While it's safe to say the twenty-first century has so far not been a great time for American diplomacy, a handful of new poetry anthologies, from Norton, Dalkey Archive Press, North Atlantic Books, and Graywolf Press, offer proof that American poetic diplomacy might be entering a new golden age.
The brief, contentious, and ultimately fruitless relationship between poet Stacey Lynn Brown and the editors of Cider Press, points to an essential question that pops up often in literary publishing: Whose opinion—author's or publisher's—should matter most when it comes to finalizing the product that enters the marketplace as a book?
Dan Chiasson, who last fall succeeded former poet laureate Charles Simic as a poetry editor of the Paris Review, recently spoke—by phone from a New York City taxicab—about his new role at the venerable journal.
April Ossmann, who recently stepped down as executive director of Alice James Books, the Farmington, Maine–based nonprofit cooperative poetry press founded in 1973, spoke about her time at Alice James from her home in Post Mills, a snowy hamlet in eastern Vermont.
By presenting seventy-three poets, all of whom the editors believe constitute what Charles Bernstein famously called "official verse culture" as well as its unofficial, avant-garde counterpart, the new anthology American Hybrid strives to showcase the diversity of contemporary American poetry while also revealing the unusual affinities within it.
Louise Glück has been appointed the 12th poet laureate of the United States by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. Glück, whose one-year term began last month, succeeds Billy Collins.
On April 4, United States District Court Judge John F. Keenan ruled in favor of Stuart Y. Silverstein in a plagiarism suit he filed against Penguin Putnam in 2001. Silverstein, who compiled Not Much Fun: The Lost Poems of Dorothy Parker (Scribner, 1996), claimed in his lawsuit that Penguin infringed on his copyright by publishing Dorothy Parker: Complete Poems, which includes a section titled “Poems Uncollected by Parker,” the identical poems published in Not Much Fun.
During the past year, poets laureate have been the unlikely recipients of national media attention. New Jersey's Amiri Baraka was excoriated for reading a poem that some labeled anti-Semitic, and California's Quincy Troupe resigned after inaccuracies were discovered on his resumé. With their public profiles growing, the role of poets laureate is being called into question. In April the nation's first conference for state poets laureate will convene in Manchester, New Hampshire, where they will discuss poetry and their responsibilities as public representatives of their art.
When James Merrill died in 1994, he willed his large, turn-of-the-century house on Water Street to the Borough of Stonington, Connecticut. The village improvement committee was free to use the building any way it desired; Merrill made no stipulation in his will. But the National Book Award–winning poet had been an important figure in the village's ongoing literary tradition. The committee decided to keep Merrill's legacy alive by creating a writer-in-residence program. Since 1996, a lucky poet or scholar has lived, for either six months or a full year, in Merrill's curious home across from the harbor. Writers chosen for residency are notified more than a year in advance. Several Merrill House residents have reported "the happiest period of my life," surrounded by Merrill's books and knickknacks, far removed from the snarl of city life—Boston, New York, or Louisville, in our case.
Last spring I embarked on a modest project. Having photocopied 10 of my favorite poems—by poets living and dead, from several different countries—I stapled them into an anthology and stood on a sidewalk in Times Square, where I read the poems aloud. I had no other gimmicks and no amplification. I did this on several occasions, always bringing a friend along for moral support and to assist in handing out free copies of the anthology, which I titled "Antidote."