Grace Cavalieri's February 2019 Exemplars of Poetry
Every month for the Washington Independent Review of Books, the Maryland Poet Laureate, Grace Cavalieri, author of Other Voices, Other Lives, does a round-up style review of the best recently released independent books of poetry and books about poetry.
February 2019's review features 8 books ranging from exciting newcomer, Sam Ross, to long-dead literary stalwart, Charles Bukowski (whose new collection, edited and compiled by Abel Debritto, is titles On Drinking)
Read the full February 2019 round-up HERE on the WIRoB site
Indie Publishers Featured this month: Four Way Books ; Terrapin Books ; Kurodahan Press ; Conestoga Zen Press ; Mountains & Rivers Press (sadly The Geography of Jazz by Leonard D. Moore will be their last book) ; Baobab Press ; Ecco*
Here is an excerpt from Grace's review of Gary J. Whitehead's new collection from Terrapin Books, Strange What Rises :
“where does the hermit sing /when the seething ends/and the frosts begin?” (Rough Terrain). Whitehead writes 94 pages of poetry, not one syllable out of sync. This poetry is acoustically perfect and intellectually honest — two things seldom found together. He reveals — by way of location, sound, and visuals — an arc within each story where we learn what is beautiful. I would encourage students of poetry to read this book for its foundationality in what poetry can be. This poet can be a motivator for writers.
So cold we made bonfires on the ice,
the hair beneath our caps as gray as the day,
which was as gray as the ice but streaming
low-slung light. Some of us in skates
that wrote the hours we moved through,
a score for two pianos or the pendent branches
that shook their glass chimes when the northerlies blew.
The lake, too, with its boom and whistle,
its lightening cracks we chased to the shrinking edge
where the water rocked dark against the shore.
More light! Why should one brief day
typify a life? Looking back, I remember
looking back. At the eyes of our fires blinking.
At the sun sinking into bare, black trees.
More From Grace Cavalieri
Governor Hogan recently announced Maryland’s ninth Poet Laureate to be the incomparable Grace Cavalieri. In his press conference regarding the announcement he touched on her “lifelong” dedication to poetry, and this precisely is one of those defining characteristics of a great artist. ASP celebrated this aspect of Grace in her Legacy Book, Other Voices, Other Lives which is an atemporal sampling of her entire career to now, from poetry to prose, from plays to interviews with US Poets Laureate. It should come as no surprise to Mr. Hogan nor the careful reader of her works then that she has an almost religious dedication and inescapable fascination with her art and its many ingredients. As you we shall hear, in her poem “Work is my Secret Lover,” Poetry is the muse.
Other Voices, Other Lives was my introduction to Grace. Her book sits now on my shelf between The Waves and Duino Elegies, the pages are worn from thumbing-thru, it is dog-eared, destroyed in certain ways well-loved books are destroyed, aged by the eyes, like good denim, but here the creases are black underlines, and the fading is from yellow highlighter and coffee stains. So in honor of, well, my deep admiration for Grace, I’ve picked one of her poems from Other Voices, Other Lives to share. If this is the first encounter with her poetry, welcome, hello, the books page is just yonder up the screen under “books”! If you’ve long been a fan, I think “Bluebirds” is a great poem to share with those who might not yet have been introduced to Grace’s work.
Grace Cavalieri is known widely for her stirring and empathic poetry, collected in her Legacy work Other Voices, Other Lives, but did you know that she is also an impressive interviewer? On her NPR show, The Poet and The Poem, she interviews significant poets from the US and around the world, with an aim of interpreting their lives through their poetry. In her tenure on the program, she has interviewed 9 US Poets Laureate (you can find a list with these archived interviews HERE), including the incomparable Robert Pinsky.
The name Other Voices, Other Lives, is not purely poetical, in fact, for Grace Cavalieri it is a mission statement. In her Legacy Book of the same name there are several sections in 3rd person omnipotent which aim to breathe the same air as famous women who have suffered adversity. Tragic figure Anna Nicole Smith, feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft, Cora from William Carlos William’s Kora in Hell. All in all they are an admix of Grace Cavalieri’s poetic life, all brought together in one beautiful volume; so, perhaps, we might figure that Anna Nicole Smith converses with Mary Wollstonecraft for the very first time in the pages of Other Voices, Other Lives.
Today, from the Anna section we have the heart-rending “Toytown”