The Ruined Elegance: Poems

Princeton University Press
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In her new collection, Fiona Sze-Lorrain offers a nuanced yet dynamic vision of humanity marked by perils, surprises, and the transcendence of a "ruined elegance." Through an intercultural journey that traces lives, encounters, exiles, and memories from France, America, and Asia, the poet explores a rich array of historical and literary allusions to European masters, Asian sources, and American influences. With candor and humor, each lyrical foray is sensitive to silence and experience: "I want to honor / the invisible. I'll use the fog to see white peaches." There are haunting narratives from a World War II concentration camp, the Stalinist Terror, and a persecuted Tibet during the Cultural Revolution. There are also poems that take as their point of departure writings, paintings, sketches, photographs, and music by Gu Cheng, Giorgio Caproni, Bonnard, Hiroshige, Gao Xingjian, Kertész, and Debussy, among others. Grounded in the sensual, these poems probe existential questionings through inspirations from nature and the impermanent earth. Described by the Los Angeles Review of Books as "a high lyricist who refuses to resort to mere lyricism in order to articulate her experience," Sze-Lorrain renews her faith in music and poetic language by addressing the opposing aesthetics of "ruins" and "elegance," and how the experience of both defies judgment.
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About the author

Fiona Sze-Lorrain is a poet, literary translator, editor, and zheng harpist. The author of two previous books of poetry in English, My Funeral Gondola and Water the Moon, she also writes and translates in French and Chinese. She lives in Paris.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Sep 29, 2015
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Pages
72
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ISBN
9781400873432
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Criticism / Poetry
Poetry / General
Poetry / Subjects & Themes / General
Poetry / Women Authors
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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The Scottish poet Niall Campbell's first book, Moontide, won the Edwin Morgan Poetry Prize, the largest such prize in the United Kingdom, was named the Saltire Scottish First Book of the Year, and was shortlisted for both the Fenton Aldeburgh and Forward prizes for best first collection. First Nights—which includes all the poems in Moontide and sixteen new ones—marks the North American debut of an exciting new voice in British poetry.

First Nights offers vivid descriptions of the natural world, and the joy found in moments of quiet, alongside intimate depictions of new parenthood. Campbell grew up on the remote, sparsely populated islands of South Uist and Eriskay in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, and First Nights is filled with images of the islands’ seascapes, myths, wildlife, and long, dark winters. But the poems widen beyond their immediate locations to include thoughts on sculpture and mythology, Zola and Dostoevsky, and life in English cities and French villages. In the poems on early fatherhood, the geography shifts from coastal stretches to bare, dimly lit rooms. Stripped back, honest, and immediate, these poems capture moments of vulnerability, when the only answer is to love.

Combining skilled storytelling, precise language, an allegiance to meter and form, and a quiet musicality, these poems resonate with silence and song, mystery and wonder, exploring ideas of companionship and withdrawal, love, and the stillness of solitude. The result is a collection that promises to be a classic.

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