An Interview with Poet Amy Newman

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If Amy Newman’s On This Day in Poetry History is topping your must-read list, you’re certainly not alone.  Poetry lovers here at EPL have been clamoring for a copy since the summer, and demand for her follow-up to Dear Editor only continues to grow.  Described as a “dazzling new collection” by the NY Times, On This Day in Poetry History finds Newman exploring the lives of poetry heavyweights such as Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop, and John Berryman in search of that elusive “moment when a person becomes a poet.”  A wholly innovative mix of biography and stunning verse, Newman’s latest showcases what Image praised as her “true mastery [of the] ability to play with language.”  We recently spoke with the Northern Illinois University professor via email about rediscovering poetry in Manhattan, the history and allure of the “Confessional” poets, the challenges of biographical poetry, and how her favorite poem from the book came into being.

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Poetry 365: Robert Pinsky

robertpinskyThis month for Poetry 365 we’re highlighting Robert Pinsky’s masterful new book At the Foundling Hospital.  With meditations on the gods, jazz, boyhood memories and “arbitrary” names, this latest collection from the three-term U.S. Poet Laureate boldly examines time, history, and the fluid identities of both single individuals and entire civilizations.  Trim, erudite, and musically energetic, these thirty poems are a clear reminder why Louise Glück proclaimed that “Robert Pinsky is one of the few literary artists… whose work is unquestionably major work.”  So don’t miss this outstanding new book, sample a poem below, and make sure to stop back next month for Poetry 365.

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Poetry 365: Chinaka Hodge

chinakahodgeThis month for Poetry 365 we’re featuring the unforgettable second collection from Chinaka Hodge.  In Dated Emcees, the Oakland-based poet, playwright, and Youth Speaks educator examines her own life through the lens of hip-hop and ’90s East Bay culture.  Mixing humor and tragedy with sharp insights into systemic racism, anger, and violence, Dated Emcees was described by Dave Eggers as “an absolute powerhouse of a book… [that] deserves a wide audience, an attentive audience, an audience that wants to be astounded.”  So check out this gem of a collection, sample a poem below, and make sure to stop back next month for Poetry 365.

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Poetry 365: Kim Addonizio

kim addonizioThis month for Poetry 365 we’re featuring Kim Addonizio’s eclectic new book Mortal Trash.  Filled with allusions to classic poets such as William Shakespeare and Gerard Manley Hopkins, this seventh collection from the prolific National Book Award finalist mingles witty musings on lust and aging with weightier concerns about terrorism and global warming.  Vivid, jaded, and linguistically agile, Mortal Trash shows why the San Francisco Chronicle described Addonizio as “a master of compressed intensity who always nails the emotional image.”  So don’t miss this edgy new book, sample a poem below, and make sure to stop back next month for Poetry 365.

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A Working Poet: Zach Houston

NPR aired a refreshing  interview with an unusual guy, Zach Houston. Most of us like to pursue various interests, but here’s a man who actually quit his regular job to write full-time poetry. His office is a public bench and he is getting paid (not very much) to create verse.

Shira S.

Did you know poet Gwendolyn Brooks also wrote a novel?

Gwendolyn Brooks was known for poetry, but she wrote a novel, too

Gwendolyn Brooks is known as a great poet. Poet Laureate of Illinois from 1968 until her death in 2000, she won the Pulitzer Prize for “Annie Allen” in 1950. She was the first African-American to win the prize and continued to collect accolades for her poetry until she died.

But it was not until Haki R. Madhubuti —founder and editor of Third World Press, distinguished professor at Chicago State University and founder and directoremeritus of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center and the university and a person who has devoted much of his career to championing Brooks’ work — pressed Maud Martha upon me a few weeks ago did I understand that her talent extended to the novel.

When the novel was published in 1953, Fanny Butcher, the Tribune’s literary editor, praised in her review headlined, “Swift, sharp prose by a poet.” Since then, though, Brooks’ venture into the long form has eluded significant public attention despite Madhubuti’s valiant efforts. He keeps the novel in print but, as he acknowledges, “Most people see her as a poet, not beyond that.”

(Laura H.)