Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Moment with Zbigniew Herbert

I have a busy day--two meetings before noon and (don't forget!) the Susanna Childress-Todd Davis reading tonight at the Grand Haven Arts Council (at 7-ish). I hope we get a decent crowd. If you are in the area, please come.

I did manage to get the grades for my class in on time. I also received some good writing news. Another of my poems is one of ten finalists in a contest. I can't say much more than that it is a good contest and (for me) a very different poem. The immediate benefit is--again--some assurance that I am on the right path with this new manuscript.

Here's a prose poem from The Selected Poems of Zbigniew Herbert (Ecco Press, 1968). This translation is by Czeslaw Milosz. The Collected Poems of Zbigniew Herbert is readily available (Ecco Press, 2007); I simply haven't gotten to it yet. I've had to console myself with this smaller (but still excellent) paperback.


First there was a god of night and tempest, a black idol without eyes, before whom they leaped, naked and smeared with blood. Later on, in the times of the republic, there were many gods with wives, children, creaking beds, and harmlessly exploding thunderbolts. At the end, only superstitious neurotics carried in their pockets little statues of salt, representing the god of irony. There was no greater god at that time.

Then came the barbarians. They too valued highly the little god of irony. They would crush it under their heels and add it to their dishes.


Blogger Talia said...


8:13 AM  
Blogger brent goodman said...

Congrats - is this good news in addition to the other finalist news?

11:51 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

Hypothetical congratulations (ya want the real thing, ya gotta dish.) Though maybe "provisional contratulations" is closer...

12:26 PM  
Blogger greg rappleye said...

Hello, all:

Yes, this is a second contest.

I haven't submitted any of these new poems (which are on two separate tracks--one very narrative, one very lyrical) anywhere but these two contests.

So, yes. This is good news for me no matter what the ultimate outcome. I wanted to have some sense of where things stood because I am hoping to have a lot of work finished and in the mail in September. I would not want to have written a lot of work that could not find an audience.

It would have made me quite sad, I think.

1:06 PM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

Great news! Congrats.

4:31 PM  
Blogger Macy Swain said...

Congrats, Greg.

7:38 PM  
Blogger Brent Goodman said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:37 PM  
Blogger greg rappleye said...


6:32 AM  
Blogger Andrew Shields said...

Did you see Michael Hofmann's review of the new Herbert Collected in the May issue of Poetry? He tears the new translations to pieces.

5:09 AM  

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