Catherine Chandler's Poetry Blog

Friday, December 30, 2016

The Frangible Hour Now Available!


Thank you to Rob Griffith and The University of Evansville.

As a long-time reader and admirer of the work of Catherine Chandler, I expected great pleasure from The Frangible Hour, and have been delighted to find that all the familiar virtues are present: the effortless mastery of form, the lyricism, the fresh use of nature imagery that appeals to all five senses, the capacity for communication on many levels. But I was wrong not to prepare for surprises. One of the most elegant and haunting series in the book, “Days of Grass,” uses the familiar passage from Psalm 103:15-16— “As for man, his days are like grass. . .”. The effect is biblical.

– Rhina P. Espaillat

For her formal excellence and her ease with the minutiae of the natural world, Catherine Chandler is an apt recipient of the Richard Wilbur Award. One feels that these poems have been a long time coming and have been mulled over and revised in the late hours with a true love of the hardest task of the poet’s craft. She excels at short poems and even in the nutshell of the sonnet has made herself the queen of infinite space.
– R.S. Gwynn

Fans of Catherine Chandler’s earlier work will be delighted to find that she remains at the top of her game in this new collection. Highlights here include the elegies for her mother and her father, and a harrowing sequence of poems about her own daughter’s brush with death. Another gem is “The Ballad of the Picton Castle,” with Laura Gainey in the tragic role of a modern-day Sir Patrick Spens.
– Timothy Steele

Catherine Chandler’s breathtaking The Frangible Hour is the best new collection I've read in a very, very long time. It comprises a lovely coherence woven from disparate strands, not only of subject but of form. The forms display Chandler’s mastery of technique as well as an ear and a heart that demand perfect harmony between what is said and the way it is said. And these are intelligent poems – not stuffy, not showy, but in the way they draw metaphors, similes, and images from far away, or seemingly far away, to bring clarity to the muddled complexities of life. They lead us, challenge us, and finally reward us with moments that become nothing less than new words, a vocabulary that enlarges us.
– Richard Wakefield

Catherine Chandler’s poems radiate a wisdom that earns the reader’s trust, both intellectually and emotionally. But it’s her words that make her a marvelous poet: “The hours buckle, folding into pleats,” says one poem. A sonnet, with a light opening to a darkening story, describes neighbors as the “misnamed Grayces”. And don’t expect this collection to be somber. Take, for instance, “Reunion Muzak”: I wish I could copy it here – because the only way to really give The Frangible Hour enough credit is to use Chandler’s own words.

– Deborah Warren

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Pushcart Prize Nomination!

Click HERE for information on the Pushcart Prize.

I wish to thank editors Karen Kelsay and Jeff Holt of The Orchards for nominating my poem, "Valediction" for a Pushcart Prize.

Inspired by a passage in Wordsworth's "Ode. Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood," in writing "Valediction" I imagined an aging, jaded man, perhaps an expat, surfing the Internet and discovering his high school sweetheart's obituary in his hometown's online newspaper.

"Valediction" (page 13) and another sonnet, "Revisitation", were published in the inaugural edition of The Orchards in August 2016.

I have two poems in the December issue, "For Melina, 8, Sleeping" (page 23) and "Secret Swig" (page 24), my English translation of Uruguayan poet María Eugenia Vaz Ferreira's poem, "Vaso furtivo."

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Richard Wilbur Award-winning Book: Preview 4 (Final)

On Vortex Street

the overhead wires sing and hum
plucked like strings
in tones composed by the vector sum
of the wind’s velocities
but in these resonant meanderings
harmony arpeggios
and all the world’s atrocities
and all the world’s worst-case scenarios
wail in the squalls

as into the maelstrom light curls swirls falls





-- Catherine Chandler ("On Vortex Street" was first published in Frostwriting, Issue 12)

An explanation of power lines singing in the wind is available in the second paragraph of this article.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Richard Wilbur Award-winning Book: Preview 3

Here's one from the "light" section. This poem was a finalist for last year's Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award, and will be published soon in Measure.


