Catherine Chandler's Poetry Blog

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!