Monday, March 1, 2010

All the Poetry News that’s Fit to Print!

In case you’re wondering: yes, I do still play guitar & banjo, tho a look at the blog lately wouldn’t clue you into that so much. I only have mild anxiety about this—but then, I have mild anxiety about many things!—& I’ll be on the road with the ol’resonator starting this weekend, with scheduled visits to at least a couple of musician friends.

But to the topic—I should say “topics” at hand. We’re sorta kicking off a real “poetry week” on Robert Frost’s Banjo, with the second poem in my “Grace” series posting this morning, & the other two poems in the sequence scheduled to post Thursday & Saturday; & of course, we’ll have a fine poem by B.N. tomorrow—in case you’re curious, it’s titled “Three Battles & One Flight.”

But there’s more poetic news—where to begin? How about by announcing a new blog: Alcools. This is something that should intrigue the Translation Tuesday fans: the blog will be dedicated to my ongoing translation of Guillaume Apollinaire’s 1913 collection Alcools, which is very close to being my all-time favorite 20th century poetry collection. I translated over half of Alcools during the 1990s—in fact, it’s possible that I may have translated a couple of them in the late 80s—but at a certain point my translation energies flagged. In going back to translating I picked
Apollinaire primarily because of my great love for his poetry, but also because his works are in the public domain, which means if I complete the work in a satisfactory way, I’ll be able to publish it. The first post on Alcools went up this morning: it’s “Zone,” a long poem & to my mind one of the truly great 20th century works. It was Samuel Beckett’s translation of “Zone” that first spurred me on to find Apollinaire’s work, read it in the original French as well as in various translations, & begin to translate it myself. Poems will appear on Alcools in the order they appear in the book itself; posts will be scheduled for each Monday morning on Alcools.

Speaking of publishing: I have been on somewhat of a roll lately. I published my poetry from Charlottesville in another 92-page book on; this one’s entitled Nightingales in a Stateside Zoo. My 1980s poems were different in many
ways from what came after—more formal, a bit more mannered—but I feel content with the work represented in the book & am glad to see it made public. What may be even more exciting to me, however, is that I recently completed the manuscript I began working on in May 2008 (before I realized I was working on a manuscript)—actually, the “Grace” series, tho dispersed thru the work, was the final touch. This one is called The Spring Ghazals—long-time readers may remember the sequence of ghazals I wrote last spring. The book is 76 pages (proving that I don’t have some “thing” for 92!) & contains material has been posted right here on Robert Frost’s Banjo plus a few poems from 2008 that never made it on the blog. The link for The Spring Ghazals on lulu is here, while the link for Nightingales in a Stateside Zoo is here.

Before wrapping up, I have to say that there are a number of people I credit for my return to poetry after a 12 year lay-off. If you want a complete list, you should buy the books! But Eberle must be credited first & foremost— I know my poetic self is not always the easiest person to be with, & she’s consistently shown patience, enthusiasm & most of all, displayed her own truly amazing creative energy, which is an inspiration not only to me but pretty much every one who knows her. & finally, in addition to be a hugely talented writer herself, she's also a great reader
—in fact, you can see her putting these talents to work today on her blog Platypuss-in-Boots blog: please check out her reading of Kat Mortensen's "Lament of the Fiddleheads." You can find the poem itself on Kat's Poetikat's Invisible Keepsakes blog here (there's also a link there from Platypuss-in-Boots).

But I digress, & there's one other “person” who gets a huge amount of credit—& that’s you, as in y’all! Thanks so much for all the support you’ve shown here for my poetry & translations (& music!) It has meant a very great deal to me.

Anyway: hope some of you check out the books & the new blog!


  1. I should come out of the 19th century, I know...there's just so much I want to read and understand, as far as later( new ) poetry...Alcool looks promising in that. The only French authors under my readings are Hugo and Balzac( mainly ). This Apollinaire I will give a more indepth read anon ( tho' I did persue some of it )...

    And many congrats on the other book, sir :)

  2. Dear Subby,
    how lovely to hear that you are a nineteenth century reader - I was quite obsessed with Hugo for a number of years- (actually through doing a private study of French surrealists with a Hugo scholar!) even when I started reading primarily women authors of the nineteenth century, Hugo was a secret vice. I also feel guilty at times about being so drawn to novels of the past - I did have a stint that took me adventurously into writers between the wars - but now I've settled back in to where I began.

  3. Dearest John,
    well, you know how I feel about your poetry - ever since the 80s it's been a spirit that created its own place at the heart of my own creative life - even when we weren't in touch and even when you'd stopped writing. Your poetic spirit is such a true one (in the Catholic sense: unique, unrepeatable, immortal)- it has a face I recognize (eyes closed) with complete immediacy. I make up worlds all the time, and I can't imagine making one up without the voice of your poetry in it. The publication of your books, especially the latest one because it records your new journey into writing, has been thrilling to me- in spite of the difficulties you've encountered on this journey. And thanks for your sweet mention of ME. How delightful.

  4. Hi Subby & Eberle

    Subby: There not all as long as "Zone"! Odd thing is that the two longest poems are the first & third poems in the book. Next week's is "Mirabeau Bridge" & that's a beautiful lyric piece.

    Eberle: Thanks--& you know how I feel about it!

  5. John, I didn't know there were more books on the horizon. I've ordered them both. It was easy, since all my details were there on lulu already.

    I'm excited! I can't wait to find them in my door again.


  6. Thank you so much for all that you and Eberle are doing to spotlight my work and help me to believe in myself as a legitimate poet.


  7. John, the length of the poem doesn't bother me ( never does, really ). he wrote long!

    @Eberle, I've some of the older translations of Hugo ( from 1883 )but the bulk is of English/American poetry...but to get lost in a book :)

  8. Hi Kat & Subby

    Kat: I wasn't sure when I'd be done with the new manuscript, but I reached a point where I felt quite strongly that I was done, & saw no need to wait around to get it in book form. Once you're used to lulu, the process is pretty painless. & of course the Charlottesville poems have been waiting for book publication for 25 years & more. I actually put the manuscript together when I first worked on The Days of Wine & Roses a year ago; & when I published Spring Ghazals, I figured "no time like the present" for the C'ville poems! It makes me very happy that you've ordered them. & you are a legitimate poet--Eberle & I both are happy to help you along the way.

    Subby: Chaucer! Good man! I adore Chaucer's writing.

  9. Hi Jacqueline: Thanks! But as I mentioned to Kat, the Virginia poems have been looking for homes somewhere other than defunct mags & my hard drive for many years!

  10. hmmmmm i wonder if i can writing poetry after a 25 year hiatus!! ah, maybe I'll stick to reading it....

    congrats on the volumes! you are an inspiration john

  11. You are absolutely on a creative roll! Congratulations on your journey, John-Jack Hayes!

    As a person with connections to C'ville, I'm hopeful that those poems will reflect something of the region and the times.

  12. Hi Mouse & Karen

    Mouse: I bet you'd write fantastic poetry; but whether you do or not, I'm always happy to have you reading my poems!

    Karen: Gosh, I know the Virginia landscape affected me & found its way into the poems. But whether the poems reflect C'ville in the mid 80s as experienced by anyone other than yours truly is a tough question! Thanks for the kind words.


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