Avalanche of Good Fortune

The lazy opportunist in me thinks it’s okay to re-purpose an email I just wrote to Joshua Hren and Mary Finnegan at Wiseblood Books as a blog entry. So here goes:

Lots of good things happening in connection with our book. Here are four things to be thankful for, all of which occurred this week.
You may remember my telling you that Barbara Loots, whom I met at the West Chester Poetry Conference years ago, was so impressed with Vocance’s poetry that she looked into entering One Hundred Visions of War in the collection of the National WWI Museum and Memorial. She just sent word of her success. Here’s a message from the Vice President of Collections at the museum:

Dear Barbara,

Thank you for contacting the National WW I Museum and Memorial. Your offer of a potential donation is very generous, and we are very interested in adding it to our collection. 

As an international resource, the Museum and Memorial has been collecting since 1920 from all 36 nations in the war and our collection now numbers over 350,000 items. Your donation will make a valuable addition to our collection and could potentially be used in exhibitions, research, public programs, and education initiatives. 

Please mail the objects to the address below. Upon receipt, a member of the Collections Department will examine each item and send you a gift agreement letter. Please allow 60 days from the object’s arrival for receipt of letter.  

Thank you again for your donation offer. We are grateful to be the recipient and assure you that we will adhere to the highest professional standards for its care and use.  We greatly appreciate your consideration of the National WWI Museum and Memorial. 


Christopher A. Warren, JD, PhD

Vice President of Collections & Senior Curator

National WWI Museum and Memorial

2 Memorial Drive | Kansas City | MO | 64108



Ned Balbo wrote a great recommendation of the book in his omni-bus review in Literary Matters. Here’s the link: https://www.literarymatters.org/15-3-beloved-communities/.  You’ll see that we’re keeping glorious company. Just to read the authors and titles of the other books reviewed is recommendation enough!
Then, there’s this weird coincidence. On Thursday Gina and I took our granddaughters to ride their scooters on the rail trail in Newburyport. There a Little Free Library box near on the trail, and I can’t go by one of them without glancing in at its contents. There was an issue of Modern Haiku. I’d never seen an actual hard copy of the magazine, so grabbed it. It turned out to be the most recent issue, and leafing through it I found yet another review of One Hundred Visions of War. This one isn’t nearly as sympathetic. Its author finds fault with my counting syllables and with my not including the french versions; ironically, he then dismisses his complaints as nit-picking, having devoted two-thirds of his review to them, and gives the book his recommendation. It’s a head-scratcher, but the reviewer is none other than Paul Miller, from whom I learned almost everything I know about Vocance. In my intro to the book I give credit to his two essays, available in The Haiku Foundation Digital Library
Finally (for now), Tony Tsonchev, editor of the Montréal Review, accepted two of my poems and, noting my most recent publication, asked me to write an essay about Julien Vocance to pair with an essay on Japanese Bushido philosophy that appears in this issue. I told him that all I knew about Vocance I’d learned from Miller’s two essays and Dana’s Preface, and from an intuitive sense of the poet that came to me in the act of translation. To talk about about that third source would bring me perilously close to the Region of BS, so I declined the opportunity. He then asked permission to reprint Dana’s Preface; (having run the idea by you and Dana), I sent him the text and he’s including it in the issue that’ll come out shortly. I’ve already seen the proof. It’s got a big, obvious link to information about One Hundred Visions of War.
An amazing little avalanche of good fortune. 

2019 Newburyport Literary Festival Poetry Events

8:30-10:00 AMBreakfast with the Poets: Wake up on this festive day with coffee, pastry and poetry. The locally-based, nationally-recognized Powow River Poets never leave their readers in the dark!  Anton Yakovlev, Jose Edmundo Ocampo Reyes, Toni Treadway, David Davis andA. M. Justerwill read from books they’ve published since last year’s breakfast. (There must be something in those pastries Gina bakes.)

10:00 AM The Poetry of Maryann Corbett & Nausheen Eusuf: Two remarkable poets whose work appears in Best American Poetry 2018, Maryann Corbett and Nausheen Eusuf know that, whatever poetry is about, it is always about language. It is a kind of liberation to recognize that. Both poets, Eusuf with her virtuoso wordplay and Corbett with her knowledge of ancient tongues, employ a whole range of language—different tones and voices, high and low modes of speech, allusions, quotations, and puns—to touch on things that matter either for the moment or for eternity.

11:00 The Poetry of January O’Neill & Ned Balbo: “The world is too much with us,” but ultra-contemporary poets January O’Neil and Ned Balbo have not turned their backs on it. Their poems make room for tattooed girls and young men in grey hoodies, reruns of Star Trek, LSD and Wikileaks, hospital corridors and crabcake recipes and Smart TVs. Here you’ll find elegies for Prince and David Bowie and odes to brownies for Sunday breakfast. And family: imagined and real, close-knit and departing. Somehow, in the middle of so much stuff, a space is cleared for these poems to become “vessels of almost uncontainable longing” where— always—“there is that question of how to love.”

1:00 The poetry of Daniel Hall & Mary Jo Salter: It’s no wonder that these two distinguished poets are also distinguished teachers of poetry, Daniel Hall at Amherst College and Mary Jo Salter at Johns Hopkins. Each of them is a consummate craftsperson, and both seem to embody the ancient idea of sprezzatura, choosing “to avoid affectation in every way,” perfecting their art by making it appear to occur naturally and without effort. This is poetry that rewards our attention without clamoring for it. As in a clear night’s sky, we’re offered much to marvel at.

2:00 The Poetry of Major Jackson & Sydney Lea: Besides the state in which they reside, what these two Vermont poets have most in common is, paradoxically, what sets them apart. They don’t sound anything like each other —nor does either of them sound much like anyone else. “The poetry Major Jackson offers us…sounds different from any other being written today,” writes one reviewer. “The truth is, no one writes—or has written—like Sydney Lea, except maybe E. A. Robinson,” writes another. Here are two unique and original voices in contemporary American poetry. 

3:00 PM The Poetry of Rhina P. Espaillat & David Ferry: Biographies of famous poets sometimes leave us with the impression that poetic talent and decent behavior may be inversely proportional. That’s not the case with Rhina Espaillat and David Ferry, two of America’s finest poets, whose poetic visions are extensions of their personalities. Ferry, who volunteered for years at a dinner for street people, gives voice to the homeless and isolated in his poems. The poems of Espaillat, whose kitchen table has been the site of so many creative collaborations, envision humanity as “one single family.” 

2019 Newburyport Literary Festival Poetry Events

We’re proud to announce the list of terrific poets who’ve agreed to read in Newburyport on April 27, 2019:

Ned Balbo

Mary Ann Corbett

David Davis

Rhina  P. Espaillat

Nausheen Eusuf

David Ferry

Daniel Hall

Major Jackson

A.M. Juster

Sydney Lea

January O’Neill

José Edmundo Ocampo Reyes

Mary Jo Salter

Toni Treadway

Anton Yakovlev

See the festival website for more detail as the event approaches. It’s going to be a day to remember.