* Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry * Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism * Winner of the NAACP Image Award * Winner of the L.A. Times Book Prize * Winner of the PEN Open Book Award *
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR:
The New Yorker, Boston Globe, The Atlantic, BuzzFeed, NPR. Los Angeles Times, Publishers Weekly, Slate, Time Out New York, Vulture, Refinery 29, and many more . . .
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.
Lang Leav is a poet and internationally exhibiting artist. Her work expresses the intricacies of love and loss. Love & Misadventure is her first poetry collection.
These four poems, “Phenomenal Woman,” “Still I Rise,” “Weekend Glory,” and “Our Grandmothers,” are among the most remembered and acclaimed of Maya Angelou's poems. They celebrate women with a majesty that has inspired and touched the hearts of millions.
“Phenomenal Woman” is a phenomenal poem that speaks to us of where we are as women at the dawn of a new century. In a clear voice, Maya Angelou vividly reminds us of our towering strength and beauty.
Kahlil Gibran produced some of the world’s most remarkable poems and philosophical essays throughout his almost thirty-year career. This enriching collection of his works includes more than 150 of his stories, prose poems, verse, parables, and autobiographical essays. From The Broken Wings, about the tragic end of a first love, to A Self Portrait, revealing Gibran’s greatest passions through his personal letters to friends and family, each book in this collection serves as an absorbing and comprehensive introduction to the legendary thinker.
“America’s favorite poet.”—The Wall Street Journal
From the two-term Poet Laureate of the United States Billy Collins comes his first volume of new and selected poems in twelve years. Aimless Love combines fifty new poems with generous selections from his four most recent books—Nine Horses, The Trouble with Poetry, Ballistics, and Horoscopes for the Dead. Collins’s unmistakable voice, which brings together plain speech with imaginative surprise, is clearly heard on every page, reminding us how he has managed to enrich the tapestry of contemporary poetry and greatly expand its audience. His work is featured in top literary magazines such as The New Yorker, Poetry, and The Atlantic, and he sells out reading venues all across the country. Appearing regularly in The Best American Poetry series, his poems appeal to readers and live audiences far and wide and have been translated into more than a dozen languages. By turns playful, ironic, and serious, Collins’s poetry captures the nuances of everyday life while leading the reader into zones of inspired wonder. In the poet’s own words, he hopes that his poems “begin in Kansas and end in Oz.” Touching on the themes of love, loss, joy, and poetry itself, these poems showcase the best work of this “poet of plenitude, irony, and Augustan grace” (The New Yorker).
Go, little book,
out of this house and into the world,
carriage made of paper rolling toward town
bearing a single passenger
beyond the reach of this jittery pen
and far from the desk and the nosy gooseneck lamp.
It is time to decamp,
put on a jacket and venture outside,
time to be regarded by other eyes,
bound to be held in foreign hands.
So off you go, infants of the brain,
with a wave and some bits of fatherly advice:
stay out as late as you like,
don’t bother to call or write,
and talk to as many strangers as you can.
Praise for Aimless Love
“[Billy Collins] is able, with precious few words, to make me cry. Or laugh out loud. He is a remarkable artist. To have such power in such an abbreviated form is deeply inspiring.”—J. J. Abrams, The New York Times Book Review
“His work is poignant, straightforward, usually funny and imaginative, also nuanced and surprising. It bears repeated reading and reading aloud.”—The Plain Dealer
“Collins has earned almost rock-star status. . . . He knows how to write layered, subtly witty poems that anyone can understand and appreciate—even those who don’t normally like poetry. . . . The Collins in these pages is distinctive, evocative, and knows how to make the genre fresh and relevant.”—The Christian Science Monitor
“Collins’s new poems contain everything you've come to expect from a Billy Collins poem. They stand solidly on even ground, chiseled and unbreakable. Their phrasing is elegant, the humor is alive, and the speaker continues to stroll at his own pace through the plainness of American life.”—The Daily Beast
“[Collins’s] poetry presents simple observations, which create a shared experience between Collins and his readers, while further revealing how he takes life’s everyday humdrum experiences and makes them vibrant.”—The Times Leader
From the Hardcover edition.
