Noteworthy occurrences in the wide world of poetry, for the week ending December 3rd, 2011.

Let’s wrap this week up with a ribbon, shall we?

Nicanor Parra

1) Chilean poet Nicanor Parra wins Spain’s Cervantes Prize (considered the Spanish-speaking world’s highest literary honor).

The 97 year old ‘anti-poet,’ who is known for concluding his readings by saying “I take back everything I said,” will probably not be giving back any of the $170,000 that accompanies such an honor.

For any of you banging your head against a wall while writing or revising a poem that’s not quite there yet, here’s a helpful line from Parra’s poem “Something Like That,” trans

lated by Liz Werner:

nobody reads poetry nowadays
it doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad

Helen Vendler

2) Rita Dove and Helen Vendler smack-talk one another regarding The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry, edited by Dove. Vendler, one of America’s leading poetry critics, pulled no punches in her review of Dove’s curatorial method (or what she seems to feel was a lack thereof).

Though not directly related to Dove, I found this statement from Vendler worthy of discussion: “No century in the evolution of poetry in English ever had 175 poets worth reading.”   

Rita Dove

Rita Dove then wrote a pretty feisty defense of her choices, saying, “I have no desire to engage a critic in a debate on aesthetic preferences and consequent selection—to each her own—but I cannot let her get away with building her house of cards on falsehoods and innuendo.


Read the review and the response in order to make light of the charges and accusations on both sides.

Vendler’s counter-counter-attack?

A simple reply: “I have written the review and I stand by it.


[continued below]

3) Nikky Finney was featured on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, where she chats about if and how winning the National Book Award (for her newest collection Head Off & Split) has changed her life and writing. Listen to Neal Conan’s interview with Nikky Finney HERE.

4) The New Inquiry’s salon-kids get coverage from the New York Times. If you want to read a story about a bunch of 20-somethings who are probably smarter than you (I had no idea what Situationism is, for instance), check this one out- an interesting tale of a ragtag bunch of “over-educated” (whatever that means) publishing industry outsiders.

5) Pushcart Prize nominations close for the year. The deadline was December 1st. So, like, yeah: It’s too late!

Did I miss anything worth mentioning? Let me know in the comments section below.

(Typewriter illustration by print-maker and painter Hannah Godbey).

Less than 100 words about Chris Robley

Chris Robley has written 55 post in this blog.

Chris Robley is a poet and songwriter living in Portland, Maine after a decade in Portland, Oregon. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in POETRY, Poetry Northwest, Beloit Poetry Journal, Prairie Schooner, and more. He is the 2013 winner of Boulevard's Poetry Prize for Emerging Writers, and was the recipient of the Maine Literary Award for "short works poetry" in 2014. Robley's music has been praised by NPR, the LA Times, the Boston Globe, and others. Skyscraper Magazine said he is “one of the best short-story musicians to come along in quite some time.”