Thirtha, A New Collection Of Poems By Venkateswaran

A new book published in Connecticut for poet and Nassau Community College professor Pramila Venkateswaran brings to the writing community a voice of stature feminine strength and dignity depicting the South Asian immigrant experience.

Thirtha, published by Yuganta Press this year, amply demonstrates Pramila Venkateswaran's duality, her passages, and her acute sensibilities on a purely personal journey of existence.

Venkateswaran immigrated to the United States in 1982 to pursue a doctoral degree in English at George Washington University. Over the years she has published poems in many American journals. Her recent articles on global women's issues have appeared in Women's Studies Quarterly and in the anthology, "Language Crossings: Negotiating the Self in a Multicultural World." She teaches English and women's studies at NCC and makes her home on Long Island.

By the evidence offered in Thirtha, Venkatewwaran also writes poems of potency and authenticity.

These are works that at once notable and tantalizing for their delicate handling of the aesthetics of human exploration - whether interpersonal, sexual, or charged with politics and culture. We learn through these poems to go beyond mere coloration of multicultural expression to something greater - statements which go beyond facile explication to a higher subtlety of sensibility.

Venkateswaran is a woman who has crossed oceans to hear what clamors in her soul, as she puts it in her extended 13-section poem Thirtha, which titles the book. Though she feels the tug of traditional South Asian culture, whether in the form of Mrs Mani ("the last curve of the Ganges") standing in her kitchen wondering what all this mixing is about here in America, or the tug of her grandmother's hand, which she feels palpably as she writes across a page.

Yet there is this simply elegant poem, "Yellowstone," which aptly describes her sense of pilgrimage to America.

An osprey hangs on tall stone
Around her, blue sky,
a lone pine on a cliff,
a nest on twin rocks,
and a stream twisting down to the rapids:
the rest is yolk,
ripe as old eyes.

Eggs sitting on the edge cannot be snatched.
The mother flies out, then wings in, finding
safety in precariousness.

This is how I want America:
paint its sun in my nails,
hair, lips, breathe rough rock,
sit on the edge of life,
fatten, rise, and sweep into rest.

The ambivalence of the Thirtha, of pilgrimage, of journey itself, Venkatsewaran seems to be telling us, is in its wonder and precariousness.

Thirtha, she explains, is the pilgrimage her family took every summer during her childhood to various parts of South India to visit temples "and the many wayward shrines, known and unknown, rich and decrepit." The experience continues to inform her life - Venkatsewaran describes herself as a pilgrim "fording the oceans between India and America," exploring the metaphor of journey note merely as "physical movement...(but) the act of opening oneself up to what each moment offers." Along the way, says Venkatsewaran, the pilgrim becomes "the conduit for the voices of other people" which mix and dissolve as images "speaking from the emptiness of displacement, or the fullness of having arrived."

Another recurring theme in the volume is what Venkateswaran terms the "Collision of continents." Taken in the cultural sense, this collision invokes not only conflict and frustration, but a delicate kind of resolution - and resoluteness of character for that matter - which offers a model for dignified melding of intercultural and interpersonal elements despite their seemingly insoluble disparate character. "Our men, Fazia," she writes in the poem Exile. "look at them changing." She must confront the clumsy misunderstanding of those to whose country she has immigrated: "In your country do women kill themselves/from unrequited love, you ask.../I imagine city streets lined with bodies,/wrapped in cotton..." "What's on your forehead?/Those stickers come in red?"

Then there are the uncomfortable questions of her daughter who asks why she is darker than the other children, "a shade darker than her mud-brown/crayons tucked under her bed."

Yet in "Native Lessons," her daughter confronts a bully in a playground with force and tact: "She balls her fist and rams it/into the middle of Billy Oshkosh's shirt/scattering his feathers in the sand/and driving his howl inward./"I won't tell on you," she says, straightening her small body.

Also of note is the notion of "Mixing," a recurring theme in the book. In the frankly meditative "At The Water's Edge," Venkateswaran describes a moment of reflection of an individual in the midst of her long human journey, parting the curtains, quiet as breathing or the creak of a floorboard while someone is at their morning bath, mixing water tinged with tamarind brown much as one might mix reflections on experience - and is by turns humbled, nurtured and transfigured in the experience.

The impact of her quiet words is most transfixing: "These waters mixed with gods/returned to their source/touch my lips, my bowed head."