Stunning in its implications and masterful in its execution, Eunoia has developed a cult following, garnering extensive praise and winning the Griffin Poetry Prize. The original edition was never released in the U.S., but it has already been a bestseller in Canada and the U.K. (published by Canongate Books), where it was listed as one of the Times’ top ten books of 2008.
This edition features several new but related poems by Christian Bök and an expanded afterword.
Watch for the new collection of poetry from Terrance Hayes, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin, coming in June of 2018
In How to Be Drawn, his daring fifth collection, Terrance Hayes explores how we see and are seen. While many of these poems bear the clearest imprint yet of Hayes’s background as a visual artist, they do not strive to describe art so much as inhabit it. Thus, one poem contemplates the
principle of blind contour drawing while others are inspired by maps, graphs, and assorted artists. The formal and emotional versatilities that distinguish Hayes’s award-winning poetry are unified by existential focus. Simultaneously complex and transparent, urgent and composed, How to Be Drawn is a mesmerizing achievement.
The Art of Losing is the first anthology of its kind, delivering poetry with a purpose. Editor Kevin Young has introduced and selected 150 devastatingly beautiful poems that embrace the pain and heartbreak of mourning. Divided into five sections (Reckoning, Remembrance, Rituals, Recovery, and Redemption), with poems by some of our most beloved poets as well as the best of the current generation of poets, The Art of Losing is the ideal gift for a loved one in a time of need and for use by therapists, ministers, rabbis, and palliative care workers who tend to those who are experiencing loss.
Among the poets included: Elizabeth Alexander, W. H. Auden, Amy Clampitt, Billy Collins, Emily Dickinson, Louise Gluck, Ted Hughes, Galway Kinnell, Kenneth Koch, Philip Larkin, Li-Young Lee, Philip Levine, Marianne Moore, Sharon Olds, Mary Oliver, Robert Pinsky, Adrienne Rich, Theodore Roethke, Anne Sexton, Wallace Stevens, Dylan Thomas, Derek Walcott, and James Wright.
A self-deprecating reflection on the sheer distance between the loftiness of his feelings and the humdrum reality of his life, The Book of Disquiet is a classic of existentialist literature.
This unique collection spans over 400 years (1488–1902) of haiku history by the greatest masters: Bashō, Issa, Shiki, and many more, in translations by top-flight scholars in the field. Haiku commands enormous respect in Japan. Now readers of poetry in the West can savor these expressive masterpieces in this treasury compiled by noted writer Faubion Bowers, who provides a Foreword and many informative notes to the poems.
“If I have any secret stash of poems, anywhere, it might be about love, not anger,” Mary Oliver once said in an interview. Finally, in her stunning new collection, Felicity, we can immerse ourselves in Oliver’s love poems. Here, great happiness abounds.
Our most delicate chronicler of physical landscape, Oliver has described her work as loving the world. With Felicity she examines what it means to love another person. She opens our eyes again to the territory within our own hearts; to the wild and to the quiet. In these poems, she describes—with joy—the strangeness and wonder of human connection.
As in Blue Horses, Dog Songs, and A Thousand Mornings, with Felicity Oliver honors love, life, and beauty.
Winner, 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Prize
Finalist, 2015 National Book Award, poetry category
Finalist, 2015 NAACP Image Awards, poetry category
Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude is a sustained meditation on that which goes away—loved ones, the seasons, the earth as we know it—that tries to find solace in the processes of the garden and the orchard. That is, this is a book that studies the wisdom of the garden and orchard, those places where all—death, sorrow, loss—is converted into what might, with patience, nourish us.
A luminous, seductive new collection from the "fearless" (The New York Times) Pulitzer Prize–winning poet
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.
Throughout her illustrious career in letters, Maya Angelou gifted, healed, and inspired the world with her words. Now the beauty and spirit of those words live on in this new and complete collection of poetry that reflects and honors the writer’s remarkable life.
Every poetic phrase, every poignant verse can be found within the pages of this sure-to-be-treasured volume—from her reflections on African American life and hardship in the compilation Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ’fore I Diiie (“Though there’s one thing that I cry for / I believe enough to die for / That is every man’s responsibility to man”) to her revolutionary celebrations of womanhood in the poem “Still I Rise” (“Out of the huts of history’s shame / I rise / Up from a past that’s rooted in pain / I rise”) to her “On the Pulse of Morning” tribute at President William Jefferson Clinton’s inauguration (“Lift up your eyes upon / The day breaking for you. / Give birth again / To the dream.”).
Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry also features her final long-form poems, including “A Brave and Startling Truth,” “Amazing Peace,” “His Day Is Done,” and the honest and endearing Mother:
“I feared if I let you go
You would leave me eternally.
You smiled at my fears, saying
I could not stay in your lap forever”
This collection also includes the never-before-published poem “Amazement Awaits,” commissioned for the 2008 Olympic Games:
“We are here at the portal of the world we had wished for
At the lintel of the world we most need.
We are here roaring and singing.
We prove that we can not only make peace, we can bring it with us.”
Timeless and prescient, this definitive compendium will warm the hearts of Maya Angelou’s most ardent admirers as it introduces new readers to the legendary poet, activist, and teacher—a phenomenal woman for the ages.
A book of bravado and introspection, of 21st century feminist swagger and harrowing terror and loss, this fourth collection considers how we build our identities out of place and human contact—tracing in intimate detail the various ways the speaker’s sense of self both shifts and perseveres as she moves from New York City to rural Kentucky, loses a dear parent, ages past the capriciousness of youth, and falls in love. Limón has often been a poet who wears her heart on her sleeve, but in these extraordinary poems that heart becomes a “huge beating genius machine” striving to embrace and understand the fullness of the present moment. “I am beautiful. I am full of love. I am dying,” the poet writes. Building on the legacies of forebears such as Frank O’Hara, Sharon Olds, and Mark Doty, Limón’s work is consistently generous and accessible—though every observed moment feels complexly thought, felt, and lived.
A stunning poetry debut: this meditation on the black female figure throughout time introduces us to a brave and penetrating new voice.
Robin Coste Lewis’s electrifying collection is a triptych that begins and ends with lyric poems considering the roles desire and race play in the construction of the self. The central panel is the title poem, “Voyage of the Sable Venus,” a riveting narrative made up entirely of titles of artworks from ancient times to the present—titles that feature or in some way comment on the black female figure in Western art. Bracketed by Lewis’s autobiographical poems, “Voyage” is a tender and shocking study of the fragmentary mysteries of stereotype, as it juxtaposes our names for things with what we actually see and know. Offering a new understanding of biography and the self, this collection questions just where, historically, do ideas about the black female figure truly begin—five hundred years ago, five thousand, or even longer? And what role has art played in this ancient, often heinous story? From the “Young Black Female Carrying / a Perfume Vase” to a “Little Brown Girl / Girl Standing in a Tree / First Day of Voluntary / School Integration,” this poet adores her culture and the beauty to be found within it. Yet she is also a cultural critic alert to the nuances of race and desire and how they define us all, including herself, as she explores her own sometimes painful history. Lewis’s book is a thrilling aesthetic anthem to the complexity of race—a full embrace of its pleasure and horror, in equal parts.
From the Hardcover edition.
Gathered here is a half century’s magnificent work by the former poet laureate of the United States and Pulitzer Prize winner whose haunting and exemplary style has influenced an entire generation of American poets.
Beginning with the limited-edition volume Sleeping with One Eye Open, published in 1964, Mark Strand was hailed as a poet of piercing originality and elegance, and in the ensuing decades he has not swerved from his vision of how a poem should be shaped and what it should deliver. As he entered the middle period of his career, with volumes such as The Continuous Life (1990), Strand was already well-known for his ability to capture the subtle music of consciousness, and for creating painterly physical landscapes that could answer to the inner self: “And here the dark infinitive to feel, / Which would endure and have the earth be still / And the star-strewn night pour down the mountains / Into the hissing fields and silent towns.” In his later work, from Blizzard of One (1998) which won the Pulitzer Prize, through the sly, provocative riddles of his recent Almost Invisible (2012), Strand has delighted in reminding us that there is no poet quite like him for a dose of dark wit that turns out to be deep wisdom and self-deprecation. He has given voice to our collective imagination with a grandeur and comic honesty worthy of his great Knopf forebear Wallace Stevens. With this volume, we celebrate his canonical work.
From the Hardcover edition.
