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New Poetry & Literature
After the Tall Timber by
For decades, Renata Adler's writing has upheld and defined the highest standards of investigative journalism. A staff writer at The New Yorker from 1963 to 2001, Adler has reported on civil rights from Selma, Alabama; on the war in Biafra, the Six-Day War, and the Vietnam War; on the Nixon impeachment inquiry and Congress. She has also written about cultural matters, films (as chief film critic for The New York Times), books, politics, and pop music. Like many journalists, she has put herself in harm's way in order to give us the news, not the "news" we have become accustomed to-celebrity journalism, conventional wisdom, received ideas-but the actual story, an account unfettered by ideology or consensus. The peril that Adler places herself in comes specifically from speaking up (on the basis of careful research, common sense, original thought) when too many other writers have joined the pack. In this most basic and moral sense, Adler is one of the few independent journalists writing in America today. a This collection of Adler's nonfiction draws on her early essays, reporting, and criticism, which describe the major crises and hopeful turmoil of the 1960s, and more recent pieces concerned with, in her words, "misrepresentation, coercion, and abuse of public process, and the journalist's role in it." Also included are writings on film, television, and music, and several uncollected essays on Jayson Blair and the Times, and the Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Gore. A new epilogue by Adler provides an invaluable and long-overdue assessment of our culture today from one of its foremost chroniclers.
The Beauty by
The Beauty, an incandescent new collection from one of American poetry's most distinctive and essential voices, opens with a series of dappled, ranging "My" poems--"My Skeleton," "My Corkboard," "My Species," "My Weather"--using materials sometimes familiar, sometimes unexpected, to explore the magnitude, singularity, and permeability of our shared existence. With a pen faithful to the actual yet dipped at times in the ink of the surreal, Hirshfield considers the inner and outer worlds we live in yet are not confined by; reflecting on advice given her long ago--to avoid the word "or"--she concludes, "Now I too am sixty. / There was no other life." Hirshfield's lines cut, as always, directly to the heart of human experience. Her robust affirmation of choice even amid inevitability, her tender consciousness of the unjudging beauty of what exists, her abiding contemplation of our moral, societal, and biological intertwinings, sustain poems that tune and retune the keys of a life. For this poet, "Zero Plus Anything Is a World." Hirshfield's riddling recipes for that world ("add salt to hunger"; "add time to trees") offer a profoundly altered understanding of our lives' losses and additions, and of the small and larger beauties we so often miss.
Deep Lane by
Mark Doty's poetry has long been celebrated for its risk and candor, an ability to find transcendent beauty even in the mundane and grievous, an unflinching eye that--as Philip Levine says--"looks away from nothing." In the poems of Deep Lane the stakes are higher: there is more to lose than ever before, and there is more for us to gain. "Pure appetite," he writes ironically early in the collection, "I wouldn't know anything about that." And the following poem answers:Down there the little star-nosed engine of desireat work all night, secretive: in the morninga new line running across the wet grass, near the surface,like a vein. Don't you wish the road of excessled to the palace of wisdom, wouldn't that be nice?Deep Lane is a book of descents: into the earth beneath the garden, into the dark substrata of a life. But these poems seek repair, finally, through the possibilities that sustain the speaker aboveground: gardens and animals, the pleasure of seeing, the world tuned by the word. Time and again, an image of immolation and sacrifice is undercut by the fierce fortitude of nature: nature that is not just a solace but a potent antidote and cure. Ranging from agony to rapture, from great depths to hard-won heights, these are poems of grace and nobility.
The Folded Clock by
A raucous, stunningly candid, deliriously smart diary of two years in the life of the incomparable Heidi Julavits Like many young people, Heidi Julavits kept a diary. Decades later she found her old diaries in a storage bin, and hoped to discover the early evidence of the person (and writer) she'd since become. Instead, "The actual diaries revealed me to possess the mind of a paranoid tax auditor." The entries are daily chronicles of anxieties about grades, looks, boys, and popularity. After reading the confessions of her past self, writes Julavits, "I want to good-naturedly laugh at this person. I want to but I can't. What she wanted then is scarcely different from what I want today." Thus was born a desire to try again, to chronicle her daily life as a forty-something woman, wife, mother, and writer. The dazzling result is The Folded Clock, in which the diary form becomes a meditation on time and self, youth and aging, betrayal and loyalty, friendship and romance, faith and fate, marriage and family, desire and death, gossip and secrets, art and ambition. Concealed beneath the minute obsession with "dailiness" are sharply observed moments of cultural criticism and emotionally driven philosophical queries. In keeping with the spirit of a diary, the tone is confessional, sometimes shockingly so, as the focus shifts from the woman she wants to be to the woman she may have become. Julavits's spirited sense of humor about her foibles and misadventures, combined with her ceaseless intelligence and curiosity, explode the typically confessional diary form. The Folded Clock is as playful as it is brilliant, a tour de force by one of the most gifted prose stylists in American letters.
