Sunday, December 25, 2011

No Tell Motel's best of 2011 poetry books

No Tell Motel has listed Tavern author Greta Wrolstad's book Notes on Sea & Shore as one of 2011's best poetry books. Click here for more info.

Notes on Sea and Shore was our best-selling book this year, and it will shortly enter its second printing.

Happy holidays, and check back with us in 2012 for several exciting new releases, including full-length collections by Nelly Sachs, William Stafford, Eunice Odio, Tomas Tranströmer, David Wevill, and Ferenc Juhász, among others!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Glowing Enigmas

We're just putting the final touches on one of our upcoming full-length titles, Glowing Enigmas by Nelly Sachs (winner of the 1966 Nobel Prize in Literature). We're particularly excited about this book because it's never before appeared in its entirety in an English translation. To make life all the sweeter, the translator is Michael Hamburger. If all goes as planned, we'll have this book off to the printers in early January. Stay tuned.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Rita Dove and the individual voice

The recent publication of poet Rita Dove's The Penguin Book of 20th Century American Poetry (see our last post) has, like all anthologies, brought out the best and worst in the critics. Dove's taste, editorial ethics, aesthetics, and championing of poets was recently (and shockingly) attacked in an article by critic and author Helen Vendler. Vendler's allegations and Dove's responses are highlighted in Dove's The New York Review of Books essay "Defending an Anthology." By all means, click here to read the essay in full.

One of the many (and there are many) conversations to be had in light of this recent attack is the role of the editor vs. the role of the taste-maker. At the heart of Dove vs. Vendler is a simple and important division that has enormous implications for anyone in the editorial world. Dove's editorial lens is that of the individual writer, reader, and admirer; her anthology is assembled through one set of eyes, those of Rita Dove. Vendler's stance is that of the self-appointed protector of the group, which, in this case, is a small handful of American poets Vendler considers the only worthy of exaltation and critical discourse. If poetry is the art of the individual voice and the world that voice represents, then it seems Dove has done excellent work. Vendler's attitude suggests something more sinister and colonial: that poetry is a gated community, a pay-to-play social club where only one opinion and attitude (and, so it seems, race) is favored. Vendler's attitude implies that the anthologist, editor, or critic has a kingly and elevated right and power to define what is worthy and, by omission, to define what is unworthy. Dove's attitude is that an editor is one voice tasked to highlight other individual voices, and that this representation is a leaping-off point into further conversation, not an arriving point of definition or ascension into the canon (whatever that is). Wallace Stevens knew all too well that there are not merely thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird, but that the avenues into perception and art are indeed numerous and numinous.