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In this first critical study of Anna Letitia Barbauld’s major work, Daniel P. Watkins reveals the singular purpose of Barbauld’s visionary poems: to recreate the world based on the values of liberty and justice. Watkins examines in close detail both the form and content of Barbauld’s Poems, originally published in 1773 and revised and reissued in 1792. Along with providing careful readings of the poems, readings that situate the works in their broader political, historical, and philosophical contexts, Watkins explores the relevance of the introductory epigraphs and the importance of the poems’ placement throughout the volume. At the center of Watkins’s study is Barbauld’s effort to develop a visionary poetic stance. He argues that the deliberate arrangement of the poems creates a coherent portrayal of Barbauld’s poetic, political, and social vision, a vision born of her deep belief that the principles of love, sympathy, liberty, and pacifism are necessary for a secure and meaningful human reality. In tracing the contours of this effort, Watkins examines, in particular, the tension in Barbauld’s poetry between her desire to engage directly with the political realities of the world and her equally strong longing for a pastoral world of peace and prosperity. Scholars of British literature and women writers will welcome this important study of one of the eighteenth century’s foremost writers.
"Winner of the 2010 Colorado Prize, this sophomore collection from Savich (Full Catastrophe Living) features poems that communicate what is fragmentary at the expense of the concrete. At once meticulous and vertiginous, these poems are grounded by "The Mountains Overhead," a long poem of 113 fragments, in which we find "Dawn stripping you like a cat/ clawing a band of wallpaper" and horses that "hold themselves like torches so they/ won't burn like themselves." The result is a collection that is thrilling and inchoate. "A Children's Story" is Savich at his best, blending enjambment and narrative to create a poem in which the speaker's distance from the memory of a former love ("the white/ in her teeth and eyes moved him like childhood/ loss") is realized with melancholy. In keeping with the trope of annulments, the poems often end suddenly, leaving much to be desired in their genesis and construction. One senses that Savich could go on building his fragmentary mountain forever, not unlike a certain well-known biblical tower whose result was the fragmentation of language itself, all the while longing for a "heart which exists/ in which to continue is not/ to confine." (Nov.) " —Danniel Schoonebeek , Publishers Weekly
"It is the poet who, undistracted by the imbecile telegraphy of this moment, dares to sustain a sustaining sound I most esteem and most warmly embrace. Zach Savich has written a book both intimate and vast, both tender and acidly candid. And with his long poem, 'The Mountains Overhead,' he has entered that visionary company of poets who, by overturning Babel, lay the heavens at our feet."—Donald Revell
"Sparse, spare, these lines nonetheless overflow with a sheer and brilliant imagination- 'The crows: hearing our voices through wires'; 'the horses hold themselves like torches'; 'the sun a dial tone . . .' The tension between minimalism of form and maximalism of concept and feeling gives this work a vivid, oddly crystalline, momentum. The central long poem unfolds one small leaf at a time, yet resists accumulation; instead it presents us again and again with the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the slightly uncanny: what would it be to sing instead of to say? This book gives us an intimation."—Cole Swensen
In Another Creature Pamela Gemin reconciles her generation’s impulse toward personal freedom with its costs as she moves her cast of innocents and outlaws through Midwestern landscapes embroidered with green lawns, blue lakes and raspberry patches eerily wired for sound. Hers are hungry poems, in and of the world, expounding the “flavors and hues, the fragrance and skin / of the merchandise of Earth.”
Experimental Writing in the South
Another South is an anthology of poetry from contemporary southern writers who are working in forms that are radical, innovative, and visionary. Highly experimental and challenging in nature, the poetry in this volume, with its syntactical disjunctions, formal revolutions, and typographic playfulness, represents the direction of a new breed of southern writing that is at once universal in its appeal and regional in its flavor.
Focusing on poets currently residing in the South, the anthology includes both emerging and established voices in the national and international literary world. From the invocations of Andy Young's "Vodou Headwashing Ceremony" to the blues-informed poems of Lorenzo Thomas and Honorée Jeffers, from the different voicings of )ohn Lowther and Kalamu ya Salaam to the visual, multi-genre art of Jake Berry, David Thomas Roberts, and Bob Grumman, the poetry in Another South is rich in variety and enthusiastic in its explorations of new ways to embody place and time. These writers have made the South lush with a poetic avant-garde all its own, not only redefining southern identity and voice but also offering new models of what is possible universally through the medium of poetry.
