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The Imaginary Poets

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The Imaginary Poets Edited by Alan Michael Parker


Synopsis | Selected Poems | Reviews
The Imaginary Poets
Alan Michael Parker


$19.95 Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-932195-20-0
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Synopsis

The Imaginary Poets presents exceptional work from major poets who delight in assuming a new persona. But the book's ultimate goal is to explore the nature of creativity: What is it to make a poem? To make up a poet? To "translate" a work—is that rewriting or writing? What about translating a work that never existed? What does it mean if you create the creator? In the tradition of Pessoa and Borges, The Imaginary Poets delves delightedly into the very act of invention with a wink, a smile and tremendous respect for the art.
Translate a poem into English, offer a biography of the poet, and then write a short essay in which the poem, the poet, and the corpus are considered—and make all of it up, without once indicating you have done so. Thus charged were the twenty-two contributors to this volume, who in response produced poems "translated" from eighteen languages including Dirja, Vietnamese, Yiddish, and even from Egyptian hieroglyphs, poems that may be read in the grand literary tradition of heteronyms and alter egos...
—Alan Michael Parker

Contributors include Aliki Barnstone, Josh Bell, Laure-Anne Bosselaar, Martha Collins, Annie Finch, Judith Hall, Barbara Hamby, Jennifer Michael Hecht, Garrett Hongo, Andrew Hudgins, David Kirby, Maxine Kumin, Khaled Mattawa, D.A. Powell, Kevin Prufer, Anna Rabinowitz, Victoria Redel, David St. John, Mark Strand, Thom Ward, Rosanna Warren, and Eleanor Wilner

Selected Poems

Defenestration D. A. Powell as Toao Pudim your mother leaps from a chic hotel with a whooshing sound, a wishing. the sweet perfume of the lily in her hair parts the night sky with a kissing. oh, you could make believe anyone loved you now that the anchor has been pulled form the coralline bottom of a glassy sea called mere mer or murmur or hold. you shouldn’t wonder if god smiles now from his picklejar heaven inside the bar in the swank hotel where you sit and sip miraculous oceans of gin. You are after all, the a shattered glass caught in a palm that pours you another shot. Ululations of Late Khaled Mattawa as Tafida Zeinhum A sting on brass. A though tingles on a face, lights its candles. Then the masses… Showoosh Showiiissshsh On polished floors… in the atom’s bureaucracies… the sun as usual screaming inside her glass cage Shotgun blasts. The bird deflowered. A twenty one gun salute, Marshal Tito again. A gargling tearing the Adam’s apple of rubber throats. Wet, wet the broken water main, the silver wheat of Bffsssssssst Shffssssssst splashing on the road.

Reviews

A thoroughly entertaining read, with many depths and layers to plumb and peel. Hip and cool.
— Vince Gotera, North American Review
There is little we like more than a review from someone who really knows poetry and the history of poetry. For example, Rain Taxi's recent reivew of Alan Michael Parker's The Imaginary Poets discusses the book in the context of such literarty hoaxes as Ossian and Araki Yasusada, and includes this interesting quote:
A skeptical reader might look at made-up poets' bios and see, not what the contributors think original, but what our era in general believes, and may not know that it believes, about Eastern Europe, about ancient Semitic cultures, about Latin American revolutionaries, and so on. Part of the value in Parker's project has to do with the assumptions it reveals. Quick, which national culture would you choose if you wanted a poet who seemed especially ascetic? Especially ecstatic? Especially mysterious? Especially relevant to a recent war?

In the "Fresh Baked" section of Diner #7, Tom March writes of The Imaginary Poets:
Over twenty distinguished poets — including Jennifer Michael Hecht, Garrett Hongo, Maxine Kumin, and Mark Strand — have contributed to this volume, each demonstrating serious commitment to exploring the liberations and provocations of Parker's compelling assignment. The result is a series of unique embodiments of the value of truth in art, and art as truth, at a time when many are less interested in what a text does than in who did it.
The full review is just as complimentary.
The Spring 2007 issue of Indiana Review contains Hannah Faith Notess's review of The Imaginary Poets, in which she says:
This blend of a translator's actual concerns with pure invention characterizes most of The Imaginary Poets, an enjoyable blend of the academic and the wacky.

Issue 31 of The Harvard Review features a review of Imaginary Poets, saying, in part:
Whether or not American writers feel the same anomie, Parker's anthology seems timely for our confessional era, offering a provocative alternative. Besides, the placid sameness of successive volumes by some of our contemporary ‘unimaginary’ poets suggests that a jolt may be needed, even if it interrupts the work of a career.

Davidson College features their faculty member, Alan Michael Parker, and Imaginary Poets (Tupelo Press, 2005) in a press release.
The Fall 2005 issue of American Poet contains an excerpt from Imaginary Poets