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Books about poetry and poetics

Poetry in translation

The Classics — Books & DVDs

H.P. Lovecraft Books & DVDs

Books by American poets

Classical Music CDs & DVDs

The Poet's Press Bookstore and Poetry Cafe are now open for business! What goes on here? We are now Amazon.com Associates. To supplement our regular list of books and media, we have selected a variety of great and important and enjoyable books, which you can order in one step using the automatic link to Amazon.com. Click on a book here, and you are taken instantly to that book's listing on Amazon.com, where you can get today's great prices and have the books delivered to your door. Often the shipping is free.

Why shop here for poetry? First, because our recommendations might help you select and build a serious poetry bookshelf. Second, every time you leap to Amazon from our site and buy a book from Amazon, the Poet's Press receives a tiny little commission that will help us keep publishing (and giving away) important poetry.

Poet's Press books listed here are usually linked to the cafepress.com web site that is our exclusive e-store. Same deal — one click and you can buy books instantly. A few other Poet's Press books can be ordered directly from this page, using PayPal. Just click on "ADD TO CART" next to any title and use your PayPal account to order books. (This is for ordering older books that we still have in inventory.)

To order new titles, just click on the "Click here to order" link and you will be taken to CafePress, our print and distribution provider, and they will process your order via credit card and ship it.

We welcome your reviews and recommendations. We'll add book you think are important, along with your brief comments about those books. That's the cafe part of the bookstore. Talk up the books you like, and make new friends who are grateful for your recommendations and comments.

Shop here for classics, music and DVDs, too. Every week, we will add media titles that have some relevance to either the "high art" or "weird art" elements of our mission. Brett Rutherford will recommend the best new and old-classic CDs, and our video fiends worldwide will recommend their best new finds in DVD. Join in, build your library, and have fun contributing reviews.


BOOKS ABOUT POETRY & POETICS

Dana Gioia. Disappearing Ink. Booklist says: Like his 1992 collection Can Poetry Matter? Gioia's book is named after the first piece in it. And it is no less affirmative about poetry than Gioia's answer to its predecessor's query. If print culture is vanishing, Gioia says in "Disappearing Ink," poetry isn't going with it.
Your comments here..
Dana Gioia. Can Poetry Matter? Brett Rutherford notes: I've been urging this book on friends ever since it came out in 1992. In part it's an on-target critique of the awful open reading world, and of the corrupt "poe-biz" world of mutually-back-scratching academics who call one another the world's greatest poets and give one another blurbs and prizes. This book is still a zinger, and its j'accuse attitude is even more pertinent today. I believe every student of poetry, and every struggling poet should read this, as should folks who run poetry competitions, small presses and other poetry events. Somewhere, between the unpublished hermits and the howling proles at the open mikes, real poetry is still alive. Probably 98% of all books about poetry can be safely consigned to the rubbish heap. This one is to keep."
Your comments here..
  MORE BOOKS TO COME..  

 

POETRY IN TRANSLATION

 

Victor Hugo. Selected Poems. A Bilingual Edition. Brett Rutherford comments: I regard this as the most important book of Continental poetry in translation of the last half decade. Victor Hugo was the Shelley, Byron, and Whitman of 19th century France, and his poetry has been all but unknown in America. Hugo's hyper-romantic work was scorned by modern French writers. Andre Gide sneered, "The greatest poet in the French language is, alas! Victor Hugo." Hugo's reputation in English was also spoiled by stuffy Victorian translations that do not do him justice. These poems were justifiably the most famous verses in France in their time, and they have not lost their power.

This bilingual book, with facing pages of forthright English and Hugo's searing French, will have you walking around, grabbing people, and exclaiming, "Listen to this! Listen to this!" When was the last time you did that? This book is a must for every poetry library. Do not hesitate. Buy it.

