Three Takes by Adam Tavel

Ruefle • Hemery • Frame

Selected Poems by Mary Ruefle
© 2010, Wave Books
154 pages, Hardcover

Though Mary Ruefle’s poems bear little influence of Frost, perhaps no contemporary American poet better embodies the great bard’s famous adage that a poem “begins in delight and ends in wisdom.” The recent recipient of the 2011 William Carlos Williams Award, Ruefle’s Selected Poems is a long, engrossing study in astonishment. Indeed, it is impossible not to read many, if not all, of her poems as testaments to the imagination, as when the speaker in “Nice Hands” reflects on being five years old:

my brain was a lightbulb that flickered on and off,
my soul was a milk bottle yearning to be full,
my stomach, made of concrete, had a long wooden table
where six dressed kittens sat, holding up their bowls.

To say that Ruefle’s work captures the meditative interiority of Dickinson, the kinetic associativeness of Breton, and the emotional frankness of Plath would shortchange Ruefle’s iconic and distinct magic, which is vast. Though her tone of hushed contemplation has remained largely unchanged through ten volumes of verse, Ruefle is a rare spirit among us, for she transcends our petty aesthetic camps with a voice that is simultaneously private and universal. Perhaps “Standing Furthest,” an early poem that opens this retrospective collection, best captures Ruefle’s quiet wonder:

of all things standing furthest
from what is real, stand these trees
shaking with dispensable joy,
or those in their isolation
shading an extraordinary secret.

Her Selected Poems is now available in paperback, but kudos are due to the good folks at Wave Books for not only publishing the initial volume in hardcover, but for their exquisitely crisp and understated design. If ever there was a poetry collection worth owning in hardcover, this is surely it. Continue reading

Reviews | Adam Tavel, Anthony Frame, Mary Ruefle, Michael Hemery | Leave a comment

Contributors Elsewhere: The Wigleaf Top 50

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Contributors Elsewhere | Brad Green, J.A. Tyler, Matt Bell, Molly Gaudry, Wigleaf | Leave a comment

Featured: This Fog of Ash by Robert Kloss

Before she became king the new king wrote a book. She wrote a book by coupling her long established love of the written word with a dozen writers chained to typewriters. The new king wrote a book in two weeks because the market demanded and Oprah called. The new king wrote a book in two weeks by dunking unpaid writers in vats of iced water and beating them until they typed vast amounts of fairly coherent prose about mountains and eagles and wildlife viscera. The new king wrote a book in two weeks by replacing those writers who died with those who answered her ad: WRITERS NEEDED FAST AND EAZY $.
…..The new king paid her writers with bullets, quick and painless, through the back of their skulls. The skull shattered corpses of writers, limp and strewn, and the new king, digging mass graves by moonlight. Continue reading

From The Issue | Robert Kloss, This Fog of Ash | Leave a comment

Trailer: The Weather Stations – Ryan Call

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Editorial | , , | 1 Comment

Assateague Shells: Notes Toward an Ecumenical Poetics

Adam Tavel

  • We are not all on the same team, but we all play the same sport.
  • The poet finds herself in a constant state of betrayal within a material culture that claims her art is the greatest form of human expression. The poet feels most alone among other poets. These ironies are both unfortunate and unavoidable.
  • Poetry that champions fragmentation, obfuscation, and disassociation as goals rather than techniques will invariably grind against the basic integrity of language. It is amusing to note that this poetry is often written by people in their thirties who have read nothing from the 1930s.
  • One can make a poem from debris, but debris alone is just debris.
  • The poet whose chief aim is approval from the academy must inevitably choose between vision and compromise.
  • The proliferation of small presses and independent magazines—both online and in print—is democracy in action, but one can’t help but wonder who’s reading it all.
  • Few young poets have heard of, let alone read, Richard Eberhart, Phyllis McGinley, or Peter Viereck. All three won Pulitzer Prizes in the years following World War II. This is a quaint lesson on fame.
  • The submission calls for hybrid forms, prose poems, and multimedia poems are legion. The submission calls for narrative poetry, light verse, or devotional verse are seemingly nonexistent. One must be cautious to embrace any milieu that claims ownership of The New. Continue reading
Assateague Shells | Adam Tavel, pobiz, Poetry | 2 Comments