Poetry Month! Fast – Jorie Graham

A new book by Pulitzer Prize winner Graham is always an event;  Dwight Garner in the New York Times called her “a central figure in the last four decades of American poetry.”

A much admired and ground-breaking stylist, the scope of her subject matter is also impressive. This time she contemplates on the future–the ‘post-human’ condition from cyberbots to 3D-printed humans; the limits of life from the crumbling minds of old age to the possibility of consciousness beyond the grave.

“Graham’s 12th collection [is]… a dizzying, difficult exploration of that border and the world beyond—the one in which the human is becoming or has become unrecognizable: ‘Each epoch dreams the one to follow.// To dwell is to leave a trace.// I am not what I asked for.’ This latest book contains some of Graham’s most accomplished work to date—the poems ‘Reading to My Father’ and ‘The Medium’ among them—but Graham has always been a poet of great books, followed by books that explore new forms and new ways of seeing. This is at its heart a book of exploration, with varied levels of success. Still, there’s a great pleasure in reading one of America’s most intelligent poets work her way through subjects that are by their nature beyond understanding.”
Publishers Weekly

Fast: Poems (9780062663481) by Jorie Graham. $25.99 hardcover. 5/2/17 on sale.

 

Poetry Month Publicity: I Must Be Living Twice – Eileen Myles

Booksellers, pull this September 2015 release off the shelf and add it to your Poetry Month display. It seems like Myles is everywhere I look these days. There’s a character based on her in Transparent (and she has a cameo in the series). Lily Tomlin’s Grandma is also a tip of the hat to her. Now Myles will be the subject of a large profile in the April 16 Culture Issue of T: The New York Times Style Magazine.

“Her work is hard to describe, best encountered on its own terms; suffice to say it combines frankness and beauty in a truly original way.”
   — The Guardian

“Myles is a big deal, a rock star, sort of like the Patti Smith of contemporary poetry. . . . Myles is relentlessly casual, and even joyful. She has a good time journeying through Hell, and like a hip Virgil, she’s happy to show us the way.”
– NPR.org

I Must Be Living Twice: New and Selected Poems 1975 – 2014 (9780062389084) by Eileen Myles. $29.99 hardcover. 9/29/15 on sale.

 

Short Take: I Must Be Living Twice – Eileen Myles

Fans of Patti Smith may enjoy this major collection, steeped in the culture of New York City and recalling a radical literary and artistic life.

“Spanning 10 books and four decades, this selected volume solidifies Myles’s reputation as both an underground star and a major force in contemporary poetry. Myles (Snowflake/Different Streets) often traffics in intimate and autobiographical details, providing an opportunity for the personal to spread across questions of poetics, class, and urbanity, among others. Her early poems often lingered in the consciousness for decades, finding small but devoted audiences yet dismissed by the mainstream, not in small part because of their direct engagement with her life as a queer, working-class woman. Myles’s poetic performance is complex, though it can appear deceptively simple….This volume includes many out-of-print poems as well as new work and a brief 2014 essay by Myles on her poetics. Readers will be thrilled not only that this old work is available again, but that the new work is as impressive as ever.”
Publishers Weekly

 “Her work is hard to describe, best encountered on its own terms; suffice to say it combines frankness and beauty in a truly original way.”
   — The Guardian

I Must Be Living Twice: New and Selected Poems 1975 – 2014 (9780062389084) by Eileen Myles. $29.99 hardcover. 9/29/15 on sale.

Poetry: Dome of the Hidden Pavilion – James Tate

Sad news this month for fans of contemporary poetry; James Tate died at age 77. Back in the olden days, he was one of my teachers—a man gifted with kindness, humor, wisdom and a charming sense of the absurd. All those traits mark his poetry. He’ll be missed in the writing community and long remembered in the larger world of letters. This last book is a wonderful introduction to his always-inventive voice.

“Tate (1943–2015), winner of the 1991 Pulitzer Prize and 1994 National Book Award, interrupts small-town life’s sense of normalcy and stability with the absurd and the surprising in his new collection of short, narrative verse vignettes. He also manages to maintain a strong stylistic consistency without going stale…masterly storytelling keeps things fresh; even when the reader can anticipate the inevitable absurdist twist in a piece, its delivery is always interesting….Tate’s style will be recognizable to readers of his recent few books, but even those unfamiliar should find this whip-smart collection a joy to read.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Dome of the Hidden Pavilion (9780062399205) by James Tate.  $25.99 hardcover. 8/4/15 on sale.

New Poetry: The Lunatic – Charles Simic & Dark Sparkler – Amber Tamblyn

I have two offerings for your Poetry Month displays from very different camps. (My hands down favorite for your tables is outside the scope of this newsletter since it’s from a competitor–but I have to offer it a shout out: Jane Hirshfield’s Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World. If you don’t read poetry, it might change your mind.)

