The Poet's Voice Director, Ellen Koshland, on poetry selection for Lovers in Trouble.
It was quite a journey to choose the poems for Lovers in Trouble. The process was enormously enriched by Andrea Goldsmith’s suggestions. She made trips to her bookshelves. I scanned mine. Our search process ranged to other times and countries and then back to be tested against the very Australian and contemporary qualities in Dorothy’s voice.
One poem led to another, one book to another. At every point, the criteria was ‘edge’ and performability. We found many love poems are best left to the quiet seclusion of the page.
One of the rewards along the way was that some of the best poems turned out to be by poets less famous than the usual obvious names:
Romanian Nina Cassian (1924– ) has published more than fifty books. She is a poet, composer, journalist, film critic, and translator of Shakespeare, Brecht, Christian Morgenstern, Iannis Ritsos, Paul Celan, and others. She went to the United States as a visiting professor in 1985, and was intent on returning to her homeland, saying 'A poet never leaves his country, his native soil, his language, of his own free will.' However when the Romanian secret service arrested a friend whose journal included satirical poems by Cassian, she was forced into exile. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, New England Review, and American Poetry Review.
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Muriel Rukeyser (1913–1980) was an American poet and political activist, best known for her poems about equality, feminism, social justice, and Judaism. She published over twenty collections of poetry, as well as several books of prose. Adrienne Rich wrote of her work: 'She pushes us, readers, writers, and participants in the life of our time, to enlarge our sense of what poetry is about in the world, and of the place of feelings and memory in politics.'
Poet and critic Craig Raine (1944– ) studied at Exeter College, Oxford, has lectured widely in the UK and been poetry editor for magazines and houses such as The New Statesman and Faber and Faber. Quoted in the Guardian about artistic work he said: 'The task of the artist at any time is uncompromisingly simple – to discover what has not yet been done, and to do it.'