Poetry Month 2016: Nicholas Samaras
Bless the Head of Gerald Stern A Maskil I call the Lord to bless his prophets, to remember their words and visions. I call the Lord to bless the head of Gerald Stern, to bless even the sparse and numbered hairs of his head, to keep him swinging into feisty age. Oh, bless Gerald Stern for all he gives. The Bible may have killed all its prophets, but not this one. You don’t touch this one. Lord, I call you to bless the head of Gerald Stern. Let him be. Let him live into a gloriously cranky old age with his words to light us by, this son of Asaph, this ornery prophet, this little saint. [From American Psalm, World Psalm] ~ From the publisher’s Web site: Nicholas Samaras’ background is multinational and multicultural. Born in Foxton, Cambridgeshire, England, living there and on the island of Patmos, Greece (the Island of the “Apocalypse”), he has lived in Greece, England, Wales, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia, Jerusalem, and thirteen states in America. He writes from a place of permanent exile. His individual poems have been featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Paris Review, Poetry, The New Republic, Kenyon Review, and many other publications. Fellowship Awards include the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Lilly Endowment Foundation, etc. His first book of poetry, Hands of the Saddlemaker, received the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. American Psalm, World Psalm (Ashland Poetry Press, 2014) is his second collection. ~ I have to quickly add that the publisher is wrong in called American Psalm Samaras’s “second collection.” His second, in fact, is Survivors of the Moving Earth (scroll down to find the listing), a powerful book published by Poetry Salzburg. My sense of things is that Samaras’s peripatetic life has undermined the networking that is apparently crucial to a poet’s excellence being recognized in America.