Our PoetsJohn Ashbery Charles Bernstein Wendell Berry Sir John Betjeman Frank Bidart Elizabeth Bishop Louise Bogan Yves Bonnefoy Joseph Brodsky John Clare Jeff Clark Henri Cole Billy Corgan Carol Ann Duffy Stuart Dybek James Fenton Helen Frost Federico García Lorca Louise Glück Eliza Griswold Durs Grünbein Thom Gunn Marilyn Hacker Seamus Heaney David Hinton Michael Hofmann Richard Howard Ted Hughes Randall Jarrell Devin Johnston Lawrence Joseph August Kleinzahler Yusef Komunyakaa Philip Larkin Christopher Logue Robert Lowell Mina Loy Glyn Maxwell Maureen N. McLane James McMichael Czeslaw Milosz Eugenio Montale Paul Muldoon Les Murray Pablo Neruda Grace Paley Pier Paolo Pasolini Don Paterson Carl Phillips Rowan Ricardo Phillips Robert Pinsky Rainer Maria Rilke Gjertrud Schnackenberg James Schuyler Frederick Seidel Giuseppe Ungaretti Derek Walcott Susan Wheeler C. K. Williams Christian Wiman Charles Wright James Wright Adam Zagajewski
April 02, 2009
March 30, 2009
We're pleased to announce an exclusive giveaway of Frederick Seidel's Evening Man, a chapbook produced by FSG in a limited edition and signed by the poet. This book will never be available in stores; this is your only chance to acquire a copy! We were all pretty excited in the office when the books arrived - they came out beautifully in a minimal, handsome design. You can sign up here for the giveaway: we're giving away 50 copies at the end of March and 50 copies at the end of April.
April 15, 2008
With the release of Same Life, coming out this September, Maureen McLane will be the newest poet to enter FSG’s roster. (Maureen, please keep an eye out for your jersey, which should be in the mail.) And I think it’s time you all get to know her a bit better.
So today for you I have a downloadable broadsheet, a preview of the poem After Sappho IV from Same Life. You can set it as your computer’s wallpaper, or print it out and hang it on the actual wall—I’m not picky about the way you appreciate our poetic broadsheets, and I suspect Maureen is fairly loose about it as well.
“We faced, of course, some problems of definition. With kids, unlike undergraduates or grumpy academics or bickering coterie poets, one need never enter into metaphysical, formal, or historical debates revolving around the question, ‘What is a poem?’ Anything you said was a poem. A prose poem, a poem in stanzas, a poem in free-verse lines: all were poems. No problem: who cares? It became clear that our tacit definition of ‘poem’ was, ‘a short piece of writing, in lines, more or less.’”
I’ll also have some audio and maybe even a guest blog from her in the coming weeks, so be ready.
April 04, 2008
Does everybody here know how amazing Grace Paley was? I've been trying for a long time to explain how she embodies everything I believe in--feminist, writer, activist, really funny joke-maker--but then it tends to fall flat in the face of such a multi-faceted person. If you're new to her, I think the best way to learn more is to work your way through Grace in her own words (and just one perfect quote from Joyce Carol Oates):
- "I think most writers that are serious are experimental. They all have to figure out new forms every time they write." --Salon.com, 1998
- "How aptly named: Grace Paley. For 'grace' is perhaps the most accurate, if somewhat poetic, term to employ in speaking of this gifted writer..." --Joyce Carol Oates, from her essay The Miniaturist Art of Grace Paley, 1998
- "When you are a poet, you speak to the world, and when you are a story writer you get the world to speak to you." --Poets & Writers, 2006
- "Patrimony and matrimony do not say what they mean. Patriarchy and matriarchy do. Patrimony, as any reader probably knows, is what you inherit from your father. Matrimony is the state of being in a marriage." --Ms Magazine, 2003
- "...I wrote poems, that’s what I wrote. I thought about language a lot. That was important to me. That was my teacher. My fiction teacher was poetry." --PEN American Center
- "The Peace Center was founded on what everybody talked about later: Act locally, think globally. When we started we were doing very local stuff. We liked it because it was simpler, you didn’t always have to be taking trains." Non-Violent Activist, 1999
April 02, 2008
One of the best things about last-year's Paul Muldoon ringtone is how a lot of readers weren't really sure how to take it--was it serious, or were we having fun with the idea of what poetry is? Perhaps I needed to present it with a bit more light heartedness (I knew I should have taken video of the hilarity that ensued when the ring was played for FSG employees, bloggers, and my mom).