What do “self” and “it” have in common? In Rae Armantrout’s new poems, there is no inert substance. Self and it (word and particle) are ritual and rigmarole, song-and-dance and long distance call into whatever dark matter might exist. How could a self not be selfish? Armantrout accesses the strangeness of everyday occurrence with wit, sensuality, and an eye alert to underlying trauma, as in the poem "Price Points" where a man conducts an imaginary orchestra but "gets no points for originality." In their investigations of the cosmically mundane, Armantrout’s poems use an extraordinary microscopic lens—even when she’s glancing backwards from the outer reaches of space. An online reader’s companion is available at http://raearmantrout.site.wesleyan.edu.
The Life of Images by
A collection of new and selected essays by the Pulitzer Prize-winner and former Poet Laureate. In addition to being one of America's most famous and commended poets, Charles Simic is a prolific and talented essayist. The Life of Images brings together his best prose work written over twenty-five years. A blend of the straightforward, the wry, and the hopeful, the essays in The Life of Images explore subjects ranging from literary criticism to philosophy, photography to Simic's childhood in a war-torn country. Culled from five collections, each work demonstrates the qualities that make Simic's poetry so brilliant yet accessible. Whether he is revealing the influence of literature on his childhood development, pondering the relationship between food and comfort, or elegizing the pull to return to a homeland that no longer exists, the legendary poet shares his distinctive take on the world and offers an intimate look into his remarkable mind.
The Lunatic by
From Pulitzer Prize winner and former Poet Laureate Charles Simic comes a dazzling collection of poems as original, meditative, and humorous as the legendary poet himself. This latest volume of poetry from Charles Simic, one of America's most celebrated poets, demonstrates his revered signature style--a mix of understated brilliance, wry melancholy, and sardonic wit. These seventy luminous poems range in subject from mortality to personal ads, from the simple wonders of nature to his childhood in war-torn Yugoslavia. For over fifty years, Simic has delighted readers with his innovative form, quiet humor, and his rare ability to limn our interior life and concisely capture the depth of human emotion. These stunning, succinct poems--most no longer than a page, some no longer than a paragraph--validate and reinforce Simic's importance and relevance in modern poetry.
A new collected volume from the Nobel Prize-winning poet that includes, for the first time in English, all of the poems from her last Polish collection One of Europe's greatest recent poets is also its wisest, wittiest, and most accessible. Nobel Prize-winner Wislawa Szymborska draws us in with her unexpected, unassuming humor. Her elegant, precise poems pose questions we never thought to ask. "If you want the world in a nutshell," a Polish critic remarks, "try Szymborska." But the world held in these lapidary poems is larger than the one we thought we knew. Carefully edited by her longtime, award-winning translator, Clare Cavanagh, the poems in Map trace Szymborska's work until her death in 2012. Of the approximately two hundred and fifty poems included here, nearly forty are newly translated; thirteen represent the entirety of the poet's last Polish collection, Enough, never before published in English. Map is the first English publication of Szymborska's work since the acclaimed Here, and it offers her devoted readers a welcome return to her "ironic elegance" (The New Yorker).
Ten Windows by
Jane Hirshfield offers ten eloquent and highly original explorations into how great poems transform our experience of the world. Touching on everything from the concept of "windows" in poems (the moments where a word, phrase, or shift in tone "opens" something for the reader) to the mechanisms of surprise and uncertainty, Jane uses particular poems (by Basho, Dickinson, Szymborska, Gilbert, Cavafy and Creeley, to name a few) to show us how poetry works, word by charged word. Most of all, she captures the ways in which poems make something possible that is separate from and beyond our daily reality ("[Poetry's] seeing is not our usual seeing, its hearing is not our usual hearing"). Locating the border realm between inner and outer, what is known and what can only be apprehended in the realm of verse, Hirshfield's lucid understanding is gripping and transformative itself, showing us at every turn how poems restore us to and expand our sense of a broader humanity.
The World Is Waiting for You by
With contemporary graduation speeches that dissect the world as it is and imagine what it could be, The World Is Waiting for You brings forth eighteen courageous figures who have dared to transform the podium into a pulpit for championing peace, justice, protest, and a better world. The voices of conformity speak so loudly. Don’t listen to them,” acclaimed author and award-winning journalist Anna Quindlen cautioned graduates of Grinnell College. Jazz virtuoso and educator Wynton Marsalis advised new Connecticut College alums not to worry about being on time, but rather to be in timebecause time is actually your friend. He don’t come back because he never goes away.” And renowned physician and humanitarian Paul Farmer revealed at the University of Delaware his remarkable discoverythe new disease Empathy Deficit Disorderand assured the commencers it could be cured. The prescient, fiery feminism of Gloria Steinem sits parallel to that of celebrated writer Ursula K. Le Guin, who asks, What if I talked like a woman right here in public?” Nobelist and novelist Toni Morrison sagaciously ponders how people centuries from now will perceive our current times, and Pulitzer Prize winner Barbara Kingsolver asks those born into the Age of Irony to imagine getting caught with your Optimism hanging out” and implores us always to act and speak the truth. The World Is Waiting for You speaks to anyone who might take to heart the advice of Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richardslife as an activist, troublemaker, or agitator is a tremendous option and one I highly recommend”and is the perfect gift for all who are ready to move their tassels to the left.