Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Iraqi Poetry Today

Poet and Iraq war veteran Brian Turner read from his remarkable book, Here, Bullet, poems from his experience of war, at Bowdoin College this spring. I asked him if he had read any contemporary Iraqi poets, and he recommended Iraqi Poetry Today, which we now have in stock. Here are a few pieces:

from section 10 of Every Morning the War gets Up from Sleep
by Fadhil al Azzawi

This is war then: All is well.
The missiles bomb the cities and the airplanes bid the clouds farewell.
It is nothing but a corpse which grows and stretches
Between Kirkuk and Isfahan
Between Baghdad and Qum,
Between Irbil and Tehran,
Between time and time,
Between blood and blood.
All is well.
Except for this spring approaching from afar.
Except for those birds flying between one front and another,
Except for those who wait their death in silence,
Except for this mother whose cries I can hear from afar.
Ah! I saw eyes glowing amidst the branches,
A monster running on a sea-coast
Gliding down from my heart.

Peace to you, O Iraq!
Peace to springtime, coming forth from the fissures of the earth!
Peace to Baghdad, redeemer and redeemed!
Beace to Basra, to its burnt palm-trees!
Peace to Kirkuk, to its red sky!
Peace to Amara, to its marshes mined with dynamite!
Peace to the fourteen provinces!
Thus does the war get up from sleep.
A man takes it to a hillock
and leaves it in History.
Then he wipes away his tears with a rose
Which he hurls at a hazel bird,
Which rises up from its ashes
And soars far away.

and fromJigerkhwen (Sheikh Mus Hasan Muhamad)

I am the Voice

I am the voice of the mountainside
I am the hammer in the laborer's hand
I am the sickle in the peasant's hand
I am the enemy of reactionaries
I am the vanguard of progressives
I am the colleague of the oppressed, whomever or wherever
I am the opponent of the opressor, whether near or far
I am the comrade of the peshmerge, and of revolution
I am the voice of the workers, whether in London or Paris
I am the sympathizer of the students, whether in Istanbul or Tabriz
I am the hand of the martyr
I am the voice of the Kurdish people
I am a Kurdish revolutionary
I refuse to yield to the likes of Al-Jamail, Shimon and Hitler
I refuse to bow to arms merchants and warmongers
I am a fighter like Che Guevara
I am a comrade of Ho Chi Minh
I am a supporter of the Tudeh, whether in Awaz or Tehran
I am a patriot and militiaman, like Salvador Allende
I am a protector of my people lie Gandhi or Nehru of India
In the Congo, I am the voice of Lumumba
In Chile I am Neruda
I am Castro in Cuba
I am the voice of Kebuchi in Jerusalem
I am the voice of Makarios in Cyprus
I am the voice of Newab and Gorki
I am the voice of Martin Luther King among American Negroes
I am the voice of Jegerkhwen, Mahmoud Darwish, and Lorca

and from Sadiq al-Saygh


On the street today, I sold
A bag heavy with gods
out of sheer hunger.

Iraqi Poetry Today, 288 pages, 40 poets.
We also have individual books by three poets in this anthology: S'adi Yusuf, Dunya Mikhail, and Fadhil al-Azzawi.

Friday, May 19, 2006

two poets, from the mountains, Henry Braun and Wang Wei

This week we received two new books of poems from mountain hermitages: Loyalty - New and Selected poems by Henry Braun, from Off the Grid Press, and The selected Poems of Wang Wei, translated by David Hinton, from New Directions Press.

Here's Henry Braun:

A Certain Presence

Names of places decay.
Letters drop as if tongues were
a mountain range they tire of climbing.
Ranges of mountains, and the words
for whole countries soften
or harden, showing bone.
We try a new name for the inlet
where the huge rock holds its position
and the old tide turns.
Who we are is blurred.
Only our presence is certain
over the ground and water we keep

and Wang Wei:

Rain On and On at My Wheel-Rim River Farm

Rain on and on in these empty forests - smoldering cookfires
steam goosefoot and simmer millet for farmers in eastern fields.

A snowy egret takes flight across flooded farmland vast and silent.
Yellow orioles sing deep among summer trees thick with shadow.

Perfecting mountain tranquility, I watch flaring blossoms fade,
and my fast pure beneath pines, pick dew-graced mallow greens.

Done struggling for a place in that human realm,I'm just this
old- timer of the wilds. So why are these seagulls still suspicious?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

new Jaime de Angulo books

Stefan Hyner, German poet/translator/editor, has just put together a "collected poems" of Jaime de Angulo, published by La Alameda Press in paperback. Last year saw the publication of Rolling in the Ditches with Shamans: Jaime de Angulo and the Professionalization of American Anthropology, from the University of Wisconsin Press. For many of us, the first Jaime book was Indian Tales, now back in print from Heyday Books. Also, two from City Lights: Indians in Overalls, and Jaime in Taos, and from Bob Callahan's Turtle Island Press- The Jaime de Angulo Reader. Peter Garland published The Music of the Indians of Northern California, and Jaime's daughter Gui Mayo de Angulo wrote and published The Old Coyote of Big Sur: The Life of Jaime de Angulo.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Steve Dickison booklist

Steve Dickison, Director of the Poetry Center and American Poetry Archives, San Francisco State University, sent a list of "four books I'm waiting for".

Every Goodbye Ain't Gone (60's - 70's innovative Black poets anthology) edited by Aldon Nielsen and Lauri Raney, University of Alabama Press

Steve Lacy Conversations, edited by Jason Weiss, Duke Univ. Press (Sept. 06)

Amiri Baraka's next book of music writings, announced years ago

Homer's Secret Iliad The Epic of the Night Skies Decoded, Florence and Kenneth Wood (o.p. - John Murray U.K. - an affordable US edition would be nice)

Friday, May 05, 2006

Reading The World

Again this year, Gulf of Maine Books is one of 125 bookstores across the country participating in the Reading The World month, highlighting international literature and the publishing of translations here in the United States. You can learn more about this program, and about the chosen books, at www.readingtheworld.org .
The books we have chosen to feature are:
Gate of the Sun Elias Khoury Lebanon
The Mountain Poems Meng Hao-jan China
Things in the Night Mati Unt Estonia
Europeana Patrik Ourednik Czech Republic
Selected Poems Czeslaw Milosz Poland
Don Quixote Miguel de Cervantes Spain
Gimpel the Fool Isaac Bashevis Singer Poland
The Nimrod Flipout Etgar Keret Israel
Monologue of A Dog Wislawa Szymborske Poland
A Tale of Love and Darkness Amos Oz Israel
Thebes At War Naguib Mahfouz Egypt
Borkman's Point Hakan Nesser Sweden
Massacre River Rene Philoctete Haiti
Midnight's Gate Bei Dao China
Memed, My Hawk Yashar Kemal Turkey
Dirty Snow Georges Simenon Belgium
Three Horses Erri De Luca Italy
Stalemate Icchokas Meras Lithuania
Voices from Chernobyl Svetlana Alexievich Ukraine
The Noodle Maker Ma Jian China