Poetry Depot

March 16, 2011

Ko Un, Major Contemporary Poet from Korea

Filed under: Korea — razvan @ 1:24 am

Ko Un (born on 1 August or 11 April 1933) is a South Korean poet. His works have been translated and published in more than 15 countries and he has been imprisoned many times.[1] Un is often considered a likely winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature,[2] so much so that reporters have camped outside his house ahead of the annual announcement.[1][3] (from wiki)
Ko Un was a witness to the devastation of the Korean War. He volunteered for the People’s Army, but was rejected because he was underweight. 

He became a Zen Buddhist monk in the 1950s, and returned to secular life sometime in the 1960s.

Ko Un became an activist opposing the harsh and arbitrary rule of South Korea’s president, President Park Chung-hee. His dissident activities led to several terms of imprisonment and torture.

The democratization of South Korea in the late 1980s finally gave Ko Un the freedom to travel to other countries, including a visit to the United States and make a spiritual journey through India. (from Poetry Chaikhana)

A Long Night 

We put up a tent for the night
between Shigatse and Latse.
As soon as the tent was up
a storm broke.
The tent shook as if about to fly away.

The water rose
up the river bank,
and with it the loud sound of the stream.

Shortly before, our water had boiled at 80 Centigrade.
Not anything like 100.
My anxiety and resignation had boiled away with it.

February 28, 2011

Again About Poetry and Arab Revolution

Filed under: Egypt, Egyptian — Tags: , , , , , , , — razvan @ 7:16 pm

CNN presented this image where Egyptian popular poet Ahmad Fu'ad Nigm rallies attendants during a public meeting organized by the opposition movement 'Writers and Artists for Change' in a main plaza in Cairo, August 2005.

According to CNN, poetry is an important part for the revolution from Egypt too. A venerable contemporary poet being in the cener of public protests.
Monday night at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, writers Reza Aslan, Azar Nafisi and Nathan Englander will take part in a panel, “Literature and Revolution in the Middle East” – on how poetry and novels have been used to fight for revolution throughout the Middle East—from Israel to Iran to Egypt.

ONLY ON THE BLOG: Answering today’s five OFF-SET questions is one of those panelists, Dr. Aslan, a contributing editor at the Daily Beast, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of “No God but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam and How to Win a Cosmic War” and editor of Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East.”

By now we’ve heard that protesters in various Middle East countries are using Twitter and Facebook to coordinate anti-regime activities. But are you saying that demonstrators, including the many young people who have been protesting, are being informed by literature—by poems and novels?

What I am saying is that their very identity is being formed by the literature that is so much a part of the cultural awareness of the peoples of the Middle East. They are using social media to communicate and organize, but using poetry to define who they are. (more…)

Polina Barskova: contemporary Russian poet

Filed under: Russian — razvan @ 3:37 am

Polina Barskova, Ph. D. was born in 1976 in Leningrad. She graduated at Berkeley, University of California. Barskova has published several collections of poetry, her first at the age of fifteen: Christmas (1991). Another four collections of poetry followed, A Squeamish Race (1993), Memory (1996), Evradei and Orfika and Arias. Candidate in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures (Berkeley), she was awarded the Townsend Dissertation Writing Fellowship for 2005.06. The topic of her dissertation is Writing the End: Literature and Culture of the Aesthetic Opposition in Leningrad (1921.1934).

As a child she was recognized as a prodigy. She began publishing poems in journals at age nine and, sought out by a publishing house, released the first of her six books at the ripe old age of 15.

She came to the United States at 20, in order to pursue graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, after having already completed a degree in classical literature at St. Petersburg State University.

