Books by ALSCW Members

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Now and Then: Selected Longer Poems by J. Chester Johnson
The journey through "Now and Then" begins with an interracial murder in Arkansas along the Mississippi River Delta at the height of the Civil Rights Movement and ends in a martyrdom of the German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, at the Flossenburg concentration camp near the end of World War II. In between, a long dead and fabled father reappears for a delayed conversation with the poet, and a paean resurrects the transformational prophet, Martin Luther King, Jr.; a New York City riot of the 1960s impels the poet into the authenticity of the lower Eastside, and Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Lazarus and Jonathan Daniels chant their way into history; home and exile surprisingly have much more in common than a reader would normally believe.
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Overyellow: The Poem as Installation Art by Nicholas Pesquès, Trans. Cole Swensen
Overyellow is part of a series that Nicolas Pesquès has been writing over the past twenty-five years; beginning with a mountain that he sees outside his study window in the Ardèche region of France, Pesquès uses an evocation of nature to reflect upon the nature of language and its tendency to separate us from immanent experience. The overyellow of the title refers to the brilliant color of the fragrant English broom that flowers all over the mountain every June. Subtle inter-relations of various powers, from the personal to the universal, create a meditative weave that accommodates both vivid imagery and philosophical speculation.

A bit in the way that Cezanne used Mont Sainte-Victoire as an anchor that allowed him a greater range of artistic exploration, Pesquès returns again and again to his mountain to keep his free-wheeling linguistic experimentation well-grounded, creating a dynamic between concrete presence and abstract investigation that, by carefully avoiding equilibrium, keeps both poles in invigorating play.

Nicolas Pesquès is the author of some fifteen volumes of poetry, the two most recent published by Flammarion. His work over the past twenty years constitutes a long meditation on the nature of language considered in relation to a mountain, Juliau, in south-central France. Two previous volumes from this series have been published in English translation—Physis (Parlor Press, 2006) and Juliology (Counterpath, 2008).
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Brevity: A Flash Fiction Handbook by David Galef
In Brevity, David Galef provides a guide to writing flash fiction, from tips on technique to samples by canonical and contemporary authors to provocative prompts that inspire powerful stories in a little space. Galef traces the genre back to its varied origins, from the short-short to nanofiction, with examples that include vignettes, prose poems, character sketches, fables, lists, twist stories, surrealism, and metafiction. The authors range from the famous, such as Colette and Borges, to today's voices, like Roxane Gay and Bruce Holland Rogers. A writer and longtime creative writing teacher, Galef also shows how flash fiction skills translate to other types of writing. Brevity is an indispensable resource for anyone working in this increasingly popular form.
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Quartet for J. Robert Oppenheimer: A Poem by Kelly Cherry
Quartet for J. Robert Oppenheimer records in poetry the life and times of one of America’s best-known scientists, the father of the atomic bomb who later lobbied for containment of nuclear weaponry. In brief, elegant stanzas, Kelly Cherry examines Oppenheimer’s inspirations, dreams, and values, visiting the events, places, and people that inspired him or led him to despair. She finds his place among scientists of his own time, such as Alan Turing and Albert Einstein, as well as his connections with historical and mythological figures from John Donne to Persephone.
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I’m Just Dead, I’m Not Gone by Jim Dickinson, ed. Ernest Suarez
I’m Just Dead, I’m Not Gone chronicles Jim Dickinson’s extraordinary life in the Memphis music scene of the fifties and sixties and how he went on to play with and produce a rich array of artists, including Aretha Franklin, the Rolling Stones, Ry Cooder, Duane Allman, Arlo Guthrie, and Albert King. With verve and wit, Dickinson (1941–2009) describes his trip to Blind Lemon’s grave on the Texas flatlands as a college student and how that encounter inspired his return to Memphis. Back home, he looked up Gus Cannon and Furry Lewis, began staging plays, cofounded what would become the annual Memphis Blues Festival, and started recording.
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Pastoral Habits by George Drew
Just as an orchard grower, when harvesting itsfruit, discards the tart, the bitter, the overripe andthe stunted, so, too, any poet tries to judiciouslyreject less than sterling poems when assembling hisSelected. Pastoral Habits is a selection of carefully chosen poemsfrom fifty years and five volumes of poetic harvests.If "pastoral" connotes good shepherding, or goodharvesting, then George Drew's collection willresonate for those who value the worlds of poetry.
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Poems, in Two Volumes ed. Richard Matlak
Published seven years after William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s popular collection Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth’s Poems, in Two Volumes shocked readers and drew scornful reviews. Poems was a revolutionary challenge to literary taste in revolution-weary times. The poems were perceived as inappropriately personal and egotistical in the attention that the poet pays to “moods of [his own] mind.” The collection is now seen as containing some of the most enduring works of British Romantic poetry, and Wordsworth’s achievement in opening up new worlds of subject matter, emotion, and poetic expression is widely recognized.