Olēka: The awareness of how few days are memorable.
— from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig

My double-decker spice rack glares at me.
In its glass eyes of marjoram and mace,
of fennel, cumin, saffron, savory
and coriander, I am a disgrace
to cookery. And if, at times, I'll toss
some basil and oregano to test
the limits of a bland spaghetti sauce,
tarragon and chive are not impressed.
So, as the cream of tartar gathers dust
and dill weed fades to a diminished gray,
my days and months and years fly—as they must—
without a chocolate cardamom soufflé.
No one to blame, no one to hold at fault,
I take this poison with a grain of salt.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Richard Wilbur Award-winning Book: Preview 2

Preparing the exhumation of the remains of Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda

Looks like The Frangible Hour should be available by December 6. Will keep you updated. Below is a second preview poem,  "Exhuming Neruda". Pablo Neruda's (1904-1973) real name was Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto.

Exhuming Neruda

Poet’s story becomes a murder mystery: Chile exhumes Pablo Neruda’s remains (CNN Headline, April 10, 2013)

At Isla Negra, Neftalí, you sang of joy and pain,
of poverty, Matilde, birds, of artichokes and rain.

And once at Isla Negra, they searched each corner of
your hideaway, but all they found was bread and wine and love.

And now at Isla Negra, they are digging up your bones;
they’ll fly them to the capital then rearrange the stones.

At Isla Negra, Neftalí, far from the abattoirs,
a leaf drifts to the earth amid the keen of grass and stars.

 -- Catherine Chandler

View of the sea from Pablo Neruda's home on Isla Negra

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Richard Wilbur Award-winning Book: Preview 1

My new book, The Frangible Hour, winner of the 2016 Richard Wilbur Award, will be out later this month. With that in mind, I'm going to publish a few of my favorite poems from that collection here on The Wonderful Boat over the next few days.

"What You Kept" is based on a very bittersweet experience, the clearing out of my parents' home after their deaths, my mother in 2011 and my father in 2012.

The poem is addressed to my mother, and is the fourth poem in the long poem in The Frangible Hour entitled "Four Songs of Parting". The poem was also a finalist for the Able Muse Write Prize, as part of a two-part elegy, "Discovery".

I hope you'll consider purchasing The Frangible Hour once it becomes available. I'll let you all know as soon as I do!

What You Kept

A mildewed trunk defending old receipts,
a cookie tin,
discolored carpets, pillowcases, sheets.
Easy enough, as are the Mason jars—
stuff for the trash or the recycling bin,
the church bazaars.
I toss aside what’s always needled me—
the plaque from John Paul’s Holy Jubilee,
the Norman Rockwell mugs, the Kinkade prints.

From underneath
a roll of batting and a bolt of chintz
I pull a faded ribbon-festooned box.
Inside, my fairy-stolen baby teeth
and first-shorn locks
acknowledge, in an elegant goodbye,  
that I was once the apple of your eye.

 -- Catherine Chandler


Wednesday, November 2, 2016


November Dawn, Saint-Lazare, Québec. Photo by Catherine Chandler


November is a season all its own —
a month of saints and souls and soldiers. Snow
will soon white-out a fallacy of brown.
It is a month of waiting, lying low.

November is a season all its own —
a time for turning back the clock as though
it’s useless to pretend. A dressing-down.
Thin ice entices me to touch and go.

November, remnant of the year, is here
in dazzling dawns that dissipate to grey;
here in the tilting asymmetric branch
and sharp note of a towering white pine where
the pik and churlee of a purple finch
can either break a heart or make a day. 

(by Catherine Chandler. First published in Measure, Volume VIII, Issue 1, 2013)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

75,000 and counting!

Since I started my poetry blog in November 2010, there have been more than 75,000 visits to the pages and posts.

Thank you!

To celebrate this milestone, below is my Fibonacci sonnet, "To the Iron Goddess of Mercy"*

To the Iron Goddess of Mercy

roes on
the table
its wavelets bending
falling crest over trough into
the imaginary axis of reality

as I take my Krazy Glued teacup out of hiding
may the kettle whistle softly
may the day stay calm
may comets
swirl in

* - Ti Kuan Yin, Guanyin, or Iron Goddess of Mercy, is one of the most prized oolong teas. This poem is a Fibonacci sonnet with ostensible mathematical references to the Argand Diagram and Huygens's Principle of Diffraction.

