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The Adventures of Ibn Opcit is a two-volume work by John Barr, first president of The Poetry Foundation. Grace, the first volume of this mock epic, is the master song of Ibn Opcit, a Caribbean gardener/poet condemned to die by torture. In a series of jailhouse monologues we hear him descant on justice, on creation, on America, on death and on life after death. In volume two, Opcit at Large, the poet pushes back on his oppressors in three adventures
Gender, Genre, and the Canon
Aemilia Lanyer was a Londoner of Jewish-Italian descent and the mistress of Queen Elizabeth's Lord Chamberlain. But in 1611 she did something extraordinary for a middle-class woman of the seventeenth century: she published a volume of original poems.
Using standard genres to address distinctly feminine concerns, Lanyer's work is varied, subtle, provocative, and witty. Her religious poem "Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum" repeatedly projects a female subject for a female reader and casts the Passion in terms of gender conflict. Lanyer also carried this concern with gender into the very structure of the poem; whereas a work of praise usually held up the superiority of its patrons, the good women in Lanyer's poem exemplify worth women in general.
The essays in this volume establish the facts of Lanyer's life and use her poetry to interrogate that of her male contemporaries, Donne, Jonson, and Shakespeare. Lanyer's work sheds light on views of gender and class identities in early modern society. By using Lanyer to look at the larger issues of women writers working within a patriarchal system, the authors go beyond the explication of Lanyer's writing to address the dynamics of canonization and the construction of literary history.
Twentieth-Century Women Poets
They are nine women with much in common--all German speaking, all poets, all personal witnesses to the horror and devastation that was World War II. Yet, in this deeply moving collection, each provides a singularly personal glimpse into the effects of war on language, place, poetry, and womanhood.
After Every War is a book of translations of women poets living in Europe in the decades before and after World War II: Rose Ausländer, Elisabeth Langgässer, Nelly Sachs, Gertrud Kolmar, Else Lasker-Schüler, Ingeborg Bachmann, Marie Luise Kaschnitz, Dagmar Nick, and Hilde Domin. Several of the writers are Jewish and, therefore, also witnesses and participants in one of the darkest occasions of human cruelty, the Holocaust. Their poems, as well as those of the other writers, provide a unique biography of the time--but with a difference. These poets see public events through the lens of deep private losses. They chart the small occasions, the bittersweet family ties, the fruit dish on a table, the lost soul arriving at a railway station; in other words, the sheer ordinariness through which cataclysm is experienced, and by which life is cruelly shattered. They reclaim these moments and draw the reader into them.
The poems are translated and introduced, with biographical notes on the authors, by renowned Irish poet Eavan Boland. Her interest in the topic is not abstract. As an Irish woman, she has observed the heartbreaking effects of violence on her own country. Her experience has drawn her closer to these nine poets, enabling her to render into English the beautiful, ruminative quality of their work and to present their poems for what they are: documentaries of resilience--of language, of music, and of the human spirit--in the hardest of times.
“Dense with narrative details of a transnational life, these poems are suffused with a peculiarly Indian synesthesia—’the air thick enough to bite, rinsing/ fingertips with color.’ Vandana Khanna, in her second prize-winning book, gives us a series of panoramic spectacles—children watching horror films in Delhi, Merle Oberon on her latest Bollywood film role, stolen lemons wrapped in yesterday’s newspaper. Colors and crime collide with the likes of Garbo and Rekha in this tender and smart collection of poems.” —Kazim Ali, author of Sky Ward and Bright Felon Vandana Khanna is an instructor at the University of Southern California and the author of Train to Agra. She is the 2013 winner of the Elinor Benedict Poetry Prize.
Selected Poems, 1934-1994
For over half a century, David Ignatow has crafted spare, plain, haunting poetry pf working life, urban images, and dark humor. The poetic heir of Whitman and William Carlos Williams, Ignatow is characteristically concerned with human mortality and human alienation in the world: the world as it is, defined by suffering and despair, yet at crucial times redeemed by cosmic vision and shared lives. His development as a poet is chronicled in Against the Evidence, title of the poem in part quoted above and meant by Ignatow as the metaphor for the whole body of his work.
Where his previous collections have been organized thematically, Ignatow here arranges his poems "according to the decade in which they were written...returning each to its chronological order." Against the Evidence charts the evolution of his themes from the earliest origin in the Thirties to their present extraordinary manifestation in a variety of poetic forms and modes.
Uncollected Poems 1969–1982
This collection of Ted Greenwald’s poetry, edited by Miles Champion, is a sampler of some of Greenwald’s most breathtaking work. A New York poet with close ties to the New York School and the Language poets, Greenwald has written daily since the early 1960s, and none of the poems in this book are included in any of his books to date. These discrete works were written in advance of or alongside the extended explorations of a mutated triolet form that increasingly occupied him from the late 1970s on. This book can be seen as a companion to Common Sense, and provides further evidence of Greenwald’s ability to think with his ear, to hear what’s said as it arrives as a fresh sound or shape in his head. This work is singular in its pattern-making, its music-making, and its ability to simultaneously follow multiple paths. An online reader’s companion will be available at tedgreenwald.site.wesleyan.edu
In Aggregate of Disturbances, Michele Glazer confronts the slipperiness of language and perception as she probes natural processes—the lives of insects, the uncertainty of love, and the deaths of human beings. Nature’s beauty interests Glazer less than the fact that it is chaotic, amoral, redundant, charming, and indifferent to human concern—qualities that are, in these poems, turned into another kind of beauty. “The stalk was knocked flat &the allium’s great lavender sphere / kissed the dirt &in the aftermath the pendulous blossomed / tip bobbed like a wand madly attempting to enchant-enchant-enchant. / / I wanted to believe that it happened to amuse me.”
These taut lyrical poems negotiate between desire for something irrefutable and an uneasy bedrock of paradox. In the interstices, Aggregate of Disturbances breaks open language and experience to offer a glimpse of “the eye on the other side.”
Kim Dower’s poems are sensual and rhapsodic journeys through emotional landscapes sweeping everyday life. Playful, intelligent, funny, edgy, engaging—sometimes biting, ironic and dark, sometimes dreamy and surreal, full of poignancy and arresting metaphors, the daily, simple occurrences in Air Kissing On Mars startle and provoke, while stirring up the fairy dust and turbulent weight of memory; evoking the possibilities and gorgeous chaos of life. Open and inviting, these poems draw the reader into a world seen upside down, inside out, a sideways bird reporting on a universe filled with mystery and passion. Joan Didion meets Tinkerbell, Kim Dower’s poems are as whimsical and light as they are rich and intense. Simultaneously humorous and profound these passionate and personal poems, relatable to all, are drenched with vivid imagery, and sparkle with surprise. Lost languages, disappearing mailboxes, locomotives pummeling through dreams, taxi drivers thrown by the earth’s rotation, shadows in closets, vanishing carrots, men who exfoliate—all manner of haunting evocations come together in this opus of shining and startling wisdom.