Growing up in southwestern Virginia in recent decades, poet Molly McCully Brown often passed by a state institution in Amherst County that was once known as the "Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded."
Poet John Balaram has translated the poetry of an 18th century Vietnamese concubine in the new book, –Spring Essence: The Poetry of Ho Xuang Huong— (Copper Canyon Press) Ho Xuang Huong won acclaim for her poetry despite the fact that she was a woman and she challenged established conventions. Most of her poems also were double entendres: a hidden sexual meaning lay behind her words. Balaban was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam war, and went back to the country after the war to collect and preserve Vietnamese folk poetry.
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and essayist William Stanley Merwin was known in the 1960s as an anti-war poet. Now an environmental activist, Merwin has published a new book of poems, The Shadow of Sirius, which addresses themes of memory and mortality.
When Emily Dickinson died in the 1880s, she was a reclusive, barely published writer. Today, she is a fully canonized, iconic poet. Former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins says the progress of her status was unprecedented.
Music critic Lloyd Schwartz first met poet Elizabeth Bishop when she moved to Cambridge in the early 1970s after living in Brazil for nearly 20 years. Now Schwartz has co-edited a new collection of work by the former U.S. Poet Laureate.