There’s an old French saying, “the whole of a man’s mystery rests in his hat,” and if you translate it into American you get Sinatra smoking and singing “Memories of You,” “I Thought About You,” “You Make Me Feel So Young,” and “You Brought A New Kind of Love to Me,” all from the same 1956 session, I love that voice and have since the summer I was eight and my friend Ann and I sang “Love and Marriage” on Talent Night at the bungalow colony when I’m down there’s nothing like you, birthday boy, singing “All of Me” to lift me up and when I’m in love I jump out of bed in the morning singing “It All Depends on You” and your voice comes out of my mouth
-- David Lehman (12 / 12 / 97) from The Daiy Mirror (Scribner, 2000)
In Peter Carson's fine new translation of Tolstoy's "The Death of Ivan Ilych" (published by Liveright, together with Tolstoy's "Confession." in a single handsome volume), the eponymous hero writes, "I fell I'm fifteen years younger." You'll find this admirable typo on page 55, the very page on which he "missed his footing and fell" off a step-ladder, but the pain soon disappears, and Ivan Ilych congratulates himself on feeling "particularly well and cheerful." In fact, Ivan writes -- in his diary? or in a letter? -- "I feel I'm fifteen years younger," only here it comes out "I fell I'm fifteen years younger," as if a typo could inadvertently summarize the twists of the plot, for that fall off the step-ladder leads to his decline and death -- DL
When managers Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa, and Joe Torre are inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown next summer, the best baseball writer on the planet will also be celebrated. Click here for New Yorker editor David Remnick's tribute to Roger Angell on the occasion of his receiving, in Remnick's words, "the J. G. Taylor Spink Award, which has previously gone to the likes of Grantland Rice, Red Smith, Ring Lardner, and Damon Runyon. With respect to all the writers in the lifetime lineup card, Roger is the cleanup man. I.M.H.O., anyway. I am not quite sure how the exhibits will look, but I will be happy to see one of Roger’s tweed jackets, a spiral notebook shoved in the pocket, hanging right next to Ruth’s No. 3 and Gehrig’s No. 4."
I can't resist quoting more of Remnick's eloquent praise (with apt illustration):
<<< Not to be peevish, but the award is a teensy bit belated, as there has been heated discussion for years in press-box circles about whether Roger, as a “magazine and book man” (as one voter called him), could fairly stand beside the beat writers, the men and women who attend every game and write up every contest, from the mid-August sleeper in the rain to the Homeric season-ending classics on All Hallows’ Eve. It’s good to see that the guild gave up its perquisites to honor the outlier. The truth is, though, that Roger, who is more accustomed, it is true, to writing on a more capacious deadline, is a versatile player; he can write quickly when the occasion, and the technology, demands it of him. When Mariano Rivera pitched his second-to-last game this year, Roger checked in the next morning on our Sporting Scene blog:
Mariano came on with one out in the eighth, and surrendered a single but no runs, and along the way gave us still again his eloquent entering run from deep center field; the leaning stare-in with upcocked mitt over his heart; the reposeful pre-pitch pause, with his hands at waist level; and then the burning, bending, famed-in-song-and-story cutter. All these, seen once again, have been as familiar to us as our dad’s light cough from the next room, or the dimples on the back of our once-three-year-old daughter’s hands, but, like those, must now only be recalled.
Upcocked. Reposeful. Our dad’s cough in the next room. All on deadline and without evident strain. (You try it!) But perhaps we can credit it to experience, to sufficient time in the press box. Roger is ninety-three. Unlike Mariano, he has not abandoned the field. He’s at the office nearly every day, reading fiction for the magazine, writing, kibbitzing, and advising. His devotion to writing, editing, and the magazine is as it ever was. The other day, he handed in an essay that is as fine a thing as I have read in many months, and it will run soon.
This is all to say: Roger, congratulations! Congratulations from us at the magazine and from your readers.