Sunday, October 16, 2016



I rode the rapids of the Iguazú
and flew above the falls at Devil’s Throat.
I sailed the Beagle Channel on a boat
that nearly capsized as it ran into
a thrashing squall. I paddled on the Plate,
the Jaguarão, the Corcovado; swam
the Paraná and didn’t give a damn
about piranhas or the spotback skate.

Those were the waters of the wild in me.
Now time has tamed the tenor of my dream
and I am drawn back to the source, the stream
I disregarded as an absentee—
the Susquehanna, ancient, faithful, strong.
The river that had borne me, all along.

(by Catherine Chandler, first published in The Literary Bohemian, Issue 22, April 2015)

Monday, September 5, 2016

"Finding pattern where nature fails to provide" -- A Review of Glad and Sorry Seasons

Review which appeared in The Centrifugal Eye, Winter/Spring 2015:

Catherine Chandler’s Glad and Sorry Seasons
by Gram Joel Davies

There is a novel I love, Rainforest  (Diski, 1987), in which a scientist goes crazy in her attempt to lay a grid of numbers over the jungle — metaphorical of all that seethes unconsciously within her. Writing, particularly poetry and its inspiration, is often characterized as being quite “wild.” There is a beast, a forest, within (or, so we are sometimes told). Frequently, seemingly unrelated observations pass in the course of a day, only to resurface hours, weeks, years later, coagulated into the perfect depiction of some truth, or even as analogies of one another. How does a writer do it?

Catherine Chandler opens Glad and Sorry Seasons with a tragic miscarriage, in “Coming to Terms.” Birth and death, the biggest themes, encapsulated at the outset. With a bit of effort, I have struggled to regain my familiarity with the conventions of form poetry, so involved have I become with free verse. The grid of meter, the hard corners turned by rhyme, at which Chandler is exquisitely precise — how can this square with the agony of loss? The poem’s title may reveal more than it first suggests.

Her crafted poetics are intelligent. You can feel the poet through these words. Often funny, impressively learned. There cannot be many writers who could pen a cento also in the form of a sestina, as in “The Bard,” entirely in the Shakespearean mode. And the sonnet becomes her, like a favorite suit of clothes.

As I say, over time I have slipped out of classic verse and gone naked through the waterfalls of free verse, forgetting in so doing how there is a “song” in every sonnet.

Now, in a frail voice, tremolo,
she whispers ‘pear’ as if it were
ineffable as petrichor.

~ “Heartwood,” Glad and Sorry Seasons

This heavenly reminder from my favorite and final section of Glad and Sorry Seasons encapsulates for me, perfectly, the music in poetry, how the story it tells rides on the frequency of a wave. It is a capacity Chandler can utilize, and does so early during the book, in “Two Poems of the Sea” (Part I, “The Dawning”). Her line, “And then the crash. The Undertow. The ache” culminates the piece’s mounting pulse with a timely gut-wrench.

The human voice has, of course, its own internal rhythms and consistencies, and there must always be a tension between the natural form and the imposed shape of music, a tension that has dramatic effect when sudden concordances occur. While “free-form” poetry relies strongly on the internal consistency of language and narrative (a quality I could liken to a waterfall or rivulet for the sense in which the language seems to pour itself through unseen strata in search of a pool, a rest, an equilibrium), meter takes a story and patterns it deliberately. When she tells us tales of worlds that fall apart, entropy at work (as Chandler often depicts in her poems), there is defiance, or hope, structured into her measured words by virtue of their form.

There might seem something anachronistic about a volume so concerted. Chandler’s themes, however, feel contemporary. Think perhaps of the “cheeky CEO” who rampages on a plane in “Ira.” In spite of that, readers might become aware of another tension at work, between what I might characterize as “nobility” of the past, and a sadness of the realized present. “Down. Down in history we go;” writes Chandler, “past anthracite, the colour of all woe.” She does not flinch, but the sadness is real.

