Thursday, November 30, 2017


Ezra Pound on the seafront in Rapallo, Italy, in 1958, shortly after being released from an American asylum


A sensitive investigation into the enigmatic, prodigious mind of poet Ezra Pound (1885-1972).
From 1945 to 1958, Pound was incarcerated at St. Elizabeths Hospital for the Criminally Insane, a federal asylum in Washington, D.C. Although sequestered from the outside world, he was hardly isolated: among his many visitors were “tourists, young activists, ambassadors and academics,” and prominent and aspiring poets: among them, Robert Lowell, Marianne Moore, Charles Olson, Allen Tate, William Carlos Williams, John Berryman, Randall Jarrell, and Archibald MacLeish. Except for T.S. Eliot, who had won the Nobel Prize in literature, many of his visitors were at the early stages of their careers, and they sought Pound’s encouragement or advice. “Visiting Pound became a social event and a literary moment,” writes Swift (English/New Coll. of the Humanities, London; Shakespeare’s Common Prayers: The Book of Common Prayer and the Elizabethan Age, 2012, etc.), who draws on memoirs of these visits as well as interviews, a close reading of Pound’s writings, and medical records to create a multidimensional portrait of a celebrated, controversial literary figure. Pound was declared insane after being charged with treason for fascist, racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-American radio broadcasts that he made in Mussolini’s Italy during World War II. The insanity defense exempted him from the death penalty, but it has confounded biographers and literary critics, who have struggled to reconcile his creative works with his politics and purported mental state. During his incarceration, Pound produced much new work, leading the U.S. attorney, in 1954, to ask Pound’s physician why a man “who seemingly is mentally capable of translating and publishing poetry…allegedly is not mentally capable of being brought to justice.” Was he insane, many wondered, or was he “a coward and a cheat” who contrived the defense to save himself? Rather than trying to resolve those questions, Swift takes a prismatic view, allowing “rival tellings to sing their discord.” The treason indictment was dismissed in 1958 after “a chorus of pleas from cultural celebrities,” and Pound left the U.S. for Italy.
A shrewd, circumspect literary biography.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


Penguin Poets 2016

after withstanding (I hung in there)
 reading an irritating new book
by a poet (and her dog)
it was a relief to fall into the arms
of this excellent poet who seems
to become grander
as she goes


Do you know what it's like to be transparent?

I'm not particularly interested in anything

but say the first thing that comes to mind.

You of course aren't here, you're where you are.

I sound like something I've heard before.

But where would the words come from? We

believe so touchingly in language acquisition,

enculturation, inculcation, and imitation;

I remember trying to be myself. Now I feel

I was inserted into life exactly not to do that.

For I have been robbed of everything that made

me social: lovers, certain close family — and I

have been ill, too; I think it's desired that I have

not much but words. What good would that do?

The new language is that of explaining these facts.

So far. The human condition is not what any-

one has said. There are forces in charge of us

that have never been named. And will I

name them? I will name something; and it

will then be real. Effable and known to you.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017


      Graywolf Press

INTO ENGLISH is the great book so many of us have waited for:
an anthology that actually teaches one about craft. For what
is the discussion of literary translation if not a patient, detail-
oriented, step-by-step education for a poet on the masteries
of word choice, precision, tone? To say that I love this very
special collection is an understatement.


Monday, November 27, 2017



She’s supposed to be land clearing

Heaping brush to burn in first snow

But the pale yellow ghost of tall

Summer grasses she sweeps down

Is instead caught in her hand

And placed that way in a kitchen vase

Showing a warmth to last us through winter

Show Me

I don’t walk this

Early morning, frost

On the mowing, but you do —

And when you return

I’m sitting by the

Cookstove warm as you bend

To shiver my neck a kiss —

Show me what I missed

Leaving For Work

I could hold you

All morning like this —

Loose summer dress

In my hands, brush of

Sunburn on your shoulders

The feel of your waist

And a game of tip-toeing

Who is taller, as we kiss

And won’t let go

The Pleasures Of Love

The last of my noon hour

Black tin lunch pail

Sitting on a sap soaked maple stump

Woodchips nettled on my woolen socks

Finding a fruit cup she made for me

Clear cold glass in my oiled hand

Neat slices of strawberry and pear


I'm In Love With You
Who Is In Love With Me
Longhouse 2012

Saturday, November 25, 2017


In the late Sixties I was hitchhiking home from someplace and stopped in a small town
where there was no bookstore but they had a newsstand, a bottom shelf of thick daily newspapers
and a rack of books, mainly bestsellers, and somehow, and someway, someone either made a mistake or knew precisely what they were doing because in that newsstand is where I picked up a copy of Rothenberg's masterpiece of assemblage Technicians of the Sacred. It was an Anchor/Doubleday huge softcover with a mysterious earthly and heaven cover and I spent all my money and walked out of the newsstand floating with my book, my backpack and an exhilarating feeling others had come before me and others would come after me and on every page there was a song.

