Transnational Poetry Reviews 2016

Volume 9, no. 1 | November 2016

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The November 2016 edition of Transnational Literature features scholarly articles and a larger than usual list of poetry book reviews.  Here are some exciting picks….





“Poets have the toughest job in literature today. In the loosest terms, regarding success in any of its measures, poets receive a slice of the pie so thin as to be virtually translucent. Bestselling novelists carve out huge, dripping chunks of the market, filling their plates with prizes, speaking engagements and shampoo commercials (probably). Writers of non-fiction, romance and the now- all-encompassing ‘speculative’ fiction all carve off their own portions. A stroll around any library or bookshop where the physical objects are still kept available will account for the rest of the pie. It’s a hard-working booklover who locates the poetry, at the bottom of a corner shelf, all raw paper and unfamiliar publishers’ logos. But they’re worth searching out. These are the bravest, hardest-working artists committing words to paper in the whole field. No writer does it for the money, but the love and talent it takes to put poetry between some covers, to actually get it there in the first place, means that simply opening a book by a poet is a rare and special experience.
Part of the reason you don’t see too many poets driving Bentleys is that poetry as a consumer product is hard work. Airport novels are a thing. Airport poetry collections are not (they could be!) Poetry is demanding and intellectually vigorous in ways most readers aren’t used to. You can actually become exhausted after a few pages of good poetry. Great poetry can, with just a few words, last its reader a lifetime. But there is a trade-off. Imagine a stern ballet director, gatheringher new dancers around for a pre-rehearsal pep-talk before breaking out the slippers and toe-plasters. ‘I ask a lot. I expect more,’ says our director. Someone coughs. They are immediatelysent home. ‘But it will be worth it,’ she continues once the sobbing cougher has left the building.

The best poetry is always worth it. Giannina Braschi is such a poet. She is the stern ballet director,her readers crouched in silence at her feet. Braschi’s command of the English language is formidable. Open any page of United States of Banana and there will be at least one passage which could be carved into a concrete monument and left for future generations to contemplate…”

For the complete review by Professor Sam Franzway of Flinders University see:

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