Part II of Glad and Sorry Seasons is titled, accordingly, “Driving Back Shadows,” and it contains the triolet, “A Fieldstone Fence.” This old stone wall lasts across time to become scene for both ancient settler passing by, and now, poet-and-narrator mulling it. Not, therefore, so different in its conception to the triolet itself; or the sestina, or the sonnet. Constructions whose timelessness appeals to us for their own sake.

Maybe we need some things to stay the same. To view modern life through such ancient lenses matters. The classic forms of poetry have always been able to tell us stories, but there is a new quality to be found in comparing historic lives, told in verse, and modern lives recounted the same way. The form is a kind of control, a vantage. As a means of storytelling, it exists outside the changing fashions of cultural milieu. Chandler takes power from this, as well as reassurance.

Of unusual note is “The Lost Villages: Inundation Day.” Catherine Chandler may have stretched herself with this piece, which feels characteristically different from the rest. Principally a pantoum, the poem is memorial to homes destroyed by a planned industrial flood. I have always loved pantoums — not for their repetition, but for the surprise they create. Shifts in meaning seem to suggest the generative iterations of evolution. Chandler pushes these mutations faster, writing some quite radical deviations into the form. I am made to wonder whether the matter the poem itself deals with innately allows for what feels like a daring experiment for Chandler. Has contemplating a culture obliterated prompted her to sanction some erasure of tradition herself? Nevertheless, the piece's concluding cry of “Rising, rising . . . oh, how the water's rising” strays from naturalistic speech to a more archaic tone, as if to anchor the poem.

Her classicism is visible in other areas of her poems as well. A number of biblical quotes lace her work, and poems composed or launched from lines borrowed from others, such as a billowing illumination of one of Yeats’ quatrains in the glosa, “Críonnacht ,” all contribute to the learned feel Glad and Sorry Seasons has (the book’s title, of course, is Shakespearean). “The Oldest Sins” features seven witty sonnets exploring  those ancient vices, which include Sloth and Gluttony, with a soft touch. These are far from scathing admonishments of human folly. In “Acedia,” (interestingly, classically the sin associated not with laziness but melancholy) the fate of the “puffed-up puppy/Twitter-texting yuppie” is sad: behind the scenes, beyond the pirouetting volta, we are privileged to experience his loneliness close-to; while the poem “Gula” makes a villain not of a Häagen-Dazs®-guzzling addict but the one behind her at the checkout, who will judge her shallowly. Beneath these hip expositions of up-to-the-minute living are archetypes which suggest, in human terms, an arcadian template still underlies nature, now as always.

In Part V — “A Smack of All Neighbouring Languages” — ten translations are made of French Canadian  and Spanish American poets from approximately the turn of the last century. It might not be immediately apparent to readers these are translations, because the language, as in all Chandler’s verse, is so naturally housed in its meter and comfortable with its rhyme schemes. There is nothing rough or compromised in these pieces, which are perhaps uniquely “in between” — not quite in Chandler’s own voice nor neither quite that of their original author. The convention for taking much license with regard to the musicality of the final translation is deeply traditional. While it piques my curiosity as to what is subtracted, what is additional, the end result is diamond.

There are some pitfalls for the modern reader of Glad and Sorry Seasons . . . for me, at least. Chandler phrases her work in an abundantly ready style, easy on the ear and often conversational, so make no mistake there, it would be wrong to create any impression that reading her poetry feels stuffy. She is a delight — for her ability to take on the persona and voice of so many characters — a real storyteller not locked into an idiosyncratic perspective. Nor will every reader experience a jolt from the ever-present substrate of Form; and, though it must be said that in much of her writing, the author is conspicuous by her very erudite art, it is not this which poses risk. Only, it is that there is very little that is truly postmodern here. Unlike the novel I mentioned in the first paragraph, whose pretext is that madness lies in craving uniform structures that can underpin or overlay life’s teeming, Chandler suggests the platonic belief in perfect forms; a universal metronome; the pulse of God. The difference between them is an act of repression and one of expression.
Chandler’s is an assertion of human hope which does harken back to a philosophy of a bygone year. It needs faith. “Coming to Terms” could almost be seen as a manifesto at the book’s outset, a grappling with life and death that, no matter how estranged from God its protagonist feels, still solves its own anguish via its artistry. Chandler admires Charles Baudelaire in “Ragbag,” for “straining to hold what tidy lives discard,” that this might “permit a vision that transcends the pool / of vomit.” This is what a sonnet does, she tells us. Perhaps this accretion of sense out of fragments underlies all our needs for stories.

