A vital, searching new collection from one of finest American poets at work today
In "Those Nights," Frank Bidart writes: "We who could get / somewhere through / words through / sex could not." Words and sex, art and flesh: In Metaphysical Dog, Bidart explores their nexus. The result stands among this deeply adventurous poet's most powerful and achieved work, an emotionally naked, fearlessly candid journey through many of the central axes, the central conflicts, of his life, and ours.
Near the end of the book, Bidart writes:
In adolescence, you thought your work
ancient work: to decipher at last
human beings' relation to God. Decipher
love. To make what was once whole
whole again: or to see
why it never should have been thought whole.
This "ancient work" reflects what the poet sees as fundamental in human feeling, what psychologists and mystics have called the "hunger for the Absolute"—a hunger as fundamental as any physical hunger. This hunger must confront the elusiveness of the Absolute, our self-deluding, failed glimpses of it. The third section of the book is titled "History is a series of failed revelations."
The result is one of the most fascinating and ambitious books of poetry in many years.
One of Publishers Weekly's Best Poetry Books of 2013
A New York Times Notable Book of 2013
An NPR Best Book of 2013
For half a century, Bill Knott’s brilliant, vaudevillian verse electrified the poetic form. Over his long career, he studiously avoided joining any one school of poetry, preferring instead to freewheel from French surrealism to the avant-garde and back again—experimenting relentlessly and refusing to embrace straightforward dialectics. Whether drawing from musings on romantic love or propaganda from the Vietnam War, Knott’s quintessential poems are alive with sensory activity, abiding by the pulse and impulse of a pure, restless emotion. This provocative, playful sensibility has ensured that his poems have a rare and unmistakable immediacy, effortlessly crystalizing thought in all its moods and tenses.
An essential contribution to American letters, I am Flying into Myself gathers a selection of Knott’s previous volumes of poetry, published between 1960 and 2004, as well as verse circulated online from 2005 until a few days before his death in 2014. His work—ranging from surrealistic wordplay to the anti-poem, sonnets, sestinas, and haikus—all convenes in this inventive and brilliant book, arranged by his friend the poet Thomas Lux, to showcase our American Rimbaud, one of the true poetic innovators of the last century.
I Am Flying into Myself: Selected Poems, 1960-2014 celebrates one of poetry’s most determined outsiders, a vitally important American poet richly deserving of a wider audience.
Louise Glück is one of the finest American poets at work today. Her Poems 1962–2012 was hailed as "a major event in this country's literature" in the pages of The New York Times. Every new collection is at once a deepening and a revelation. Faithful and Virtuous Night is no exception.
You enter the world of this spellbinding book through one of its many dreamlike portals, and each time you enter it's the same place but it has been arranged differently. You were a woman. You were a man. This is a story of adventure, an encounter with the unknown, a knight's undaunted journey into the kingdom of death; this is a story of the world you've always known, that first primer where "on page three a dog appeared, on page five a ball" and every familiar facet has been made to shimmer like the contours of a dream, "the dog float[ing] into the sky to join the ball." Faithful and Virtuous Night tells a single story but the parts are mutable, the great sweep of its narrative mysterious and fateful, heartbreaking and charged with wonder.
By the time of her death on 11, February 1963, Sylvia Plath had written a large bulk of poetry. To my knowledge, she never scrapped any of her poetic efforts. With one or two exceptions, she brought every piece she worked on to some final form acceptable to her, rejecting at most the odd verse, or a false head or a false tail. Her attitude to her verse was artisan-like: if she couldn’t get a table out of the material, she was quite happy to get a chair, or even a toy. The end product for her was not so much a successful poem, as something that had temporarily exhausted her ingenuity. So this book contains not merely what verse she saved, but—after 1956—all she wrote.—Ted Hughes, from the Introduction
* Poet Laureate of the United States *
* A New York Times Notable Book of 2011 and New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice *
* A New Yorker, Library Journal and Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year *
New poetry by the award-winning poet Tracy K. Smith, whose "lyric brilliance and political impulses never falter" (Publishers Weekly, starred review)
You lie there kicking like a baby, waiting for God himself
To lift you past the rungs of your crib. What
Would your life say if it could talk?
—from "No Fly Zone"
With allusions to David Bowie and interplanetary travel, Life on Mars imagines a soundtrack for the universe to accompany the discoveries, failures, and oddities of human existence. In these brilliant new poems, Tracy K. Smith envisions a sci-fi future sucked clean of any real dangers, contemplates the dark matter that keeps people both close and distant, and revisits the kitschy concepts like "love" and "illness" now relegated to the Museum of Obsolescence. These poems reveal the realities of life lived here, on the ground, where a daughter is imprisoned in the basement by her own father, where celebrities and pop stars walk among us, and where the poet herself loses her father, one of the engineers who worked on the Hubble Space Telescope. With this remarkable third collection, Smith establishes herself among the best poets of her generation.
