In a country where gambling is ostensibly illegal, this is a strange state of affairs. In colonial Jamestown, the first lottery was created despite conservative opposition to the vice of gambling. Now, 42 states sponsor lotteries despite complaints of liberals who see them as a regressive tax on the poor. Why do we all play this game that brings no rewards, and leaves us rifling through the garbage for the ticket we swear would be a winner if we could only find it? How has this game persisted, even flourished, in defiance of so much opposition?
In this observant, intelligent book, Matthew Sweeney gives a history of the American lottery, stopping along the way to give us the bizarre--sometimes tragic--stories that it makes possible: the five-million-dollar miracle man who became a penniless preacher investing in a crackpot energy scheme; the senator whose untimely injury allowed the lottery to pass into law in his home state; and many others.
Written with insight and wit, Dreaming in Numbers gives us the people and the stories that built a nationwide institution, for better or worse.
In this, his seventh collection, we are back in a world where all explanations are withheld. 'If Beckett and Kafka come to mind', as Sean O'Brien wrote in his essay on Sweeney in The Deregulated Muse, 'they are not simply influences but kindred imaginations'. So we encounter a valley mysteriously filling with the smell of fish, second-world-war planes reappearing over London, a secret attic mural of a naked ex-lover, a cosmonaut abandoned on the moon, and a subterranean tunnel that runs the length of Ireland.
Whatever the subject, we are in the confident hands of one of the most imaginatively gifted poets now writing.
Celebrated for his ability to blend the simple terror of folklore with the more sophisticated anxieties of Kafka and the contemporary, Sweeney moves through this book like a revenant - past monkeys dressed as doormen, through ice-hotels and showers of human hair, towards a scaffold or a lover. Obliquely sinister and wryly engaging, full of fright and grim hilarity, these are rootless poems - unsettled and unsettling, and very far from home.
A Poetry Book Society Recommendation.
Have you ever enjoyed a slam or two and thought, "I could do this," but felt apprehensive staring at that empty mic—or worse, you climbed up on stage and struggled?
Let Marc Kelly Smith, the founder of Slam Poetry, teach you everything you need to be a confident performer, from writing a powerful poem, to stage techniques, to going on tour (if that's where your muse leads you).
Take the Mic is filled with insider tips, backstage advice, and tons of examples of slam poems that wake up an audience. With this book, you'll also be able to link to the PoetrySpeaks.com community to listen to samples, meet poets, and unearth inspirations for your next performance.
The Ultimate Guide to Writing and Performing with Power
Take the Mic is an essential guide for lifting your poetry from the page to the stage. Marc Kelly Smith (So What!), grand founder of the Slam movement, serves as you personal coach, showing you how to craft stage-worthy verse and deliver a poetry performance that shakes the rafters and sparks thunderous applause. In Take the Mic, you discover how to...Pen poetry that's conducive to on-stage performance Overcome stage fright Practice powerful performance techniques Rehearse like a pro Shape a loose collection of poems into a killer set Connect with your audience — heart and soul Master the art of self-promotion Schedule your own slam poetry tour Transform your hobby into paying gigs Act professional to establish a solid reputation in the Slam community
Take the Mic is packed with practical exercises you can do alone or in class to hone your skills and transform your body, mind, voice, verse, and spirit into an engaging stage presence.
You'll also find a brief history of slam, the rules and regulations that govern official slam competitions, and a list of PSI (Poetry Slam, Inc.) Certified Slams, so no matter where you are, you always have a place to Take the Mic!
Describing Dante's descent into Hell with Virgil as a guide, Inferno depicts a cruel underworld in which desperate figures are condemned to eternal damnation for committing one or more of seven deadly sins. As he descends through nine concentric circles of increasingly agonising torture, Dante encounters many doomed souls before he is finally ready to meet the ultimate evil in the heart of Hell: Satan himself.
This new edition of Inferno includes explanatory notes and an illustration of Dante's plan of hell. Robin Kirkpatrick's masterful translation is also available in a bilingual Penguin edition, with the original Italian on facing pages, and in a complete edition of The Divine Comedy with an introduction and other editorial materials.
Dante Alighieri was born in 1265. He studied at the university of Bologna, married at the age of twenty and had four children. His first major work was La Vita Nuova (1292), a tribute to Beatrice Portinari, the great love of his life who had died two years earlier. In 1302, Dante's political activism resulted in his being exiled from Florence. After years of wandering, he settled in Ravenna and in about 1307 began writing The Divine Comedy. Dante died in 1321.