Richard Matlak places the initial reaction to Poems in its historical context and explains the sea change in critical and popular opinion about these poems. The extensive historical documents place the poems in the context of Wordsworth’s life, contemporary politics, and the literary world of the early nineteenth century.
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Ion, Helen, Orestes trans. Diane Arnson Svarlien
An acclaimed translator of Euripidean tragedy in its earlier and more familiar modes, Diane Arnson Svarlien now turns to three plays that showcase the special qualities of Euripides’ late dramatic art. Like her earlier volumes, Ion, Helen, Orestes offers modern, accurate, accessible, and stageworthy versions that preserve the metrical and musical form of the originals. Matthew Wright’s Introduction and notes offer illuminating guidance to first-time readers of Euripides, while pointing up the appeal of this distinctive grouping of plays.
Amazon Manual for Living by Sharon Dolin
Make Full Use of What Happens to You In the face of broken build a tower of breath In the eye of deceit carve a hive of light In the rumble of regret fashion a new net In the oracular gut leaven what's left In the fall of grief, harvest winter wheat In the infested wound, bring leeches to swoon In the empty bed, writhe a pelvic bone In the stung heart, harrow a new song In Fortuna's backswing let fallow fill wings
Amazon Trojan Women, Helen, and Hecuba by Francis Blessington
These three ancient tragedies—Trojan Women, Helen, and Hecuba—dramatize the tragic fates of women in the wake of war. Euripides (480–406 BC) innovatively brought to Greek tragedy the inner lives of his characters. In these plays he delivers powerful portrayals of the suffering of both Greek and Trojan women as they become pawns and prizes of warring men.

Francis Blessington combines his work as a poet, translator, and teacher of literature and Greek with his theatrical experience to create fresh and faithful verse translations suitable for the stage, the classroom, or the general reader. The three plays are augmented by introductions, notes, and an appendix on elements of Greek tragedy. Blessington glosses historical and mythological terms, identifies Greek themes in the texts, offers literary interpretations, and suggests topics for discussion.
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Selected Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay ed. Timothy Jackson
More than sixty years after her death, the Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Edna St. Vincent Millay continues to captivate new generations of readers. The twentieth-century American author was catapulted to fame after the publication of Renascence, her first major work and a poem written while she was still a teenager. Millay’s frank attitude toward sexuality—along with immortal lines such as “My candle burns at both ends”—solidified her reputation as the quintessential liberated woman of the Jazz Age.

In this authoritative volume, Timothy F. Jackson has compiled and annotated a new selection that represents the full range of her published work alongside previously unpublished manuscript excerpts, poems, prose, and correspondence. The poems, appearing as they were printed in their first editions, are complemented by Jackson’s extensive, illuminating notes, which draw on archival sources and help situate her work in its historical and literary context. Two introductory essays—one by Jackson and the other by Millay’s literary executor, Holly Peppe—also help critically frame the poet’s work.

This deluxe edition will be cherished by readers who continue to study and enjoy the work of this iconic figure.
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Mr. Memory & Other Poems by Phillis Levin
Phillis Levin's fifth collection of poems encompasses a wide array of styles and voices while staying true to a visionary impulse sparked as much by the smallest detail as the most sublime landscape. From expansive meditation to haiku, in ode and epistle, dream sequence and elegy, Levin's new poems explore motifs deeply social and historical, personal and metaphysical. Their various strategies deploy the sonic powers of lyric, the montage techniques of cinema, and the atavistic energies of the oral tradition. Throughout this volume, the singularity of person, place, and thing--and the plurality of our experience--assert their uncanny presence: an ash on a crackling log, a character from Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps, a burgundy scarf, an x-ray of Bruegel's "Massacre of the Innocents," and a demitasse cup from Dresden are all woven into a collection by turns rhapsodic and ironic, caustic and incantatory. The pre-Socratic mathematician Zeno facing the riddle of an ordinary day; a cloudbank of silence; a pair of second-hand shoes bought for Anne Frank; two crows at play above the peak of a mountain; a dot flickering on the horizon: intimate and philosophical, these poems unveil the metamorphic properties of mind and nature.
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A Late Spring, and After by Robert B Shaw
Robert B. Shaw explores the depths of experience, childhood, memory, and his midwestern roots: "The days go slowly but the years go fast. / Old movies used to bridge the story's gaps / by morphing falling leaves to frantic snow ..."

The heart of his book is a series of meditations on his wife's illness, passing, and what remains after--the vivid memories of time well-spent: "We used to work / together at it, each on a different side, / she stirring, measuring, tasting, I / chopping, dicing, mincing as required. / Rocking the blade the way she showed me to, / I freed from each raw thing a smell we liked: / the garlic's earthy reek, the ginger's sting, / the anise wisping up from celery leaves."

