Archives For Brett Foster

 

Here are 10 notable people who died in 2015…

Some were friends of ours here at the ERB, others were luminaries who have shaped our work. They all will be missed!

Phyllis Tickle
(Writer / Editor )

Phyllis Tickle
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“A Robust Inheritance”

A Review of
The Art of the Sonnet

By Stephen Burt and David Mikics
.

Reviewed by Brett Foster.

[ Read an excerpt from this book… ]

The Art of the Sonnet
Stephen Burt and David Mikics
.
Hardback: Harvard UP, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

THE ART OF THE SONNET - Burt and MikicsThis collection of one hundred representative sonnets, ranging from the early sixteenth-century English poet Thomas Wyatt to a sonnet published just last year by the San Francisco poet D. A. Powell, presents a series of diversities – chronological, geographical, stylistic – all surprisingly emerging from the same, seemingly straightforward form. Each of these lyric poems does its work in fourteen lines (usually, although even this identifier is open to exceptions, as in “tailed” sonnets or George Meredith’s sixteen-line sonnet sequence Modern Love). The poets also exhibit, as a kind of mental calling card that comes with the mere act of writing sonnets, a consistent engagement with the tradition of sonnets and sonnet writing.

To be clear: these engagements vary tremendously, some being, in Stephen Burt’s and David Mikic’s words, “self-consciously traditional” and others “decidedly impure” instead. Yet The Art of the Sonnet’s compilers and commentators take it as a given that any sonnet will be in communication, or maybe in the midst of a quarrel, with the form’s robust inheritance. For example, a poem such as Alison Brackenbury’s recent “Homework. Write a Sonnet. About Love?”, with its opening line, “There are too many sonnets about love,” is in fact highly sensitive and even beholden to the very tradition and subject it wishes to dismiss— its act of “writing off” remains an homage to this particular written form. This tenacious legacy involves the formal details of how a sonnet is written, as well as the subjects, tones, and values we readers expect to find in any poem we quickly recognize (Aha!) as a sonnet.

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Brett Foster Reviews a New Book
of Illustrations for THE DIVINE COMEDY
For BOOKS AND CULTURE

http://www.booksandculture.com/articles/webexclusives/2010/june/foster060810.html

This thin, handsome collection, featuring Michael Mazur’s illustrations of Dante’s Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso, alongside Robert Pinsky’s translated passages on facing pages, promises to appeal to various readerships. Those unfamiliar with Dante can gain a terrific first impression of his medieval epic poem and its treatment of the afterlife from these selections (no lengthy text or intimidating notes in sight). On the other hand, longtime lovers of the Commedia will find here cherished lines brought to new life in Pinsky’s renderings, but most refreshing will be the “embedded” perspectives of Mazur’s illustrations. We never see the character Dante or his guide Virgil themselves, as if pilgrims posing on a stage, but experience Mazur’s alluring visions of their supernatural settings as if looking over the characters’ shoulders, or through their own eyes.

As Pinsky recounts in a preface to this volume, Mazur (whom the art world lost recently) had been an avid reader of Dante in Italian for decades, and he supplied monotype images for Pinsky’s popular edition of Inferno in the mid-1990s. Praising Mazur’s images for inspiring and guiding his own translation efforts, Pinsky describes his collaborator’s works as “themselves acts of translation, embodying certain vital principles.” Pinsky explains the suitability of the monotype form for Inferno—not only in its somber, black-and-white effects, but also in how a print is squeezed through the press. The final products, incorporating the “unique, unpredictable results of pressure,” are moving reflections of the pit in Dante’s narrative, its inhabitants enduring the unrelenting pressures of sin.

Read the full review:
http://www.booksandculture.com/articles/webexclusives/2010/june/foster060810.html

I’ll Tell What I Saw:
Select Translations and Illustrations from the Divine Comedy
.
Michael Mazur
Paperback: Sarabande Books, 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]


Powells Books Reviews
Morning Haiku by Sonia Sanchez

http://www.powells.com/review/2010_06_14.html

Sonia Sanchez’s latest book resonates as boldly as a jazz ensemble; clear and poignant, it is intransigent in her subject matter. Her impassioned reflections come in the loose form of the American haiku, in groups of two to twenty-one haiku at a time. Primarily ekphrastic, her poems react to and commend the work and activism of African American singers, artists, authors, sculptors, painters, celebrities, and political and social activists, to whom many of the poems are dedicated. Sanchez presents a deeply personal, affected history and promulgation of her race, yet does so in each poem with a fresh breath and new song.

The collection begins with a preface, a “Haikuography.” Most emphasized is the “haiku nature” that resides beneath our rushing lives, the simplest (and nevertheless complex) essence of our existence. Sanchez proclaims that haiku “offer no solutions”; indeed, there are times when no solutions exist, as in “Sister Haiku (for Pat)”:


Read the full review:
http://www.powells.com/review/2010_06_14.html

Morning Haiku.
Sonia Sanchez.
Hardback: Beacon Press, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]