Go Fish: Magic Fish By Jennifer Bosveld

A new book of poems by editor, publisher and writer Jennifer Bosveld has been making the rounds of late, thanks to the effort of the author to read her work to audiences from the midwest to the east coast. The volume, which features colorful poems presented in conjunction with drawings by artist Edward Boccia, was published by Pudding House Publications.

Jennifer Bosveld, director of Pudding House Writers Innovation Center which umbrellas many other areas of her work, is an Ohio-based artist whose work in bringing talented new writers to the public's attention is well known. Less well known, perhaps, but well worth exploring, is her own poetry.

Her poems have appeared in The Sun, Hiram Poetry Review, The Chiron Review, Wind, Negative Capability, The Christian Science Monitor, Psychopoetica, Heaven Bone, Cornfield Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Pig Iron, and hundreds of other literary journals and magazines. Her poems also appear in anthologies including The Coffeehouse Poetry Anthology where editor Larry Smith calls Jennifer "a one-woman poetry revolution"--an out-of-the-blue comment that Jen can't help be proud of. She says "The first time I read that I had to get out in the middle of the room and puff up like a toad! I decided to accept it because it gives me something to live up to--not that I ever will."

Jennifer Bosveld has edited two anthologies, Prayers to Protest: Poems that Center and Bless Us (1998) and The Unitarian Universalist Poets: A Contemporary American Survey (1996) and three more are in the works including a small parenting anthology and Fresh Water: Poems on Lakes, Rivers, and Streams. She has a poem forthcoming in a Jim Percoco history book on the Civil War due out around the year 2000 from Heinemann Press. Percoco is author of the teacher's guide for the Ted Turner movie, Andersonville. Bosveld also has poems in two college textbooks on writing. She received an Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship in Poetry in 1995 for her Jazz Kills the Paperboy manuscript that gave birth to the demonstration chapbook by the same name. It illustrates and gives criteria for writing virtual journalism poems. The author leads single-day, weekend, and year-long poetry workshops focusing on poetry writing, revising, reading, or publishing. Her favorite venues are weekend intensives for writers' groups or liberal churches (and she uses the term "churches" loosely), giving a poetry reading on Friday night followed by open mic, poetry writing workshop on Saturday morning, poetry publishing workshop on Saturday afternoon, and providing the service/program for Sunday morning services (usually Unitarian Universalist). She has given readings with solo musicians backing her up on cello, flute, guitar, piano, drums, dance interpretation, at The Columbus Museum of Art, Poetry in the Park (Columbus Parks & Recreation), the Greater Columbus Arts Festival, various national and regional writers' conferences, and other programs. In conjunction with NAPT Jennifer presented (with her friend Steve Abbott) the day-long workshop "Mom, The Flag, and Rock & Roll: Writing the Sound (and not-so-sound) Tracks of Your Life" at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in conjunction with their Education Department.)

In The Magic Fish, Bosveld offers up ample ground to explore her brand of revolution. "All around you the men are large with history./Take yourselves out in a boat too small for fishing./Your sisters should be long done with/fishing for anything," she writes in the opening poem, "Justice and The Magic Fish." This allegorical quality is one which Bosveld returns to again and again in the volume, and in these cases Boccia's folk-taleish drawings, almost like pen and ink drawings to accompany a child's illustrated bible, are effective complements.

In other poems, Bosveld tends toward the more surreal, at times seeming to follow the William Carlos Williams "Pictures From Breughel" method of creating word sketches directly from Boccia's artwork. "He had such potential," she writes in Rarely Made, after a 1987 still life composed by Boccia in Paris entitled "A Man Making Love." "such a water pitcher he was/bigger than the plum world he was on/top of and always there on his own plate."

Or in "Man radiating light," in which she transforms an inch by inch depiction of a Boccia drawing to her own conclusion, "a/lump grow out of his chin lie/an old man'[s goiter, where gathers/anything good he has done/which is all he would take to the grave/but he is scheduled for surgery Friday."

Her sense of irony and starkness is one which is nicely echoed in Boccia's work. Here's Ruins:


You are all so trite
keeping your arms in the same place
bumps and pipes in common

Put my teeth around my neck like beads
or remove the neck; its useless

Stack the stuff I could use someday on the table
chest to store my stories yet to pretend

Toss legs 'cause I'm not dancing'
Dump hips I don't need to keep my pants on.

Toss out the ears
I've never listened yet
And there's no sign I'm gonna.

