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An Anthology of Contemporary Voices
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.
Bafana Kuzwayo is a young man with a weight on his shoulders. After flunking his law studies at the University of Cape Town, he returns home to Soweto, where he must decide how to break the news to his family. But before he can confess, he is greeted as a hero by family and friends. His uncle calls him “Advo,” short for Advocate, and his mother wastes no time recruiting him to solve their legal problems. In a community that thrives on imagined realities, Bafana decides that it’s easiest to create a lie that allows him to put off the truth indefinitely. Soon he’s in business with Yomi, a Nigerian friend who promises to help him solve all his problems by purchasing a fake graduation document. One lie leads to another as Bafana navigates through a world that readers will find both funny and grim.
The Diary of a Decadent
Lost in a shipwreck in 1895, rewritten before the author's suicide in 1896, and not published until 1925, José Asunción Silva's After-Dinner Conversation (De sobremesa) is one of Latin America's finest fin de siècle novels and the first one to be translated into English. Perhaps the single best work for understanding turn-of-the-twentieth-century writing in South America, After-Dinner Conversation is also cited as the continent's first psychological novel and an outstanding example of modernista fiction and the Decadent sensibility. Semi-autobiographical and more important for style than plot, After-Dinner Conversation is the diary of a Decadent sensation-collector in exile in Paris who undertakes a quest to find his beloved Helen, a vision whom his fevered imagination sees as his salvation. Along the way, he struggles with irreconcilable urges and temptations that pull him in every direction while he endures an environment indifferent or hostile to spiritual and intellectual pursuits, as did the modernista writers themselves. Kelly Washbourne's excellent translation preserves Silva's lush prose and experimental style. In the introduction, one of the most wide-ranging in Silva criticism, Washbourne places the life and work of Silva in their literary and historical contexts, including an extended discussion of how After-Dinner Conversation fits within Spanish American modernismo and the Decadent movement. Washbourne's perceptive comments and notes also make the novel accessible to general readers, who will find the work surprisingly fresh more than a century after its composition.
“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.
Dr. Regina Moss has built herself a successful career as a psychiatrist in Boston: she enjoys a lucrative private practice, hefty consultation fees, and a reputation that inspires colleagues and patients alike. Why then, is Regina haunted by her past? Why does her own daughter barely speak to her? What’s the story with her gruff, softhearted husband Walter—and why can’t Regina stop thinking about the lanky new tech on the ward? An Age of Madness peels back the layers of Regina’s psyche in a voice that is brash, bitter, and blackly humorous, laying bare her vulnerabilities while drawing the reader unnervingly close to this memorable heroine. From the author of The Preservationist, which was hailed as “hilarious and illuminating” by The Los Angeles Times Book Review and “pithy and smart” by the New York Post, comes the latest turnabout in a career filled with unexpected surprises. An Age of Madness brings a sharp edge of psychological realism to a story filled with startling revelations and heartrending twists.
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.”