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A Yugoslavian immigrant whose family left for America in the difficult aftermath of WWII, Simic was drafted into the U.S. military in his twenties, later put himself through school and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize and become U.S. Poet Laureate. Simic’s is a true American story. His poetry is dark, humorous, frequently absurdist—all in service of getting to the heart of our human experience.

“70 grimly playful poems that confirm [Simic’s] position among the literary elite. The collection primarily revolves around nostalgia, aging, and unappreciated everyday wonders. Unvarnished yet profound, these poems show a boundless sensitivity underneath their impish presentation…. While some poems dwell on the loneliness of old age…Simic battles this loneliness in the company of ‘Imagination, devil’s old helper,’ who helps him breathe life into the inanimate—and greater significance into the animate….Simic’s new collection is an outlandish and masterly mixture of morbidity and heartfelt yearning.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

The Lunatic: Poems (9780062364746) by Charles Simic. $22.99 hardcover. 4/7/15 on sale.

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Bonus for Simic fans! Ecco is also releasing his selected prose this month:

“In artful, lucid, and sometimes humorous essays, [Simic] offers commanding insights on such diverse topics as poetry’s relationship to philosophy, the ravages of war, and the unpredictable beauties of film and music… his wit shines and sparkles on every page.”
Publishers Weekly

The Life of Images: Selected Prose (9780062364715) by Charles Simic. $27.99 hardcover. 4/7/15 on sale.

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Though her celebrity comes from acting, Amber Tambyn has been writing poems since she was a teen (she published her first poem in the San Francisco Chronicle when she was 12). She’s the author of two previous collections and the founder of the Write Now Poetry Society. The design of the book integrates the illustrations by David Lynch, Marilyn Manson and others. Coupled with strong advance reviews, this should be an arresting contribution to Poetry Month displays.

“This third book of poems from actress Tamblyn could be a large-scale media event, but it’s also a good read. Prominent since her teens in film and especially TV, Tamblyn has long been serious about poetry. Here her poetic avocation takes on the perils of her primary career: the actress has created an energetic and formally varied collection focused on ill-fated starlets, dead actresses, and child stars… Reviewers may compare Tamblyn to James Franco, who also wrote poems about his own celebrity, but the two cases aren’t really alike: Tamblyn’s work seems less slick, and it’s more playful and far more personal, with highs and lows that stick around after the cameras are off.”
— Publishers Weekly

Dark Sparkler (9780062348166) by Amber Tamblyn. $17.99 trade paper original. 4/7/15 on sale.

Poetry: From the New World – Jorie Graham

Our Ecco imprint arguably publishes a stable of some of the most influential contemporary American poets. This volume of selected poems from Pulitzer Prize winner Graham covers four decades and weighs in at almost 400 pages, offering a comprehensive look at her artistic evolution.

“If Graham has proved oversized as a poet in the field of contemporary poetry, it is because she continually recalls the great Western tradition of philosophical and religious inquiry…tenaciously thinking and feeling her way through layer after layer of perception, like no poet before her.”
— Calvin Bedient

“In culling from 11 collections, the volume is necessarily limited in scope, but it succeeds in giving readers—particularly new ones—a long view of the aesthetic development and ethical awakening of one of America’s most important and critically lauded contemporary poets….[T]he scale of thought and perception—and the arc of arguments that coalesce over the course of this selected—is a testament to Graham’s work and her willingness to push herself into new territory with each new book. For that reason, one wonders, in reading the four new poems, if Graham is again searching for a new form to take her forward.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

From the New World: Poems 1976-2014 (9780062315403) by Jorie Graham. $29.99 hardcover. 2/17/15 on sale.

Poetry Month: Foxes on the Trampoline – Charlotte Boulay

Booksellers, add this one to your Poetry Month display if it hasn’t already found its way there. Edited by Daniel Halpern, the publisher of Ecco as well as the editor of the influential 20th century journal Antaeus, Boulay joins a list of Ecco poets that includes some of the most important writers of our generation including John Ashbery, Jorie Graham, and Robert Hass. This is debut collection is the first new author Ecco has added to its list since 2008. Of the collection, Halpern says, “Boulay’s poems are deeply intelligent and elegant, but they are also a pleasure to read and truly engaging, perfect for readers who do not traditionally read poetry.”

“Boulay’s debut collection artfully negotiates the interplay between the natural and man-made worlds, presenting a lyric speaker searching for an authentic position in her contemporary surroundings. The very human issues of want, lack, and desire litter these nature obsessed pages. “Want is the old fairy tale:/ trying to carry the sea in a sieve,” she writes in “Fleet” … Boulay presents with an extremely even hand, but her questions address the subtle, difficult, and inconclusive elements of everyday life: “What I want is folded up somewhere,/ or buried, or slipped under the sea. I have everything/ else, everything everything. O fox,/ is this joy?”
Publishers Weekly

 Foxes on the Trampoline: Poems (9780062302496) by Charlotte Boulay. $14.99 trade paper original. 4/1/14 on sale.