I have purchased all later editions, continuing the travel, as each book gets itself refurbished and fluffed up, and now we are up to the third edition and Rothenberg is still at work like all good cobblers. And I sift my way through the new rooms of the longhouse but it's that original book that has my heart. I see silly boyhood ink marks where parts were very favorites in that book and I have no idea what that boy must have been thinking. All sacred.


Thursday, November 23, 2017



I've yet to see, read or own a Michael McCurdy book, or a book
illustrated by McCurdy, that wasn't greatly enhanced by having McCurdy's
wood engravings — none more finer than in his own reading of Walden —
an A-to-Z showcase with McCurdy referring to Henry's world
and updating it to McCurdy's own, also a Massachusetts boy.
Balance is beauty.

Charlesbridge Books
Watertown, MA.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


New Year 2013

windows be damned!

I want the whole-hearted panorama of sky

fire of morning

                                        ice blue moon

the hovering bulk of

the live oak

                            the hulking barn-studio

                             red looking black in the half-light

the streetlights


                                            the buttery yellow light of

                                            neighbor's porchlight

                                            a rectangle breath house dark

                                            and morning red-orange blaze

I want

the full 360 of self and world and wonderment


Jim La Villa-Havelin
Poems of a Place
Wings Press 2017


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Monday, November 20, 2017



Away from the road

Off into the high edge

Of a field, unless I

Looked carefully you

Would never have been seen

Picking wildflowers

Growing in folds of sunlight

Among the tall grass

Each snipped by hand

At the same height, then

Gathered inside a pail

Of shallow water

The world seems weightless

Watching you work

If this is work —

You call it a prize

Saved for the last

Hour of the afternoon

Taking away what this

Plot of land has to give —

Flowers for the kitchen table

Brightened windowsills


Beneath rain clouds

She wheelbarrows

Loose black soil

Of daylilies

From the brook

To plant around

A ledge of stone

And in a month

She will smell like

The yellow blossoms


Apple, poplar, ash

Cherry, red maple

Pine, basswood, oak

These are the woods

That we sawed today

In two hours of thinning

Selecting, we made a cord —

Trampled branches on snow

Worked without words —

Simple thoughts, like picking

Up these sticks — back and

Forth in the mind — until we

Stop to rest together against

The pile, brushing off woodchips

Shedding hats and gloves

And because we kiss, I warm

My hands beneath your blouse

Winter Day

I swore if you laid

Your cheek, wind

Blown red as any

Soft maple leaf

Onto the pond

And looked down through

The half-foot of

Ice, the rest was

Water flowing clear

Way back up to you —

The scales of depth

Catching your breath


I'm In Love With You
Who Is In Love With Me
Longhouse 2012

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Friday, November 17, 2017

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Dear Bob Arnold,
My name is Nina Mamikunian and I am the new Curator of the Archive for New Poetry at UCSD Library's Special Collections & Archives, following Rob Melton's retirement in 2016. I am very excited to carry on the work of the Archive for New Poetry, documenting and making available experimental work, including public performances and collaborative efforts.

To that end, I am pleased to announce the launch of our latest digital collection, the Paul Blackburn Audio Collection. These digitized recordings feature poetry readings, lectures, conversations, and correspondence recorded on reel-to-reel tape by Paul Blackburn from 1960 to 1971 in New York City.

Blackburn was a cornerstone of the New York Poetry scene: he organized and attended poetry readings at venues across the city, hosted his own radio program, “Contemporary Poetry,” on WBAI, and often recorded casual conversations about poetry with friends.  Blackburn’s recordings include some of the first readings performed at St. Mark’s Poetry Project, correspondence with Julio Cortázar and readings by such poets as Allen Ginsberg and Robert Creeley.

The first release of this collection includes over 100 recordings featuring over 100 poets, now available for streaming at Subsequent releases will bring the total number of recordings to over 200 available for online streaming and about 70 descriptions of recordings that can be made available onsite at UC San Diego Library’s Special Collections & Archives.  We anticipate having the entire digital collection complete by February 2018.

We would like to thank you for being a part of this project and giving the library permission to stream the readings online. The editor of Blackburn's posthumously published Collected Poems (1985), Edith Jarolim, has called this collection "the most comprehensive oral history of the New York poetry scene between the late 1950s and 1970." We are excited to be able to make this important collection available to a wider audience.

The collection is available at Additional information about the collection and its release is available at .

Thank you again for your contribution to the Paul Blackburn Audio Collection. This project would not have been possible without it!