Three years ago Dr. Barskova joined the faculty of Hampshire College as assistant professor of Russian literature. Her classes are packed and teaching reviews by students achieve similar soaring acclaim as critics’ reviews of her writing. Under her influence students have formed the Hampshire Poetry Group, meeting monthly to read to each other. (from hampshire college)


Manuscript Found by Natasha Rostova During the Fire
I will try to live on earth without you.
I will try to live on earth without you.
I will become any object,
I don’t care what—
I will be this speeding train.
This smoke
or a beautiful gay man laughing in the front seat.
A human body is defenseless
on earth.
It’s a piece of fire-wood.
Ocean water hits it.
Lenin puts it on his official shoulder.
And therefore, in order not to suffer, a human spirit
inside the wind and inside the wood and inside the shoulder of a great dictator.
But I will not be water. I will not be a fire.
I will be an eyelash.
A sponge washing your neck-hairs.
Or a verb, an adjective, I will become. Such a word
slightly lights your cheek.
What happened? Nothing.
Something visited? Nothing.
What was there you cannot whisper.
No smoke without fire, they whisper.
I will be a handful of smoke
over this lost city of Moscow.
I will console any man,
I will sleep with any man,
under the army’s traveling horse carriages.

Published by Guernica in a translation by Ilya Kaminsky

An entire book of her poems translated can be read here.

Afghan Poetic Identity Today

Filed under: Afghan — Tags: , , , — razvan @ 2:08 am

When the BBC’s War correspondent Jonathan Charles made an appeal for Afghan civilians to send in their war poetry, little did he anticipate the flood of writing it would inspire. Here, he explores a selection of those poems and interviews the authors. The writers have many stories to tell which have inspired haunting poetry. Verse has, for some, become the best way of expressing not only the sights and sounds of the war, but the emotions. This is poetry of witness, of anger, propaganda, and it’s a catharsis. While Jonathan was interviewing one poet, the writer suddenly revealed that he had been the finance minister of Afghanistan in the 1970s and later lived under house arrest. He has turned away from politics and is now writing poetry.

Complete story and the voices of Afgan poetry, on BBC site

Poetry and Arab Revolution

Filed under: Africa, Arabic, Tunisia, Tunisian — Tags: , , , , — razvan @ 1:25 am

The Will of Life

by Abu al-Qasim al-Shabi

If the people will to live
Providence is destined to favourably respond
And night is destined to fold
And the chains are certain to be broken

And he who has not embraced the love of life
Will evaporate in its atmosphere and disappear

Translated by As’ad Abu Khalil.

فلا بــدّ أن يستجيب القــــدر             إذا الشعب يوماً أراد الحيـــــــاة
ولا بـــدّ للقيـــد أن ينكســــر                ولا بدّ للــــيل أن ينجلــــــــــي
تبـــخّر في جــوّهـا واندثــــر                 ومن لم يُعانــقه شوق الحيــاة

image and poem from HERE

John Lundberg wrote for huffingtonpost.com

The words of a Tunisian poet helped spark revolution in his native country, then spread to help fuel the revolution in Egypt, and continue to inspire protests flaring up throughout the Middle East. Abu Al-Qasim Al-Shabi’s poem “Will to Live,” written when Tunisia was struggling under French colonialism in the early 20th Century, captured the emotions of Tunisian protesters in their most recent struggle for democracy, and proved a powerful, unifying cry for freedom. “Will to Live” includes the following lines, which are memorized by school children throughout the Arab world (translated, of course): (more…)

January 1, 2011

Tomanz Salamun: Slovene Contemporary Poetry

Filed under: Slovenia — razvan @ 4:43 pm

Tomaž Šalamun has published more than thirty books of poetry in his home country of Slovenia and is recognized as one of the leading poets of Central Europe. His honors include the Prešeren Fund Prize, the Jenko Prize, a Pushcart Prize, a visiting Fulbright to Columbia University, and a fellowship to the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa.” from Blackbird
“In spring 2008 he was appointed as Visiting Professor in Creative Writing and Distinguished Writer in Residence by the University of Richmond. His next teaching position in the US will be the Spring Semester 2011 at the Michener’s Center MFA in Austin, Texas. He lives in Ljubljana, Slovenia.” from blueflower arts


You lived too many lives. I didn’t hear
from you, you didn’t come. I remember your visit
some ten years later, during your broken (more...)

