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Old 07-18-2003, 11:57 PM
Robert J. Clawson Robert J. Clawson is offline
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 3,404

"Longman should not be publishing the Sullivan/Murphy version, because they are viciously anti-feminist, and they are reputed to be homosexuals!"

So were Grendel and his Dam.
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Old 08-06-2003, 01:19 PM
Tim Murphy Tim Murphy is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Fargo ND, USA
Posts: 13,831

Just received Alabaster Flask, and I'm posting this at Amazon and

Jennifer Reeser was born in 1968, the year I escaped high school. So at least two good things happened that year. Her first collection of verse, Alabaster Flask, is a knockout. Let the poet speak for herself:

Walking the Ruins

Grandmother made an art of mums and dills,
delphinium and every tender herb,
dreaming of her far-off Virginia hills,
filling the ground with life from curb to curb.

She knelt with mournful eyes the green of jade
each season, singing hymns to praise God’s pardon
and asking Him to touch the plot she’d made --
her latest work of genius in the garden.

Winter could not resist her, nor the glory
one finds by having daisies New Year’s Day,
the famous seed supplier’s cover story,
and strangers at the screen from miles away.

I never lacked for colors in that place.
Her daughter brought me up in monochrome
as elegant and cold as any face
which one time deemed itself a god of Rome,

and Mother gone, with Grandmother yet going
into that garden all will someday go,
it’s only now I see her art was sowing
a seed within me only she could grow.

This is the work of a young woman who chooses her words with great care and with refreshing accuracy. Just run the ums, ers, and ills of that first stanza through your mouth several times. She makes a delectable music, and surprise! she has a store of wisdom to impart to the lucky reader. I’d have to go back to Suzanne Doyle’s “My Grandmother’s Visit” to locate in my capacious memory so ambitious and definitive a poem on this particular familial relationship. Before that I’d reach for “Cottage Street, 1951” Richard Wilbur’s great poem for Edna Ward and Ms. Plath. To achieve this high elegiac tone at thirty-four is quite a feat, but it’s something several thirty-somethings are pulling off: Greg Williamson, Diane Thiel, Alicia Stallings, Catherine Tufariello, to name just four besides Reeser. These thirty-somethings are really something.

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Old 08-07-2003, 08:36 AM
R. S. Gwynn's Avatar
R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is offline
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Beaumont, TX
Posts: 4,069

The critiques of the Murphy and Sullivan translation of Beowulf were just, for these translators turned Grendel's mother into some kind of monster. In reality, she was a sheltering nurturing figure who would have raised her little boy to be a vegan if there hadn't been so many tasty Geats around. Murphy and Sullivan are bad boys. That is why I prefer the Gilbert and Sullivan version, which begins:

Wet gardenias in the garden--I must beg the Spear-Danes' pardon
To dilate upon Scyld Scefing's greatest deed:
For he fell upon some people and he ransacked hall and steeple
And he carried off the bench where they drank mead.
He was braver than The Hulk and inspired Professor Tolkein
To embark upon his journey for the Ring;
And his people all obeyed him and much tribute they all paid him:
When he died they said that Scyld was "one good king."
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Old 08-07-2003, 10:09 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Iowa City, IA, USA
Posts: 7,679

I got a kick out of your spoof on "Beowulf." The ending made me laugh out loud. Having spent a year in grad school learning to read the poem in the original, I like how you managed to keep the gist of the content while subverting it through the form.

Congratulations to Tim on his idea of having people who know the works well write reviews of poetry books that deserve wider recognition, and post them on That is really taking the word directly to potential readers, and it may do some good. And good for Terese, for following through on it.


[This message has been edited by Susan McLean (edited August 07, 2003).]
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Old 08-07-2003, 10:23 AM
Richard Wakefield Richard Wakefield is offline
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Federal Way, Washington, USA
Posts: 1,664

Every poet who appreciates rhyme should bow humbly before this bit of mastery:
"He was braver than The Hulk and inspired Professor Tolkein"
Having once been pleased with myself for days for rhyming "fifty" and "lift, he," I see there are still mountains to climb!
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Old 08-07-2003, 01:43 PM
R. S. Gwynn's Avatar
R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is offline
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Beaumont, TX
Posts: 4,069

This has given me an idea for a new poetic sequence, "The Lost Libretti of W. S. Gilbert." I can imagine all kinds of things: "Satan's Song" from "Paradise Lost, or The Warden of the Garden," etc. Anyone is allowed to contribute ideas.
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Old 08-08-2003, 11:50 AM
Wild Bill Wild Bill is offline
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: San Antonio, TX, USA
Posts: 1,151

"How Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth" from King Lear (sung to the tune of "Modern Major General").
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Old 08-10-2003, 11:07 AM
Terese Coe Terese Coe is offline
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 7,471

My review of Len Krisak's book, Even As We Speak, has been published at The Alsop Review:


[This message has been edited by Terese Coe (edited November 30, 2003).]
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Old 11-30-2003, 11:07 PM
Terese Coe Terese Coe is offline
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 7,471

I've posted a mini-puff on Sam Gwynn's book, No Word of Farewell, at the amazon site. He's a one-man marathon! If you haven't read it, you are seriously deprived. (For a sample of the poems, see the Musing on Mastery thread on Cynics.)

Giddy with Laughter and Wisdom

Full of wicked humor, slyly wrought pathos, boffo couplets, stunningly relevant sonnets, at least one startling take-stock epic, and giddy cynicism: there's simply no poet in America like Gwynn, and there's no one as funny, period. This is the REAL self-help book! Help yourself cope in this most angst-ridden of seasons: read Gwynn's wisdom and laughter.

(Note the above is already revised from amazon. I'll revise that one when it appears.)

[This message has been edited by Terese Coe (edited February 01, 2004).]
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Old 11-30-2003, 11:39 PM
nyctom nyctom is offline
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: New York, NY USA
Posts: 3,699

I'm just curious: how many people have actually BOUGHT a book or a cd or a dvd or video from Amazon based on a review written by a member of what is usually known as the "general public"?
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