Archive for October, 2007

Two Poems


A run-on sentence of winter
Split the evening days of coal the red
S-Bahn across the palimpsest city
Simply for something

Birds wet with snow with wings
The steel mouth shudders
Dim lamps, damp shivers
Had nothing to do with cold

Periodo di Chiusura

Out over
A quiet street
Shuttered against
August’s dull heavy heat
Trails of smoke
From far fields
Cloud-hidden stars
Not one light
The courtyards
Six years
To write

Rome 1999-2005

Alexander Booth

American Yiddish Poetry

yiddish workmen's circleBefore we proceed with publishing our original verse, we’d like like to take a minute to plug one of American poetry’s lesser known schools: its Yiddish poets. A major volume, American Yiddish Poetry, edited by Benjamin and Barbara Harshav, has been republished recently by Stanford University Press. This is one of two important anthologies representing what has been called “probably the most coherent segment of twentieth-century American literature not written in English.”  The other, regrettably out of print, is called The Penguin Book of Modern Yiddish Verse. Here is an article by Harold Bloom that evaluates the achievements of both. Below is a sample poem (alas, from the Penguin volume) to whet your appetite.


Because the papers meanly ignore me—
They think my luncheon menu’s not fit to print—
Small wonder girls don’t give me a tumble
And day by day my stock goes down.

And every day my debts get higher.
Vainly my ten fingers stretch out for patrons.
It’s lucky Martel’s isn’t beyond my reach
And coffee—black—is still a nickel.

If coffee goes up, I’ll go and hang myself,
And how many poets are as classy as me?
But while the coffee’s cheap, my marvelous songs
Will bring happiness to our people and our tongue.

Zishe Landau, translated by Irving Feldman

It Always Starts This Way

It always starts this way: a poem
buried deep in the pages of a book
by an unknown hand. Then, love.

Love of books, love of poems, love of the unknown.

Everything begins in this way. Everything ends
in an accident we blame on God.

But poetry won’t save us from the end.
One day the pages of the book
will stick together, and to pry them apart
we’ll need a lifetime of nimble fingers.

By then it will already be too late.

Marc Alan Di Martino

An Exhortation to Submit Your Work To Us

john updike by david levineWell, now that we’ve inauguarated our new blog with its first poem, we discovered that they won’t allow us into blogflux until we have been alive for seven whole days and published at least five posts. So I’ll rush a few lines off.

We welcome anyone who writes poetry to submit to APA. You don’t even need to be American or live abroad. All you need is to write decent verses. We are not promising that you will be the next Ted Kooser or even Samuel Geenberg, but it’s an alternative to reading in the mirror. Weigh your options. John Updike is still kicking, you know.  See About for details.

Waiting for the Muse

I am very imperfect.
I let everything go.
I leave loose ends flying,
and threads trailing below.

Computer precision
is a new acquisition.

Like Andersen’s princess
and enchanted swans,
I leave wings uncovered
and ovens turned on.

So without supervision,
I’m ripe for collision.

My bills still need paying.
Clothes are strewn on the floor
while I wait for creation
to burst through from the core

But I cannot envision
any other position.

Lenore Rosenberg

The (ex) New Yorker

saul steinbergWell, the world is large enough even for us. As we begin at the proverbial beginning, we take this opportunity to thank Martha’s Version for all their hard work and support in making all this possible. The blogosphere may not be as prestigious as the gilded pages of the New Yorker or Harper’s, but it can hold its own. And if you’ve ever aspired to publish in those places, you will have noticed the same names appearing month after month after month–genug! Enough, we say. Make room for us, too. We may never boast their readership, but we will not grow old and grey waiting for John Updike to keel over and leave his twenty lines to us greenhorns. So if you are a poet in exile you are welcome to send us some of your work. You will be happy that the New Yorker didn’t reject it.

Contrasting Views

"Literalism is a feature of boorish translators." Cicero "The clumsiest literal translation is a thousand times more useful than the prettiest paraphrase." Nabokov

The Faerie Queene

"John Ashbery said reading the Faerie Queene was like reading an endless beautiful comic strip." Kenneth Koch

Sigmund Freud

"Everywhere I go, I find a poet has been there before me."


October 2007
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