Robin Kirkpatrick is a poet and widely-published Dante scholar. He has taught courses on Dante's Divine Comedy in Hong Kong, Dublin and Cambridge, where is Fellow of Robinson College and Professor of Italian and English Literatures.
'The perfect balance of tightness and colloquialism...likely to be the best modern version of Dante' - Bernard O'Donoghue
“How lucky the young poet who discovers this wisest and most lighthearted of manuals.”—James Merrill
“Marvelously comprehensive, clarifying and useful, and a delight to read.”—John Reardon, Los Angeles Times Book Review
“A virtuoso performance and a mandatory text for poetry readers and practioners alike.”—ALA Booklist
Gregory Orr draws from a generous array of sources. He weaves discussions of work by Keats, Dickinson, and Whitman with quotes from three-thousand-year-old Egyptian poems, Inuit songs, and Japanese love poems to show that writing personal lyric has helped poets throughout history to process emotional and experiential turmoil, from individual stress to collective grief. More specifically, he considers how the acts of writing, reading, and listening to lyric bring ordering powers to the chaos that surrounds us. Moving into more contemporary work, Orr looks at the poetry of Sylvia Plath, Stanley Kunitz, and Theodore Roethke, poets who relied on their own work to get through painful psychological experiences.
As a poet who has experienced considerable trauma--especially as a child--Orr refers to the damaging experiences of his past and to the role poetry played in his ability to recover and survive. His personal narrative makes all the more poignant and vivid Orr's claims for lyric poetry's power as a tool for healing. Poetry as Survival is a memorable and inspiring introduction to lyric poetry's capacity to help us find safety and comfort in a threatening world.
"In his work a continent awakens to consciousness." So wrote the Swedish Academy in awarding the Nobel Prize to Pablo Neruda, the author of more than thirty-five books of poetry and one of Latin America's most revered writers, lionized during his lifetime as "the people's poet."
This selection of Neruda's poetry, the most comprehensive single volume available in English, presents nearly six hundred poems, scores of them in new and sometimes multiple translations, and many accompanied by the Spanish original. In his introduction, Ilan Stavans situates Neruda in his native milieu as well as in a contemporary English-language one, and a group of new translations by leading poets testifies to Neruda's enduring, vibrant legacy among English-speaking writers and readers today.
This anthology embraces a wide variety of compositions: it ranges from song-poems of the Pele and Hiiaka cycle and the pre-Christian Shark Hula for Ka-lani-opuu to postmissionary chants and gospel hymns. These later selections date from the reign of Ka-mehameha III (1825-1854) to that of Queen Liliu-o-ka-lani (1891-1893) and comprise the major portion of the book. They include, along with heroic chants celebrating nineteenth-century Hawaiian monarchs, a number of works composed by commoners for commoners, such as Bill the Ice Skater, Mr. Thurston's Water-Drinking Brigade, and The Song of the Chanter Kaehu. Kaehu was a distinguished leper-poet who ended his days at the settlement-hospital on Molokai.
From the Hardcover edition.
Quincy Troupe • Czeslaw Milosz • Campbell McGrath • C.D. Wright • Jack Gilbert • Heather McHugh • David Lehman • Wang Ping • Joseph Brodsky • Paul Beatty • Lorna Dee Cervantes • Paul Muldoon • Lucille Clifton • Naomi Shihab Nye • Richard Blanco • Albert Goldbarth • Carrie Allen McCray • Belle Waring • Russell Edson • Kevin Young • Nuali Di Dhomhnaill • Charles Harper Webb • Denise Duhamel • Yusef Komunyakaa • Hal Sirowitz • Lucia Perillo • Amy Gerstler • Maura Stanton • Marilyn Chin • Philip Booth • Jane Cooper • Diane DiPrima • Elizabeth Spires
From the Trade Paperback edition.
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood . . .” One hundred years after its first publication in August 1915, Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” is so ubiquitous that it’s easy to forget that it is, in fact, a poem. Yet poetry it is, and Frost’s immortal lines remain unbelievably popular. And yet in spite of this devotion, almost everyone gets the poem hopelessly wrong.
David Orr’s The Road Not Taken dives directly into the controversy, illuminating the poem’s enduring greatness while revealing its mystifying contradictions. Widely admired as the poetry columnist for The New York Times Book Review, Orr is the perfect guide for lay readers and experts alike. Orr offers a lively look at the poem’s cultural influence, its artistic complexity, and its historical journey from the margins of the First World War all the way to its canonical place today as a true masterpiece of American literature.
