Poetry podcast for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

The Winter Is Cold, Is Cold

by Madeleine L’Engle

 

The winter is cold, is cold.
All’s spent in keeping warm.
Has joy been frozen, too?
I blow upon my hands
Stiff from the biting wind.
My heart beats slow, beats slow.
What has become of joy?

If joy’s gone from my heart
Then it is closed to You
Who made it, gave it life.
If I protect myself
I’m hiding, Lord, from you.
How we defend ourselves
In ancient suits of mail!

Protected from the sword,
Shrinking from the wound,
We look for happiness,
Small, safety-seeking, dulled,
Selfish, exclusive, in-turned.
Elusive, evasive, peace comes
Only when it’s not sought.

Help me forget the cold
That grips the grasping world.
Let me stretch out my hands
To purifying fire,
Clutching fingers uncurled.
Look! Here is the melting joy.
My heart beats once again.[1]


This audio podcast features the poem “The Winter Is Cold, Is Cold” by Madeleine L’Engle and concludes with a selection from the Book of Common Prayer that is often read on Christmas Day.

NOTES:
[1] Source: The Winter Is Cold, Is Cold by Madeleine L’Engle
[2] Advent Poems (or the 12 days of Christmas poetry)

April – National Poetry Month

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It is no joke. It is April. And it is the beginning of National Poetry Month.

For poets and poetry fans, April is a special month-long celebration of poems and poets. For most of America, it is the beginning of baseball season.

One question that is asked of me when an individual learns that I compose lines poetry is this: “Are you published?”

The answer is yes.

Throughout the month of April I will post selections of my published work for your reading pleasure.

April is a good month to test your poetry writing skills. A few years ago I took up the challenge[1] to write 30 poems in 30 days.[2] You are invited to the challenge as well.

NOTES:
[1] 30 poems in 30 days challenge
[2] Write 30 poems in 30 days: a challenge

Interview: Caleb Beissert on Beautiful translations of Federico García Lorca and Pablo Neruda

Reposting this interview. Enjoy!

Coffeehouse Junkie

Beautiful by Caleb Beissert Caleb Beissert is a poet, translator and musician. His published work appears in International Poetry Review, Tar River Poetry, Asheville Poetry Review and Beatitude: Golden Anniversary, 1959-2009.

This week, Poetry at the Altamont celebrates the release of Caleb Beissert’s first book, Beautiful, a selection of poems by Pablo Neruda and Federico García Lorca translated into English. During the last few weeks, Beautiful was well received by enthusiastic audiences at Montford Books & More and Malaprop’s Books & Cafe and is a Small Press Distribution best-seller.

The Altamont theater doors open at 7:00 P.M. for Poetry at the Altamont. Admission is $5 at the door. Beer and wine sold at the bar and lounge will remain open for drinks after the reading. Event link.

UPDATE: Caleb Beissert is the featured guest of the Coffee with the Poet Series, Thursday, February 21st at 10:30 a.m. at City Lights Bookstore. Event…

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Old, New, Borrowed and Blue

How does a poet select poems to read at a poetry marathon? I have been asking myself and my wife that question all week. Tomorrow is the annual poetry marathon at Woodland Pattern Book Center in Milwaukee. Something like 150 poets will be at the all-day event.

As I peruse a collection of publications I am a little startled to realize that there is a decade or more of work published in various journals and reviews.[1] Some of the publications are regional to North Carolina while others are national.

My work does not have a lot of Milwaukee-area credentials and I am not well-known to this region (forthcoming work is to be published by a Milwaukee publisher). Even so, I feel like an outsider at the Woodland Pattern poetry community. This is familiar territory.[2]

During a conversation with my wife this week an idea formed. Selecting poems based on the wedding adage was the plan: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. This developed into an engaging exercise of finding poems to fit that motif. Looking forward to sharing the results tomorrow night — between 9 and 10 p.m. — at Woodland Pattern Book Center.

NOTES
[1] A SHORT LIST OF SEVEN PUBLISHED POEMS:”Saturday Night, Coffee House,” Rapid River, 2004; “Reading ‘My American Body’ by W. K. Buckley,” Rapid River, 2005; “Narrative Kernel,” Rapid River, 2005; “Last Bus,” H_NGM_N, 2005; “The Last American Chestnut Tree,” The Blotter, 2006; “Loneliness Visits,” .ISM Quarterly, 2006; “Last Night at the New French Bar,” Crab Creek Review, 2010
[2] A good friend and poet, Barbie Angell, once told me that I am on the cusp as far as a poet and writer is concerned. Meaning, that I am on the border or threshold of the academic (published) poetry scene and the street (unpublished) poetry scene. So, being a stranger to the Milwaukee poetry scene is familiar place for me.

Late Night Writing – second edition – third printing

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Late Night Writing is now in its third printing and the new edition features a foreword by the poet Pasckie Pascua. Copies of Late Night Writing will be available the Racine & Kenosha Authors Book Fair is this weekend, Saturday, May 23, 2015 at Rhode Center for The Arts. A special book fair price makes it very affordable to purchase and I will personally sign your copy (and if you ask nicely, I may even add a quick drawing/sketch).

Quote: The ancient Celts distinguished the poet…

“The ancient Celts… distinguished the poet, who was originally a priest and judge as well and whose person was sacrosanct, from the mere gleeman. He was in Irish called fili, a seer, which is Welsh derwydd, or oak-seer, which is the probable derivation of Druid. Even kings came under his moral tutelage.”

