A Hearty Congratulations to the Bay Area's own Brandon Brown who recently received a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship!
Brandon Brown is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Top 40 (Roof) and the forthcoming Shadow Lanka (Big Lucks). His poetry and prose have appeared recently or will appear soon in Open Space, Art Practical, Maggy, Elderly, Berkeley Poetry Review, and Where Eagles Dare. He is an editor at Krupskaya, occasionally publishes small press materials under the imprint OMG!, and helps curate the Heart’s Desire reading series at the Bay Area Public School.
I have always admired the way Brandon's writing moves across multiple linguistic registers from pop culture to the classics. It does so with wit and linguistic and rhetorical flair. It is capable of bragging and being humble simultaneously. In its crossing and ability to register feeling, capaciously and often with a punch, his writing reminds me of Frank O'Hara's.
You believe the writing when it claims: "Dunno, but I do feel these feelings and feel torn apart" (The Poems of Gaius Valerius Catullus 156).
Here is section 50 from Brandon's poem "Sparrow" in The Poems of Gaius Valerius Catullus from Krupskaya:
Dear God, it's me, Catullus, except this time I'm talking to you as a virgin, in stanzas of three glyconics followed by a pherecratean, a metrical system found in the work of Anacreon (6th century BCE). Each stanza observes synaphaea, or 'fastening together,' and each glyconic ends with a syllable that is long. Halfway through the poem I start to talk about your name, and how powerful you are, and how you're the moon and the vegetables I eat and are really old, and sui generis, so spritely, so gentle.
And section 29:
of his community who have caused him outrage, and lovebirds who have rearranged spatialities that Catullus had found pleasing. I have belabored this because it gives me an opportunity to talk about the process of translation in this book called The Poems of Gaius Valerius Catullus. Translation as I understand it involves a preceding writing, a proceeding writing--in between is the body that translates. The preceding writing is absorbed by the body of the translator in the act of reading. And when the translator writes something down which proceeds from the act of reading and the preceding writing, that is called "translation." However, far from idealizing repetition, this translation
So many sections of this poem hang in medias res, inviting the reader to turn the page. Get the book to find out where the next section takes you.
Brandon has kindly shared with us the poem he submitted to the NEA Committee. Enjoy!