“The Road Not Taken” seems straightforward: a nameless traveler is faced with a choice: two paths forward, with only one to walk. And everyone remembers the traveler taking “the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference.” But for a century readers and critics have fought bitterly over what the poem really says. Is it a paean to triumphant self-assertion, where an individual boldly chooses to live outside conformity? Or a biting commentary on human self-deception, where a person chooses between identical roads and yet later romanticizes the decision as life altering?
What Orr artfully reveals is that the poem speaks to both of these impulses, and all the possibilities that lie between them. The poem gives us a portrait of choice without making a decision itself. And in this, “The Road Not Taken” is distinctively American, for the United States is the country of choice in all its ambiguous splendor.
Published for the poem’s centennial—along with a new Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition of Frost’s poems, edited and introduced by Orr himself—The Road Not Taken is a treasure for all readers, a triumph of artistic exploration and cultural investigation that sings with its own unforgettably poetic voice.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Mattie J. T. Stepanek lived and died a child, but he had the spirit of a giant. Affected by a rare and fatal neuromuscular disease, Mattie lived almost fourteen years but in that time became a poet, best-selling author, peace activist, and a prominent voice for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Before his death in June 2004, his five volumes of Heartsongs poetry sold more than a million copies.
Reflections of a Peacemaker: A Portrait Through Heartsongs is the final collection of Heartsongs that Mattie was working on when he died. It includes the last poem Mattie penned along with a special collection of unpublished poetry, photographs, and artwork spanning the decade from when he began writing Heartsongs at age three. Culled from the thousands of poems, essays, and journal entries Mattie left behind, the entries in Reflections of a Peacemaker create a portrait of Mattie in his own words. In these poems he explores disability, despair, and death but also the gifts he finds in nature, prayer, peace, and his belief in something "bigger and better than the here and now." The poems are grouped by theme such as playful, stormy, sacred, and final Heartsongs, with each section introduced by a personal tribute from the likes of Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, Larry King, and former President Jimmy Carter.
In the words of Mattie's mother, Jeni Stepanek, who has published Reflections of a Peacemaker at her son's request, "In reading these poems we enter Mattie's world and gain insight through a child who somehow balanced pain and fear with optimism and faith."
In this inventive and lucid essay, Lerner takes the hatred of poetry as the starting point of his defense of the art. He examines poetry's greatest haters (beginning with Plato's famous claim that an ideal city had no place for poets, who would only corrupt and mislead the young) and both its greatest and worst practitioners, providing inspired close readings of Keats, Dickinson, McGonagall, Whitman, and others. Throughout, he attempts to explain the noble failure at the heart of every truly great and truly horrible poem: the impulse to launch the experience of an individual into a timeless communal existence. In The Hatred of Poetry, Lerner has crafted an entertaining, personal, and entirely original examination of a vocation no less essential for being impossible.
The "far, stubborn, disastrous" course of Jack Gilbert's resolute journey--not one that would promise in time to bring him home to the consolations of Penelope and the comforts of Ithaca but one that would instead take him ever outward to the impossible blankness of the desert--could never have been achieved in the society of others. What has kept this great poet brave has been the difficult company of his poems--and now we have, in Gilbert's third and most silent book, what may be, what must be, the bravest of these imperial accomplishments.
Ranging from medieval Latin lyrics to a cyborg opera, sixteenth-century France to twentieth-century Brazil, romantic ballads to the contemporary avant-garde, the contributors to The Sound of Poetry/The Poetry of Sound explore such subjects as the translatability of lyric sound, the historical and cultural roles of rhyme,the role of sound repetition in novelistic prose, theconnections between “sound poetry” and music, between the visual and the auditory, the role of the body in performance, and the impact of recording technologies on the lyric voice. Along the way, the essaystake on the “ensemble discords” of Maurice Scève’s Délie, Ezra Pound’s use of “Chinese whispers,” the alchemical theology of Hugo Ball’s Dada performances, Jean Cocteau’s modernist radiophonics, and an intercultural account of the poetry reading as a kind of dubbing.
A genuinely comparatist study, The Sound of Poetry/The Poetry of Sound is designed to challenge current preconceptions about what Susan Howe has called “articulations of sound forms in time” as they have transformed the expanded poetic field of the twenty-first century.
