Ron Slate's blog

on Selected Poems of Friederich Hölderlin, translated by Maxine Chernoff and Paul Hoover (Omnidawn)

Friederich Hölderlin wrote almost all of his complete work between 1796 and 1803 including odes, elegies, hymns, the epistolary novel Hyperion, the verse tragedy Empedokles, and translations of Pindar. Over the following four years as his mental stability collapsed, he wrote several poetic fragments. One begins:

Once I asked the muse, and she
Replied:

on Hotter Than That: The Trumpet, Jazz, and American Culture, by Krin Gabbard (Faber and Faber)

“Sometimes I feel the need for metallic sounds; in jazz you can hear knives singing. Knives rip up the psyche’s fabric to shreds and strengthen it in the process,” wrote the Polish poet Adam Zagajewski in Another Beauty. The trumpet has shredded without peers since the first ancient call to arms.

on A Murmuration of Starlings, poems by Jake Adam York (Southern Illinois University Press)

I remember the bulletin: An Eastern Airlines commuter prop-jet had crashed into Boston Harbor after take-off from Logan Airport, less than 10 miles from our house. I was 10-years old. A little research shows that the date was October 4, 1960; the accident occurred around 5:45 pm, and I would have been watching the six o’clock news with my grandfather before dinner.

on Classical Chinese Poetry, an anthology translated and edited by David Hinton (Farrar Straus Giroux)

David Hinton is the most productive translator of Chinese literature and poetry in English of the past ten years. He is also one of the most accomplished of all time. When the New Directions Anthology of Classical Chinese Poetry appeared in 2003, editor Eliot Weinberger focused on five major translators: Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, Kenneth Rexroth, Gary Snyder and Hinton.

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