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Life is a mystery, a puzzle, “a house of inscrutable signals,” leaving us “often stranded in the middle of a feeling.” With exquisite manipulation of language, the poems in Kary Wayson’s collection, American Husband, seek to unravel the mystery and solve the puzzle by parsing everyday experiences—observing life while lying about on the couch, on the floor, in bed and out—and everyday relationships—between the self and the mother, the self and the father, the self and the lover, the self and the self, and the self and god. English, “the telephone and the telephone book and the table with one vase and the cut rose,” is the means through which Wayson, drawing not only on her own wisdom but also on that of Sylvia Plath, Emily Dickinson, Shajahana, Mother Goose, Federico García Lorca, Edward Gorey, and others, enacts intersections between self and meaning. At each intersection, love’s loneliness forms and dissolves, expands and contracts, and then passes much like weather, or the mysterious changeable relationship between silence and words. Wayson may feel that she lives “with a desk where nothing gets done,” but with every poem she finds “some nook or cranny to plumb, some crook or nanny dumb enough to tell them what,” and another puzzle piece falls in place.
Emerson, Whitman, and the New Poetry
"The transmigration of souls is no fable. I would it were, but men and women are only half human." With these words, Ralph Waldo Emerson confronts a dilemma that illuminates the formation of American individualism: to evolve and become fully human requires a heightened engagement with history. Americans, Emerson argues, must realize history's chronology in themselves--because their own minds and bodies are its evolving record. Whereas scholarship has tended to minimize the mystical underpinnings of Emerson's notion of the self, his depictions of "the metempsychosis of nature" reveal deep roots in mystical traditions from Hinduism and Buddhism to Platonism and Christian esotericism. In essay after essay, Emerson uses metempsychosis as an open-ended template to understand human development. In Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman transforms Emerson's conception of metempsychotic selfhood into an expressly poetic event. His vision of transmigration viscerally celebrates the poet's ability to assume and live in other bodies; his American poet seeks to incorporate the entire nation into his own person so that he can speak for every man and woman.
Pitt Poetry Series Anthology
American Poetry Now is a comprehensive collection of the best work from the renowned Pitt Poetry Series. Since its inception in 1967, the series has been a vehicle for America's finest contemporary poets. The series list includes Poet Laureate Billy Collins, Toi Derricotte, Denise Duhamel, Lynn Emanuel, Bob Hicok, Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Ted Kooser, Larry Levis, Sharon Olds, Alicia Suskin Ostriker, Virgil Suárez, Afaa Michael Weaver, David Wojahn, Dean Young, and many others.
“If everyone decided to call themselves a girl / that word would stop.” In this award-winning volume of authoritative and assertive poems, Sarah Vap embarks on an emotional journey to the land of America’s female children. Questioning, contradicting, radically and restlessly demanding acceptance, she searches for a way to move from serious girlhood to womanly love. Demonstrating the seriousness of female childhood—which is as dangerous and profound as war, economics, and history, that is, as manhood, in her view—Vap reveals the extremes of self-doubt and self-righteousness inherent in being a contemporary American girl.
“When we’re overcome / by everything we think we love—then by morning / we’re adults.” Just as the oil of American spikenard may provide relief from childhood, so does Sarah Vap provide the kind of holy and extravagant love and honor that can relieve the growing pains of “everyone’s little girl.”
The American Voice looks to find the vital edge of modern American writing. The journal, whose contributors come from the U.S., Canada, and Latin America, often publishes work by writers denied access to mainstream journals. Writings from its pages have been regularly reprinted in prize annuals such as The Pushcart Prize, Best American Poetry, and Best American Essays.
This fifteenth anniversary anthology collects eighty poems from some of the most original and daring writers of our time. The anthology's contributors range from the world famous Jorge Luis Borges, Marge Piercy, May Swenson to the newly emerging Marie Sheppard Williams, Suzanne Gardinier, Robyn Selman and from the nationally read Wendell Berry, Reynolds Price, Barbara Kingsolver to the distinctly regional George Ella Lyon, Jane Gentry, James Still.
This volume brings together some of the best selections from an award-winning journal, making clear why Small Press dubbed The American Voice one of the "most impressive journals in the country."
David Roderick’s second book, The Americans, pledges its allegiance to dirt. And to laptops. And to swimming pools, the Kennedys, a flower in a lapel, plastic stars hanging from the ceiling of a child’s room, churning locusts, a jar of blood, a gleam of sun on the wing of a plane. His poems swarm with life. They also ask an unanswerable question: What does it mean to be an American? Restless against the borders we build—between countries, between each other—Roderick roams from place to place in order to dig into the messy, political, idealistic and ultimately inexplicable idea of American-ness. His rangy, inquisitive lyrics stitch together a patchwork flag, which he stakes alongside all the noise of our construction, our obsessive building and making, while he imagines the fate of a nation built on desire.
Ameriscopia reimagines New York City and its expansive inspirations, which for Torres capture the contradictions of America. Allusions to the Twin Towers, Coney Island hot dogs, and the Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe continuously recolor the pages. But even as he makes these iconic references, Torres allows his poems to invert and refract the identities they evoke—New-Yorker-American-Latino-Dad-Performer-Boy-Writer—to invigorate poetry out of its slumber into a deep cultural urgency. Torres’s kaleidoscopic vision is borne of decades of poetic experimentation. Audiences have delighted in his spontaneous mashups of disparate topic matters; writers have studied his skilled technique at synthesizing—for example, from a mundane curbside view to an imagined conversation with artists Marcel Duchamp and Yves Tanguy.
Torres writes, “I discovered that, this world uncovered / is like the soul / of The Puerto Rican man — occupied / by the weight of his balance.” Ameriscopia is Torres’s statement on growing up and the inspirational facets that accompany his journey into fatherhood. From conversations in cars to fast-beat lullabies, Torres’s poetry taps into rhythms both distinctive and dynamic. In Ameriscopia Torres is at full force, a poet in control, a writer emboldened by the page—in flight.
In two intertwined songs, a feminist epic poem and a dreamlike opera libretto, Among the Goddesses traces one woman’s harrowing mythological journey of discovery. Tutored by encounters with seven Goddesses, both frightening and nurturing, Marie/Lily is tested by loss, rape, and abortion as she finds her community and her spiritual strength. This magical book embodies the goddesses in every woman and gives voice to the power of the feminist spirituality movement.