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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. ______ 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."
Scaffolding is a sequence of eighty-two sonnets written over the course of a year, dated and arranged in roughly chronological order, and vividly reflecting life in New York City. In this, her third book of poetry, Eléna Rivera uses the English sonnet as a scaffold to explore daily events, observations, conversations, thoughts, words, and memories—and to reflect on the work of earlier poets and the relationship between life and literature. Guided by formal and syllabic constraints, the poems become in part an exploration of how form affects content and how other poets have approached the sonnet. The poems, which are very attentive to rhythm and sound, are often in conversation with historical, philosophical, artistic, and literary sources. But at the same time they engage directly with the present moment. Like the construction scaffolding that year after year goes up around buildings all over New York, these poems build on one another and change the way we see what was there before.
A new collection about violence and the rural Midwest from a poet whose first book was hailed as “memorable” (Stephen Burt, Yale Review) and “impressive” (Chicago Tribune) Flyover Country is a powerful collection of poems about violence: the violence we do to the land, to animals, to refugees, to the people of distant countries, and to one another. Drawing on memories of his childhood on a dairy farm in Illinois, Austin Smith explores the beauty and cruelty of rural life, challenging the idea that the American Midwest is mere “flyover country,” a place that deserves passing over. At the same time, the collection suggests that America itself has become a flyover country, carrying out drone strikes and surveillance abroad, locked in a state of perpetual war that Americans seem helpless to stop. In these poems, midwestern barns and farmhouses are linked to other lands and times as if by psychic tunnels. A poem about a barn cat moving her kittens in the night because they have been discovered by a group of boys resonates with a poem about the house in Amsterdam where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis. A poem beginning with a boy on a farmhouse porch idly swatting flies ends with the image of people fleeing before a drone strike. A poem about a barbwire fence suggests, if only metaphorically, the debate over immigration and borders. Though at times a dark book, the collection closes with a poem titled “The Light at the End,” suggesting the possibility of redemption and forgiveness. Building on Smith’s reputation as an accessible and inventive poet with deep insights about rural America, Flyover Country also draws profound connections between the Midwest and the wider world.
From an award-winning poet, a collection that explores the complexities of transformation, cultures, and politics In Radioactive Starlings, award-winning poet Myronn Hardy explores the divergences between the natural world and technology, asking what progress means when it destroys the places that sustain us. Primarily set in North Africa and the Middle East, but making frequent reference to the poet’s native United States, these poems reflect on loss, beauty, and dissent, as well as memory and the contemporary world’s relationship to the collective past. Hardy imagines the Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa as various starlings dwelling in New York City, Lisbon, Tunis, and Johannesburg, flying above these cities, resting in ficus and sycamores and on church steeples and minarets. Inhabiting the invented voices of Gwendolyn Brooks, Bob Kaufman, and Henry Ossawa Tanner, the poems make references to Miles Davis, Mahmoud Darwish, Tamir Rice, Ahmed Mohamed, and Albert Camus, and use forms such as ghazal, villanelle, pantoum, and sonnet, in addition to free lyricism. Through all these voices and forms, the questing starlings persist, moving and observing—and being observed by we who are planted on a crumbling ground. A meditation on the complexities of transformation, cultures, and politics, Radioactive Starlings is an important collection from a highly accomplished young poet.
A fascinating collection of serious and playful poems that tap the inventive possibilities of the anagram and other constraining forms In Stet, poet Dora Malech takes constraint as her catalyst and subject, exploring what it means to make or break a vow, to create art out of a life in flux, to reckon with the body’s bounds, and to arrive at a place where one might bear and care for another life. Tapping the inventive possibilities of constrained forms, particularly the revealing limitations of the anagram, Stet is a work of serious play that brings home the connections and intimacies of language. “Stet,” from the Latin for “let it stand,” is a proofreading term meaning to retain or return to a previous phrasing. The uncertainty of changes made and then reconsidered haunts Stet as its poems explore what is left unsaid through erasures, redaction, and the limitations of spelling. How does one “go back” on one’s word or “stand by” one’s decisions? Can a life be remade or revised, or is the past forever present as in a palimpsest? Embodying the physicality and reproductive potentiality inherent in the collection’s forms and figures, Stet ends expectantly, not searching for closure but awaiting the messy, living possibilities of what comes next. By turns troubling and consoling, Stet powerfully combines lyric invention and brilliant wordplay.
Following up on the success of their first anthology of aphorisms, Short Flights, editors James Lough and Alex Stein have returned with a new volume that expands on the theme of aphorisms to include other short form writing and concrete poetry and prose from several of the world's leading, award-winning, and bestsellling writers in the genre, including Charles Simic, Lydia Davis, Sarah Manguso, Jane Hirschfield, Joy Harjo, Yahia Labadidi, Claudia Rankine, and Stephen Dobyns.
Am 11. Februar 1963 begeht Sylvia Plath im Alter von 30 Jahren Selbstmord, heute ist sie die berühmteste amerikanische Dichterin des 20. Jahrhunderts. 50 Jahre nach ihrem Tod erscheint nun erstmals in deutscher Übersetzung »Der Koloss« – Sylvia Plath‘ erster und einziger Gedichtband zu Lebzeiten. Ihre Verse erzählen von einer Welt, die düster ist und voller Sehnsucht, in der zwischen Irrenhaus, Mythos und Märchen eine Frau um eine unangetastete Identität ringt.

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