Your comments here..
Anna Akhmatova. Complete Poems. BR writes: "I cannot say enough about Anna Akhmatova, so I will say only a little. This brave lyric poet, who endured Stalin's Russia and wrote stoically yet passionately of love, loss and desolation, is my favorite poet of the 20th century. This is what poetry can be and should be." 948 pages. In addition to the introductory essay by Roberta Reeder, this book includes a memoir by Isaiah Berlin, a chronology of Akhmatova's life and works, photographs and extensive notes. More than 800 poems and 125 photos.
Your comments here..
World Poetry: An Anthology of Verse from Antiquity To Our Time. Katherine Washburn and John S. Major, eds. This is our all-time favorite anthology, with outstanding translations of poems ranging from Ancient Sumeria through the end of the 20th century. Although there's plenty of poetry here written in English, this 1338-page collection attempts to be world-wide in its coverage, and it succeeds, using powerful and urgent translations. If you could send only one book to Mars to convince aliens that we had great poetry, this book would do it. Indispensable, with more than 1,600 poems spanning 4,000 years. Your comments here..
Twentieth Century Russian Poetry. This massive anthology, edited by Yemeni Yetis, is the indispensable collection of modern Russian poetry in translation.  

 

 

The Poet's Press Announces Third Edition of Allegretti's The Plague Psalms

Joel Allegretti's dark and Gothic collection of poems, The Plague Psalms, has gone through two editions — a hand-bound edition, including some copies on exotic hand made papers (the black "Dominican" binding was popular, second only to the flesh-toned "human skin" binding — followed by a deluxe hardcover binding done by Acme Bookbinding in Boston.

A new, third, paperback edition has been issued, and has been added to our bookstore. You can read selections from this book now in our free PDF sampler. To order the print edition, CLICK HERE for our e-store.


