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Poems of Avvaiyar
Give, Eat, and Live is a selection of poems translated from the 12th century Tamil poet Avvaiyar, arguably one of the most important female poets in Tamil's two-thousand-and-five-hundred years of literary history, and certainly one of the best known, of any gender. Although people across the state of Tamil Nadu know many of her works by heart, she has received little attention outside India, owing largely to the lack of decent translations. The one comprehensive work in English, Avvaiyar, a great Tamil poetess, by C. Rajagopalachari (Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1971), has long since been out of print and renders Avvaiyar's poems in accurate but wooden translations. This book, by contrast, seeks to render her finest songs in a supple and poetically charged English that allows both her intellect and poetry to shine.
From python hunting to Swami Keerti’s laughing meditation, from a death in the family to a burial on the rural acres where he’s stood his ground for a decade, Gaylord Brewer extends and explodes his career-long obsessions in Give Over, Graymalkin. This 8th collection of poems is a journal of loss and recovery, departure and surprising return, fleeting hours in a world diminished yet wondrous. Seas writhe with uncharted beasts. Horsemen gather, conflagrant beneath sword and cross. A daughter mounts a bicycle and a divorcé has the Harley delivered. From India to France to Spain, to the birdsong and day lilies of his unruly garden, Brewer continues as poetic conquistador mapping our longing, melancholy, and joy. With his characteristic wit and compassion, signature sculpted lines, and incantatory vigor, buried metaphors arise, holy days pass, toasts are raised, suns set over the desert of the animate dead. And the weary traveler? He approaches a dark corridor that may or may not be the way home.
From wildfire and war to bleached reefs and human frailty, Peggy Shumaker’s new poems meditate on mortality. Her poems speak with elegaic force for lost languages, lost ancestors, lost ways of being. This work sharpens the edges of our perception, drawing on the inner life, on secrets that keep us alive. With language as lyrical as the natural world, the poems in Gnawed Bones nourish us.
Gone & Gone takes place at the junctions of desire and despair, memory and mortality. The poems are concerned with the ways in which we try to orient ourselves in an often incomprehensible world—the often contradictory impulses that propel us, the fractious discontent that can stifle us. We attempt to make connections to people, to places, but when does comfort lead to stasis or stagnation? Is transit merely transitory? What is the point of all our "movement" in a world we will most certainly depart? Approaching the desirable but never quite attaining it, the "awful rowing" here is toward balance. Even if the ultimate destination is death (and all the frantic activity in the world can't alter that), we are guided by a capable, discerning voice, or rather, voices, that are channeled, but also absorbed and integrated. There is neither disillusion nor redemption here, just an honest grappling with what being human entails.
A HalfMan Dreaming conjures into existence an apocalyptic storyline that takes its narrator, Lupe, from a childhood encounter with the Enola Gay on the edge of the Californian desert, to the war in Vietnam, to prison in Detroit. Filled with confusion, anger, and shame at the things that he has seen and done, Lupe struggles to find his way out of the maze of violence and racism that is Postwar America. With lyrical intensity and pyrotechnic prose, A HalfMan Dreaming weaves together history, archaeology, and mythology in a Melville-ian quest to discover the Leviathan heart of America’s love affair with death and destruction.
Ching-In Chen's first book, The Heart's Traffic, constructs a re-naming, a caterwaul call to arms to attend to an archipelago of hybrid identity: political, sexual and always love-persuaded. Here the father is temporary, the mother is dead-alive and girls are writing tiger-legends through sestina, haibun, and the lost letters that must be reinvented if we can understand this new American body. The author necessarily offers up her riddles without answers, her ultimatum of banishment and homecoming with good food and sweet intention. She assures us, "I am kissing a new body into flesh."
With The Highwayman's Wife, Lynnell Edwards' fierce and brazen poems breathe new life into well-known myths and tales, giving a new, bold voice to characters such as Medusa and Helen of Troy. Equal parts graceful and audacious, Edwards' poems capture her genuine love of language while maintaining a charming style all their own.
Sparrows. Migration. Borders. Bodies. Blurring languages and metamorphosizing landscapes. In Histories of Bodies, Mariko Nagai traces the memory of loss, grief, death and family, seeking to define love in its multifaceted manifestations, each definition shifting, taking flight, then landing, only to be exiled out of the origin. From New York to Amsterdam to Boston to Tokyo, each landscape, whether temporal or imaginary, is rendered out of memory, then wrought into unsettling language of sorrow. In these poems, the world is consistently shifting, and what remains, at the end, is temporary migration of a sparrow, suddenly landing, then disappearing into the urban landscape.
New & Selected Poems
This new and selected brings together a dramatic sweep of poetry from one of the San Francisco Bay Area's best-loved poet-critics. Four of Richard Silberg's books are included here, beginning with his first, Translucent Gears, published in 1982, through Doubleness, published in 2000. A previously unpublished long narrative-meditation interweaves a coming-of-age memoir, the Lurianic Cabala, and pure lyrical sections, topped off with a sharp, striking suite of new poems. This is a book that masterfully balances several poetic strains rarely found together in a single body of work. The writing is accessible, presented in the form of narratives, descriptions, and dramatic monologues, but Silberg is also an adept of the image, of the poetic figure that leaps to epiphany. In yet another direction, a number of these poems move towards a kind of pure saying. Silberg's puns and language play on themselves at the threshold to philosophy. His sensibility is born out of the counterculture--warm, sexual, mystic, by turns funny, tough, and elegiac. He's a maverick, a singer, and an entertainer who believes in William Carlos Williams' maxim, "If it ain't a pleasure, it ain't a poem."