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.
Maryann Corbett was born in Washington, DC, grew up in McLean, Virginia, and has lived in Minnesota since 1972 and in Saint Paul since 1986. Trained as a medievalist and linguist, she earned a doctorate in English from the University of Minnesota and spent almost thirty-five years working for the Minnesota Legislature as an in-house writing teacher, editor, and indexer. Her poetry is widely published and has won such awards as the Willis Barnstone Translation Prize and the Richard Wilbur Award.
She is the author of the books Credo for the Checkout Line in Winter also from Able Muse Press, Breath Control, Mid Evil, as well as the chapbooks Gardening in a Time of War and Dissonance.
PRAISE FOR CREDO FOR THE CHECKOUT LINE IN WINTER:
The crafted poems in Maryann Corbett’s new book are vibrant. She is a newborn Robert Frost, with a wicked eye for contemporary life. Each poem surprises. Read her poems and feel the howling snow, the mud, and the jubilance of the first warm fertile spring days.
What makes Maryann Corbett such a rare, excellent writer must be her talent for weaving together various artistic impulses, so that her poems often sound both traditional and brand new, both humorous and serious, both worldly-wise and, as John Keats once put it, “capable of being in uncertainties.” [She] remains a poet of the first order, and her poems are cause for gratitude, and deep enjoyment.
—Peter Campion (from the foreword)
Corbett is as comfortable and affecting within the tight confines of the Old English alliterative meter (“Cold Case”) and the Sapphic stanza (“Paint Store”) as she is with her supple blank verse and terza rima. Yet never does her rigorous craft interfere with the thoughtful, insightful content of these poems. A stunning collection, from one of America’s most gifted contemporary poets.
—Marilyn L. Taylor
Do not dismiss this collection as “domestic poetry,” “women’s verse.” Though grounded in seasonal rhythms and familiar settings, it is as vigorous, as reflective, as important as any man’s. Sharply visual, skillfully and cleverly crafted, her poems draw out essences, “concentrated” and persisting. “Beauty changes us,/ calling up wonder from our deepest selves/ to its right place.”
—Catharine Savage Brosman
These masterful poems announce themselves as winter pieces, and indeed they are so full of sleet and snow that readers may wish to dress warmly. But Corbett’s winter, a season when “dull forms come in the mail” and we eat “tasteless, stone-hard, gassed tomatoes,” is always lushly haunted by the other seasons, the way a house in one of her poems is fronted by a “three-season porch.” Corbett is one of the best-kept secrets of American poetry, and this is one of the best new collections I’ve read in years.
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.
(The Complete Works of William Shakespeare by William Shakespeare, 9789380914831)
In his epic poem Paradise Lost Milton conjured up a vast, awe-inspiring cosmos ranging across huge tracts of space and time. And yet, in putting a charismatic Satan and naked Adam and Eve at the centre of this story, he also created an intensely human tragedy on the Fall of Man. Written when Milton was in his fifties - blind, bitter and briefly in danger of execution - Paradise Lost's apparent ambivalence has led to intense debate about whether it manages to 'justify the ways of God to men' or exposes the cruelty of authority.
Edited with an introduction and notes by JOHN LEONARD