There is universality as well as diversity of truths in these poems, quite clearly drawn from the artist's response to drawings by the talented Boccia. The project to do just that, she notes, originated in 1996 when Bosveld wrote her first poem in response to Boccia's gift to the family - an original drawing, The Good Catch. Jennifer's poem engaged Ed somewhat differently in his own work. Previously, he says, he had confessed an inability to write insigufully enough about his own paintings and drawings.

The Arrival of God

God arrives head first
between the legs of the crescent moon and Venus
trailing a sailor's sunset

but he is not Father
he is
the infant you are at 50
in a boat on Lake Superior
just when you thought
you'd seen everything.

The more Bosveld responded to Boccia's drawings and she pursued her interest in a project of poems on his art, the more Boccia began breaking through a formal barrier of his own - and Boccia began writing poems on his art as well.

At its best, Bosveld's work jettisons from fair orbit of the work to a trajectory that compels close readership. "The valley dweller planted seven pairs of pear trees./From one pair he made boat oars and sold them./From one pair he made a ladder./From one pair he made spoons and forks./From one paie he made splints for the hospital." she writes, and continues to enumerate uses for the trees. "Eventually the pears of one tree grew large as cellos he danced inside./Arange these pairs in the order of their wisdom."

Through the warp and heft of Jennifer Bosveld's "The Magic Fish," the author invites us to make similar arrangements.

Cave Canem Poets Appear At Studio Museum

The Studio Museum in Harlem, in conjunction with an exceptional Black Romantic exhibition, this spring hosted four poets from the Cave Canem writing workshop program, who read works thematically related to the exhibition.

As thunderstorms rolled through New York City on the night of May 31, Patricia Johnson, Jarvis DeBerry, Cherise Pollard and Tim Seibles presented poetry which was marked by high intellectual insight and deeply emotive performance power.

Cave Canem is an organization founded in 1996 by co-founders Derricotte and Cornelius Eady to offer African-American poets a chance to work together "in a welcoming atmosphere and to study with accomplished African-American poets and teachers." It was founded by the pair, they say, because they knew from their experience as teachers how few emerging African-American poets attend professional-level workshops, and how isolated the often feel when they do. Their aim? To create opportunities for writers like these to improve their craft, increase their self-confidence, and make connections in "a safe and affirming environment."

That includes workshops, public readings, the Cave Canem Prize, an annual anthology of poems, and an email listserve for workshop participants. The summer workshop/retreat is a multi-year opportunity - in one recent year's workshop more than half of the 51 participants were returning, with 10 for their third and final year.

According to many who have participated in the program, what sets Cave Canem apart from many other writing workshops is the intense feeling of community that develops among all who participate. As one participant noted, "We were writing from a safe place so that we could take risks and struggle with poems." "Most of us never had participated in a workshop with more than one black participant," noted another graduate. "I was amazed that every single participant had experienced artistic isolation, and that we all felt a sense of home immediately."

That sense of community emerged quickly on a rainy Friday night in Harlem, as the audience provided a warm and supportive atmosphere for the four guest readers.

Johnson, a resident of Virginia, opened the evening. Her work was the most theatrical of the group, all of it recited from memory and much of it bearing a musical rhythmic underpinning and high oratorical flair - not to mention some entertaining audience interplay - that got the evening off to a rollicking start immediately. She was followed by DeBerry, who in addition to being a poet is an editorial writer for a New Orleans newspaper. DeBerry's style was more reserved in tone, yet achieved considerable romantic potency. Pollard, a creative writing teacher near Philadelphia, exhibited a fine wry wit in depicting her recollections of youthful romantic yearnings. And Seibles, a Cave Canem faculty member who teaches at Old Dominion in Virginia - also a Philadelphia area product - anchored the evening with fine poetry that ranged from the playful to the sensuous.

The evening was a fitting counterpoint to the Black Romantic exhibition, a wide-ranging show that featured some 90 original paintings and drawings by thirty living artists. The show, which takes its roots in social and figurative realism, represented African-American subjects in contemporary settings and scenes. Among the various genre for the work - including representational, expressive, narrative and iconic figures - were portraits of individuals or groups in settings that range from urban to rural, from domestic to allegorical, and from utopian to factual.

And the work varied widely from the naive representations to pieces that were highly polished and showed considerable technical proficiency. Particularly fine works in the show included those of Lawrence Finney, a New York City artist whose combination of pop surrealism with classic Dutch Miniature sensibilities betrays his training at the Art Institute of Chicago. Oliver B Johnson, a self-taught oil painter from Stroudsburg Pennsylvania, who offered really fine portraiture in oil, including flat urban scene entitled Jumpin Rope which alludes to Hopper, a classic portrait called Little Man, and a genial rendering of a black woman and child entitled "Madonna and Child."