"One of the best poets of his generation, Richard Wilbur has imagined excellence, and has created it." —Richard Eberhart, New York Times Book Review
And then, excuse from pain;
And then, those little anodynes
That deaden suffering;
And then, to go to sleep;
And then, if it should be
The will of its Inquisitor,
The liberty to die.
Generally considered among the greatest American poets, Emily Dickinson has been read, studied, and admired by generations of literature students and poetry lovers. This modestly priced edition presents over 100 of her best-known and most-loved poems, reprinted from authoritative early editions. Unflinchingly honest, psychologically penetrating, and technically adventurous, the poems include such favorites as "The Chariot," "I taste a liquor never brewed," "The Snake," "I'm nobody, who are you?" "A Book," "There's a certain slant of light," "Hope," and many more.
One of NPR's Best Books of 2015
Long-listed for the National Book Award in poetry
"Who the hell's heaven is this?" Rowan Ricardo Phillips offers many answers, and none at all, in Heaven, the piercing and revelatory encore to his award-winning debut, The Ground. Swerving elegantly from humor to heartbreak, from Colorado to Florida, from Dante's Paradise to Homer's Iliad, from knowledge to ignorance to awe, Phillips turns his gaze upward and outward, probing and upending notions of the beyond.
"Feeling, real feeling / with all its faulty / Architecture, is / Beyond a god's touch"—but it does not elude Phillips. Meditating on feverish boyhood, on two paintings by Chuck Close, on Shakespeare's Measure for Measure, on a dead rooster by the side of the road in Ohio, on an elk grazing outside his window, his language remains eternally intoxicating, full of play, pathos, and surprise.
"The end," he writes, "like / All I've ever told you, is uncertain." Or, elsewhere: "The only way then to know a truth / Is to squint in its direction and poke." Phillips—who received a 2013 Whiting Writers' Award as well as the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award—may not be certain, but as he squints and pokes in the direction of truth, his power of perception and elegance of expression create a place where beauty and truth come together and drift apart like a planet orbiting its star. The result is a book whose lush and wounding beauty will leave its mark on readers long after they've turned the last page.
In his brilliant and lucid introduction, Lehman explains that a prose poem can make use of all the strategies and tactics of poetry, but works in sentences rather than lines. He also summarizes the prose poem's French heritage, its history in the United States, and the salient differences between verse and prose. Arranged chronologically to allow readers to trace the gradual development of this hybrid genre, the poems anthologized here include important works from such masters of American literature as Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, e. e. cummings, Hart Crane, Ernest Hemingway, James Schuyler, Allen Ginsberg, Frank O'Hara, and Elizabeth Bishop. Contemporary mainstays and emerging poets -- Robert Bly, John Ashbery, Charles Simic, Billy Collins, Russell Edson, James Tate, Anne Carson, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Lydia Davis, among them -- are represented with their best work in the field.
The prose poem is beginning to enjoy a tremendous upswing in popularity. Readers of this marvelous collection, a must-have for anyone interested in the current state of the art, will learn why.
From the title poem:
I can’t speak for elsewhere,
but here on Earth we’ve got a fair supply of everything.
Here we manufacture chairs and sorrows,
scissors, tenderness, transistors, violins, teacups, dams, and quips . . .
Like nowhere else, or almost nowhere,
you’re given your own torso here,
equipped with the accessories required
for adding your own children to the rest.
Not to mention arms, legs, and astonished head.
If Country Music traced "Wright's journey from the soil to the stars" and The World of the Ten Thousand Things "lovingly detailed" our world and made "a visionary map of the world beyond" (James Longenbach, The Nation), this final book in Wright's great work reveals a master's confrontation with his own mortality and his stunning ability to discover transcendence in the most beautifully ordinary of landscapes.
Geryon, a young boy who is also a winged red monster, reveals the volcanic terrain of his fragile, tormented soul in an autobiography he begins at the age of five. As he grows older, Geryon escapes his abusive brother and affectionate but ineffectual mother, finding solace behind the lens of his camera and in the arms of a young man named Herakles, a cavalier drifter who leaves him at the peak of infatuation. When Herakles reappears years later, Geryon confronts again the pain of his desire and embarks on a journey that will unleash his creative imagination to its fullest extent. By turns whimsical and haunting, erudite and accessible, richly layered and deceptively simple, Autobiography of Red is a profoundly moving portrait of an artist coming to terms with the fantastic accident of who he is.