AMERICAN POETS

For building a basic library of American poetry, we recommend the Library of America hardcover editions wholeheartedly. They have legible type, archival paper, good binding, and authoritative texts and notes. These books are meant to be the definitive texts for readers and libraries, and the whole series has been lavished with praise from scholars and readers. And the price is right for books that will still be readable when most of us are in the ground. Below, our recommendations from this series, as well as individual books and anthologies of great merit.
On the Wing: American Poems of Air and Space Flight. Edited by Karen Yelena Olsen. This exciting new anthology from University of Iowa Press was praised by Laurence Goldstein in the Michigan Quarterly Review as "the only anthology that aspires to represent the entirety of the tradition of poems by American poets about the 20th-century history of air flight and space flight. ... gathering fugitive poems of genuine beauty, accessibility, and insight in order to define more clearly the most significant qualities of living in an air age." This thrilling anthology includes poems by Hart Crane, Philip Levine, Carl Sandburg, Amelia Earhart, Thom Gunn, Louis Untermeyer, Sherman Alexie, Yvor Winters, John Updike, Howard Nemerov, Rita Dove, W.S. Merwin, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, our own Brett Rutherford, and numerous other fine poets.  
Walt Whitman. Poetry and Prose. Library of America Edition. BR writes: I have owned and worn out perhaps five different editions of Whitman's poetry over the years. This 1382-page edition, edited with notes by Justin Kaplan, Whitman's most authoritative and passionate biographer, replaces them all. I will miss the Rockwell Kent wood engravings I had come to love, and Whitman's poetry cries for art, but if the text is the thing, here it all is. It includes the original 1855 version of Leave of Grass, followed by all the poems Whitman finally gathered together in six successive editions, the great ball of twine, the huge organic whole of Walt's poetry. All of Whitman's prose is here, too. If you had to choose only one American poet, it would have to be Whitman, and this would be the desert-island choice of editions. Reader comments...
Robert Frost. Collected Poems, Prose and Plays. Library of America Edition. 1040 pages, hardcover. "[T]he first authoritative and comprehensive collection" of Robert Frost's poems, prose and plays. This includes the 1949 Complete Poems, and Frost's final collection of 1962, In the Clearing. Plus uncollected poems and a fascinating range of prose. The following gives an idea of the delights: "I was looking up potatoes in in the Columbia Encyclopedia — I don't know whether you know the great book — ... and I stumbled onto "poetry." You know I write verse? I had never read about poetry before, and so I stopped and read about it. And this is what I read. (The same high-brow stuff. I wonder who wrote it. I should like to catch him before I cool off. He put it like this as if to embarrass me in particular.) He said: 'Poetry is largely a matter of rhythm and diction; meaning is not essential, and by many is considered detrimental.' " Reader comments...
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Poetry. Library of America Edition. There's more to Longfellow than meets the eye (or the memory), and even Hiawatha is better than you remember it to be. Seeing the full range of his poetry shows the astonishing range of his reading and studies. This may be "silver" rather than "gold," but when Longfellow finds a suitable subject, such as the planet Mars, or the old Jewish cemetery in Newport, his poems are worthy and noble. Hiawatha is a sincere attempt to capture Native America lore using the meter and manner of the Icelandic sagas. Reader comments...
Wallace Stevens. Poetry. Library of America Edition. BR: If Frost wrote the poetry that farmers might like if they liked poetry, Wallace Stevens was the thinking person's poet. Intellect, craftsmanship, and determination are there in equal parts in Stevens' poetry, and we are still challenged today by its opaque and dense charms. Chills and catharses do not come from these works. I have never known whether I can or even should love Stevens' work, but it stands as the high mark of intellectually beautiful verse. One thinks of later poets like James Merrill, whose rich works also must be picked away at with a chisel to reveal incidental miracles. So it was with Stevens. And perhaps that is the answer: the magic of unraveling a Stevens poems and figuring out what he is getting at is a different kind of reading experience. Your brain is slightly larger after you've done it. Reader comments...
Ralph Waldo Emerson. Collected Poems and Translations. Did you know that Emerson translated Dante and Hafiz into English? Or that more than two-thirds of his poetry was left in manuscript and hence was not included in the early editions of his poems? Emerson, whom we think we know as the kindly uncle of American literature, the relaxed philosopher and reluctant iconoclast, friend of Thoreau and Whitman, surprises us in this majestic collection. This volume replaces all previous editions of Emerson's poetry, and the notes by Harold Bloom and Paul Kane guarantee that it will not be supplanted any time soon. 644 pages, hardcover. Reader comments...
20th Century American Poets, Vol 1. Library of America Edition. Henry Adams to Dorothy Parker. Reader comments...
D. H. Melhem. New York Poems. This new 184-page volume is a portrait of New York's Upper West Side during the turbulent 1970s and 1980s. The Poet's Press published part of this volume in 1972 as Notes on 94th Street. We're thrilled to see it combined with its 1979 sequel, Children of the House Afire, in this new paperback edition from Syracuse University Press. Melhem's poems on the Aftermath of 9/11, Requiescant 9/11, are also included. This is both a chronicle and a unique poetic legacy to New York City.  
American Poetry of the 19th Century. Library of America Edition . Volume 1 — Freneau to Whitman. 1100 pages, hardcover. Generous selections of Poe, Emerson, Bryant, Longfellow and Whittier, plus hundreds of poems by lesser-known Americans of the era. Poet John Hollander made the selections, and he included popular ballads, recitations and songs, so that this books contains not only "high art," but verses that 19th century Americans would have known by heart. The book includes biographical sketches and notes. Reader comments...

Three New Poet's Press Editions Published January 1, 2005

In what has to be a publishing record, The Poet's Press published three books over the New Years' weekend. First up is the huge 208-page new collection of Brett Rutherford's The Gods As They Are, On Their Planets. This is available as a free PDF on this site, or can be ordered for $19.95 from Our NEW ON-LINE BOOKSTORE. The Providence-based poet has included in this book all the poems he has written and revised since his last big collection, Poems from Providence. CLICK HERE TO READ THE PDF

The second new book is the expanded third edition of Brett Rutherford's landmark poetry collection, Whippoorwill Road: The Supernatural Poetry. This extraordinary 250-page paperback contains all the poet's supernatural poems, including more than 40 pages of new poems since 1998. Praised by Robert Bloch and Ray Bradbury, these works may be the best supernatural poems of the 20th century. Now you can read the entire PDF free on this site, or order the print edition for $19.95 from our NEW ON-LINE BOOKSTORE. To READ THE PDF, CLICK HERE.

