Barry Schwabsky

PoetryWeekend

Glow-in-the-Dark Jigsaw Pieces

by Barry Schwabsky on August 2, 2014

Arthur Sze,

I have a habit, when reading a good book of poetry, of looking for the places where the poet seems to be reflecting on his or her own sense of what poetry is. Arthur Sze, one of my favorite poets, writes, “If I sprinkle iron filings onto a sheet / / of paper, I make visible the magnetic lines / of the moment.”

Continue Reading →
Post image for “Reckless sympathy, scorn”: Paul Violi’s Last Poems

Paul Violi’s poetry has rarely been taken as seriously as it should be. Probably that’s because he never took the spirit of seriousness as seriously as many people do, especially when it comes to poetry. His erudition never wears an academic gown.

Continue Reading →
Post image for A Story of Sentences: Nanni Balestrini’s Ever-Changing Novel

Tristano, the most recently translated book by the Italian poet and novelist Nanni Balestrini may come as a surprise to those who know him through his two previously translated works of fiction, The Unseen and Sandokan.

Continue Reading →
Post image for “Eye-Voices, a Choir”: New Translations of Paul Celan

The Romanian-born, German-speaking Paul Celan is one of the most translated poets in recent decades, and we’re still not through with him.

Continue Reading →

EssaysWeekend

Why I’m Not Reading Louise Glück

by Barry Schwabsky on October 12, 2013

Post image for Why I’m Not Reading Louise Glück

Do you pick a destination in order to have a reason to take a walk, or do you take a walk in order to get to a place you have in mind? Sometimes one, sometimes the other. Are the words a poet uses essentially a means to convey a thought or feeling he or she has in mind, or is the poem’s subject chosen mainly as a way of helping generate the poem’s language? Sometimes one, sometimes the other. But I confess to being more attracted to the second kind of poetry — or maybe it’s fairer to say I prefer reading poetry as if it were written that way.

Continue Reading →
Post image for Scrambled Sonnets, Prosthetic Limbs, and Little Bitter Teeth: Notes on Some Recent Poetry Publications

Ezra Pound said poetry was news that stays news. I thought that in gathering some notes on poetry I’ve read this year I’d bring a bit of news and only after doing so realized to what extent those notes would indicate how today’s poetry can be entwined with medieval Moorish Spain or fourteenth century Tuscany or Elizabethan London or sixteenth century Japan. Sometimes, apparently, poetry can also be ancientries made new again.

Continue Reading →
Post image for Mobility Issues: On John Ashbery’s Recent Poetry

If you’re interested in John Ashbery—and why wouldn’t you be?—you probably read the profile on him that was recently published in the New York Observer. The best part, the part that had the most to say about his poetry, came about a third of the way into it, with the writer, Michael H. Miller, describing his visit to Ashbery’s Chelsea apartment.

Continue Reading →

PoetryWeekend

The Obscenities Are in Quotes

by Barry Schwabsky on December 22, 2012

Post image for The Obscenities Are in Quotes

Whatever became of the New York School? There was a first generation, the last avant-garde according to some (but not so last that there couldn’t be a second generation and a third, and …) as whatever it was that defined the school as a school, beyond the simple fact of friendship, dissolved into the common air of the culture — which is just where it belongs. Wit, urbanity, formal exuberance, a willingness to (as Frank O’Hara famously put it) “just go on your nerve,” a dandyish pose of being more casual and less serious than you really are as an antidote to the unearned solemnity that so often seems endemic to poetry, an affinity for quotidian surrealism and lumpen absurdity and “life-giving vulgarity” (O’Hara again, of course) — these could never be the doctrine of any one school or enclosed by any particular municipality. They are simply things that keep the art of poetry refreshed, allowing it to breathe again after its periodic ascents to those lofty reaches where language inevitably becomes abstract, impersonal, and (too often) lugubrious.

Continue Reading →

PoetryWeekend

Swallow the Meat in the Jargon

by Barry Schwabsky on October 28, 2012

Post image for Swallow the Meat in the Jargon

Amelia Rosselli’s is not exactly a poetry or resistance, but it is a resistant poetry. It is highly self-conscious, willed, and formally wrought. At the same time it is the product of roiling psychological and social tensions that the poet can hardly control. As Andrea Zanzotto put it, in 1976, with the authority that comes from being one of Rosselli’s few peers among the Italian poets of her time, she “was born inside this writing, and cannot escape from it; and at the same time she is outside of it, and has always contested it.” Yes, she writes, and with a fury; but she is also written, and by forces that shake her to the core. Her poetry is indissolubly both these writings.

Continue Reading →

PoetryWeekend

The Most Beautiful Perhaps

by Barry Schwabsky on October 7, 2012

Post image for The Most Beautiful Perhaps

I wrote, a few months ago, of Stéphane Mallarmé as a difficult poet—difficult to understand, and difficult to translate, perhaps especially into English. What I should have also said then is that part of the difficulty lies in the fact that his poems in verse, as Peter Manson titled them in his estimable recent translation, that is, his Poésies, constitute only one facet of his work.

Continue Reading →