Because the cool thing, I think, about the oxymoronic idea of a poetry ringtone is that it's playful, it's silly, and it clearly comes from a poet who takes his work seriously enough to have a little fun with it.
Which is why I'm so pleased that Robert Pinsky recorded this year's downloadable poetry ringtone. Pinsky, who has appeared on The Simpsons, The Colbert Report, and at The White House (yes, the real one), references the joy of reading aloud in this exclusive, downloadable ringtone that I expect to be all the rage .
Mallah walla tella bella. Trah mah trah-la, la-la-la, Mah la belle.
Ippa Fano wanna bella, wella-wah.
Fair enough, the subject matter of Gulf Music and the idea behind this ringtone couldn't be further apart. But they're both the same in a way, they're both about listening and hearing language spoken aloud.
But enough from me--listen to Pinsky speak it for yourself, maybe download it for your April ringtone. And after the jump, some video of his latest television appearance.
April 01, 2008
I'm so thrilled you decided to stop by Farrar, Straus and Giroux's National Poetry Month blog. And on the first day of April no less: you are a smart person.
Because as you learned last year, like spring, or poets, FSG's poetry month blog doesn't last forever--it runs just for 30 days, the length of National Poetry Month. True, it's barely long enough for me to scratch the surface of all the great poets FSG has on its roster. It's best if you think of this as more of a personal challenge to yourself. I'll provide you with a little taste of the offerings on tap, but it's up to you to go to the store, buy the books, and continue your appreciation of poetry for the rest of the year.
To make sure you keep coming back, here's a little preview of what I have upcoming this month.
- Of course, we had to bring you a new ringtone, recorded just for you by one of FSG's most illustrious poets;
- More audio of some of greatest poets, including a long-time FSGer who somehow managed to escape recording for us last year, even though he had a new book out;
- A whole week devoted exclusively to poetry in
- All-new downloadable posters (guaranteed to brighten up even the saddest cubicle), guest bloggers, and giveaways.
Be sure to add us to your RSS feed, if you haven't already, and be sure to check out the totally sweet widget you can add to your blog, myspace, or facebook account to be the coolest grad student at the mixer.
Thanks again for reading! Be sure to visit later today for a round-up of last year's highlights.
April 30, 2007
Is that it's only 30 days long. Sigh. Since this is the last day of April, and therefore the last day of National Poetry Month 2007, it's sadly time to change the ringtone on your cell phone, return to downloading podcasts of This American Life to listen to on the way to work, and figure out what you're going to do every morning without FSG's roster of poets to ease you into the day.
But no, this blog will not go gentle into that good night! OK, yes, www.fsgpoetry.com will stop being a blog in the traditional sense, where groups of words are posted a few times a day. But please, keep us in your RSS feeds, or sign up for email updates (which will be the same thing that appears on the blog, only in convenient letter form), because once you teach a girl to blog, it's hard to convince her to stop entirely. I'll continue to post original content at least once a month, and I can only assume it will continue to be amazing.
And last, but certainly not least, I really appreciate everyone who read the blog all month, and commented, and listened to our audio or downloaded our screensavers. As a thank you, I've saved one of the best recordings for last. Here's C. K. Williams reading Robert Lowell's poem 'For the Union Dead' or as Williams describes it in his introduction: "one of the greatest poems by one of the great poets of the last century." Enjoy!