The third new book is the expanded second edition of Brett Rutherford's biographical play, Night Gaunts: An Entertainment Based on the Life and Writings of H.P. Lovecraft. The book also includes a number of "ceremonial" poems written to be read at H.P. Lovecraft's grave in Swan Point Cemetery, Providence. The play has been performed twice at The Providence Athenaeum, and was recently adapted as a radio play by New England Institute of Art in Brookline, Mass. You can order the print edition for $14.95 from our NEW ON-LINE BOOKSTORE. To read the PDF, CLICK HERE


 

Invisible Books Publishes Rutherford Poetry in New 80's Underground Anthology

Invisible Books, a new small press, has just released a collection of strange and wonderful writing from the "underground" writers of the 1980s. Brett Rutherford's work is there, as well as the writings of Jacob Rabinowitz, Peter Lamborn Wilson, Al Ackerman, Thom Metzger, Paul Raboff, and Julia Vinograd. Editor Rabinowitz, who was a reviewer for FactSheet 5 for several years covering much of the nation's little 'zines, has chosen his favorite "Outsider" writers for this startling collection. The print edition can be ordered for $12.34 from The Invisible Books E-Store. You can also READ THE PDF at Invisible Books.

READ MORE POET'S PRESS BOOKS AND SAMPLES — CLICK HERE.


THE COLLECTED STORIES OF RAY BRADBURY. If there is any 20th century writer more definitively American, I don't know any. If you do not own any Bradbury books, do not even consider shuffling off the mortal coil until you have bought this book and spent some long summer afternoons, autumn evenings, and winter Sundays reading and lingering over Bradbury's best stories. If you think of Bradbury only as the science-fiction writer of The Martian Chronicles or the horror writer of Something Wicked This Way Comes, you're in for a big surprise. Long before "magic realism" intermingled the real and the fantastic, Bradbury was there, doing it to the American landscape. A born poet, Ray Bradbury has concealed hundreds of brilliant poems in his tales.
DANDELION WINE may be the single most poetic short novel written by an American. Woven together from some of Bradbury's most poignant short stories, this is a paean to a bygone Midwest, but at the same time, a startling glimpse into the dark side.
ISAAC BASHEVIS SINGER: COLLECTED STORIES. My other favorite short-story writer is Isaac Singer, whose tales, translated into English, have accumulated into a mountain of fiction. I don't know of any other writer who has so encompassed the terror, tragedy, laughter and love that fills our tiny span of human life. He ranks with DeMaupassant, O'Henry, Poe and a handful of others as a born storyteller.
When Mark Twain wrote LETTERS FROM THE EARTH, he predicted that the book would never be published, and it wasn't, until around 1960. This selection of essays and sketches includes the title work, a series of hilarious letters from Satan to God, describing the stupidity and vanity of the human race. This book is still, today, racy and audacious, and if you think you know Mark Twain from Tom Sawyer, think again!

 

 


