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As If Light Actually Matters

New and Selected Poems

Larry D. Thomas

The present volume draws on nine book-length collections of Thomas’s poetry, and includes a generous selection of new poems.

Five of the collections are comprised of poems of geographic place, four of which are set primarily in Texas. His fifth “place” collection is set on the coast of Maine. The poems selected from his remaining collections range in subject matter from outlaw bikers to ekphrasis; from the avian world to an asylum for the criminally insane.

PIANO TUNER
The tools of his trade
are unassuming and relatively
primitive.  The stagehand
is his counterpart in drama.
 
In the shadows of architects,
for grand cathedrals of sonatas,
he lays the bricks.  Of pitch
and tone, he is master.
Even a concert pianist
steers clear of his ear.

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Ascending Order

By William Greenway

Ascending Order is the work of a poet in midcareer who has thought hard about the circumstances of his past and present, and found an attitude, part concerned and part amused, that serves him well in both his life and his art. The poems in William Greenway’s new book range widely, from memories of childhood and family through meditations on works of art, from humourous topics such as the cars in Hell’s garage or a dead celebrity golf tournament to deep-felt contemplations of cultures American and otherwise or the ailments of middle age and the shadows of mortality. But whether the subjects are serious or playful, the rich vision and inventive language displayed in these poems are Greenway’s alone.

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Ascension Theory

Christopher Bolin

“This meditation,” writes Christopher Bolin in Ascension Theory,“is about appearing without motes between us: / it is practice for presenting oneself to God.” Bolin’s stark and masterful debut collection records a deeply moving attempt to restore poetry to the possibilities of redemptive action. The physical and emotional landscapes of these poems, rendered with clear-eyed precision, are beyond the reaches of protection and consolation: tundra, frozen sea, barren woodlands, skies littered with satellite trash, fields marked by abandoned, makeshift shrines, sick rooms, vacant reaches that provide “nodes / in every direction // for sensing // the second coming.”

Bolin’s eye and mind are acutely tuned to the edges of broken objects and vistas, to the mysterious remnants out of which meaningful speech might be reconstituted. These poems unfold in a world of beautiful, crystalline absence, one that is nearly depopulated, as though encountered in the aftermath of an unnamed violence to the land and to the soul.

In poems of prodigious elegance and anxious control, Bolin evokes influences as various as Robert Frost, James Wright, Robert Hass, George Oppen, and Robert Creeley, while fashioning his own original and urgent idiom, one that both theorizes and tests the prospects of imaginative ascension, and finds “new locutions for referencing / sky.”

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Ashes & Stars

Daniel Hughes Edited by Mary Hughes Foreword by Edward Hirsch Introduction by Michael Scrivener

Daniel Hughes's final volume of poetry, written during his years of struggle with multiple sclerosis, displays his characteristic wit, intelligence, and imagination. While the poems in Ashes & Stars deal with themes such as love and mortality, the conflict between imagination and actuality, and the pleasures of the world around us, they are never somber or overly serious. Even the shortest ones have a wry comic sense. Additionally, Hughes's poems demonstrate a remarkably economical and precise use of language, without a wasted word in the entire collection. Although the concentrated emotion of the poems may remind readers of Emily Dickinson and Robert Lowell, Hughes's poetic forms-quatrains, tercets, irregular sonnets, irregular rhymes-also illustrate the deep influence of the English Romantics, whom he championed throughout his academic career. In addition, many poems draw inspiration from numerous individuals and works of art from the Italian Renaissance, as they weave abstract themes from Western culture with the sensual data of the poet's experience. Despite these deep historical and literary roots, the conversational tone of Ashes & Stars ensures that it is never dry or academic. The poems speak to the reader as to an intimate, giving a sense of transmitting hard-earned experience and knowledge. All readers will appreciate the passionate energy and worldly air of these unique and exactingly honest final poems.

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Asomne amwue nda (Sorrow in the House)

Binwi Asobo

Asomne amwue nda (Sorrow in the House) is an exposition of brutality, suffering, and sadness associated with destruction; citizens running scared, living in fear and don't know what to do. The poems illustrate how Africans find themselves lost in the midst of destruction. The collection exposes the emotions and sad feelings of soldiers and civilians; their experiences as a result of instability and suicide attacks. The poems are an expression of sorrow for a society that was once hailed for its communality but now is in ruins with conflicts and misunderstanding tearing society apart.