Dean Mitchell, of Overland Park, Kansas - but also a Columbia MFA - offered up a rich pallette and technically outstanding group of paintings, in particular with his 24x15 1/2 inch Socrates, a miniature compared to several large oil paintings on panels. And Leroy Allen (of Kansas City) presented charcoal work on paper which occupies a central place in the exhibition, and included both the tough confrontational gesture of a young man in The Glance to the more sedate, weathered appearance of the old country man in overalls found in Papa Jim.

Arturo Onofri And The Tradition Of Pan
by George Wallace

"Beloved Pan, and all ye other gods who haunt this place, give me beauty in the inward soul, and may the outward and inward be at one."

This beautiful evening neglects to complete its sketch of the gothic cathedral. Anyhow, to whom could we pray? the end of the rectilinear alley...solemnly rises the host of the moon, from the tabernacle of old mountains asleep.
Arturo Onofri, fr. Little Orchestras

It was not the practice of ancient Greek and Roman culture to build temples to the Arcadian god Pan.

His natural temples were barely converted shrines, unkempt, wild caves and grottos, places where fresh water gushed from the earth, quiet sanctuaries in wild places. Those who followed Pan loved "the music of nature's spirits, played on pipes," and honored wild sanctuaries of nature in the world, as personified by a god who disdained cities, houses and civilization in favor of wild nature.

But while these days, ruins of columns and altars may not be the stuff which piques our interest in the Greek - or perhaps more rightly Arcadian - god Pan, substantial monuments of philosophic and literary thought may be found in his name.

From Socrates to Hesiod, who wrote "Sow naked, plough naked, reap naked, sow naked, plough naked, reap naked," to the somewhat de-sexualized Victorian version known as Peter Pan, writers and thinkers have turned to the ideas of Pan, steering their thoughts to an invocation of the spirit of nature in the wild.

One of the more recent figures, in the early 20th century, was Italian author Arturo Onofri.

Onofri published a great number of collections in his native Italy, and the work moves from philosophical phase to philosophical phase. But it is in the author s second phase, from approximately 1917-1925, that he most clearly attempts to define a philosophy of poetry strongly resonant of the ideas to be found in the god "Pan." Termed by one critic a religiosity characterized by a singular approach to nature and existence, in these works, Onofri achieves a remarkable fruition in several collections of superior lyrical prose fragments.

Long neglected, Onofri s work - including this critical second phase - is returning to the public eye in Italy through the efforts of publisher Marco Albertazzo, who has been promoting Onofri and other metaphysical poets of Italy through his press La Finestra in Trento, Italy. Working with translator Anny Ballardini, La Finestra is hoping to introduce the work of Onofri to English speaking audiences.

Arturo Onofri (1885-1929) was born in Rome. He was one of the founders of Lirica (1912), collaborated with La Voce in 1914-1917. Among Onofri's first phase works are Liriche (Lyrics, 1907), Poemi tragici (Tragic Poems, 1908), Canti delle oasi (Songs of the Oasis, 1909), Disamore (Disaffection, 1912), and Liriche (Lyrics, 1914). His later work contains at least seven volumes of poems. His verses originated from the study of Mallarm? with overtones of the hermeticism and the decadent movements which heralded a kind of openess to experience and exploration. His later work elaborated a personal poetry based on, among others, the esoteric Anthroposophic doctrines of Rudolph Steiner, who concerned himself with elucidating the presence of the spiritual in natural phenomena and in humans, the knowledge of which could lead to understanding and freedom.

But it is with The Little Orchestras (1917), one of Onofri's best known collections, that the writer opens the second phase - a volume which is characteristically full of short lyrical prose pieces that demonstrate a Pan-ic influence.

The Little Orchestras has seen some publication history; however, a new body of work - The slim, 101-prose fragment long Notebook of Positano (1925) is also characteristic of this phase, and shows Onofri s returning to the ideas of this phase as a kind of coda or appendix.

Both of these writing masterpieces are characterized by a series of brief poetical compositions in prose, in which impressions received by outside reality are represented in images of an intense evocative and symbolic value.

Here is an example in translation by Anny Ballardini, from Little Orchestras, entitled Vendemmia in the original Italian.