CLASSIC BOOKS THAT MADE IT TO FILM —
BUY THE BOOK, BUY THE DVD

Isadora: A Sensational Life. This new biography by Peter Kurth tells, across more than 500 pages, the whole truth about the genius and scandal of Isadora Duncan, the San Francisco-born American woman who created modern dance (all the while intending to re-create the origins of dance from ancient Greece!). All the previous books about Isadora can now be swept aside. This book tells all! Isadora, originally released as "The Loves of Isadora," is Karel Reisz's brilliant telling of Isadora Duncan's life and work. It is also, arguably, Vanessa's Redgrave's most astonishing role. This is one of my "top ten" films of all time. Seeing it again after reading Kurth's book makes the film all the more remarkable for its ability to compress the truly important details of her life into a compelling narrative. This film's American release had about 30 minutes missing, so if you saw it only when it first came out, you didn't see it all!
Alexandre Dumas. The Count of Monte Cristo. Children love this novel because it's about becoming the richest person on earth and getting even with your tormenters, the ultimate "you'll be sorry" adventure. Read it again as an adult and you'll be amazed at its portrayals of deceit, betrayal and hypocrisy. Then relive the delights of revenge served up cold. Dumas is accused of being a shallow writer, but his genius is in letting his characters reveal themselves through their words and actions. This is great story-telling. The Count of Monte Cristo — French miniseries (10 hours). Forget the more recent and dreadful film version. This miniseries, with Gerard Depardieu as Edmond Dantes, captures every nuance and subplot of Dumas' masterpiece. Although Depardieu may be miscast as the Count, this great actor gives it everything he has, and the results are unforgettable.
John Fowles' novel, The French Lieutenant's Woman, has a sly post-modern style (author playing against Gentle Reader's desire to be given a grand tale), and then he goes right ahead and gives the grand tale anyway. The mysterious "fallen woman" lures the young Darwin-obsessed Englishman away from his proper fiancee.. but there is always more than meets the eye. Karel Reisz, who gave us Isadora, turns his poetic style and keen romanticism to John Fowles' The French Lieutenant's Woman. This delectable film casts Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons as the troubled lovers, and, taking its cue from Fowle's sometimes disengaged style, mixes a "story within a story" involving the actors who are playing the roles (but of course the real actors are portraying imaginary actors, adding another level of irony.) A brilliant film.
Homer. The Iliad. The Lattimore translation is still the most elegant and gripping. Woe to anyone who has not read and thrilled to the greatest of all epics! Troy, with Brad Pitt et al. Filmed without the presence or the help of the gods, with some pretty shocking changes of Homer's (and history's) plot-line. Amazing to watch, nonetheless, and when Peter O'Toole as King Priam comes to plead for Hektor's body, we see how great it all could have been if they had let Homer write the screenplay.
Mervin Peake. Gormenghast. A great trilogy of British fantasy, a treat for its baroque style as well as its bitter satire on English society and education. The progress of Steerpike, the kitchen boy, as he brings down the House of Groan, and the parallel progress of the reluctant heir, Titus Groan, form the center of this epic full of unforgettable characters, sort of like Dickens on hallucinogens. BBC miniseries of Gormenghast. One of the most lavish productions in British TV history.
Francis Berniere's historical novel, Corelli's Mandolin, is set on the Greek island of Cephalonika during World War II. When the village is invaded by Italians and Germans, the village doctor is forced to house a mandolin-toting Italian captain, who yearns for the doctor's beautiful daughter Pelagia, who in turn is devoted to ... This is a powerful, passionate, resonant novel, which became a word-of-mouth best-seller in Britain. Not to be forgotten! Hollywood attempted to turn DeBerniere's powerful novel into a film, making it on location in Cephalonika. Those who love the book feel compelled to see the film, but the reviews were mixed...
Jules Verne. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. This is the only English-language version we can recommend. The others are butchered. Disney's classic film of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea with James Mason, Peter Lorre, Kirk Douglas, and the famed giant squid.
If you're going to read Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, this is the definitive text. Pasolini's twisted telling of The Canterbury Tales, performed in Middle English!
Charles Dickens. Great Expectations. Our favorite Dickens novel, in the Norton Critical Edition. David Lean's masterful film of Great Expectations, with Alec Guiness and Martita Hunt.