Hank Lazer's introductory essay about "Kudzu textuality" contextualizes the work by these contemporary innovators. Like the uncontrollable runaway vine that entwines the southern landscape, their poems are hyperfertile, stretching their roots and shoots relentlessly, at once destructive and regenerative. In making a radical departure from nostalgic southern literary voices, these poems of polyvocal abundance are closer in spirit to "speaking in tongues" or apocalyptic southern folk art—primitive, astonishing, and mystic.
A feminist classic, The Answer/La Respuesta is the letter by 17th century Mexican nun Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz to a priest who hoped to silence her and all women. Known as the first feminist of the Americas, Sor Juana was a brilliant scholar and poet and an outspoken defender of women's rights. Her works shows a keen awareness of gender. This volume also reveals the remarkable scholarship, subversiveness, and humor she used in defense of her cause.
Here is a major work by a Chilean poet thought by many to be the most brilliant and important new voice in the Spanish language. In its first American edition, this poetry is presented in Spanish and Enlgish, so that readers of both languages may listed to Zurita's voice.
Anteparadise can be read as a creative response, an act of resistance by a young artist to the violence and suffering during and after the 1973 coup that toppled the democratically elected Allende government. Zurita thus follows the example of several Latin American pets such as the Peruvian César Vallejo and Chilean Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda, sharing their passion and urgency, but his voice is unique.
In Corey Van Landingham’s Antidote, love equates with disease, valediction is a contact sport, the moon is a lunatic, and someone is always watching. Here the uncanny coexists with the personal, so that each poem undergoes making and unmaking, is birthed and bound in an acute strangeness. Elegy is made new by a speaker both heartbreaking and transgressive. Van Landingham reveals the instability of self and perception in states of grief; she is not afraid to tip the world upside down and shake it out, gather the lint and change from its pockets and say, “I can make something with this.” Wild and surreal, driven by loss, Antidote invites both the beautiful and the brutal into its arms, allowing for shocking declarations about love: that it is like hibernation, a car crash, or a parasite. Time, geography, and landscape are called into question as backdrops for various forms of valediction. It soon becomes clear that there is no antidote one can take for grief or heartbreak; that love can, at times, feel like violence; and that one may never get better at saying goodbye.
Anxiety In Mosaic is a sum up of a manís fears and hopes into a volume of poetry; anxieties that span a cross section of the human phenomena of greed (in ramifications) and the resultant socio-political, economic and environmental consequences; the repercussions of worsted governance, feminist, ecological, emigrational and imperialist concerns, presented from the perspective of a philosophical questioning. The charm of these thoroughly vocal, finely-crafted poems not only lie in the quasi-compendious multiplicity of subject matter but also in their creative and innovative re-chartings.
Poetry and Place
Author, activist, feminist, teacher, and artist bell hooks is celebrated as one of the nation's leading intellectuals. Born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, hooks drew her unique pseudonym from the name of her grandmother, an intelligent and strong-willed African American woman who inspired her to stand up against a dominating and repressive society. Her poetry, novels, memoirs, and children's books reflect her Appalachian upbringing and feature her struggles with racially integrated schools and unwelcome authority figures. One of Utne Reader's "100 Visionaries Who Can Change Your Life," hooks has won wide acclaim from critics and readers alike. In Appalachian Elegy, bell hooks continues her work as an imagist of life's harsh realities in a collection of poems inspired by her childhood in the isolated hills and hidden hollows of Kentucky. At once meditative, confessional, and political, this poignant volume draws the reader deep into the experience of living in Appalachia. Touching on such topics as the marginalization of its people and the environmental degradation it has suffered over the years, hooks's poetry quietly elegizes the slow loss of an identity while also celebrating that which is constant, firmly rooted in a place that is no longer whole.
Appetite is a book of poems that explores our American Mythologies, particularly masculinity and film. Smith investigates our fascinations with the body, gender, and entertainment in poems that are critically observant, darkly funny, darkly angry, and, sometimes, heartbreaking. Whether he is cataloging shirtless men in films and bad television, lyricizing the anxieties of childhood, or redrawing the lines of cultural membership, Appetite attacks its subjects with wit, candor, and compassionate intensity. These poems announce their presence with a style that is as beautifully wrought as it is provocative. In the America of Appetite, the usual hierarchies are obliterated: the disposable is as valuable as the traditional, pop culture is on the same level as the sacred, and the pleasurable simultaneity of past and present are found in high art and the tabloid. Smith’s work engages our contemporary moment and how we want to think of ourselves, while nodding to rich poetic, cultural, and personal histories.