A New Collection Of Poems By Venkateswaran
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.
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.
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.
the evidence offered in Thirtha, Venkatewwaran also writes poems
of potency and authenticity.
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.
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.
there is this simply elegant poem, "Yellowstone,"
which aptly describes her sense of pilgrimage to America.
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.
sitting on the edge cannot be snatched.
The mother flies out, then wings in, finding
safety in precariousness.
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.
ambivalence of the Thirtha, of pilgrimage, of journey itself, Venkatsewaran
seems to be telling us, is in its wonder and precariousness.
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."
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?"
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."
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.
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.
impact of her quiet words is most transfixing: "These waters
mixed with gods/returned to their source/touch my lips, my bowed
Go Fish: Magic Fish By Jennifer Bosveld
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
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.
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."
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.)
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
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."
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."
sense of irony and starkness is one which is nicely echoed in Boccia's
work. Here's Ruins:
are all so trite
keeping your arms in the same place
bumps and pipes in common
my teeth around my neck like beads
or remove the neck; its useless
the stuff I could use someday on the table
chest to store my stories yet to pretend
legs 'cause I'm not dancing'
Dump hips I don't need to keep my pants on.
out the ears
I've never listened yet
And there's no sign I'm gonna.
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.
Arrival of God
arrives head first
between the legs of the crescent moon and Venus
trailing a sailor's sunset
he is not Father
the infant you are at 50
in a boat on Lake Superior
just when you thought
you'd seen everything.
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.
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."
the warp and heft of Jennifer Bosveld's "The Magic Fish,"
the author invites us to make similar arrangements.
Canem Poets Appear At Studio Museum
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.
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.
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."
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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."
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
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?...at 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
was not the practice of ancient Greek and Roman culture to build
temples to the Arcadian god Pan.
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.
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.
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.
of the more recent figures, in the early 20th century, was Italian
author Arturo 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
is an example in translation by Anny Ballardini, from Little Orchestras,
entitled Vendemmia in the original Italian.
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.
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."
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.
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.
the Notebook of Positano shows how much Onofri was still engaged
in a Pan-ic depiction of the relationship between human civilization
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
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
his notebook, Onofri stakes his claim to a place among them.
in doing so, the poet chooses his most powerful tool in his literary
arsenal during the period - Pan-ic influenced lyrical prose.
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.
are two examples, characteristic of so many of these splendid prose
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
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.)
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:
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.)
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.
the influence of a Pan-ic perspective, emphasizing the transformational
character of wild uncontrolled nature on the human being, is revealed
again and again:
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.)
in the concluding fragment of the series, Onofri finds a potent
affirmation of the intrinsic value, independent of man s adoration
itself, in nature:
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.)
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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..."
is another poem from the collection
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.
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:
the lunar horizon
the blue planet is seen
shawled in white covering.
the lower lake
a blue heron tramples
shards of moon light.
the youngest astronaut
bends to his lawn, hunting
he will go fishing
with his father.
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:
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.
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.
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
lived with his wife, Doris, in Bayside, on Long Island, and taught
as an Adjunct Professor at Adelphi University in Garden City, NY.