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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Big Poetry Giveaway 2015

Welcome to the Big Poetry Giveaway 2015, organized by poet Kelli Russell Agodon. I'm excited to participate this year by giving away a book of poetry to two lucky winners living anywhere in the world (one book to each of two winners). 

To enter my giveaway, please leave your name and email address by midnight , APRIL 30th, 2015 below in the comment section of this post. I'll randomly choose  the two lucky winners during the week of May 1st, 2015, and will notify them by email.

Here are the books I'm giving away this year:

1) Mendeleev's Mandala, by me (Jessica Goodfellow). This book is just out (Mayapple Press, 2015). Here's what is being said about it:

This book is a library whittled down to a message in a bottle. Here is a poet who has boldly refused to abide to the expectations of genre—but instead, pushes language and form as a means of asking the most urgent questions. The result is a courageous and kaleidoscopic, at times tender and vulnerable, exploration of motherhood and family—set against the backdrops of science, history, religion, myths, and mathematics. Ocean Vuong, author of Night Sky With Exit Wounds

Jessica Goodfellow has a joyous intelligence and electric tongue. Reading this book a first time, my only regret was that I couldn’t read it a second first time. But then I read it a first second time and a first third. You see what I’m doing? I’m reading this book over and over, without ever completely taking it in. I think you will too. And like me, want only one thing from Jessica Goodfellow – more. 
–Bob Hicok

2) People Are Tiny in Paintings of China by Cynthia Arrieu-King (Octopus Books, 2010). 

I fell in love with this poet's work after reading her collaborations with Ariana-Sophia Kartsonis online. That spurred me to look for works by both women, and I recommend their poetry written both collaboratively and separately.

Here's an excerpt from a blurb about this book:

As I read I had the feeling of launching myself from an opening line and falling past gorgeous and complex surfaces, and intricate landscape of experience, until landing on the solid earth of the final lines of these extraordinary poems.
Lynn Emanuel

Finally, if you want to offer to give away books yourself, or find a list of other blogs giving away books, check out Kelli Russell Agodon's post of instructions and information.

Remember, to enter to win one of these two books, all you need to do is leave your name and email address in the comments section below. Good luck, and happy National Poetry Month!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Lego: Swinburne by Sarah

A reader called Sarah recently told me that after seeing my 2011 blog post about Lego literary figures, she was inspired to create a favored author of her own: Algernon Swinburne.
made by reader Sarah
She recommends the opening lines of his "Hendecasyllabics":

In the month of the long decline of roses
I, beholding the summer dead before me,
Set my face to the sea and journeyed silent,
Gazing eagerly where above the sea-mark
Flame as fierce as the fervid eyes of lions
Half divided the eyelids of the sunset…

Sarah also provides some information about the books featured in the photo:


On "Poems and Ballads":

The book was originally published by Edward Moxon & Co. in July 1866, but withdrawn due to the negative reviews arising from its perceived licentiousness. There was quite the scandal about the whole affair: some of the reviews are a delight to read. In September John Hotten--who published, amongst other things, Victorian erotica--bought the remaining issues, gave each one a new title page with his name on it, and sold them. When those copies ran out, in November, Hotten reprinted his own edition.

The upper copy (you can see the title):

This is an 1866, Hotten reprint edition. The pages were printed on 8th November, and since there's a name inscribed in pencil with a date of January 1867, it must have been in one of the bindings made in November (12th, 21st, 29th) or December (1st, 19th), which means it was in the first 2,000 of this edition of 3,000.

The lower copy (you can see the publisher's name):

This is an 1866 Moxon Edition, published by Edward Moxon & Co., withdrawn from sale and bought by Hotten, who replaced the title page with one of his own.

The book has two armorial bookplates, one with the name "Henry E. Butler" and another, far more modern plate with the name "Mountgarret". This copy belonged to either the 13th or 14th Viscount Mountgarret, both of whom had the same name. However, opposite Hotten's stuck-in title page there is the signature of "Henry E. Butler". In 1866 the elder Henry was already Viscount and would not have been signing his name in that manner or, I imagine, at all in books. So, it's a safe bet that the book belonged to Henry E. Butler, 14th Viscount Mountgarret, who was 21 when it was published.

The 14th Viscount was, apparently, quite an insular fellow, but I found a section on him in "Yorkshire Leaders: Social and Political" (1908), which confirmed a suspicion that he attended Oxford. To find the dates of his time there I used a result from a cricketing website which recorded his playing for the Christ Church Cardinals in an 1866 game against Shropshire. (He was out for 18, caught by Sladen, bowled by Moore, incidentally. Christ Church won, though.) The Cardinals were (and are) a dining club at Christ Church, Oxford.

So, this copy was owned by the 14th Viscount Mountgarret, who was a student at Christ Church, Oxford when it was published. Given the edition I strongly suspect it was bought at the time. This is particularly interesting because it fits very nicely - right down to the edition - with the critic George Saintsbury's recollections of the publication, recounted in his "Corrected Impressions" (1895):

"Now we were told, first, that a volume of extraordinarily original verse was coming out; now, that it was so shocking that its publisher repented its appearance; now, that it had been reissued, and was coming out after all. The autumn must have been advanced before it did come out, for I remember that I could not obtain a copy before I went up to Oxford in October, and had to avail myself of an expedition to town to ‘eat dinners’ in order to get one. Three copies of the precious volume, with ‘Moxon’ on cover and ‘John Camden Hotten’ on title page, accompanied me back that night, together with divers maroons for the purpose of enlivening matters on the ensuing Fifth of November. The book was something of a maroon in itself as regards the fashion in which it startled people; and perhaps with youthful readers the hubbub did it no harm. We sat next afternoon, I remember, from luncheon time till the chapel bell rang, reading aloud by turns in a select company ‘Dolores’ and ‘The Triumph of Time’, ‘Laus Veneris’ and ‘Faustine’, and all the other wonders of the volume."

Saintsbury gave his extra copies to his friends Creighton (who went on to become a bishop) and Alleyne. Although he was at Merton he had friends in many colleges: his closest and oldest friend was at Christ Church. So, who knows, perhaps Henry was part of his discussion group, too.

Or maybe Henry used his volume for more romantic purposes. The only page with a dog's-ear is "Rondel" on page 148: "KISSING her hair I sat against her feet…"

Thanks so much, Sarah, for sharing this.  I look forward to more news about how your project involving Swinburne works out!