Young writers, working mainly in deep private, even if they are in an MFA program, even if they have found their way to a coterie as some poets do, feel themselves when they are lucky to be conjuring a kind of magic, as if they were shaping liquid phospher, and then the work is done, with whatever psychic magic they've put into it and taken from it, and then what do you do? Looking at the world one of the things they'd see, have seen, is the National Poetry Series--poets reading poets in order to publish new work and keep the art fresh, keep renewing it. Not for the world at large but for those poets, the new ones or the ones with no special connection to the world of publishing, the NPS has been crucial, a flare in the dark, and it needs to be kept alive. -- Robert Hass
For each of the past 35 years, under the stewardship of Daniel Halpern, the National Poetry Series has published five books of poetry. Do the math: that's 175 books of poetry by some of our most promising poets. The winning manuscripts, solicited through an annual Open Competition, are selected by poets of national stature and published in beautiful gift-worthy volumes. The list of winners is impressive. Three NPS poets have gone to win the National Book Award: Mark Doty, Terrance Hayes, and Nathaniel Mackey. Billy Collins, an NPS winner, became Poet Laureate of the United States. Judges have included many of major contemporary poets, including Nobel Prize winners Seamus Heaney and Derek Walcott, and Pulitzer Prize winners Louise Gluck, Robert Hass, Stephen Dunn and Jorie Graham. Click through the thumbnails below to see the 2012 winners:
You can easily make a donation to the National Poetry Series with PayPal. Find the details on the NPS website.
Or you can mail a donation to:
National Poetry Series 57 Mountain Avenue Princeton, NJ 08540
Consider these testimonials:
Every year I look forward to buying the five books published in the National Poetry Series. It's like having a curator who gathers again and again the most exciting and diverse collections of poetry in the country, selections that continue to represent the breadth of American poetry. Not only is it the most distinguished series, it is also the only one I know of that consistently identifies, at an early stage in their careers, the writers we are likely to be reading for a long time. -- Natasha Trethewey, Poet Laureate of the United States.
By enabling five new volumes of poetry to appear annually over the past 35 years, the National Poetry Series has radically changed the face of American poetry. A number of poets who are now among our best-known first appeared there as beginners, and might never have been heard from were it not for the publication opportunity the Series offers. It's vital to our literary health as a nation that the work continue. - John Ashbery
How do today's poets, especially lesser-known ones, find an audience? How are readers, or would-be readers, introduced to new poets? Efforts to make this connection come alive deserve our gratitude and support, and the National Poetry Series is one of the most successful and long-lived. If you’re familiar with it, you know the quality and quantity of books it’s brought before the public. If you’re not, take a look at the list of works and poets (not to mention those who’ve served as judges) – and decide for yourself. - Jeffrey Brown, PBS News Hour
We hope you will help keep this necessary series in mind when you make your holiday donations to worthy institutions.
“My brother once commented, ‘Now I get how writers work. You’re magpies.’ Which we both understood to mean: Writers scavenge from wherever they can. In the case of ‘Divine,’ I scavenged from Dante, Plato, the Bible, fairy tales, old vampire movies, whoever said ‘Only trouble is interesting’ is the first rule of fiction, early Christian flagellants, a trip to Australia where I saw bats in a botanical garden, and my then-present emotional state. Which was, essentially: There’s no place like hell for the holidays. When I Googled ‘magpies’ for this statement, I discovered they possess a few more writerly traits: They are clever and often despised, little poètes maudits. The Chinese considered them messengers of joy, but the Scots thought they carried a drop of Satan’s blood under their tongues. They are fond of bright objects. And then this: When confronted with their image in a mirror, they recognize themselves.”
Guest editor Denise Duhamel picked Nathan Anderson's Stupid Sandwich for the Best American Poetry 2013. Of Stupid Sandwich, Anderson writes:
“This poem started when a few lines (a shadowy echo of what would become the speaker’s voice) surfaced while I was working on another project. As the speaker’s voice developed and the context began to take shape, I became interested in how this particular speaker responds and, more broadly, how all of us respond, when the daily pressures of a life become seemingly unmanageable.”