In the sixth century b.c.-twenty-five hundred years before Einstein-Heraclitus of Ephesus declared that energy is the essence of matter, that everything becomes energy in flux, in relativity. His great book, On Nature, the world's first coherent philosophical treatise and touchstone for Plato, Aristotle, and Marcus Aurelius, has long been lost to history-but its surviving fragments have for thousands of years tantalized our greatest thinkers, from Montaigne to Nietzsche, Heidegger to Jung. Now, acclaimed poet Brooks Haxton presents a powerful free-verse translation of all 130 surviving fragments of the teachings of Heraclitus, with the ancient Greek originals beautifully reproduced en face.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Nearly three hundred poems allow readers to explore canonical works by such poets as Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, and Sylvia Plath, as well as song lyrics from such popular musicians as Bob Dylan and Queen Latifah. Because contemporary American culture transcends the borders of the continental United States, the anthology also includes numerous transnational poets, from Julia de Burgos to Derek Walcott. Whether they are the works of oblique avant-gardists like John Ashbery or direct, populist poets like Allen Ginsberg, all of the selections are accompanied by extensive introductions and footnotes, making the great poetry of the period fully accessible to readers for the first time.
Written with the authority of a scholar and the vigor of a bestselling narrative historian, The War That Killed Achilles is a superb and utterly timely presentation of one of the timeless stories of Western civilization. As she did in The Endurance and The Bounty, New York Times bestselling author Caroline Alexander has taken apart a narrative we think we know and put it back together in a way that lets us see its true power. In the process, she reveals the intended theme of Homer's masterwork-the tragic lessons of war and its enduring devastation.
This complete edition brings together all the poems of Carver’s five previous books, from Fires to the posthumously published No Heroics, Please. It also contains bibliographical and textual notes on individual poems; a chronology of Carver’s life and work; and a moving introduction by Carver’s widow, the poet Tess Gallagher.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
For Wislawa Szymborska, the catalyst is a dream; for Robert Bly, being in the company of his ten-year-old son; for Gerald Stern, it is a grapefruit at breakfast; for Billy Collins, a cigarette. Dancing with Joy includes English and Italian classical and romantic works; early Chinese and Persian verse; and poets from Chile, France, Sweden, Poland, Russia, Turkey, and India, plus a range of contemporary American and English poets.
Whether inspiration is what you need, or an affirmation of what is already joyful in life, Dancing with Joy is a welcome treat for Housden’s numerous fans, as well as anyone looking for sheer happiness, marvelously expressed.
From the Hardcover edition.
-- John SturrockFrench StudiesClearly a landmark study. It seems certain to provoke a great deal of productive debate among those concerned with any of the many issues it raises.
-- Comparative Literature
The literary self-portrait, often considered to be an ill- formed autobiography, is receiving more attention as a result of the current obsession with personal narrative, but little progress has been made toward an understanding of its specific features. With Poetics of the Literary Self-Portrait, Michel Beaujour reveals the hidden ambitions of this genre. From St. Augustine to Montaigne, from Nietzsche to Malraux, Leiris and Barthes, individual self-portraits are analyzed jointly with the enduring cultural matrix from which self-portrayal derives its disconcerting non-narrative structure, and many of its recurrent topics.
Throughout both of Rachel's periods of severe depression, the healing power of poetry became an integral part of her recovery. As someone who had always loved poetry, it became something for Rachel to cling on to in times of need - from repeating short mantras to learning and reciting entire poems - these words and verses became a powerful force for change in her life. In Black Rainbow Rachel analyses why poetry can be one answer to depression, and the book contains a selected 40 of the poems that provided Rachel with solace and comfort during her breakdown and recovery.
At a time when mental health problems and depression are becoming more common, and the stigma around such issues is finally being lifted, this book offers a lifeline for anyone seeking to understand depression and seek new ways to treat it. Poetry is free, has no side-effects and, as Rachel can attest, 'prescribing words instead of pills' can be an incredibly powerful remedy.
In the spirit of Blake’s vow of “mental fight,” Grossman contends with challenges to the validity of the poetic imagination, from Adorno’s maxim “No poetry after Auschwitz,” to the claims of religious authority upon truth, and the ultimate challenge posed by the fact of death itself. To these challenges he responds with eloquent and rigorous arguments, drawing on wide resources of learning and his experience as master-poet and teacher. Grossman’s readings of Wordsworth, Hart Crane, Paul Celan, and others focus on poems that interrogate the real or enact the hard bargains that literary representation demands. True-Love is destined to become an essential book wherever poetry and criticism sustain one another.
Emily Dickinson saw fewer than a dozen of her poems published in her lifetime, but she has since become one of the most revered and beloved of all American poets. As a shy woman living in 19th century New England, Dickinson wrote about large subjects through close observation of small, everyday details. After her death, her sister found more than 1,775 poems and solicited help in seeing them into print. Dickinson preferred to live most of her life at home among those she loved, but over time, some of the more unusual facts of her life became mythologized and distorted. Using updated scholarship and never before published primary research, this new biography peels away the myths surrounding Emily Dickinson and takes a fresh look at the complex and busy life of this genius of American letters.
