Today’s poetry news roundup looks at the boycott of the Poetry Foundation, the death of David Ferry, and the crisis faced by the Haiku.
Writers and Poets Boycott the Poetry Foundation
Over 200 writers and poets have made a pledge to boycott both the Poetry Foundation and “Poetry”, its poetry journal. The reason for their boycott is due to the “recent instance of prejudiced silencing” that they have seen. This is due to the manner in which a review by Joshua Gutterman Tranen of PIG by Sam Sax was shelved indefinitely. The collection engages with politics that are anti-Zionist. The magazine has taken its move because they do not wish to be accused of taking sides in the ongoing situation in Gaza.
As a response to what is being seen as the censoring of “anti-Zionist” Jewish writers, Summer Farah, Noor Hindi, George Abraham and Omar Sakr have published an open letter addressed to the editors of Poetry and the board of the Poetry Foundation. In their letter, they urge their fellow writers to boycott the Foundation and also its press “until such time as they have demonstrated they are on the side of humanity.”
The signatories have pledged not to send work to the magazine guest or host podcasts, participate in any affiliated programmes and cancel their subscriptions to Poetry magazine until such time as the Foundation shows they side with humanity.
The letter was published in full on 3rd November, and since then, a number of Poetry Foundation events have had to be cancelled. The Poetry Foundation has also been removed from its position of main sponsor of the Southern California Poetry Festival, which is due to take place shortly.
David Ferry, Renowned Poet and Translator, Dies Aged 99
The well-known translator and poet David Ferry has died in Lexington at the age of 99. A teacher for nearly four decades, the poet also published ten books over a period of 34 years. He is particularly known for his translation of “Gilgamesh”, the ancient Babylonian epic, which is said to be the best modern rendition.
His ability to translate the works of Virgil and Horace earned him considerable respect in literary circles. His own poetry included a National Book Award-winning book, which he wrote in 2012. His last book is due to be published in December and is titled “Some Things I Said”.
Climate Issues Disrupt Haiku Writing
Since the poet Matsuo Basho wrote the “Narrow Road in the Deep North”, the countless haikus written by Japanese poets have been informed by the rhythms of the natural world.
There are wooden tablets dedicated to the poet’s work along the path beside the Sendaibori River looking at the many seasonal changes that inspired his work.
Now, this 17-syllable form of poetry is facing something of a crisis. The climate crisis, which so many of the proponents of this particular art form use, is creating changes in nature and the seasons, the very things which, for the last 4 centuries, have inspired the writing of Haiku.