NPR'S MOST ANTICIPATED POETRY BOOKS OF 2017
A striking, full-length debut collection from Virgin Islands-born poet Nicole Sealey
The existential magnitude, deep intellect, and playful subversion of St. Thomas-born, Florida-raised poet Nicole Sealey’s work is restless in its empathic, succinct examination and lucid awareness of what it means to be human.
The ranging scope of inquiry undertaken in Ordinary Beast—at times philosophical, emotional, and experiential—is evident in each thrilling twist of image by the poet. In brilliant, often ironic lines that move from meditation to matter of fact in a single beat, Sealey’s voice is always awake to the natural world, to the pain and punishment of existence, to the origins and demises of humanity. Exploring notions of race, sexuality, gender, myth, history, and embodiment with profound understanding, Sealey’s is a poetry that refuses to turn a blind eye or deny. It is a poetry of daunting knowledge.
"Shaughnessy's voice is smart, sexy, self-aware, hip . . . consistently wry, and ever savvy."—Harvard Review
Brenda Shaughnessy's heartrending third collection explores dark subjects—trauma, childbirth, loss of faith—and stark questions: What is the use of pain and grief? Is there another dimension in which our suffering might be transformed? Can we change ourselves? Yearning for new gods, new worlds, and new rules, she imagines a parallel existence in the galaxy of Andromeda.
From "Our Andromeda":
Cal, faster than the lightest light,
so much faster than love,
and our Andromeda, that dream,
I can feel it living in us like we
are its home. Like it remembers us
from its own childhood.
Oh, maybe, Cal, we are home,
if God will let us live here,
with Andromeda inside us,
doesn't it seem we belong?
Now and then, will you help me belong
here, in this place where you became
my child, and I your mother
out of some instant of mystery
of crash and matter . . .
Brenda Shaughnessy was born in Okinawa, Japan and grew up in Southern California. She is the author of Human Dark with Sugar (Copper Canyon Press, 2008), winner of the James Laughlin Award and finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Interior with Sudden Joy (FSG, 1999). Shaughnessy’s poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, Harper's, The Nation, The Rumpus, The New Yorker, and The Paris Review. She is an Assistant Professor of English at Rutgers University, Newark, and lives in Brooklyn with her husband, son and daughter.
A provocative meditation on race, Claudia Rankine's long-awaited follow up to her groundbreaking book Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric.
Claudia Rankine's bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV-everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person's ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named "post-race" society.
When Sylvia Plath died, she not only left behind a prolific life but also her unpublished literary masterpiece, Ariel. When her husband, Ted Hughes, first brought this collection to life, it garnered worldwide acclaim, though it wasn't the draft Sylvia had wanted her readers to see. This facsimile edition restores, for the first time, Plath's original manuscript—including handwritten notes—and her own selection and arrangement of poems. This edition also includes in facsimile the complete working drafts of her poem "Ariel," which provide a rare glimpse into the creative process of a beloved writer. This publication introduces a truer version of Plath's works, and will no doubt alter her legacy forever.
Four Quartets is a rich composition that expands the spiritual vision introduced in “The Waste Land.” Here, in four linked poems (“Burnt Norton,” “East Coker,” “The Dry Salvages,” and “Little Gidding”), spiritual, philosophical, and personal themes emerge through symbolic allusions and literary and religious references from both Eastern and Western thought. It is the culminating achievement by a man considered the greatest poet of the twentieth century and one of the seminal figures in the evolution of modernism.
From "with thanks to Sahra Nguyen for the refugee style slogan":
They give the kids candy to bet.
My daughter loses the first four rounds,
she's a quiet wire as they take her candy away, piece by piece.
When she finally wins, I ask if she wants to play again.
No! she shouts, grabbing her candy, I want to go home!
True refugee style:
take everything you got and run with it.
Bao Phi is a National Poetry Slam finalist.
From several thousand letters, written by Bishop over fifty years—from 1928, when she was seventeen, to the day of her death, in Boston in 1979—Robert Giroux, the poet's longtime friend and editor, has selected over five hundred missives for this volume. In a way, the letters comprise Bishop's autobiography, and Giroux has greatly enhanced them with his own detailed, candid, and highly informative introduction. One Art takes us behind Bishop's formal sophistication and reserve, fully displaying the gift for friendship, the striving for perfection, and the passionate, questing, rigorous spirit that made her a great artist.