As a research tool, the volume is also useful for its explanation of current nomenclature for the poems, mysteries and controversies, and the poet's influence on American poetry and culture. A chronology is set alongside significant historical and cultural events of the period. Also included are locations of major holdings for Dickinson study, a listing of poems published in her lifetime, and a full bibliography of primary and secondary sources.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
I meant perpetuate—as if our duty
were coupled with our terror. As if beauty
itself were but a syllabus of errors.
Troy Jollimore's first collection of poems won the National Book Critics Circle Award, was hailed by the New York Times as "a snappy, entertaining book," and led the San Francisco Chronicle to call him "a new and exciting voice in American poetry." And his critically acclaimed second collection expanded his reputation for poems that often take a playful approach to philosophical issues. While the poems in Syllabus of Errors share recognizable concerns with those of Jollimore’s first two books, readers will also find a voice that has grown more urgent, more vulnerable, and more sensitive to both the inevitability of tragedy and the possibility of renewal.
Poems such as "Ache and Echo," "The Black-Capped Chickadees of Martha’s Vineyard," and "When You Lift the Avocado to Your Mouth" explore loss, regret, and the nature of beauty, while the culminating long poem, "Vertigo," is an elegy for a lost friend as well as a fantasia on death, repetition, and transcendence (not to mention the poet’s favorite Hitchcock film). Ingeniously organized into sections that act as reflections on six quotations about birdsong, these poems are themselves an answer to the question the poet asks in "On Birdsong": "What would we say to the cardinal or jay, / given wings that could mimic their velocities?"
To accompany Eliot's poems, Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue have provided a commentary that illuminates the creative activity that came to constitute each poem, calling upon drafts, correspondence and other original materials to provide a vivid account of the poet's working processes, his reading, his influences and his revisions.
The first volume respects Eliot's decisions by opening with his Collected Poems 1909-1962 in the form in which he issued it, shortly before his death fifty years ago. There follow in this first volume the uncollected poems from his youth that he had chosen to publish, along with such other poems as could be considered suitable for publication. The second volume opens with the two books of poems of other kinds that he issued, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats and his translation of Perse's Anabase, moving then to verses privately circulated as informal or improper or clubmanlike. Each of these sections is accompanied by its respective commentary, and then, pertaining to the entire edition, there is a comprehensive textual history recording variants both manuscript and published.
The Poems of T. S. Eliot is a work of enlightening scholarship that will delight and inform all those who read Eliot for pleasure, as well as all those who read with pleasure and for study. Here are a new accuracy and an unparalleled insight into the marvels and landmarks from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and The Waste Land through to Four Quartets
Throughout, Stainton meticulously but unobtrusively relates the oeuvre to the life. Her biography is quickly becoming the standard one-volume work on the poet.
Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty . . .
-- Composed Upon Westminster Bridge,
September 3, 1802
The National Book Award-winning author of Time and Materials, Robert Hass is one of the most revered of all living poets. With The Apple Trees at Olema, the former Poet Laureate and winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize offers twenty new and selected poems grounded in the beauty of the physical world. As with all of the collections of this great artist’s work, published far too infrequently, The Apple Trees at Olema is a cause for celebration.
This luminous anthology brings together great poets from around the world whose work transcends culture and time. Their words reach past the outer divisions to the universal currents of love and revelation that move and inspire us all. These poems urge us to wake up and love. They also call on us to relinquish our grip on ideas and opinions that confine us and, instead, to risk moving forward into the life that is truly ours.
In his selection, Roger Housden has placed strong emphasis on contemporary voices such as the American poet laureate Billy Collins and the Nobel Prize–winners Czeslaw Milosz and Seamus Heaney, but the collection also includes some timeless echoes of the past in the form of work by masters such as Goethe, Wordsworth, and Emily Dickinson.
The tens of thousands of readers of Roger Housden’s “Ten Poems” series will welcome this beautiful harvest of poems that both open the mind and heal the heart.
From the Hardcover edition.
To explain why a reader might prefer one kind of poem to another, von Hallberg analyzes—beyond the political and intellectual significance of poems—the musicality of both lyric poetry and popular song, including that of Tin Pan Alley and doo-wop. He shows that poets have distinctive intellectual resources—not just rhetorical resources—for examining their subjects, and that the power of poetic language to generalize, not particularize, is what justly deserves a critic’s attention.
The first book in more than a decade from this respected critic, Lyric Powers will be celebrated as a genuine event by readers of poetry and literary criticism.