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Assembling The Lyric Self

Authorship from Troubadour Song to Italian Poetry Book

Olivia Holmes

Assembling the Lyric Self investigates the transition in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries from the first surviving Provençal and Italian manuscripts (mostly multiauthor lyric anthologies prepared by scribes) to the single-author codex-that is, to the form we now think of as the book of poems. Working from extensive archival and philological research, Olivia Holmes explores the efforts of individual poets to establish poetic authenticity and authority in the context of expanding vernacular literacy. As she moves from an overview to a consideration of particular authors (including Guittone d’Arezzo and Nicolo de’Rossi) and manuscripts, she both demonstrates the narrative and structural subtlety of many of the works and reveals unsuspected phases in a gradual historical shift.

Assembling the Lyric Self challenges received ideas about the origins of a genre (the author-ordered poetry book) and about periodization, including the traditional opposition between medieval conformity and Renaissance individualism. A major reassessment and redefinition of an entire tradition, this book will be essential reading for scholars not only of the Middle Ages but also of the early modern period whose precedents this book realigns.

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At Lake Scugog

Poems

Troy Jollimore

This is an eagerly awaited collection of new poems from the author of Tom Thomson in Purgatory, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was hailed by the New York Times as a "snappy, entertaining book." A triumphant follow-up to that acclaimed debut, At Lake Scugog demonstrates why the San Francisco Chronicle has called Troy Jollimore "a new and exciting voice in American poetry."

Jollimore is a professional philosopher, and in witty and profound ways his formally playful poems dramatize philosophical subjects--especially the individual’s relation to the larger world, and the permeable, constantly shifting border between "inner" and "outer." For instance, the speaker of "The Solipsist," suspecting that the entire world "lives inside of your skull," wonders "why / God would make ear and eye / to face outward, not in." And Tom Thomson--a character who also appeared in Jollimore’s first book--finds himself journeying like an astronaut through the far reaches of the space that fills his head, an experience that prompts him to ask that a doorbell be installed "on the inside," so that he can warn the world before "intruding on’t."
______

From At Lake Scugog:
LOBSTERS

Troy Jollimore

tend to cluster in prime numbers, sub-
oceanic bundles of bug consciousness
submerged in waking slumber, plunged in pits
of murk-black water. They have coalesced

out of the pitch and grime and salt suspended
within that atmospheric gloom. Their skin
is colorless below. But when exposed
to air, they start to radiate bright green,

then, soon, a siren red that wails: I’m dead.
The meat inside, though, is as white as teeth,
or the hard-boiled egg that comes to mind
when one cracks that crisp shell and digs beneath.

Caress the toothy claw-edge of its pincer
and you will know the single, simple thought
that populates its mind. The lobster trap is elegance
itself: one moving part: the thing that’s caught.

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At the Bureau of Divine Music

Poems By Michael Heffernan

A thoughtful and elegant collection from accomplished poet Michael Heffernan.

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Atlantic Wall and Other Poems

Rosalie Littell Colie

A noted historian of Renaissance English literature and scholar of comparative literature, Rosalie L. Colie was also a serious poet. This volume brings together 31 of her poems, illustrating the striking interplay between her scholarship and her personal response to the world. The title poem and the shorter poems that follow testify to Professor Colie's versatility as a poet. There are sonnets, elegies, metaphysical speculations, pastorals, love poems all imbued with the intelligence and sensibility that pervaded her life and work.

Originally published in 1975.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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Auden's Apologies for Poetry

Lucy McDiarmid

Common wisdom has it that when Auden left England for New York in January 1939, he had already written his best poems. He left behind (most critics believe) all the idealisms of the 1930s and all serious concerns to become an unserious poet, a writer of ingenious, agreeable, minor lyrics. Lucy McDiarmid argues that such readers, spoiled by the simple intensities of apocalypse, distort and misjudge Auden's greatest work. She shows that once Auden was freed from the obligation to criticize and reform the society of his native country, he devoted his imaginative energies to commentary on art. And about art he was never complaisant: with greater passion than he had ever used to undermine "bourgeois" society, Auden undermined literature. Every major poem and every essay became a retractio, a statement of art's frivolity, vanity, and guilt. Auden's Apologies for Poetry, then, sets forth the unorthodox notion that the chief subject of later, "New Yorker" Auden is the insignificance of poetry. Commenting on all the major poems and essays from the 1930s through the 1960s, and analyzing manuscript revisions and unpublished works, it charts the changes in Auden's poetics in the light of his shift from an oral to a written model of poetry. In his earliest work Auden voices the tentative hope that poems can be like loving spoken words, transforming and redeeming, themselves carriers of value. After 1939 he takes for granted a written model. His later essays and poems deny art spiritual value, claiming that "love, or truth in any serious sense" is a "reticence," the unarticulated worth that exists--if at all--outside the words on the page. Later Auden creates a poetics of apology and self-deprecation, a radical undermining of poetry itself.

Originally published in 1990.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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