December 29, 2010

WikiLeaks poetry and a documentary

Filed under: relational poetry — Tags: , , , , , , , — razvan @ 7:51 am

Information can win wars. In a strange logical twist, it seems to be more expensive to cover things up than to let information circulate. Actually, if information is known to open societies, I cannot remember one situation that secrecy managed to save anything. Except the idea that without secrecy manipulation becomes problematic. Let my information go! became the implicit logo of Julian Assange. As a Hacker, he used the alias of “mendax” from the phrase made famous by Horace, “splendide mendax”.

One only, true to Hymen’s flame,
Was traitress to her sire forsworn:
That splendid falsehood lights her name (more…)

December 26, 2010

Anja Utler, contemporary German poetry

Filed under: German — Tags: , , , , — razvan @ 11:28 am

Anja Utler (1973) was born in Schwandorf, Germany. She studied Slavic languages and English. In 2003 she graduated in Russian lyric poetry from Regensburg and now lives as a free-lance poet in Vienna. Her most recent books of poetry were published under the titles münden – entzüngeln (mouthing – delinguation, 2004) and brinnen (2006). Among other prizes, she was awarded the Leonce-und-Lena-Preis (2003) and the Förderpreis der deutschen Schillerstiftung von 1859 prize (2006). (from Ars Poetica)

                    Articulation also occasionally occurs
                    [. . .] when inhaling (inverse sound).
                    Thus, for example, an inverse [f] is used
                    from time to time for the expression of a
                    sudden, mild pain.
                    R. Arnold / K. Hansen
much later is:
as if rattling as if: the breath got going and
along the edge capsules crackling, even cracking
the seeds they: spurt spray deeper, back
from the shoreline, across the land
before that:
tongue lining the gums with whispers
chirruping, trilling in the (. . .) in the heat
lost in haze – fresh-cut grass – it’s
whirring past – an echo – the wind

© 2003, Anja Utler
From: münden – entzüngeln
Publisher: Edition Korrespondenzen, Wien, Austria 2004
ISBN: 3-902113-33-2

© Translation: 2004, Tony Frazer
From: Mouth to Mouth. Contemporary German Poetry in Translation
Edited by Thomas Wohlfarth and Tobias Lehmkuhl.
Publisher: Giramondo Publishing Company: Newcastle, Australia 2004,

from Poetry International

December 25, 2010

The Art Part of Poetry

Filed under: American — Tags: , , — razvan @ 8:34 pm

The dark narative of contemporary cartoons allways seemed to me as a place to find poetry. One such example is Abandoned Cars, by Tim Lane.
http://jackienoname.com/JACKIEmain.html This interview I found with Lane, on Comics Reporter reminded me of Frank O’Hara and his experiments with art and poetry, and also made me think of Comics poetry as a genre in full expansion. Here, check, Bianca Stone’s Poetry Comics with tips on other poetry artist too, and find some hot cartoonists interviewed on their relation to poetry.
Billy Colins had his poetic take to cartoon characters and for a while this has been a systematic approach in poetry workshops.

December 22, 2010

Chaplin: inventing a language. an a poem

Filed under: American — Tags: , , , , — razvan @ 12:19 pm

One obsession for XXth century poetry was the invention of a language.
Chaplin managed to do it. Here he is inventing not only the language but even the words in “Modern Times”

Charlie Chaplin Impersonates a Poet

The stage is set for imminent disaster.
Here is the little tramp, standing
On a stack of books in order
To reach the microphone, the
Poet he’s impersonating somehow
Trussed and mumbling in a
Tweed bundle at his feet.

He opens his mouth: Tra-la!
Out comes doves, incandescent bulbs,
Plastic roses. Well, that’s that,
Squirms the young professor who’s
Coordinated this,
No more visiting poets!

His department head groans
For the trap door. As it
Swings away

The tramp keeps on as if
Nothing has occurred,
A free arm mimicking
A wing.

a poem by Cornelius Eady from Poetry foundation

You can watch “Modern Timeshere the entire movie

Also, Hart Crane wrote a mythical poem on the theme as you can see below from American poems. (more…)

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