The “wild” inspiration of the poet is a misnomer; the unconscious adores a coming-together of things and a writer plumbs its capacity for finding pattern where nature fails to provide. All art puts angles around the unframed, says, “look at it this way.” What appears chaotic, the forest, is itself a triumph of life over nothingness. As Chandler puts it, “All roads lead to Rome / from shared beginnings in the tidal pools.” It is done by effort, by sheer trying. Not the discovery of mythic order, but its making and remaking, as people, with their stories, have always strived to do.

Editor’s Note: And you can learn more about Catherine Chandler by revisiting TCE’s August 2009 Featured Poet Interview in our Unbidden issue:

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Putting the Beautiful Back

The Three Graces

For those of you who value metrical poetry, I highly recommend "On the Splendor of Form", a wonderful essay by James Matthew Wilson HERE.

Friday, July 22, 2016

". . . the days that are no more"

Lilac by Edmund Blair Leighton, 1901

from The Princess: Tears, Idle Tears
Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy Autumn-fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more.

         Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail,
That brings our friends up from the underworld,
Sad as the last which reddens over one
That sinks with all we love below the verge;
So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.

         Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns
The earliest pipe of half-awaken'd birds
To dying ears, when unto dying eyes
The casement slowly grows a glimmering square;
So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.

         Dear as remember'd kisses after death,
And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feign'd
On lips that are for others; deep as love,
Deep as first love, and wild with all regret;
O Death in Life, the days that are no more!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

A beautiful sonnet by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Sonnet 119

Fatal Interview
by Edna St. Vincent Millay 

The heart once broken is a heart no more,
And is absolved from all a heart must be;
All that it signed or chartered heretofore
Is cancelled now, the bankrupt heart is free;
So much of duty as you may require
Of shards and dust, this and no more of pain,
This and no more of hope, remorse, desire,
The heart once broken need support again.
How simple 'tis, and what a little sound
It makes in breaking, let the world attest:
It struggles, and it fails; the world goes round,
And the moon follows it. Heart in my breast,
'Tis half a year now since you broke in two;
The world's forgotten well; if the world knew.

Monday, June 13, 2016

"The terrain of my poetry is the Derry landscape."-- Robert Frost

Robert Frost Farm, Derry, New Hampshire

Frost wrote: "Ït all started in Derry, the whole thing. . .  There was something about the experience at Derry which stayed in my mind, and was tapped for poetry in the years that came after."-- Frost to Louis Mertins.

I'm looking forward to attending the second annual Frost Farm Poetry Conference this weekend in Derry, New Hampshire.

I'm fortunate to be in Timothy Steele's master class in meter.

Below is a poem Robert Frost wrote while in Derry, "Hyla Brook".

Hyla Brook
Robert Frost

By June our brook’s run out of song and speed.
Sought for much after that, it will be found
Either to have gone groping underground
(And taken with it all the Hyla breed
That shouted in the mist a month ago,
Like ghost of sleigh-bells in a ghost of snow)—
Or flourished and come up in jewel-weed,
Weak foliage that is blown upon and bent
Even against the way its waters went.
Its bed is left a faded paper sheet
Of dead leaves stuck together by the heat—
A brook to none but who remember long.
This as it will be seen is other far
Than with brooks taken otherwhere in song.
We love the things we love for what they are.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

"There is a June"

Wind by Torsten Reuschling

Today's cool, windy weather reminded me of this poem by Emily Dickinson. Although technically it's not summer yet, on days like these it seems like it will never arrive!


There is a June when Corn is cut
And Roses in the Seed—
A Summer briefer than the first
But tenderer indeed

As should a Face supposed the Grave's
Emerge a single Noon
In the Vermilion that it wore
Affect us, and return—

Two Seasons, it is said, exist—
The Summer of the Just,
And this of Ours, diversified
With Prospect, and with Frost—

May not our Second with its First
So infinite compare
That We but recollect the one
The other to prefer?

