
fronds

cellophane

º

where a
mammal
bled

activity
not yet
diffused

blackened
patch
of water

_____

weight
of oyster
in gloved
hand he
shucks

dented
pewter

º

assonance
her aspect

relocated

wind
shatters
plexi

phenomena
forgone
for me

shift
at oars

new
muscle
grown
bone

never
held
you

º

case
of dried
apricot

gorge

I am
summoned

capable
a day

outlast
forecast

coral reef

feeler

º

paper
cover
mallet
awl

downfall

fire-
box

androgyne

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Stacy Szymaszek was born in Milwaukee, WI. She is the author of the books Emptied of All Ships (Litmus Press, 2005) and Hyperglossia (Litmus Press, 2009), as well as numerous chapbooks, including Orizaba: A Voyage with Hart Crane (Faux Press, 2008), Stacy S.: Autoportraits (OMG, 2008), and from Hart Island (Albion Books, 2009). From 1999 to 2005, she worked at Woodland Pattern Book Center in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood.  In 2005 she moved to New York City where she is the current Artistic Director of the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church.

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