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Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets

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Almanac

Poems

Austin Smith

Almanac is a collection of lyrical and narrative poems that celebrate, and mourn the passing of, the world of the small family farm. But while the poems are all involved in some way with the rural Midwest, particularly with the people and land of the northwestern Illinois dairy farm where Austin Smith was born and raised, they are anything but merely regional. As the poems reflect on farm life, they open out to speak about childhood and death, the loss of tradition, the destruction of the natural world, and the severing of connections between people and the land.

This collection also reflects on a long poetic apprenticeship. Smith's father is a poet himself, and Almanac is in part a meditation about the responsibility of the poet, especially the young poet, when it falls to him to speak for what is vanishing. To quote another Illinois poet, Thomas James, Smith has attempted in this book to write poems "clear as the glass of wine / on [his] father's table every Christmas Eve." By turns exhilarating and disquieting, this is a remarkable debut from a distinctive new voice in American poetry.
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From Almanac:
THE MUMMY IN THE FREEPORT ART MUSEUM

Austin Smith

Amongst the masterpieces of the small-town
Picassos and Van Goghs and photographs
of the rural poor and busts of dead Greeks
or the molds of busts donated by the Art
Institute of Chicago to this dying
town's little museum, there was a mummy,
a real mummy, laid out in a dim-lit
room by himself. I used to go
to the museum just to visit him, a pharaoh
who, expecting an afterlife
of beautiful virgins and infinite food
and all the riches and jewels
he'd enjoyed in earthly life,
must have wondered how the hell
he'd ended up in Freeport, Illinois.
And I used to go alone into that room
and stand beside his sarcophagus and say,
"My friend, I've asked myself the same thing."

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An Apology for Loving the Old Hymns

Jordan Smith

This work concerns questions of loss and restitution, decline and recovery--questions best explored through the shifting revelations of narrative that are possible in a longer poem.

Originally published in 1982.

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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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."
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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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Carnations

Poems

Anthony Carelli

In Anthony Carelli’s remarkable debut, Carnations, the poems attempt to reanimate dead metaphors as blossoms: wild and lovely but also fleeting, mortal, and averse to the touch. Here, the poems are carnations, not only flowers, but also body-making words. Nodding to influences as varied as George Herbert, Francis Ponge, Fernando Pessoa, and D. H. Lawrence, Carelli asserts that the poet’s materials--words, objects, phenomena--are sacred, wilting in the moment, yet perennially renewed. Often taking titles from a biblical vocabulary, Carnations reminds us that unremarkable places and events--a game of Frisbee in a winter park, workers stacking panes in a glass factory, or the daily opening of a café--can, in a blink, be new. A short walk home is briefly transformed into a cathedral, and the work-worn body becomes a dancer, a prophet, a muse.
______

From Carnations:
THE PROPHETS

Anthony Carelli

A river. And if not the river nearby, then a dream
of a river. Nothing happens that doesn’t happen
along a river, however humble the water may be.

Take Rowan Creek, the trickle struggling to lug
its mirroring across Poynette, wherein, suspended,
so gentle and shallow, I learned to walk, bobbing

at my father’s knees. Later, whenever we tried
to meander on our inner tubes, we’d get lodged
on the bottom. Seth, remember, no matter how we’d

kick and shove off, we’d just get lodged again?
At most an afternoon would carry us a hundred feet
toward the willows. We’d piss ourselves on purpose

just to feel the spirits of our warmth haloing out.
And once, two bald men on the footbridge, bowing
in the sky, stared down at us without a word.

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The Double Witness

Ben Belitt

Ben Belitt writes, "This volume—my fifth—extends and deepens a preoccupation I have had with the visible and invisible manifestations of people, places, and things. It offers a variety of poems of formal and textural density and, in addition, a system of 'doublings' and 'solitudes' whose oppositions express the drama of reality and appearance."

Originally published in 1978.

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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A Drink at the Mirage

Michael J. Rosen

"Between the discovery that there is a design which only his poetry enables him to find as he confronts the world and the discovery that such a design is a snare, merely a means of keeping him from further discernment, Michael Rosen is wedged, is productively pinioned, [ should say, for it is just this pressure--of meaning discerned on one hand and of meaning distrusted on the other--which makes the tension of these poems, a new version of the old wars between mind and body, memory and hope, self and surround. How tender and inclusive are Rosen's preoccupations, and how disabused his conclusions! One reads these playful, stricken poems with wonder--how will such ventures conclude, or even persist? What will happen next? Here is a poet who persuades us, as the saying goes, to stay tuned."--Richard Howard

Originally published in 1985.

