Manhattanite (Able Muse Book Award for Poetry)

Able Muse Press
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Aaron Poochigian’s prizewinning second collection of poetry, Manhattanite, is by turns frenzied and focused. It examines New York’s juxtaposed symbols of towering achievement and monumental desolation, and then traverses the country to California’s Central Valley, where the poet reclaims his grandparents’ home. Poochigian consistently entertains, whether his theme is lamentation or celebration—a grizzled urban pigeon (scavenging for “the sort of faith/ that holds for here and now and vibes like song”) or an Ohio wind turbine (an “ungatherable/ iron flower” seen “juggling . . . / three arms’ worth/ of gale-force wind”). Manhattanite is, deservedly, the winner of the 2016 Able Muse Book Award.

PRAISE FOR MANHATTANITE:

In Manhattanite, Aaron Poochigian takes on the role of American flâneur for the twenty-first century, drifting through the frenetic metropolis at a dreamer’s planetary pace. This collection is a celebration of exuberant melancholy, or melancholy exuberance, slick lyric cum urbane pastoral.
—A. E. Stallings (from the foreword), 2016 Able Muse Book Award judge

Manhattanite gives us the Manhattan of speed chess players in the park, tipsy tipplers tipping off the rooftops, the night sky bright with city light, tenants, tenements and supers. Aaron Poochigian is the poet in New York seeking a holy aura in the song of gunshots and spiral sirens, picking like a grizzled pigeon through stray newspapers, bottles, bags, and candy wrappers for a scrap of religion. Each poem is a tower growing out of our human filth and scraping the sky with sky-lines, and together they build a city of words. Put New York in your pocket. It’s inside this book.
—Tony Barnstone

Reading Aaron Poochigian’s Manhattanite is a dynamic, kinetic experience. These poems travel at a fast clip, pulling you along through cityscapes, wastelands, and other vistas.  Some of the poems tunnel downward, plumbing depths of mood and memory. Whichever way they move, Poochigian’s poems perform with such panache and brio that it’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry. I’d say do both—and keep reading. But be warned: this isn’t a feel-good book. It’s a fearless book.
—Rachel Hadas

Thoreau once boasted that he had traveled widely in Concord; Aaron Poochigian’s title indicates that he has traveled widely elsewhere—in the one borough worth experiencing, through western deserts, aboard “an ultra-modern train/ lisping through French or German woods,” and in a Paris of naked bulbs and seedy cabarets. In all of these settings, he deftly choreographs his cast of nameless characters. The concluding lines of “Song: Go and Do It” claim, “I’ll still swear/ we could be happy anywhere.” One sure location of that “anywhere” exists between the covers of Manhattanite.
—R. S. Gwynn

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About the author

 Aaron Poochigian earned a PhD in Classics from the University of Minnesota and an MFA in Poetry from Columbia University. His books of translation, both from Penguin Classics, are Sappho, Stung With Love (2009), and Apollonius’ Jason and the Argonauts (2014). He was awarded a 2010–2011 grant by the National Endowment for the Arts. His first book of original poetry, The Cosmic Purr (Able Muse Press) was published in 2012, and several of the poems in it collectively won the New England Poetry Club’s Daniel Varoujan Prize. His work has appeared in The Guardian, Poems Out Loud, and Poetry.

  Manhattanite is the winner of the 2016 Able Muse Book Award.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Able Muse Press
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Published on
Nov 6, 2017
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Pages
90
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ISBN
9781927409930
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Urban
Poetry / American / General
Travel / United States / Northeast / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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The Cosmic Purr is the first collection of original poetry from Aaron Poochigian, well-known for his translations of Sappho, Aeschylus, Aratus and Apollonius of Rhodes. From the mythical to everyday themes, from the landscape of North Dakota to scenes in a bar, at a marriage ceremony, before birth or before death, Poochigian’s verse is enlightened by uncommonly fresh wisdom, and deployed in the delightfully masterful, elegant and naturally-flowing metrical forms his translations are known for.

PRAISE FOR THE COSMIC PURR:

Aaron Poochigian’s technique is masterly, the tone tends to be tart, disillusioned, cryptic, and elegant, and it’s easy to be beguiled by these poems’ wit and bravura. But the pyrotechnics are used to serious ends, and the scenes that are fitfully illuminated, whether they occur in landscapes as quotidian as contemporary North Dakota or as otherworldly as mythical Greece, whether they are chilling or exhilarating, are always immediate in their reality, and they speak to the reader with a compelling cogency.
– Dick Davis

Aaron Poochigian is both a classicist and a neo-classical poet. By this I mean that he prefers as subjects the common occasions of our lives and articulates them uncommonly, in verse rich with the kind of detail that becomes a style passed on in an act of friendship between him and the poets of the past who have served as his mentors.
– Charles Martin (from the "Foreword")

It is a delight to have some of Aaron Poochigian’s modern New York replies to famous Sappho poems. Reading them is like eavesdropping on a New York wise guy discussing the “night before” with a classical scholar: sexy, witty, learned, and moving. Worth hearing, worth re-reading, too.
– Diana Der-Hovanessian

What is the cosmic purr? Pussycat poet Aaron Poochigian is the one to show us in his ebullient lines. He returns where he started—to the northern plains—then spins on a dime to the wider world “where life was all night long / drinking and dancing, bursting into song.” In “The Parlor” he nods ironically to his Armenian heritage, and a few pages later he lights an elegiac candle for a dying friend. A major translator from classical Greek, Poochigian offers in his own poetry a hip formality, a timeless sense of the contemporary, and when he brings the classics into this scene they live again as freshly as ever.
– David Mason

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KATAHDIN 5268 ft.
Northern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail
Below this were a few waypoints: Thoreau Spring, 1.0, Katahdin Stream Campground, 5.2. At the bottom of the list: Springer Mountain, Georgia, 2160.2. More than two thousand miles. It was simply a number, too large and incomprehensible to have any bearing on me. The farthest I had ever walked in a day was ten miles and that was with a daypack. Now I was contemplating a journey of months, covering thousands of miles. All of a sudden, there on the summit with the clouds screaming past us, it didn't seem like such a great idea.
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Listen to the Barefoot Sisters read excerpts from their book here:
Southbound Podcast - part 1
and here:
Southbound Podcast - part 2

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