April 26, 2007
"August Kleinzahler, in addition to being a poet, is the author of Cutty One Rock: Low Characters and Strange Places, Gently Explained, a series of autobiographical essays. A huge fan of these pieces, particularly 'The Bus,' a bitingly funny and self-deprecating narrative of a bus ride along a seedy stretch of San Diego highway, I was thrilled when I was assigned to work with August last year. Through our ensuing correspondence, we learned that he lives roughly three blocks from my parents' house in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. What's more, he moved there from New York in 1981, the year I was born. During a visit home last summer I arranged to meet August on a Saturday morning at the Reverie café in Cole Valley, haunt of local writers and bloggers.
I recognized August the moment he walked in the door, not just from his author photo, but from an air of scrappy, bemused outsiderhood unmistakable from his writing. In oversized Gucci sunglasses and a large dark trenchcoat, he looked like he could have walked straight off the set of a hardboiled 1940's detective film. We sat by the window with our coffees, and I broached the ostensible subject of our meeting: publicity for his book, his next project, and his busy reading and lecture schedule. He had just finished a teaching stint at the University of Texas's Michener Center, and seemed glad to escape the heat. With a lingering sense of awe at his good fortune, August recounted his first meeting with Jonathan Galassi, who had learned of his poetry from a friend by chance. He also described a trip he was planning to take to Rapid City and the 'Badlands' of South Dakota. He was writing the titular poem of his forthcoming collection, Sleeping It Off In Rapid City, but had never actually been there. I'm not sure which came first: the poem or the idea for the trip, but I think it was the poem. After a little less than an hour of this, August excused himself: he was driving to Sacramento (a three-hour car ride, factoring in East Bay traffic) to visit 'an old dame' whose birthday it was, and whom he visits every year on her birthday. As a parting gift, he recommended his favorite walk for my next visit to San Francisco: a meandering climb through the eucalyptus-covered hills of Twin Peaks. To this day, whenever I see a new note in my inbox from August, I think of him roaming up there, phrases aligning themselves in his brain.
I received my latest message from August on a recent cold March morning. After asking me to send his author photo to the director of a Polish book festival, he concluded in typical fashion: 'It's been almost sultry here in the Haight. Eat your heart out.'"
April 25, 2007
Continuing FSG Insiders Week, Cara Spitalewitz has written a great post about what it's like to work with Australian poet Les Murray (for more Les, check here for a link to Adam Zagajewski reading Murray's 'The International Poetry Festival Thing'):
"I’ve always hated my last name. It’s long and hard to pronounce and since starting at FSG, I’ve begun to suspect that I don’t enunciate it properly. Why else would I get so much mail addressed to Caris Pitalewitz? Why else would I get so many compliments on my interesting first name, which rhymes with Paris?
Imagine my surprise when I received a handwritten note from Les Murray, famed Australian poet, complimenting me on my 'splendid name.' The fact that the note was handwritten wasn’t the surprising part. Les doesn’t have access to e-mail. He may as well not have a phone either, since the time difference between New York and Australia is 14 hours. He does have a fax machine, but it only works on occasion.
I learned from the note that Les Murray’s paternal ancestors came from a farm in the Scottish Borders called Spital Tower, which used to be a leprosium run by monks. As a result, my last name has a 'warm resonance' for him.
At the bottom of the page is a black scribble, followed by a parenthetical: (excuse this blot!)
I’ve been here for seven months now, and the only decoration in my office is Les Murray’s note, scotch-taped next to my computer. I’ve excused the blot."
