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Contemporary Essayists Cover the Essays
Writers of the modern essay can trace their chosen genre all the way back to Michel de Montaigne (1533–92). But save for the recent notable best seller How to Live: A Life of Montaigne by Sarah Bakewell, Montaigne is largely ignored. After Montaigne—a collection of twenty-four new personal essays intended as tribute— aims to correct this collective lapse of memory and introduce modern readers and writers to their stylistic forebear.Though it’s been over four hundred years since he began writing his essays, Montaigne’s writing is still fresh, and his use of the form as a means of self-exploration in the world around him reads as innovative—even by modern standards. He is, simply put, the writer to whom all essayists are indebted. Each contributor has chosen one of Montaigne’s 107 essays and has written his/her own essay of the same title and on the same theme, using a quote from Montaigne’s essay as an epigraph. The overall effect is akin to a covers album, with each writer offering his or her own interpretation and stylistic verve to Montaigne’s themes in ways that both reinforce and challenge the French writer’s prose, ideas, and forms. Featuring a who’s who of contemporary essayists, After Montaigne offers a startling engagement with Montaigne and the essay form while also pointing the way to the genre’s potential new directions.Contributors: Marcia Aldrich, Chris Arthur, Robert Atwan, Barrie Jean Borich, Mary Cappello, Steven Church, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Danielle Cadena Deulen, Brian Doyle, Lina M. Ferreira C. V., Vivian Gornick, Robin Hemley, Wayne Koestenbaum, Shannon Lakanen, David Lazar, E. J. Levy, Phillip Lopate, Bret Lott, Patrick Madden, Desirae Matherly, Maggie Nelson, José Orduña, Elena Passarello, Lia Purpura, Kristen Radtke, Amy Lee Scott, Jerald Walker, Nicole Walker
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.
“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.
Uncollected Poems 1969–1982
This collection of Ted Greenwald’s poetry, edited by Miles Champion, is a sampler of some of Greenwald’s most breathtaking work. A New York poet with close ties to the New York School and the Language poets, Greenwald has written daily since the early 1960s, and none of the poems in this book are included in any of his books to date. These discrete works were written in advance of or alongside the extended explorations of a mutated triolet form that increasingly occupied him from the late 1970s on. This book can be seen as a companion to Common Sense, and provides further evidence of Greenwald’s ability to think with his ear, to hear what’s said as it arrives as a fresh sound or shape in his head. This work is singular in its pattern-making, its music-making, and its ability to simultaneously follow multiple paths. An online reader’s companion will be available at tedgreenwald.site.wesleyan.edu
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.”
These powerful stories limn the complexities and dilemmas of life in Kansas, a state at “the center of the center of America,” as a billboard in one story announces. Andrew Malan Milward explores the less visible aspects of the Kansas experience—where its agrarian past comes into conflict with the harsh present reality of drugs, fundamentalism, and corporatism, relegating its agrarian identity to museums and amusement parks. Presented in a triptych, the stories in Milward’s debut collection range across a varied terrain, from tumbledown rural barns to modern urban hospitals, revealing the secrets contained therein.