H.P. LOVECRAFT BOOKS AND DVDs

Lovecraft. Tales. Library of America Edition. This book has caused quite a stir. H.P. Lovecraft has now joined the American literary canon! Sitting there in a uniform edition next to Whitman, Melville and Poe — who would have dreamt it? Mysteries of Time & Space. Letters of H.P. Lovecraft and Donald Wandrei.
S.T. Joshi. H.P. Lovecraft: A Life. Currently very expensive because its first press run was sold out and it has not been reprinted. Exhaustive and exhausting, this is the last word in HPL biography. H.P. Lovecraft. Supernatural Horror in Literature. Annotated edition.
The Ancient Track. Complete Lovecraft Poems. For completists, this is every word of verse HPL ever wrote. H.P. Lovecraft. The Shadow Out of Time. The corrected text.
Lord of A Visible World. A biography in letters, selected by S.T. Joshi and David Schultz. Contains many frank and disturbing things pretty much suppressed in Derleth's edition of the letters. Muriel Eddy. The Gentleman from Angell Street. A memoir about Lovecraft's friendship with fellow Providence horror writer C.M. Eddy.
L. Sprague de Camp. H.P. Lovecraft: A Biography. The first serious biography of Lovecraft, it suffers from the psychoanalytic approach, but contains a warmer and more humane grasp of Lovecraft nonetheless. DVD. The H.P. Lovecraft Collection, Vol 1: Cool Air
DVD. Dagon. A dark and atmospheric film based on "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" and "Dagon." Some truly alarming moments! DVD. The Re-Animator. Perhaps the most outrageous and horrific film ever made from a Lovecraft story. A must for every horror collection!
DVD. John Carpenter's Lovecraft-influenced thriller, In the Mouth of Madness    

CLASSICAL MUSIC

Leif Ove Andsnes plays Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerti 1 & 2. A dazzling new recording! Leif Ove Andsnes plays the Grieg and Schumann piano concerti. This may well be the definitive recording of our time for these two lyrical concertos.
Leif Ove Andsnes plays the music of Edvard Grieg, on Grieg's own piano. Leif Ove Andsnes plays a blazing recital of music by Franz Liszt.
Leif Ove Andsnes plays the Mt. Everest of piano concertos, the Rachmaninoff Third. Russian virtuoso Mikhail Pletnev is the mst dazzling player of Scarlatti on the modern piano since Vladimir Horowitz. You'll go back to this CD again and again.
Mikhail Pletnev made his long-awaited Carnegie Hall recital debut, and here it is! Mikhail Pletnev conducts Rachmaninoff's Choral Symphony, The Bells, based on the poem by Edgar Allan Poe.

ORDER THESE OLDER POET'S PRESS TITLES TODAY!

LAST FLOWERS: THE ROMANCE AND POETRY OF EDGAR ALLAN POE AND SARAH HELEN WHITMAN. With an essay by Brett Rutherford. Second edition, expanded and revised, 2003. 160 pp. Hardcover, $19.95.

This is the definitive book on Edgar Allan Poe's doomed romance with Providence poet Sarah Helen Whitman, and the first time her poetry has been available in print since 1916. This book contains the poems both poets wrote about one another, and the best work they might have read to one another during their courtship. The essay traces Poe's 28 days in Providence in detail, as well as the genealogy and family history of Mrs. Whitman. Additionally, an appreciation of Sarah Helen Whitman's highly romantic poetry helps to place her in the pantheon of American women poets where she belongs.


TWILIGHT OF THE DICTATORS: POEMS OF TYRANNY AND LIBERATION. Brett Rutherford and Pieter Vanderbeck. 1992. 84 pp. With illustrations by Pieter Vanderbeck. The Poet's Press. Paperback. $8.00

Rutherford and Vanderbeck became neighbors in the Fox Point neighborhood of Providence in 1985. Unknown to one another, each had been writing poems about Russia and Eastern Europe for many years. This collaboration brings together their powerful poems that depict the darkest years of Europe as well as the hopes that were triggered by the collapse of the Communist monolith in 1989. A few copies of the original edition still remain. (You can read excerpts from this book elsewhere on this site.)


POEMS FROM PROVIDENCE. Brett Rutherford. Illustrated by Pieter Vanderbeck. The Poet's Press. 1991. 180 pp. Paperback. $10.00

This huge collection spans all the poems Rutherford wrote from 1985 to 1988, his first, highly-charged years in Providence. The book includes:

This remarkable effusion of poems presents a unique and uncompromising intellect ranging across a huge gamut of subjects. Rutherford uses contemporary politics as readily as Greek mythology, with a special love for the supernatural. For those tired of subjective, "personal" poetry, here is a breath of fresh air. These are poems meant to be read aloud, full of arresting language and challenging thoughts. They are meant to be provocative, dangerous and subversive. They undermine religion, corrupt morals, frighten the superstitious, and encourage the useless pursuit of art and beauty.

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