THE WRITINGS OF EMILIE GLEN 1: POEMS FROM CHAPBOOKS
March 2009. The Poet's Press, a small press based in Providence, Rhode Island, has issued a landmark 460-page collection of poetry by Emilie Glen (1906-1995), one of Manhattan's best-known poets and one of the most widely published narrative poets of the second half of the twentieth century. The Writings of Emilie Glen 1: Poems from Chapbooks brings together the full text of thirteen out-of-print chapbooks and includes a biographical sketch of the poet by Brett Rutherford.
Glen, an eccentric poet who pretended to be thirty years younger than her chronological age, ran a poetry salon in her Greenwich Village apartment for almost three decades, and had a writing career spanning more than 40 years. Her early fiction was published by H.L.Mencken in his American Mercury, and her poems were published in every conceivable venue from newspapers to obscure small press journals. Rutherford calls her "the poet's poet" and recounts how Glen mailed out a dozen magazine submissions a day, publishing thousands of poems over the years.
Although Emilie Glen was a throroughly modern poet, avoiding formal meter and rhyme, she steered clear of modernism's obscurities. Her poems are crisp, clean, comprehenisble narratives, often miniature monologues, portraying both the real and the fantasic. "She still believed in, and wrote for, the common reader," Rutherford observes.
Many themes and interests play through this huge span of more than 300 poems: Glen was an avid bird watcher and naturalist, so animals figure large. Outsize fantasies abound, as when the poet fancies herself becoming a mermaid, leaving behind a bemused husband; or imagines choosing different fathers for succesive children, a la Isadora Duncan; or makes a list of potential assassination targets. Other poems accumulate into an autobiography rich in tragedy: an elegy for her brother Willard, who drowned as a teenager; a veteran husband wasting away in an upstate hospital; an alcoholic daughter who died of a drug overdose; and the joys and trials of raising a grandchild alone in her 70s. Classical music also plays a role in these poems as Glen recounts her childhood and youth as a budding concert pianist, a career she abandoned for her writing. The poet's accounts of Greenwich Village Bohemia and off-off-Broadway theater also add historic interest to the volume. Annotations help clarify the poet's references to New York City locales and architecture, and to classical music.
This book will be followed by three additional volumes during 2009-2010, devoted to fiction and prose poetry, poetry published in magazines, and unpublished poems from manuscripts. The Writings of Emilie Glen 1: Poems from Chapbooks ($24.95)(464 pp.paperback, ISBN 0-922558-35-3) is available from The Poet's Press on-line at http://www.poetspress.org.
A special program at Kean University (Union NJ) on Thursday, April 23 willinclude the world premiere of "A Cycle by the Sea," a song cycle by composer Frank Ezra Levy based on the poetry of Joel Allegretti. Levy, composer-in-residence at Kean University and retired cellist for the Radio City Music Hall Orchestra, will conduct a soprano and a chamber ensemble of ten instrumentalists. In addition to "A Cycle by the Sea," the composer and the musicians will present two other compositions of his. The composer's symphonic work may be heard on a CD in the American Classics series on the Naxos label, a series that includes recordings of compositions of such figures as John Cage, Leonard Bernstein and Charles Ives.
The Allegretti poems LEvy chose to set encompasses poetry from two Poet's Press books, The Plague Psalms and Father Silicon, plus a poem written specifically for the song cycle.
Thursday, April 23
Frank Ezra Levy: Cycles by the Sea
For soprano and orchestra,
Based on poems by JOEL ALLEGRETTI,
1000 Morris Avenue
8 p.m. $15 (student discounts available)
Contact: 908-737-7469 (tickets)
Brett Rutherford will have a featured reading in Teaneck, New Jersey on Saturday March 28 at the Classic Quiche Cafe. CLICK HERE for details.
Brett Rutherford gave a dramatic reading of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" at a $75-a-seat fundraiser for The Providence Athenaeum in January 2009.
Brett's poem, "An Exeter Vampire" will be reprinted in the next issue of Sensations Magazine, along with a critical essay, "Niobe's Tears and Naval Gentlemen: The Classical Poetry of Phillis Wheatley." This essay was first presemted in shorter form at the 2005 URI Graduate Student Conference, "Identities," and is part of Brett's work-in-progress on Wheatley, the first African-American woman to publish a book of poetry.
Brett has been invited to be a featured reader at the Summer Writing Conference at University of Rhode Island this June. He will read with four other alumni of URI. More details to follow.
Poet D.H. Melhem was featured in three new poetry anthologies published in 2008: Inclined to Speak (Charara, Univ. of Arkansas Press), Language for a New Century (Chang, Handal, Shankar, W.W. Norton), and Long Island Sounds (Nuzzo-Morgan, NSPS Press).
Recent poetry acceptances include: Al Jadid, And Then, Asbestos, Big City Lit, Home Planet News; late last year: Banipal (England) and Offshoots (Geneva, Switzerland). Review-essay of Poems from Guantánamo: The Detainees Speak, was published in the March 2008 issue (No. 46) of Socialism and Democracy, a distinguished journal of research.