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In Drafts 1-38, Toll, Rachel Blau DuPlessis has built a work which mimics memory and its losses, and which plays with the textures of memory, including its unexpectedness, its flashes and disappearances. Her recurrent motifs and materials include home, homelessness and exile; death and the memory of the dead; political grief and passion; silence, speech, the sayable and the ineffable. Drafts 1-38, Toll functions as a long poem comprised of 38 pieces, or drafts. These poems are conceived as autonomous "canto-like" sections that work on two procedural principles. One is the random repetition of lines or phrases across poems, a self-questioning, processual, and reconceptualizing strategy that honors the term "drafts." A second procedural principle is "the fold." This is the reconsideration of a "donor draft" and the deployment of some aspect in the donor draft in a related draft. The periodicity of this reconsideration is the number 19; hence drafts 1-19 make up the original layer, while drafts 20-38 constitute the first fold on top of this material.
A book of new poems by a major writer is an event. A book of new poems that marks a different, more powerful approach is cause for celebration. "What I looked for here," James Dickey tells us about The Eagle's Mile, "was a flicker of light 'from another direction,' and when I caught it - or thought I did - I followed where it went, for better or worse." In this new work, Dickey edges away from the narrative-based poems of his previous books and gives instead more primacy to the language in which he writes. His poetry gains flexibility, and his poetic power becomes even surer and more clearly expressed. "I have experimented," Dickey writes, "and look forward to experimenting more."
Trails and Portrayals
Edge Effect is Sandra McPherson's most original work to date. Constructed in two parts, the collection embraces secretly related worlds: the poetics of natural history and artistic discoveries of self-taught folk artists. Throughout, waves from one poem mark the shores of others. In natural history, an edge effect occurs where two communities, such as land and sea, overlap, that zone becoming more diversified than each of them. McPherson explores this effect in nature and art, questioning our notions of inside and outside, center and margin. Profound and moving, she recasts the very premises of formal understanding in poetry, accommodating at once the arts of nature and the nature of art.
The Einstein Intersection won the Nebula Award for best science fiction novel of 1967. The surface story tells of the problems a member of an alien race, Lo Lobey, has assimilating the mythology of earth, where his kind have settled among the leftover artifacts of humanity. The deeper tale concerns, however, the way those who are "different" must deal with the dominant cultural ideology. The tale follows Lobey's mythic quest for his lost love, Friza. In luminous and hallucinated language, it explores what new myths might emerge from the detritus of the human world as those who are "different" try to seize history and the day.
Kamau Brathwaite is a major Caribbean poet of his generation and one of the major world poets of the second half of the twentieth century. Elegguas--a play on "elegy" and "Eleggua," the Yoruba deity of the threshold, doorway, and crossroad--is a collection of poems for the departed. Modernist and post-modernist in inspiration, Elegguas draws together traditions of speaking with the dead, from Rilke's Duino Elegies to the Jamaican kumina practice of bringing down spirits of the dead to briefly inhabit the bodies of the faithful, so that the ancestors may provide spiritual assistance and advice to those here on earth. The book is also profoundly political, including elegies for assassinated revolutionaries like in the masterful "Poem for Walter Rodney."
Throughout his poetry, Brathwaite foregrounds "nation-language," that difference in syntax, in rhythm, and timbre that is most closely allied to the African experience in the Caribbean, using the computer to explore the graphic rendition of nuances of language. Brathwaite experiments using his own Sycorax fonts, as well as deliberate misspellings ("calibanisms") and deviations in punctuation. But this is never simple surface aesthetic, rather an expression of the turbulence (in history, in dream) depicted in the poems. This collection is a stunning follow-up to Brathwaite's Born to Slow Horses (Wesleyan, 2005), winner of the Griffin International Poetry Prize.
Poetics Across North America
Eleven More American Women Poets in the 21st Century is an exciting sequel to its predecessors in the American Poets in the 21st Century series. Like the earlier anthologies, this volume includes generous selections of poetry by some of the best poets of our time as well as illuminating poetics statements and incisive essays on their work. This unique organization makes these books invaluable teaching tools. Broadening the lens through which we look at contemporary poetry, this new volume extends its geographical net by including Caribbean and Canadian poets. Representing three generations of women writers, among the insightful pieces included in this volume are essays by Karla Kelsey on Mary Jo Bang's modes of artifice, Christine Hume on Carla Harryman's kinds of listening, Dawn Lundy Martin on M. NourbeSe Phillip (for whom "english / is a foreign anguish"), and Sina Queyras on Lisa Robertson's confoundingly beautiful surfaces. A companion web site will present audio of each poet's work.
Connecticut's Pioneering Governor
When Ella Tambussi Grasso ran for governor of Connecticut in 1974, she had not lost an election since she was first voted into the state's General Assembly in 1952. The people of Connecticut chose her as the nation's first woman to be elected governor in her own right--the capstone of a long and successful career dedicated to public service, effective government, and the democratic process. During her tenure as governor, Grasso's leadership was tested in the face of fiscal problems, state layoffs, and budget shortfalls. The daughter of Italian immigrants, she endeared herself to her constituents during the great Blizzard of 1978, when she stayed at the State Armory around the clock to direct emergency operations and make frequent television appearances. Author Jon E. Purmont, who served as Grasso's executive assistant when she was governor, draws on his diary from that time, research in Grasso's archives, and interviews with Grasso's family and friends to give us a rich and intimate portrait of this political pioneer.
Early science fiction has often been associated almost exclusively with Northern industrialized nations. In this groundbreaking exploration of the science fiction written in Latin America prior to 1920, Rachel Haywood Ferreira argues that science fiction has always been a global genre. She traces how and why the genre quickly reached Latin America and analyzes how writers in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico adapted science fiction to reflect their own realities. Among the texts discussed are one of the first defenses of Darwinism in Latin America, a tale of a time-traveling history book, and a Latin American Frankenstein. Latin American science fiction writers have long been active participants in the sf literary tradition, expanding the limits of the genre and deepening our perception of the role of science and technology in the Latin American imagination. The book includes a chronological bibliography of science fiction published from 1775 to 1920 in all Latin American countries.
It's been a pilgrimage for Annie Dillard: from Tinker Creek to the Galapagos Islands, the high Arctic, the Pacific Northwest, the Amazon Jungle--and now, China. This informative narrative is full of fascinating people: Chinese people, mostly writers, who encounter American writers in various bizarre circumstances in both China and the U.S. There is a toasting scene at a Chinese banquet; a portrait of a bitter, flirtatious diplomat at a dance hall; a formal meeting with Chinese writers; a conversation with an American businessman in a hotel lobby; an evening with long-suffering Chinese intellectuals in their house; a scene in the Beijing foreigners' compound with an excited European journalist; and a scene of unwarranted hilarity at the Beijing Library. In the U.S., there is Allen Ginsberg having a bewildering conversation in Disneyland with a Chinese journalist; there is the lovely and controversial writer Zhang Jie suiting abrupt mood changes to a variety of actions; and there is the fiercely spirited Jiange Zilong singing in a Connecticut dining room, eyes closed. These are real stories told with a warm and lively humor, with a keen eye for paradox, and with fresh insight into the human drama.