On the azure little path I chose a bunch of grapes from a small basket a girl balanced on her curly hair.
And to choose another, our bodies touched, so well that I ended up biting, instead, the pulp of her mouth.
The grapes then scattered on the little path, perfuming with must my elbows and knees.

It was Ballardini, a translator laboring to bring Onofri's work into English, who coined the term "fragmentism" to describe the technical structure of the work of this period. "I invented fragmentism because the author of the introduction talks of 'frammentismo' - the same sound as 'impressionismo' from impressionism," she says. "Therefore from fragment we might have fragmentism."

Interestingly, the Notebook of Positano was written in 1925, as the autographed date written on the cover attests, just as Onofri was making clear his new poetics in the essay: New Renaissance as art of the self , published in the same year.

In that essay, also written in 1925, he stated a new interpretation of art, which has as its Anthroposophic goal "to recover a sacred meaning, by manifesting the spiritual essence living in man and universe." Therefore, he asserted, starting from then on, his poetics would not be crashed in brief compositions in prose, but articulated in more complex stylistic architectures.

Yet the Notebook of Positano shows how much Onofri was still engaged in a Pan-ic depiction of the relationship between human civilization and nature.

This notebook - containing 101 fragments and three uncompleted pieces - was written in the summer of 1925: the exact date is June 24, 1925, San Giovanni ; though another note indicates this: On the train, July 1-2 . Probably the poet left on the first days of July 1925, for a stay in Positano, and it is there that he was seized by his previous passion of fixing his impressions in notes taken while standing.

It was a marvelous place to do so. Positano stands in a splendid panoramic position overlooking one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the Province of Salerno. It is located at the centre of the gulf formed by point Germano to the west and cape Sottile to the east, on two mountain slopes, those of Mounts Comune and S. Angelo at Tre Pizzi. Its settlement goes back to the Palaeolithic period, as testified by remains found in the grotto named La Porta, not far from the town; contains also Roman remains, such as those of a large villa, visible close to the parish church; and is known for its more contemporary pastel-colored houses, cubic in shape, throughout the town. According to tradition Positano was founded by inhabitants of nearby Paestum, refugees after a Saracen siege, on the spot where a Benedictine abbey dedicated to St. Vito already stood before the tenth century. Its praises have been sung by illustrious poets and writers and immortalized by painters from all over the world.

In his notebook, Onofri stakes his claim to a place among them.

And in doing so, the poet chooses his most powerful tool in his literary arsenal during the period - Pan-ic influenced lyrical prose.

From start to finish, the fragments in the author s Plein Air-style Notebook on Positano continue to elucidate Onofri s keen sense of the interface between civilization and the wildness of nature. The fragments are consistently rich in language and deep in spiritual connectedness to the spiritual character of nature in the wild.

Here are two examples, characteristic of so many of these splendid prose pieces:

18. From the ruined mansion the sinister blades of prickly pear fling in the light, as a shadow razor slashes on the broken deep blue of the sea. (Dalla casaccia diroccata le pale sinistre del ficodindia s avventano nella luce, come rasoiate d ombre, sul turchino spaccato del mare.)

Or this:

19. The discolored little door opens itself sheer to the serenity of mountains, protected by the wild fig, which rubs its antiquity against the young golden breeze. (La porticina stinta s apre a picco sul sereno dei monti, protetta dal caprifico, che struscia la sua antichit?ella giovine brezza d oro.)

The relationship between nature and civilization, and their relative values, varies in Onofri s depiction, and there are times when he seems to be throwing the weight of his empathy towards the trappings of civilization itself:

23. Insolent vegetation bars the way to the light blue cottage, which has half-opened its eyes at noon.(Una verdura insolente vieta il passo verso la casina celeste, che ha socchiuso gli occhi nel mezzogiorno.)

And there are times when Onofri falls sway to a more straightforward depiction of the unique architectural attractions of Positano, with its characteristic cube-shaped houses on peaks cascading to the Amalfi coast and its gorgeous beaches.

But the influence of a Pan-ic perspective, emphasizing the transformational character of wild uncontrolled nature on the human being, is revealed again and again:

27. Under a violent light devouring outlines and shadows, the shoulders of men, smoking in violet doors, stretch in clear volumes in blazing air, as if they were wings. (Sotto una luce violenta che divora i disegni e le ombre, le spalle degli uomini, che fumano negli usci violetti, si prolungano in volumi chiari nella vampa dell aria, come fossero ali.)

