PRAISE FOR STREET VIEW:
Assaulted, as we all are, by relentless, restless noise-throbbing subwoofers, urban construction, cynical marketing and violent news, even our own banal chitchat-Maryann Corbett “strafe[s] back with the whole Roget/ and gun[s her] engine to its own rough strife. . . .” Though her weapons, her engines, are stillness, insight, and rhythm, there is indeed a sense in which the poems in Street View wallop their subjects with language. The exquisite, seemingly effortless grace of these poems with their penetrating music and humor deserve a commendation like that the poet gives Veronese: “This is the catechesis/ we need now, for the kind of sight we work with/ here, where the world kabooms.”
-George David Clark
Given her gift with detail, Maryann Corbett is the perfect person to offer a view, but an even more perfect person to offer a “street view,” the title of her new collection. While Corbett has made a career of being precise, she can be whimsical as well, right down to the “Northrop Mall . . . as fixed and formal as an English sonnet.” Yet perhaps her greatest strength is that she is not afraid to be the quiet steady gaze that takes in everything: all the things most people would miss.
Maryann Corbett takes the ode less traveled (not to mention the terzanelle less tried and the dactylic hexameter almost unheard of) to oddly familiar destinations: the West Side Y in New York City, Grand Avenue in St. Paul, the dentist’s clinic. She is a rhapsodist of times past and places lost or endangered, but she also lives very much in the present. She examines experiences with shrewdness and fascination, crafting them into poems that are breathtaking in their intelligence and brio.
In Maryann Corbett’s new book, we are given a Street View on the world, from Minneapolis to Jerusalem. These streets are populated with a variety of town characters, from the vagrant to the dangerous academic “Weirdo” with his void-sucked soul who makes one think of mass killings. Suffice it to say that the street view might be uglier than the view onto the mountains or the ocean, but in that ugliness can be found a clearer view on the truth of how we live today.
In this astoundingly unique book, bestselling author N.D. Wilson reminds each of us that to truly live we must recognize that we are dying. Every second we create more of our past—more decisions, more breathing, more love and more loathing, all of it slides by into the gone as we race to grab at more moments, at more memories made and already fading.
We are all authors, creators of our own pasts, of the books that will be our lives. We stare at the future or obsess about the present, but only the past has been set in stone, and we are the ones setting it. When we race across the wet concrete of time without purpose, without goals, without laughter and love and sacrifice, then we fail in our mortal moment. We race toward our inevitable ends without artistry and without beauty.
All of us must pause and breathe. See the past, see your life as the fruit of providence and thousands of personal narratives. What led to you? You did not choose where to set your feet in time. You choose where to set them next.
Then, we must see the future, not just to stare into the fog of distant years but to see the crystal choices as they race toward us in this sharp foreground we call the present. We stand in the now. God says create. Live. Choose. Shape the past. Etch your life in stone, and what you make will be forever.
Composed toward the end of the first millennium, Beowulf is the elegiac narrative of the adventures of Beowulf, a Scandinavian hero who saves the Danes from the seemingly invincible monster Grendel and, later, from Grendel's mother. He then returns to his own country and dies in old age in a vivid fight against a dragon. The poem is about encountering the monstrous, defeating it, and then having to live on in the exhausted aftermath. In the contours of this story, at once remote and uncannily familiar at the beginning of the twenty-first century, Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney finds a resonance that summons power to the poetry from deep beneath its surface. Drawn to what he has called the "four-squareness of the utterance" in Beowulf and its immense emotional credibility, Heaney gives these epic qualities new and convincing reality for the contemporary reader.
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.
Christine Kitano's first collection of poetry, Birds of Paradise, was published by Lynx House Press. She lives in Ithaca, NY, where she is an assistant professor of creative writing, poetry, and Asian American literature at Ithaca College.
The best way to hide is in plain sight. In this politically-charged and candid debut, we follow the chronicles of an illegal immigrant speaker over a twenty-year span as she grows up in the foreign and forbidding landscape of America.
From "Ivan, Always Hiding":
I strained for the socket
as you pulled me,
my bare legs against your legs
in the windowless dark. The room,
could have been no
larger than a freight car,
no smaller than a box van;
we couldn't tell anymore, the glints
in the shellacked floor, too,
were dulled. This is like death, you said,
always joking. I slid my head
into the crook of your neck,
and didn't disagree.
Raised in the Philippines and California, Janine Joseph holds an MFA from New York University and a PhD from the University of Houston. Her poems have appeared in the Kenyon Review Online, Best New Poets, Hayden's Ferry Review, and elsewhere. Her libretto "From My Mother's Mother" was performed as part of the Houston Grand Opera's "Song of Houston: East + West" series. A Kundiman and Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow, she is an assistant professor of English at Weber State University.
(The Complete Works of William Shakespeare by William Shakespeare, 9789380914831)
In this important collection, award-winning author Louise Erdrich has selected poems from her two previous books of poetry, Jacklight and Baptism of Desire, and has added nineteen new poems to compose Original Fire.
“These molten poems radiate with the ferocity of desire, and in them Erdrich does not spin verse so much as tell tales—of betrayal and revenge, of hunting and being hunted.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
Seamus Heaney's new collection elicits continuities and solidarities, between husband and wife, child and parent, then and now, inside an intently remembered present—the stepping stones of the day, the weight and heft of what is passed from hand to hand, lifted and lowered. Human Chain also broaches larger questions of transmission, of lifelines to the inherited past. There are newly minted versions of anonymous early Irish lyrics, poems that stand at the crossroads of oral and written, and other "hermit songs" that weigh equally in their balance the craft of scribe and the poet's early calling as scholar. A remarkable sequence entitled "Route 101" plots the descent into the underworld in the Aeneid against single moments in the arc of a life, from a 1950s childhood to the birth of a first grandchild. Other poems display a Virgilian pietas for the dead—friends, neighbors, family—that is yet wholly and movingly vernacular.
Human Chain also includes a poetic "herbal" adapted from the Breton poet Guillevic—lyrics as delicate as ferns, which puzzle briefly over the world of things and landscapes that exclude human speech, while affirming the interconnectedness of phenomena, as of a self-sufficiency in which we too are included.
From Mitochondrial Night:
he explained, in the tradition
so the ancestors won't be so lonely.
Because spirits need us
more than we need them.
And for hours
they’ll listen to anyone
‘I crossed the border into the Republic of Motherhood
and found it a queendom, a wild queendom.’
In this bold and resonant gathering of poems, Liz Berry turns her distinctive voice to the transformative experience of new motherhood. Her poems sing the body electric, from the joy and anguish of becoming a mother, through its darkest hours to its brightest days. With honesty and unabashed beauty, they bear witness to that most tender of times – when a new life arrives, and everything changes.
Karr's battle is grounded in common loss (a bitter romance, friends' deaths, a teenage son's leaving home) as well as in elegies for a complicated mother. The poems disarm with the arresting humor familiar to readers of her memoirs, The Liars' Club and Cherry. An illuminating cycle of spiritual poems have roots in Karr's eight-month tutelage in Jesuit prayer practice, and as an afterword, her celebrated essay on faith weaves the tale of how the language of poetry, which relieved her suffering so young, eventually became the language of prayer. Those of us who fret that poetry denies consolation will find clear-eyed joy in this collection.