–Robert Graves

Quote: “Two attributes of a poet…”

“Two attributes of a poet, avidity of the eye and the desire to describe that which he sees.”

–Czeslaw Milosz

Quote: “All the words that I utter…”

All the words that I utter,
And all the words that I write,
Must spread out their wings untiring,
And never rest in their flight,
Till they come where your sad, sad heart is,
And sing to you in the night,
Beyond where the waters are moving,
Storm-darken’d or starry bright.

—  William Butler Yeats, “Where My Books Go” (via bookoasis)

Quote: “poems are like dreams…”

But poems are like dreams: in them you put what you don’t know you know.

Adrienne Rich, ‘When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision’ On Lies, Secrets, and Silence (via thedaysarenotfullenough) (via libraryland)

Interview: Caleb Beissert on Beautiful translations of Federico García Lorca and Pablo Neruda

Beautiful by Caleb Beissert Caleb Beissert is a poet, translator and musician. His published work appears in International Poetry Review, Tar River Poetry, Asheville Poetry Review and Beatitude: Golden Anniversary, 1959-2009.

This week, Poetry at the Altamont celebrates the release of Caleb Beissert’s first book, Beautiful, a selection of poems by Pablo Neruda and Federico García Lorca translated into English. During the last few weeks, Beautiful was well received by enthusiastic audiences at Montford Books & More and Malaprop’s Books & Cafe and is a Small Press Distribution best-seller.

The Altamont theater doors open at 7:00 P.M. for Poetry at the Altamont. Admission is $5 at the door. Beer and wine sold at the bar and lounge will remain open for drinks after the reading. Event link.

UPDATE: Caleb Beissert is the featured guest of the Coffee with the Poet Series, Thursday, February 21st at 10:30 a.m. at City Lights Bookstore. Event link

Caleb graciously agreed to an interview to discuss poetry, translation work and Beautiful.

Coffeehouse Junkie Blog

First, for those who don’t know you, Caleb, please share a little about yourself and how you came to poetry.

Caleb Beissert

I arrived naturally at poetry. I had a strong interest in writing as a child, which stemmed from my mother’s and father’s both being journalists. They read to me constantly, even while I was in utero. I still love being read to, hence the poetry readings I attend. During my fugitive teenage years, I wrote notebooks full of song lyrics—songwriters such as Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Robert Hunter, Kurt Cobain, Roger Waters, and The Beatles among my influences. When I went to college and took a poetry writing class, I discovered I’d been writing poetry for years. Of course songwriting is a different beast, but one does inform the other.

Throughout my time at Western Carolina University, I studied writing, foreign languages, philosophy, music, art—I wasn’t satisfied with the notion of going to college to get a job, rather I wanted to learn everything I could for the sake of knowing. I began publishing my poetry, traveling abroad, corresponding with accomplished writers, and I participated in the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Series.

My literary heritage largely came from the American Beats, especially Allen Ginsberg and Richard Brautigan; the British poets, namely Blake and Coleridge; and mystics, like Hafiz, Rumi, Kabir, Mirabai; as well as Walt Whitman, E.E. Cummings, W.S. Merwin, early on Shel Silverstein, and then later the great Hispanic poets, particularly Federico García Lorca and Pablo Neruda. Now I’m living in Asheville, writing, producing poetry events, and also working as a musician.

Coffeehouse Junkie Blog

How did the translation work of these two poets, Federico García Lorca and Pablo Neruda, come about?

Caleb Beissert

As I glossed over previously, I was at WCU studying poetry and foreign language when I began translating these two poets. It must have been my attraction to Surrealism that led me to García Lorca. I had read a few translations in Bly’s Leaping Poetry, eaten up Lorca’s lecture Theory and Play of the Duende, and fallen into Poema del cante jondo. I was fascinated by this idea of the duende and also with the marriage of poetry with music, seen in the influence of Andalusian flamenco music on his work.

An interest in Neruda also came through my gravitating toward Surrealism, though I must acknowledge that neither of these poets wrote exclusively or even primarily in this style. One day my Spanish professor assigned the students to attempt a translation of Neruda’s famous “Poema 20” from Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada. I thoroughly enjoyed the assignment—probably the only one who did—and it was then I realized I could translate. From there, of course, the complexities of poetry translation began to unravel. I studied essays by Gregory Rabassa, John Felstiner, Margaret Sayers Penden, Eliot Weinberger, and read many bilingual or “bisexual” editions, as a good friend likes to call them.

Eventually, I timidly showed my translations to a few trusted poet friends/mentors, among them Dr. Mary Adams and Thomas Rain Crowe, who encouraged me to continue the work. It has been a process of frustration, learning and accomplishment. Many late nights of pulling out my hair. I’ve dabbled in other Spanish-writing poets, such as César Vallejo, Rafael Alberti, Pedro Salinas, Vicente Aleixandre, Nicanor Parra, and Manuel González Prada; however, it was García Lorca and Neruda I spent the most time with, grew to know them through their words, heard their voices, conversed in dreams, and eventually compiled enough English-language adaptations for two books.

Coffeehouse Junkie Blog

How the translation work inform the craft of your own poetry?

Caleb Beissert

I find myself writing odes to people and places I’ve never known. I’ve written poems to or after these poets, places and ideas from their poetry, even employed mimicry for effect sometimes, but going deeper, I’m sure it has changed the way I think about language, construct lines, choose words, though the translation process itself does that as well. I have developed my own poetry while spending a great amount of time with these poets, therefore their impact on my work is tremendous. It is hard for me to see, because often one must step away from his or her work to get an accurate picture of it, but I know the influence is there.