"Robert B. Shaw anchors A Late Spring, and After with a group of beautiful elegies for his wife. These recall, in their deep feeling and stylistic distinction, Thomas Hardy's "Poems of 1912-13." No less impressive are the other poems in this book. Time and again, Shaw brings his subjects to life with memorable description. Handles of tools look "like lemon jelly petrified." A man smokes on a dark porch at night, "making himself evident by inhaling, / rousing an ember-dot of hot vermilion." And the subjects themselves encompass an extraordinarily wide range of experience. Plants and animals, youth and age, private life and public history--everything is here in glorious enchantment and detail."--Timothy Steele
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Earthworks: Selected Poems by Rosanna Warren
In this inspiring volume, Rosanna Warren chronologically arranges poems selected from her four published collections of poetry. She places the poetry under the protection of two poetry saints: William Blake and Hart Crane, and convincingly reminds us that poems have work to do: to bear witness, to cry out, to lament, to praise. They should be psalms for their time. Rosanna Warren is the Hanna Holborn Gray Distinguished Service Professor at the Univ. of Chicago. She has received numerous awards, served as Chancellor of the Academy of Amer. Poets from 1999 to 2005, and is a member of the Amer. Academy of Arts and Letters, the Amer. Academy of Arts and Science, and the Amer. Philosophical Soc.
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The Substance of Shadows by John Hollander ed. Kenneth Gross
John Hollander, poet and scholar, was a master whose work joined luminous learning and imaginative risk. This book, based on the unpublished Clark Lectures Hollander delivered in 1999 at Cambridge University, witnesses his power to shift the horizons of our thinking, as he traces the history of shadow in British and American poetry from the Renaissance to the end of the twentieth century.

Shadow shows itself here in myriad literary identities, revealing its force as a way of seeing and a form of knowing, as material for fable and parable. Taking up a vast range of texts—from the Bible, Dante, Shakespeare, and Milton to Poe, Dickinson, Eliot, and Stevens—Hollander describes how metaphors of shadow influence our ideas of dreaming, desire, doubt, and death. These shadows of poetry and prose fiction point to unknown, often fearful domains of human experience, showing us concealed shapes of truth and possibility. Crucially, Hollander explores how shadows in poetic history become things with a strange substance and life of their own: they acquire the power to console, haunt, stalk, wander, threaten, command, and destroy. Shadow speaks, even sings, revealing to us the lost as much as the hidden self.

An extraordinary blend of literary analysis and speculative thought, Hollander’s account of the substance of shadow lays bare the substance of poetry itself.
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Edge of Irony: Modernism in the Shadow of the Habsburg Empire by Marjorie Perloff
Among the brilliant writers and thinkers who emerged from the multicultural and multilingual world of the Austro-Hungarian Empire were Joseph Roth, Robert Musil, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. For them, the trauma of World War I included the sudden loss of the geographical entity into which they had been born: in 1918, the empire was dissolved overnight, leaving Austria a small, fragile republic that would last only twenty years before being annexed by Hitler’s Third Reich. In this major reconsideration of European modernism, Marjorie Perloff identifies and explores the aesthetic world that emerged from the rubble of Vienna and other former Habsburg territories—an “Austro-Modernism” that produced a major body of drama, fiction, poetry, and autobiography.

Perloff explores works ranging from Karl Kraus’s drama The Last Days of Mankind and Elias Canetti’s memoir The Tongue Set Free to Ludwig Wittgenstein’s notebooks and Paul Celan’s lyric poetry. Throughout, she shows that Austro-Modernist literature is characterized less by the formal and technical inventions of a modernism familiar to us in the work of Joyce and Pound, Dada and Futurism, than by a radical irony beneath a seemingly conventional surface, an acute sense of exile, and a sensibility more erotic and quixotic than that of its German contemporaries. Skeptical and disillusioned, Austro-Modernism prefers to ask questions rather than formulate answers.
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The Prelude: Newly Edited from the Manuscripts ed. James Engell
The Prelude, William Wordsworth's masterful autobiographical work, composed in blank verse, is generally considered the poem at the heart of the Romantic movement and one of the great poems in the English language. In this fully illustrated and annotated edition, it finally receives the treatment it deserves. Inspired by his dear friend, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the poem charts the development of the author's mind, from childhood to Cambridge, London, the Alps, and France, touching on subjects ranging from leisure to literature, nature to imagination, and everything in between. A meditation on the self, this work still stands as a masterpiece of English literature, and is here complemented and enhanced by 200 contemporary color plates that both illuminate and elucidate the text. Scrupulously selected and edited from the definitive manuscripts in existence, the marginal notes and glosses provide an extra touch that makes this a truly enlightening reading experience.