April 24, 2007
More from Associate Publisher Linda Rosenberg, this time with commentary about August Kleinzahler new introduction to Thom Gunn's The Man With The Night Sweats (and, as a reminder, we had two recordings by Thom Gunn posted on the blog earlier this month, and stay tuned, because August Kleinzahler will be coming on later this week to regale us with his tales of hanging out with Thom Gunn in San Francisco):
"August Kleinzahler's long friendship with Thom Gunn, perhaps made easier by each man’s adoption of San Francisco as his home city, surely enhanced his understanding and respect for the rigor and integrity of Gunn’s best work. In his introduction to The Man With Night Sweats, Kleinzahler considers both the poet and the man—as well as the 1980s, the terrible decade of which Gunn wrote. In Kleinzahler’s words:
“[A] central component of his mature poetry is its voice, which is highly unusual for a poet writing in the second half of the twentieth century. Gunn early on came under the influence of the Elizabethan poets Shakespeare, Donne, and Jonson, in which there’s no identifiable personality to the ‘I,’ the voice in the poetry. Even in the most intimate poems, the voice is detached, impersonal. On top of this, Gunn favors what is called the plain style, a taste he picked up from one of his mentors, Yvor Winters. One its chief exemplars is Ben Jonson, a poet Gunn valued very highly and, to an extent, modeled his own work on. The plain style is just that: clear in diction and movement, devoid of rhetoric and poetic figures, inclining toward the way people speak without sounding colloquial. Gunn’s fascination with the city as a backdrop for character and event, along with his anachronistically distanced, rather neutral voice, turned out to be the perfect mix for his poetic witnessing of the plague he was soon to find himself in the midst of.”
Like the FSG poetry blog itself, the aim of our reissue program is to provide an easy entryway into this special world inhabited by some of the most extraordinary poets of the last 60 years…. From John Berryman to James Schuyler, from Elizabeth Bishop to Robert Lowell and beyond, it's our hope that our volumes—most with new introductions by poets of today—will make it easier for new readers and old to find their way into these extraordinary books. Due to the unique power of the form, most of these works seem to acquire an even greater resonance as time passes. It may just be that the impact of deeply felt, finely wrought language is even more intense in a less literate age."
I've been promising this from the beginning of this blog journey, and finally it's here: FSG insiders week! I've been saving up these posts penned by editors, designers, publicists, and assistants about what their role is in creating a book of poetry.
I thought we'd start with Associate Publisher and Vice President Linda Rosenberg's post on new introductions to reissued works of poetry:
One of the true pleasures for me, as the series editor of the FSG Classics program, has been to commission new introductions to reissues of classic volumes from FSG's great poetry backlist … John Ashbery on James Schuyler's Selected Poems, W. S. Merwin on John Berryman’s Dream Songs, August Kleinzahler on Thom Gunn's The Man with Night Sweats, just for a start.
There is no analysis of a poem—of its structure, its flow, its magical conjunction of essence and form—like one undertaken by another poet. This is even more true if that poet has also been a good friend, one with a unique understanding of the evolution of the writer and the writing. I feel privileged to have been able to gain not just a larger understanding but also a more intimate sense of these writers and their poems through my work on the introductions to these volumes.
For example, when I spoke with W. S. Merwin about his introduction to John Berryman's Dream Songs, he remembered occasions on which, as Berryman's student, he was present for Berryman's readings of his poems that were so riveting that they were electric… These recollections ultimately took form in his introduction, in which Merwin wrote:
"John had always read in the way he did most things, with a heated passion, and his memory for poetry and for details of the lives of poets were compendious and clear. It all seemed to be present and immediate to him, and endowed with a final authority. Once, in his thirties, after a bookstore reading of poems by other poets whom he loved—in this case, Hardy and Yeats—someone had been so foolish as to ask him whether he did not, perhaps, take these things too seriously, and he had answered, 'They’re a matter of life and death.'"
April 06, 2007
Let me tell you: I used to have an office. For about two months. And it was the most fantastic experience of my life. I think about it still--the bookshelves, the door, the chairs for guests. Of course, it's lovely in different ways where I sit now--I have a window, and my coworkers are fantastic. I don't mean to complain, more to describe how much I absolutely loved that office.
And yet it all pales when I consider how infinitely more amazing that office would have been if I had been able to DOWNLOAD a broadsheet poster of Eliza Griswold's poem 'Tigers,' print it out, and hang it on the wall. Or even, better, use it as the wallpaper or as a screensaver on my computer.
Yes, folks, I am about to totally revolutionize your office experience, if you just click here.