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR
National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
"Anne Carson is, for me, the most exciting poet writing in English today." --Michael Ondaatje
"This book is amazing--I haven't discovered any writing in years so marvelously disturbing." --Alice Munro
"A profound love story . . . sensuous and funny, poignant, musical and tender." --The New York Times Book Review
"A deeply odd and immensely engaging book. . . . [Carson] exposes with passionate force the mythic underlying the explosive everyday." --The Village Voice
Chosen as one of the New York Library's 25 Books to Remember for 2003, The Voice at 3:00 A. M. was also nominated for a National Book Award. The recipient of many prizes, Simic most recently received Canada's Griffin Prize. The poems in this collection--spanning two decades of his work--present a rich and varied survey of a remarkable lyrical journey.
In the Street
Beauty, dark goddess,
We met and parted
As though we parted not.
Like two stopped watches
In a dusty store window,
One golden morning of time.
Remarkable for its introspection and for the response it elicited when it was first published in 1977, Houseboat Days is Ashbery’s much-discussed follow-up to his 1975 masterpiece Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, and remains one of his most studied books to date.
Houseboat Days begins with the moving, unforgettable poem “Street Musicians,” an allegory of artistic and personal loss that came ten years after the death of Ashbery’s friend and fellow New York poet Frank O’Hara. But while many of the poems in Houseboat Days are strikingly personal, especially when compared to Ashbery’s work from the 1950s and 1960s, the collection is less about the poet than about the act of writing poetry. In such widely anthologized poems as “Wet Casements,” “Syringa,” “And Ut Pictura Poesis Is Her Name,” and “What Is Poetry,” Ashbery embraces the challenge of his own ars poetica, exploring and exploding the trusses, foundations, and underground caverns that underlie the creative act, and specifically, the act of creating a poem. Marjorie Perloff of the Washington Post Book World called Houseboat Days “the most exciting, most original book of poems to have appeared in the 1970s.”
As the alternately elegiac and humorous poems conclude, the boy has become a man with a family of his own, but memories of his childhood linger. The cycles of life go on, and Schultz continues to render them with wit, grace, and above all a sense of wonder.
I know what Mrs. Einhorn said Mrs. Edels told Mr. Kook about us: God save us from having one shirt, one eye, one child. I know in order to survive. Grandma throws her shawl of exuberant birds over her bony shoulders and ladles up yet another chicken thigh out of the steaming broth of the infinite night sky. -from "Grandma climbs"
The poems in A Yes-or-No Answer dignify memory through precise detail, with a voice that will resonate for a generation at a crossroads.
When Alice Walker published her second collection of poems in 1976, she had spent the previous decade deeply immersed in the civil rights movement. In these verses are her most visceral reactions to a moment in history that would shape the country, and that she herself influenced through words and advocacy. In hymns to ancestors, passionate polemics, and laments for lost possibilities, Walker addresses the problems of the past while keeping an eye on the possibilities of the future. Even in the midst of the call for change, these poems reveal a deep yearning for individual connection to others, as well as a deeply personal connection to nature.
This ebook features an illustrated biography of Alice Walker including rare photos from the author’s personal collection.
Amy Gerstler has won acclaim for sly, sophisticated, and subversive poems that find meaning in unexpected places. The title of her new collection, Scattered at Sea, evokes notions of dispersion, diaspora, sowing one’s wild oats, having one’s mind expanded or blown, losing one’s wits, and mortality. Making use of dramatic monologue, elegy, humor, and collage, these poems explore hedonism, gender, ancestry, reincarnation, bereavement, and the nature of prayer. Groping for an inclusive, imaginative, postmodern spirituality, they draw from an array of sources, including the philosophy of the ancient Stoics, diagnostic tests for Alzheimer’s disease, 1950s recipes, the Babylonian Talmud, and Walter Benjamin’s writing on his drug experiences.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Touching on subjects as diverse as a breakthrough discovery in cell biology and the films of Ingmar Bergman, the anatomy of a possum and the Nazi occupation of Poland, Gregerson seeks to distill “the shape of the question,” the tenuous connection between knowing and suffering, between the brightness of the body and the shadows of the mind. “Choose any angle you like,” she writes, “the world is split in two.” Longtime readers of Gregerson’s poetry will be fascinated by her departure from the supple tercets in which she has worked for nearly twenty years: Magnetic North is a bold anthology of formal experiments. It is also a heartening act of sustained attention from one of our most mindful American poets.