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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Erosion

Jorie Graham

From Erosion:
SAN SEPOLCRO

Jorie Graham

. . . . How clean
the mind is,
holy grave. It is this girl
by Piero
della Francesca, unbuttoning
her blue dress,
her mantle of weather,
to go into
labor. Come, we can go in.
It is before
the birth of god. No-one
has risen yet
to the museums, to the assembly
line bodies
and wings to the open air
market. This is
what the living do: go in.
It's a long way.
And the dress keeps opening
from eternity
to privacy, quickening.
Inside, at the heart,
is tragedy, the present moment
forever stillborn,
but going in, each breath
is a button
coming undone, something terribly
nimble-fingered
finding all of the stops.

Jorie Graham grew up in Italy and now lives in northern California.She has received grants from the Ingram-Merrill Foundation, the Bunting Institute, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.Her first book, Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts (Princeton, 1980), won the Great Lakes Colleges Association Award as the best first book of poems published in 1980.

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The Eternal City

Poems

Kathleen Graber

Chosen by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon to relaunch the prestigious Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets under his editorship, The Eternal City revives Princeton’s tradition of publishing some of today’s best poetry.

With an epigraph from Freud comparing the mind to a landscape in which all that ever was still persists, The Eternal City offers eloquent testimony to the struggle to make sense of the present through conversation with the past. Questioning what it means to possess and to be possessed by objects and technologies, Kathleen Graber’s collection brings together the elevated and the quotidian to make neighbors of Marcus Aurelius, Klaus Kinski, Walter Benjamin, and Johnny Depp. Like Aeneas, who escapes Troy carrying his father on his back, the speaker of these intellectually and emotionally ambitious poems juggles the weight of private and public history as she is transformed from settled resident to pilgrim.
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From The Eternal City:
WHAT I MEANT TO SAY

Kathleen Graber

In three weeks I will be gone. Already my suitcase stands
overloaded at the door. I’ve packed, unpacked, & repacked it,
making it tell me again & again what it couldn’t hold.
Some days it’s easy to see the signifi cant insignificance
of everything, but today I wept all morning over the swollen,
optimistic heart of my mother’s favorite newscaster,
which suddenly blew itself to stillness. I have tried for weeks
to predict the weather on the other side of the world: I don’t want
to be wet or overheated. I’ve taken out The Complete Shakespeare
to make room for a slicker. And I’ve changed my mind
& put it back. Soon no one will know what I mean when I speak.
Last month, after graduation, a student stopped me just outside
the University gates despite a downpour. He wanted to tell me
that he loved best James Schuyler’s poem for Auden.
So much to remember, he recited in the rain, as the shops
began to close their doors around us. I thought he would live
a long time. He did not
. Then, a car loaded with his friends
pulled up honking & he hopped in. There was no chance to linger
& talk. Today I slipped into the bag between two shoes that book
which begins with a father digging--even though my father
was no farmer & planted ever only one myrtle late in his life
& sat in the yard all that summer watching it grow as he died,
a green tank of oxygen suspirating behind him. If the suitcase
were any larger, no one could lift it. I’m going away for a long time,
but it may not be forever. There are tragedies I haven’t read.
Kyle, bundle up. You’re right. It’s hard to say simply what is true.
For Kyle Booten

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The Expectations of Light

Pattiann Rogers

Originally published in 1981.

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.

restricted access This search result is for a Book

A Glossary of Chickens

Poems

Gary J. Whitehead

With skillful rhetoric and tempered lyricism, the poems in A Glossary of Chickens explore, in part, the struggle to understand the world through the symbolism of words. Like the hens of the title poem, Gary J. Whitehead's lyrics root around in the earth searching for sustenance, cluck rather than crow, and possess a humble majesty.

Confronting subjects such as moral depravity, nature's indifference, aging, illness, death, the tenacity of spirit, and the possibility of joy, the poems in this collection are accessible and controlled, musical and meditative, imagistic and richly figurative. They are informed by history, literature, and a deep interest in the natural world, touching on a wide range of subjects, from the Civil War and whale ships, to animals and insects. Two poems present biblical narratives, the story of Lot's wife and an imagining of Noah in his old age. Other poems nod to favorite authors: one poem is in the voice of the character Babo, from Herman Melville's Benito Cereno, while another is a kind of prequel to Emily Dickinson's "She rose to His Requirement."

As inventive as they are observant, these memorable lyrics strive for revelation and provide their own revelations.

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