(Eliza Griswold's debut poetry collection, Wideawake Field, will be published by FSG next month. She'll also be reading at our event on April 16th, with more readings to come in NYC and Boston. More poems from her on Monday, including a reading of the poem 'Tigers.')
April 05, 2007
"These photos and the photo on the cover of Ooga-Booga were taken one evening in the summer of 2003 in the photo booth of the Lakeside Lounge, on Avenue B in Manhattan. The woman is my sister, Anna Stein. The bunny ears are me." --LS
April 04, 2007
The Griffin's website has a cool section called 'See and Hear poetry' where they post audio and text from awards ceremonies past, so you can see what they're all about. Or, if you fancy a trip to Toronto this June, you can buy tickets to the event.
We'll post a reading by Charles Wright later in the month, including his poem 'Looking West from Laguna Beach at Night,' which is a favorite of mine, and I'll have more on Frederick Seidel tomorrow.
But just in case you need more Seidel right this second, let me draw your attention to a great article by Philip Connors published last year in n + 1 magazine, where Seidel makes a brief appearance writing poetry about 9/11 for The Wall Street Journal. No joke. Maud Newton ran an excerpt when the piece first came out, but if you buy the back issue here, you can read the whole thing.
April 03, 2007
A good way to start this third morning in April? Check out Craig Morgan Teicher's article in Publishers Weekly.com about online National Poetry Month promotions. (We are considering hiring him to do all of the images on The Best Words in Their Best Order. That Bukowski photo accompanying the article is a real winner.)
There's also shoutout in there to the oldest publisher poetry blog on the block, The Cruelest Month, and some more info about our upcoming battle of the poetry titans with Alfred A. Knopf.
Craig also wrote a very cool profile on Paul Muldoon in Poets & Writers magazine last fall that's definitely worth a look.
April 02, 2007
Ringtones say a lot about a person. Are you a vibrate--all-the-time on silent, with the phone secreted in your pocket? Or a top 40--set on single handedly saving the record industry with all the tracks your phone has? Or maybe you’ve even decided to go classic, with a ring that actually sounds like a telephone?
“It’s only me, trying to get through
I’d really love to talk to you”
Delivered in a fantastic, soothing Irish brogue. You can listen to it here:
And what will this ringtone say about you? Maybe some of these quotes from reviews of Paul Muldoon’s latest books will help you decide: ‘immense wit;’ ‘a knockout;’ ‘full of manic glee;’ ‘plays guitar in a garage rock band; ‘seriously literary;’ ‘I have always had a soft spot for Paul Muldoon.’ Download it for free to your cell phone here.
And be sure to bring your hot new cell phone ring to our event on April 16th at The Strand, where Paul Muldoon will be locked in a full-tilt poetry battle! You'll be able to buy copies of Horse Latitudes and The End of the Poem at the event, or you can get them online now.
March 30, 2007
Is the writer of the quote this blog is named after:
“I wish our clever young poets would remember my homely definitions of prose and poetry; that is, prose,—words in their best order; poetry,—the best words in their best order.”
–Samuel Taylor Coleridge
THE BEST WORDS IN THEIR BEST ORDER is Farrar, Straus and Giroux’s blog in celebration of National Poetry Month 2007. It will run only for a limited time, from April 1st to April 30th, and will focus on poetry as a spoken art form––meant to be listened to and read aloud––and on the processes that go into making a physical book of poetry.
Original material created in conjunction with FSG’s legendary roster of poets will be available for free here throughout the month: MP3s of our poets reading, broadsheets posters for download, book giveaways, and even a ringtone for your cell phone.
Enjoy the site, and of course, National Poetry Month. Any questions or comments can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Farrar, Straus and Giroux was founded in 1946 by Roger W. Straus. The firm is renowned for its international list of literary fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and children’s books. Farrar, Straus and Giroux authors have won extraordinary acclaim over the years, including numerous National Book Awards, Pulitzer Prizes, and Nobel Prizes in literature.
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