--or you can open
your mouth & stick out
take that fugitive impulse
from the artist’s hand
straight into your very gut
& maybe find out along the way
if the lime-green
of that inverted roof
& the burnt almond
of the filling station’s
live up to their names.
Tom Flynn brings to his subject three invaluable attributes: the eye of a seasoned journalist, the soul of a poet, and his stunning, first-hand experience of that horrific day." --David Friend, Vanity Fair
The dead from here
are my forever companions
I am their pine box,
their marble reliquary,
their bronze urn,
the living, breathing coffin they never had,
their final resting place without a stone.
I move on at peace.
Modeled on Dante's Inferno, veteran journalist Thomas Flynn's Bikeman chronicles the morning of September 11, 2001 like no other published work. Flynn delivers a personal account of his experiences beginning with the first strike on the World Trade Center when he decided to follow his journalist's instinct and point his bike's handlebars in the direction of the north tower. His story continues as he transitions from reporter to participant hoping to survive the fall of the south tower. Now Flynn, as both journalist and now survivor, must come to terms with the harrowing ordeal and somehow find peace in the very act of surviving.
Part journalist's record, part survivor's eulogy, Flynn writes:
Survival is the absence of death.
It is a subdued, a hushed existence. . .
I live to talk about it,
to relate the tale as it happens,
not only its extremities and cruelty,
but also the goodness that flourishes too.
Combining Grace Paley's four previous collections and new unpublished work, Begin Again traces the career of this direct, attentive, never predictable poet. Whether she describes the vicissitudes and pleasures of life in New York City or the hard beauty of her adoptive rural Vermont, whether she celebrates the blessings of friendship or protests against social injustice, her poems brim with the compassion and tough good humor that have made her stories and essays famous.
Mission Work is an arresting collection of poems based on Aaron Baker’s experiences as a child of missionaries living among the Kuman people in the remote Chimbu Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Rich with Christian and Kuman myths and stories, the poems explore Western and tribal ways of looking at the world -- an interface of vastly different cultures and notions of spirituality, illuminated by the poet’s own struggles as he comes of age in this unique environment.
The images conjured in Mission Work are viscerally stirring: native people slaughter pigs for a Chimbu wedding ceremony; a papery flight of cicadas cuts through a cloud forest; hands sting as they beat a drum made of dried snakeskin. Quieter moments are shot through with the unfamiliar as well. In “Bird of Paradise,” a father angles his son’s head toward the canopy of the jungle so the boy can catch sight of an elusive bird.
Stanley Plumly, this year’s guest judge, writes, “How rare to find precision and immersion so alive in the same poetry. Aaron Baker's pressure on his language not only intensifies and elevates his memories of Papuan 'mission work,' it transforms it back into something very like his original childhood experience. Throughout this remarkably written and felt first book, the reader, like the author himself, ‘can’t tell if this is white or black magic,’ Christian, tribal, or both at once.”
A selection of poems that addresses the quotidian and the global, from one of our most essential poets.
Drawing on two decades worth of award-winning poetry, Marilyn Hacker’s generous selections in A Stranger’s Mirror include work from four previous volumes along with twenty-five new poems, ranging in locale from a solitary bedroom to a refugee camp.
In a multiplicity of voices, Hacker engages with translations of French and Francophone poets. Her poems belong to an urban world of cafés, bookshops, bridges, traffic, demonstrations, conversations, and solitudes. From there, Hacker reaches out to other sites and personas: a refugee camp on the Turkish/Syrian border; contrapuntal monologues of a Palestinian and an Israeli poet; intimate and international exchanges abbreviated on Skype—perhaps with gunfire in the background.
These poems course through sonnets and ghazals, through sapphics and syllabics, through every historic-organic pattern, from renga to rubaiyat to Hayden Carruth’s “paragraph.” Each is also an implicit conversation with the poets who came before, or who are writing as we read.
A Stranger’s Mirror is not meant only for poets. These poems belong to anyone who has sought in language an expression and extension of his or her engagement with the world—far off or up close as the morning’s first cup of tea.