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All Souls: Essential Poems brings together work that reflects the interweaving of history, memory, and the indelible bonds between living and dead that has marked the output of Louisiana Poet Laureate Emerita Brenda Marie Osbey. Comprising poems written and published over the span of four decades, this thematic collection highlights the unity of Osbey’s voice and narrative intent.
The six sections of the book reveal the breadth of her poetic vision. The first, “House in the Faubourg,” contains poems focused on the people and places of Osbey’s native New Orleans, and the penultimate section, “Unfinished Coffees,” examines the Crescent City within a broader, more contemporary meditation on culture. “Something about Trains” features two suites of poems that use trains and railway stations as settings from which to inspect desolation, writing, and memory; and “Little History, Part One” recounts tales of European settlement and exploitation of the New World. The poems in “What Hunger” look at the many facets of desire, while “Mourning Like a Skin” includes elegies and poems addressing the lasting presence of the dead.
Dynamic and unflinching, the poems in All Souls speak of a world with many secrets, known “only through having learned them / the hardest way.”
The Poetry of Louis Dudek
A passionate believer in the power of art—and especially poetry—to influence and critique contemporary culture, Louis Dudek devoted much of his life to shaping the Canadian literary scene through his meditative and experimental poems as well as his work in publishing and teaching. All These Roads: The Poetry of Louis Dudek brings together thirty-five of Dudek’s poems written over the course of his sixty-year career.
Much of Dudek’s poetry is about the practice of art, with comment on the way the craft of poetry is mediated by such factors as university classes, public readings, reviews, commercial presses, and academic conferences. The poems in this selection—witty satires, short lyrics, and long sequences—reflect self-consciously on the relationship between art and life and will draw readers into the dramatic mid-century literary and cultural debates in which Dudek was an important participant.
Karis Shearer’s introduction provides an overview of Dudek’s prolific career as poet, professor, editor, publisher, and critic, and considers the ways in which Dudek’s functional poems help, both formally and thematically, to carry out the tasks associated with those roles. Comparing Dudek’s reception to that of NourbeSe Philip, Marilyn Dumont, and Roy Miki, Frank Davey’s afterword locates Dudek in a pre-1980s version of multiculturalism that is more complex than many critics would have it. According to Davey, Dudek broadened the limits on the possible range and type of poetry for subsequent generations of Canadian writers.
Using the confluence of rivers in Pittsburgh as a metaphorical lens, Allegheny, Monongahela probes the ruinous misalignment between the external and internal lives of two sisters and their childhood in Western Pennsylvania. Their complex and difficult relationship is the spine of the collection, told obliquely through a series of sonnets and ekphrastic meditations on the paintings of Georgia O'Keeffe: the ways in which they separately navigate a violent family history that reverberates through their present and futures; their polarized impulses toward creativity and self-destruction. Rooted in a mutable, watery landscape that is not consistently recognizable, Allegheny, Monongahela investigates the collisions between the world and the self, the fissured identities that result, and the ways in which art may heal or fail to heal the cracks.
The full-length debut from francine j. harris, allegiance is about Detroit, sort of. Although many of the poems are inspired by and dwell in the spaces of the city, this collection does not revel in any of the cliché cultural tropes normally associated with Detroit. Instead, these poems artfully explore life in a city where order coexists with chaos and much is lost in social and physical breakdown. Narrative poems on the hazards, betrayals, and annoyances of city life mix with impressionistic poems that evoke the natural world, as harris grapples with issues of beauty and horror, loyalty and individuality, and memory and loss on Detroit’s complicated canvas. In twelve sections, harris introduces readers to loungers and bystanders, prisoners’ wives, poets pictured on book jackets, Caravaggio’s Jesus, and city priests. She leads readers past the lone house on the block that cannot be walked down, through layers of discarded objects in the high school yard, and into various classrooms, bars, and living rooms. Shorter poems highlight the persistence of nature—in water, weeds, orchids, begonias, insects, pigeons, and pheasants. Some poems convey a sense of the underbelly, desire, and disgust while others treat issues of religion, both in institutional settings and personal prayers. In her honest but unsentimental voice, harris layers personal history and rich details to explore how our surroundings shape our selves and what allegiance we owe them when they have turn almost everything to ashes. Throughout allegiance, harris presents herself as an extraordinarily perceptive poet with a compelling and original voice. Poetry lovers will appreciate this exciting debut collection.
The Renaissance Tradition to Paradise Lost
Literary allegory has deep roots in early reading and interpretation of Scripture and classical epic and myth. In this substantial study, Mindele Treip presents an overview of the history and theory of allegorical exegesis upon Scripture, poetry, and especially the epic from antiquity to the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, with close focus on the Renaissance and on the triangular literary relationship of Tasso, Spenser, and Milton.
Exploring the different ways in which the term allegory has been understood, Treip finds significant continuities-within-differences in a wide range of critical writings, including texts of postclassical, patristic and rabbinical writers, medieval writers, notably Dante, Renaissance theorists such as Coluccio Salutati, Bacon, Sidney, John Harrington and rhetoricians and mythographers, and the neoclassical critics of Italy, England and France, including Le Bossu.
In particular, she traces the evolving theories on allegory and the epic of Torquato Tasso through a wide spectrum of his major discourses, shorter tracts and letters, giving full translations. Treip argues that Milton wrote, as in part did Spenser, within the definitive framework of the mixed historical-allegorical epic erected by Tasso, and she shows Spenser's and Milton's epics as significantly shaped by Tasso's formulations, as well as by his allegorical structures and images in the Gerusalemme liberata.
In the last part of her study Treip addresses the complex problematics of reading Paradise Lost as both a consciously Reformation poem and one written within the older epic allegorical tradition, and she also illustrates Milton's innovative use of biblical "Accommodation" theory so as to create a variety of radical allegorical metaphors in his poem.
This study brings together a wide range of critical issues -- the Homeric-Virgilian tradition of allegorical reading of epic; early Renaissance theory of all poetry as "translation" or allegorical metaphor; midrashic linguistic techniques in the representation of the Word; Milton's God; neoclassical strictures on Milton's allegory and allegory in general -- all of these are brought together in new and comprehensive perspective.
The Alphabet Conspiracy takes its name from a 1950s-era school filmstrip of the same title. With a cast that includes patron saints for country girls and criminals, a Revolutionary War hero, the Wolfman, a sin-eater, John Wayne, and Johnny Cash, these poems swagger and sulk through an educational film turned film noir, replete with femme fatales in love. The Alphabet Conspiracy is about the ways in which language itself can function as a plot, keeping us estranged from ourselves, but also about the way it can be used as a tool for recovering our truest selves.
This is the first book published in English by of the work of Brazilian poet Adelia Prado. Incorporating poems published over the past fifteen years, The Alphabet in the Park is a book of passion and intelligence, wit and instinct. These are poems about human concerns, especially those of women, about living in one's body and out of it, about the physical but also the spiritual and the imaginative life. Prado also writes about ordinary matters; she insists that the human experience is both mystical and carnal. To Prado these are not contradictory: "It's the soul that's erotic," she writes.
As Ellen Watson says in her introduction, "Adelia Prados poetry is a poetry of abundance. These poems overflow with the humble, grand, various stuff of daily life - necklaces, bicycles, fish; saints and prostitutes and presidents; innumerable chickens and musical instruments...And, seemingly at every turn, there is food." But also, an abundance of dark things, cancer, death, greed. These are poems of appetite, all kinds.