-- Emily Dickinson

Monday, May 23, 2016


My sonnet, "Untitled", has been published in the current issue of Angle.  It appears in Part 2 (click on number 64 on page 7).

Thank you to editors Philip Quinlan and Ann Drysdale!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Another Art

Word Origin and History for the word disaster
1590s, from Middle French désastre (1560s), from Italian disastro "ill-starred," from dis-, here merely pejorative (see dis- ) + astro "star, planet," from Latin astrum, from Greek astron (see star (n.)). The sense is astrological, of a calamity blamed on an unfavorable position of a planet.

My contribution to this illustrious anthology.

Another Art
(after Elizabeth Bishop's "One Art")

The art of keeping isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be kept that their keeping's no disaster.

Keep something every day. Accept the fluster
of keeping up with the Joneses, opulent
though they may be. Charge it to Master

Card. And keep your cool. Don’t bluff and bluster.
Keep track of time, your moment's monument
to order wrought from chaos and disaster.

He kept a mistress, overtaxed his rooster,
and so I told him, Keep in touch, then sent
Prince Charming packing. Piece of cake to master.

I kept two children (lovely ones!), the toaster,
the house, the SUV; and when he went
I kept the faith. No sad, ill-starred disaster.

So, round up every heartache you can muster—
a squad, a company, a regiment—
a castle keep of slings and arrows. Master
these. Or else you’re headed for disaster.

[Earlier versions of “Another Art" were first published in Umbrella, Summer 2008 and in Lighten Up Online, Issue 20, December, 2012]

Monday, May 16, 2016

Frost Farm Prize - Honorable Mention

Thrilled that my poem "Memento" was accorded honorable mention from among 646 entries to the 2016 Frost Farm Prize for Metrical Poetry competition.

Congratulations to James, and thank you to the judge, David Rothman.

I hope the poem, an extended metaphor for the end of a relationship, finds a home someday.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Your Local Journal article on Wilbur Award


Love and Friendship

Love and Friendship

by Emily Brontë
Love is like the wild rose-briar,
Friendship like the holly-tree —
The holly is dark when the rose-briar blooms
But which will bloom most constantly?
The wild rose-briar is sweet in spring,
Its summer blossoms scent the air;
Yet wait till winter comes again
And who will call the wild-briar fair?
Then scorn the silly rose-wreath now
And deck thee with the holly’s sheen,
That when December blights thy brow
He still may leave thy garland green.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

823 on High

Pleased to announce that "Heal-all" (part of a seven-part poem, "Days of Grass", to be published in my Richard Wilbur Award-winning collection, The Frangible Hour, forthcoming, University of Evansville Press) is now online, in the inaugural issue of 823 on High.  In very good company.

Many thanks to editor, Kim Bridgford.

Monday, February 29, 2016

March 1, 2016: Happy 95th Birthday, Richard Wilbur!

Here is one of my favorite poems by Richard Wilbur. See and hear him reading it HERE.

C Minor  by Richard Wilbur

Beethoven during breakfast? The human soul,
Though stalked by hollow pluckings, winning out
(While bran flakes crackle in the cereal bowl)
     Over despair and doubt?

You are right to switch it off and let the day
Begin at hazard, perhaps with pecker-knocks
In the sugar-bush, the rancor of a jay,
     Or in the letter box

Something that makes you pause and with fixed shadow
Stand on the driveway gravel, your bent head
Scanning the snatched pages until the sad
     Or fortunate news is read.

The day's work will be disappointing or not,
Giving at least some pleasure in taking pains.
One of us, hoeing in the garden plot
     (Unless, of course, it rains)

May rejoice at the knitting of light in fennel plumes
And dew like mercury on cabbage hide,
Or rise and pace through too familiar rooms,
     Balked and dissatisfied.

Shall a plate be broken? A new thing understood?
Shall we be lonely, and by love consoled?
What shall I whistle, splitting the kindling wood?
     Shall the night-wind be cold?

How should I know? And even if we were fated
Hugely to suffer, grandly to endure,
It would not help to hear it all fore-stated
     As in an overture.

