Two Books & a CD

The poems take years to arrive and I don't know who they are.


Ernesto Cardenal, La revolución perdida: Memorias 3 (Madrid: Editorial Trotta, 2004).

I can't imagine being able to write without Ernesto Cardenal's poetry as a model. Despite my complete disagreement with him regarding Venezuela's petty revolution, I've been reading his memoirs since he began to publish them in 1999. This third and final installment of his autobiography covers from the 1970s until today. It is a beautiful paperback edition by the ever-impressive Editorial Trotta in Spain.

Cardenal's politics seem to have been distorted recently by his old age. He recently wrote an account of his visit to Venezuela to participate in a poetry conference in Caracas. Cardenal sang the praises of the Bolivarian regime without a second thought. He chose to ignore the warnings of his Venezuelan friends and admirers (including Armando Rojas Guardia, Joaquin Marta Sosa and Ana Teresa Torres) regarding the authoritarian gangsterism of the Chavistas. Instead, Cardenal naively praised the "accomplishments" of the Bolivarian revolution over the past 5 years. Cardenal's essay can be read (in Spanish) at El Meollo (see link @ left). It is a sad, pathetic essay that I will not waste my time translating.

Regardless, I'll begin reading the third volume of his memoirs tonight. The third volume starts with Cardenal in Caracas in the 1970s, where he stayed at the house of Miguel Otero Silva, the poet who founded the newspaper El Nacional.


Don Paterson & Charles Simic, ed., New British Poetry (Saint Paul, MN: Graywolf Press, 2004).

This is a great anthology, with several poets whose work I've been following for the last few years:

Simon Armitage
Fred D'Aguiar
Lavinia Greenlaw
Michael Hofmann
Glyn Maxwell

A few years ago, Armitage and Maxwell wrote a "sequel" to Auden and MacNiece's Letters From Iceland. Their visit to Iceland in the 1990s was hilariously evoked in the poems and prose pieces they were commissioned to write. It was published by Faber & Faber in 1996 as Moon Country: Further Reports from Iceland.

I find the current "avant-garde" or "post-avant" dismissals of the "School of Quietude" to be a pointless and exclusionary move. Granted, mainstream poetry is mostly horrific, but to divide us into those who support Empire and those who fight it is a naive move with no practical purpose.

No one here will escape whatever dangers we are going through in this "low dishonest decade." It is useless to classify poetry. There are plenty of so-called School of Quietude poets whose work I admire. To name a few: Walcott, Auden, Spender, Lowell. I won't stop reading them simply because I might disagree with some of their political/social/cultural stances.


Beastie Boys, To The 5 Boroughs (Capitol Records, 2004).

Went to buy it today, since hearing Paul's Boutique back in 1989 was such a revelation. Plus, I like how their writing has evolved over the years. In my opinion, the best poets alive today are rappers.

"Well, maybe it's time we impeach Tex.
And the military muscle that he wants to flex.
By the time Bush is done, what will be left?
Selling votes like E-pills at the discothèque.
Environmental destruction and the national debt.
But plenty of dollars left in the fat war chest.
What the real deal, why you can't connect?
Why you hating people that you never met?
Didn't your mama teach you to show some respect?
Why not open your mind for a sec?"

("Time to Build")

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