National Poetry Month 2010

UC Press is proud to be a sponsor of National Poetry Month, the largest literary celebration in the world. Throughout the month of April, we’re joining the Academy of American Poets to celebrate with events, new titles, daily poems, an iPhone app, a collaborative poetry map, and much more. We’ve listed a few of the highlights here, and there’s more to come.

Daily Poems

Subscribe to the Poem-A-Day, and receive a surprise poem in your inbox daily. Richard O. Moore, Sarah Gridley, and Lisa Robertson each have poems in the lineup. Tuesday’s poem was The Apple Trees at Olema, by Robert Hass.

If you have an iPhone or an iPod Touch, download the Poem Flow app. Read poems as they flow line by line across he screen, and get daily poems, trivia, and details on your favorite poets.


On April 10, UC Press New California Poetry Series editor Robert Hass will read with Barbara Ras at the Colorado Convention Center in Boulder.

Join Richard O. Moore for readings at University Press Books in Berkeley on April 13, at Book Passage in Corte Madera on April 17, at City Lights Books in San Francisco on April 20, and with Brenda Hillman at Orinda Books on April 27. Moore will read from his new book Writing the Silences, which collects his work from the past 60 years.

Brian Teare, author of Sight Map, and Laura Walker, author of Rimertown, will read at Pegasus & Pendragon Books in Berkeley on April 15. Read Teare’s poem Long After Hopkins.

Sarah Gridley will read from Green is the Orator at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland on April 19, and at the New York Public Library Mulberry Street branch on April 28. Gridley was selected as a 2010 Creative Workforce Fellow in Literature by the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture in Cleveland, Ohio. Read an excerpt from her poem Coefficient.

Lisa Robertson will read from R’s Boat at University Press Books in Berkeley on April 22, and at Boise State University on April 16. More on Lisa Robertson’s lyric poems.

Raúl Zurita will read from Purgatory at the King Juan Carlos Center at NYU on April 29. It’s also Poem in your Pocket Day, so take your favorite poem with you.

If you can’t attend one of these events, there are lots more on the calendar. Find an event near you.

Public Radio Series

Tune in to KPFA 94.1 FM at 3PM every Wednesday from April 14 through June 2, when Jack Foley will host an 8-part series based on Jerome Rothenberg and Jeffrey C. Robinson’s Poems for the Millennium, Volume Three: The University of California Book of Romantic & Postromantic Poetry.


In this video, UC Press Poetry Editor Rachel Berchten introduces our latest poetry books, including Sarah Gridley’s Green is the Orator, “luminous, heartbreakingly beautiful evocations of human loss, situated in the natural world”, and Lisa Robertson’s R’s Boat, in which the poems’ speakers “weigh phenomena, emotion, and consciousness in their explorations of the self”.

Next up, in Part 2, Richard O. Moore reads from Writing the Silences.

The Space Between: Lisa Robertson Interview

“I borrowed my boat from Rousseau, who describes, in Reveries of a Solitary Walker, floating aimlessly in a lake observing only the flickering of his consciousness in concert with the various patterns of afternoon–light, water, breeze, foliage. He calls this the pleasurable sensation of existing”, says poet Lisa Robertson.

In the interview, Robertson talked with Sina Queyras of the Poetry Foundation about her latest collection, R’s Boat, which evolved from the award-winning chapbook Rousseau’s Boat and from Robertson’s notebook archives. The author of six books, Robertson is known for her boldly original lyric poems, and sentences that Queyras describes as “densely, intellectually layered and imagistically condensed”. In R’s Boat, Robertson uses sentences to open the “caesura–the space between”, that she says differentiates poetry from prose, a space/time when “a thinking gathers, dissolves, moves.” This is where the sensation of Rousseau’s solitary boat ride awakens and washes over the reader.

Space to Play: Lisa Robertson on Poetry and Inspiration

“I used to write shorter poems,” said Lisa Robertson, author of R’s Boat, in a recent interview on the Canadian radio station CKUW’s program Speaking of Poets, with host John Herbert Cunningham. “They just weren’t satisfying to me…I wanted more space. I wanted to follow ideas and see what they could become over time. I wanted…images and concepts and metaphors to rhyme across a wider arena. I just wanted more space to play, really.”

In the interview, she explains why she defies classification as a “language poet” and why R’s Boat is not a long poem but a unit of composition. She reads from R’s Boat and other works, and discusses her inspirations, from Virgil and the classics to meteorology.

The following is an excerpt from Lisa Robertson’s poem The Present, from R’s Boat.

The Present

You step from the bus into a sequencing tool that is moist and carries the scent of quince
You move among the eight banner-like elements and continue to the edges of either an object or a convention
And in Cascadia also
As in the first line of a nursery rhyme
Against cyclic hum of the heating apparatus
You’re resinous with falsity

It’s autumn
Which might be tent-scented or plank-scented
Their lands and goods, their budgets and gastronomy quicken
You want to enter into the humility of limitations
Coupled with exquisite excess
You walk in the green park at twilight
You read Lucretius to take yourself towards death, through streets and markets
In a discontinuous laboratory towards foreignness
You bring his prosody into your mouth
When you hear the sound of paper

C. Bergvall says space is doubt—
What emerges then?
Something cast in aluminum from a one-half scale model of a freight shed
The slight smudge of snow in the shadow of each haycock in the still-green field
The hotel of Europe. Its shutters.
Fields and woods oscillate as in Poussin
While the vote is against renewed empire, or at least capital temporarily
Each wants to tell about it but not necessarily in language

I overbled the notational systems in transcription
And my friend was dead
What is the rigour of that beauty we applaud
At the simple vocal concert?
The otherworldly swan wearing silver and white passes on into current worldliness
The steeple-shaped water bottles ranged on the conference table seem unconditioned by environments

I had been dreaming of Sol LeWitt and similarity
In somebody’s visual universe walking
In the sex of remembering
But I have not made a decision about how to advance into your familiarity
This trade has its mysteries like all the others
It is a labyrinth of intricable questions, unprofitable conventions, incredible delirium, where men and women dally in the sunshine, their clothes already old-fashioned
They can still produce sounds that are beyond their condition

Here is the absurdist tragical farcical twist
In order to enter I needed an identity
In identifying this figure of reversal
The vital and luminous project
Will measure itself against women
And this has seemed poetical
When it is the ordinary catastrophe

—Lisa Robertson