And in the concluding fragment of the series, Onofri finds a potent affirmation of the intrinsic value, independent of man s adoration itself, in nature:

101. In the powerful clearness of noon, sky and earth adore one another in the sea. (Nel chiarore possente del meriggio cielo e terra s adorano nel mare.)

The lyrical prose contained in Onofri s Notebook on Positano shows many affinities with those collected in Little Orchestras, and are of interest both as a late flowering of his interest in this approach to writing, as well as for the Plein Air style sketch-while-standing-up approach he took to writing them.

English speaking poetry audiences have been exposed for some time to works by major Italian writers of the 20th century such as Primo Levy and Eugenio Montale. Now, with Albertazzi and Ballardini's presentation to the public of these key works of Onofri, through La Finestra - a presentation which is to be applauded - the work of this important figure may soon achieve greater recognition.

In Memoriam: Edmund Pennant
By George Wallace

Edmund Pennant, a friend to many, a distinguished figure throughout the metropolitan NYC arts world, and co-editor of POETRYBAY, died this summer after struggling with a long term illness.

Pennant, who read his poetry widely and served as an editor of a number of local publications as well as a force nationally for poetry, was a resident of Queens.

He had a first book of poems with Charles Scribners sons, followed by two additional collections, DREAM'S NAVEL and MISAPPREHENSIONS, both by Lintel Press. His fourth book, THE WILDEBEEST OF CARMINE STREET, was published in l990 by Orchises Press.

The title poem was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and included in Editors Choice III, from nominations submitted by small press editors. Characteristic of Pennant, this poem combined his senses of the visceral and protean in the trapped urban landscape: "in the intimacy and jungle fragrance/of your little bathroom, you may try/a few leonine roars, just for pleasure/of hearing the warm walls reverberate/with the melancholy pride of majesty..."

Here is another poem from the collection


When afternoon light vibrates
too violently between the topmost
stories of the highest towers,
glass shatters on cairns of gold,
shedding a purple spume of splinters.
It is one of the many rains we have learned
to live with in Manhattan, to be shrugged
off proudly; especially in autumn,
when the hard sky scintillates with
slivers of light, blinding us.
On the corner, a Julliard student
is bowing a Bach partita for violin alone.
Infinitesimal shards of glass spin
down to the sidewalk, where she plays
with poise and concentration.
It doesn't matter that no one notices
the thinnest lace of blood coursing
her temple. People, moved by her ardor,
her tone and facility, drop quarters
into her violin case and hurry home.

Pennant had a penchant for rich tapestry of language, but also could utilize the more spare techniques of imagistic poetry to good effect, as in this poem, titled "Tomorrow," from Long Island Quarterly:

Above the lunar horizon
the blue planet is seen
shawled in white covering.

In the lower lake
a blue heron tramples
shards of moon light.

Flashlight in hand
the youngest astronaut
bends to his lawn, hunting

earthworms. Tomorrow
he will go fishing
with his father.

A fifth collection of Pennant's, again with Orchises and in hardcover, came out in l995, ASKANCE & STRANGELY, NEW AND SELECTED POEMS, included 30 new poems, in addition to selections from his previous books. Among them, this poem continues his dominating theme:


Lately resuming an old habit of combing
my fingers through your hair
I note that, whereas in the past, dissenting,
you would have turned away gently
after granting me my moment,
now, with the passing of time, because
you see in my eyes fading hope
in the laws of chance relenting,
yourself weary of the long slide,
the endless warring between
equipoise and perversity,
you do not turn away but close your eyes
and make a soft noise like purring
which may yet swell to a growl
of love behind a tigress' tooth
if I persist in an old habit of combing
my fingers through your hair.

Over the years, Pennant's poems appeared widely in newspapers and literary magazines, among them Antioch Review, New Letters, The American Scholar, Madison Review, The New York Times, Shenandoah, Confrontation, New York Quarterly, New England Review, Long Island Quarterly and many others. Over 30 anthologies include his work, most recently, AND WHAT ROUGH BEAST (Poems at the end of the Century), Ashland Univ. Press; Of Frogs and Toads, Ione Press, Sewanee, TN, l998; American Poets on the Holocaust, Texas U. Press, l992.

Edmund was the recipient of the Davies Prize and the Kreymborg Memorial Prize, both of the Poetry Society of America, and was awarded resident fellowships at the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo and The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. In l994 he served as Poet-in-Residence, working with Honors Cadets in the English Dept. of the West Point Military Academy.

He lived with his wife, Doris, in Bayside, on Long Island, and taught as an Adjunct Professor at Adelphi University in Garden City, NY.


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