There is nothing to do with a day except to live it.
Let us have music again when the light dies
(Sullenly, or in glory) and we can give it
     Something to organize.

Thank you, Mr. Wilbur, for your gracious notes of encouragement over the years!

More on Beethoven and his works in C Minor HERE.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

"De la musique avant toute chose . . ."

My English translation of Paul Verlaine's "Art poétique" has been accepted for publication in the Quebec Writers' Federation literary review, carte blanche.

Here's an interesting article on the poem.

Friday, February 12, 2016

The 2016 Richard Wilbur Award




[fran-juh-buh l]

easily broken; breakable

I'm thrilled to announce that eminent poet and translator, Dick Davis, has chosen my manuscript, The Frangible Hour, as the winner of the 2016 Richard Wilbur Award. 

This is my third full-length collection of poetry, and it will be published by the University of Evansville Press later this year.

This prestigious award is named for Pulitzer Prize winner and former poet laureate of the United States, Richard Wilbur. I was honored and fortunate to meet Mr. Wilbur nearly ten years ago at a literary festival in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and then, along with dozens of poets at the 2011 West Chester University Poetry Conference, joined in to celebrate his 90th birthday. 

I would like to extend my gratitude to members of the Eratosphere poetry forum and to the Greenwood Poets, in particular Julie Sih, Tim Murphy and Jon Torell, for their generous critiques and valued suggestions on some of the poems included in The Frangible Hour.

Also, for their written endorsements, my heartfelt thanks to distinguished poets Rhina P. Espaillat, R.S. (Sam) Gwynn, Timothy Steele, Richard Wakefield and Deborah Warren.

Finally, I deeply appreciate the kindness of Scottish artist Ruth Addinall, who, along with Rob Griffith and his wonderful team at Evansville University, coordinated a professional photo shoot of one of her paintings, whose image will grace the cover of The Frangible Hour.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Peony by Stephen Edgar

Australian poet, Stephen Edgar, has given me permission to post some of his poems from time to time. The following poem, from his masterful collection, Exhibits of the Sun, just about breaks my heart every time I read it. And I read it often.

On the back cover of his book, poet Joshua Mehigan states that Stephen Edgar is, "On the short list of the best living practitioners of verse, rhymed or blank."  I totally agree.

The Peony

In the aftermath, your memory in free fall,
You’re less a consciousness than that
Recording camera Isherwood narrated.
The now unearthly hall,
The living room (the living room), translated

To this inert museum habitat,
The bathroom window’s watermark
Pooled wetly on the polished kitchen floor,
You are not looking at
Exactly, but provide the focus for.

They slide across your cornea’s moist arc.
You have no sense that they make sense,
The images are simply filed away
By that synaptic spark
With matters you don’t know of to convey.

From the hollow house you stray to the intense
Exhibit archive of the shed:
Tools, shelves of junk in which the ivy glories,
Prints, books of evidence
Of elsewhere in a cupboard, whose mucid stories

You can’t read now. But in a garden bed,
More wounding than a work of art,
The peony’s packed, swollen buds, which hold
Whole galaxies of red
And forces too immense to be controlled,

Wait quietly to tear the day apart.


Monday, February 1, 2016

More Great News!

Image source:

"Pack Rat", my 214-line in rhymed tet couplet parody of Edna St. Vincent Millay's "Renascence" is among the ten runners-up for the  2015 X.J. Kennedy Parody Award, sponsored by Measure Press.

I had such a blast writing it, too!  HERE's an interesting essay on "Renascence". And HERE's Millay herself reading it!  Such drama!

There were a couple of thousand entries, with a long list of 200 sent to final judge, Tony Barnstone.

The winner was John Ridland. I look forward to reading his "Another Art".

Thanks to Rob, Paul and the wonderful team at Measure Press!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Great news!

My sonnet, "Olēka", will be published in the journal Measure later this year, as one of the twelve 2015 Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award finalists.

What is Olēka? What does the spice rack image above have to do with this post? Subscribe to Measure and find out ;-)!

This is the sixth time my sonnets have made the finals, and my sonnet, "Coming to Terms" was the 2010 winner, chosen by final judge A.E. Stallings.

Long live the sonnet!