Books by ALSCW Members

Amazon How Words Make Things Happen by David Bromwich
Sooner or later, our words take on meanings other than we intended. How Words Make Things Happen suggests that the conventional idea of persuasive rhetoric (which assumes a speaker's control of calculated effects) and the modern idea of literary autonomy (which assumes that 'poetry makes nothing happen') together have produced a misleading account of the relations between words and human action. Words do make things happen. But they cannot be counted on to produce the result they intend.

This volume studies examples from a range of speakers and writers and offers close readings of their words. Chapter 1 considers the theory of speech-acts propounded by J.L. Austin. 'Speakers Who Convince Themselves' is the subject of chapter 2, which interprets two soliloquies by Shakespeare's characters and two by Milton's Satan. The oratory of Burke and Lincoln come in for extended treatment in chapter 3, while chapter 4 looks at the rival tendencies of moral suasion and aestheticism in the poetry of Yeats and Auden. The final chapter, a cause of controversy when first published in the London Review of Books, supports a policy of unrestricted free speech against contemporary proposals of censorship. Since we cannot know what our own words are going to do, we have no standing to justify the banishment of one set of words in favour of another.
Amazon In the Months of My Son’s Recovery: Poems by Kate Daniels
The poems of In the Months of My Son’s Recovery inhabit the voice and point of view of the mother of a heroin addict who enters recovery. With clear perception and precise emotional tones, Kate Daniels explores recovery experiences from multiple, evolving vantage points, including active addiction, 12-step treatment, co-occurring mental illness and addiction (known as dual diagnosis), and relapse. These intimately voiced, harrowing poems reveal the collateral damage that addiction inflicts on friends and families, in addition to the primary damage sustained by addicts themselves. Offering bold descriptions of medical processes, maternal love, and the potential for hope as an antidote to despair, this timely collection offers a firsthand account of the many crises at the heart of the opioid epidemic.
Amazon T. S. Eliot’s Dialectical Imagination by Jewel Spears Brooker
The thought-tormented characters in T. S. Eliot’s early poetry are paralyzed by the gap between mind and body, thought and action. The need to address this impasse is part of what drew Eliot to philosophy, and the failure of philosophy to appease his disquiet is the reason he gave for abandoning it. In T. S. Eliot’s Dialectical Imagination, Jewel Spears Brooker argues that two of the principles that Eliot absorbed as a PhD student at Harvard and Oxford were to become permanent features of his mind, grounding his lifelong quest for wholeness and underpinning most of his subsequent poetry.

The first principle is that contradictions are best understood dialectically, by moving to perspectives that both include and transcend them. The second is that all truths exist in relation to other truths. Together or in tandem, these two principles―dialectic and relativism―constitute the basis of a continual reshaping of Eliot’s imagination. The dialectic serves as a kinetic principle, undergirding his impulse to move forward by looping back, and the relativism supports his ingrained ambivalence.

Brooker considers Eliot’s poetry in three blocks, each represented by a signature masterpiece: "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," The Waste Land, and Four Quartets. She correlates these works with stages in the poet’s intellectual and spiritual life: disjunction, ambivalence, and transcendence. Using a methodology that is both inductive―moving from texts to theories―and comparative―juxtaposing the evolution of Eliot’s mind as reflected in his philosophical prose and the evolution of style as seen in his poetry―Brooker integrates cultural and biographical contexts. The first book to read Eliot’s poems alongside all of his prose and letters, T. S. Eliot’s Dialectical Imagination will revise received readings of his mind and art, as well as of literary modernism.
Amazon Lilies from America: New and Selected Poems by Carmen Bugan
"This selection of Carmen Bugan's poems offers readers an experience with all the surprise and continuity of a long, complex novel. Childhood, youth, the move from a traditional rural world, dominated by lovingly described grandparents, to exile, urban life, parents ageing, children growing - all the private normalities which are so often the material of poetry are here. But, from the striking opening, where the poet's parents work secretly on a typewriter, buried and dug up after the children are in bed, on Samizdat protests against the government of Romania, normality collides with history. A reality of state surveillance, abuse and incarceration fills the poems with urgency, even as memories are revisited and sometimes revised.

Carmen Bugan has written over twenty-five years in fluent, graceful English verse (Romanian, Latin and French words sometimes dazzling with multiple meanings); what marks this book is awareness of a sinister other language. With the poet, we realise that this is the record of a life already recorded, in the distorting staccato of the surveillance transcript, a distortion that leaks into the language of the later poems. Yet faith in the capacity of words to deliver truth survives, reflecting and recalling the exhuming of the typewriter, even if memory is vitiated and language is profaned." --Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin
OUP Samuel Beckett and the Politics of Aftermath by James McNaughton
* Illustrates how Beckett's work draws from, and responds to, political conflicts such as the executions after the Irish Civil War, Nazi newspapers and propaganda, and war atrocities
* Explores how Beckett consistently uses Irish political history to illuminate, ironize, and complicate developments in Europe
* Provides fresh and new readings of Beckett's most famous work including Endgame
* Draws on archival material including Beckett's letters and German Diaries
Harvard Self and Soul: A Defense of Ideals by Mark Edmundson
"In a culture that has become progressively more skeptical and materialistic, the desires of the individual self stand supreme, Mark Edmundson says. We spare little thought for the great ideals that once gave life meaning and worth. Self and Soul is an impassioned effort to defend the values of the Soul.

Edmundson guides readers back to the ancient sources of the three great ideals: courage, contemplation, and compassion. Homer’s Iliad presents two contrasting versions of the heroic ideal: Achilles, who risks everything to become the greatest of warriors, and Hector, who sacrifices his life to defend his people. Plato’s quest is for timeless truth: he is the prime example of the authentic thinker, concentrating the ideal of contemplation. The third great ideal, compassion, is embodied by Jesus, the Buddha, and Confucius, who taught loving kindness, forgiveness, and forbearance in a world where such qualities are difficult and sometimes dangerous to espouse.

Shakespeare and Freud are the modern world’s great enemies of these ideals, Edmundson argues. Shakespeare detests chivalry and has little time for faith and philosophy. Freud sees ideals as illusions that will inevitably betray us. But between them, a new ideal arises: imaginative creation, exemplified by Blake and Shelley."
Ducklake Books Not Only / But Also by Sr Anne Higgins
Not Only / But Also is book of poetry in which Anne Higgins looks back at youth and life’s trials and joys with the wisdom of age. Her poems echo the canon of English poetry in a unique honesty beyond mere allusion. She has absorbed the lessons of Shakespeare, Milton, Hopkins, Dickinson and Blake and filtered them back to us in slices of contemporary American life, the cruelty of musical chairs, the joy of hopscotch, the agony of aging and loss. She Not Only / But Also stakes her claim to the heart of American poetry.
Amazon Street View: Poems by Maryann Corbett
Maryann Corbett's Street View is a panorama of views: suburban and urban avenues, shown in leaf and in snow; alleyways where misfits lurk in darkness, but also where "Adonis, charioteer of municipal waste collection, rides with the morning"; and boulevards of old buildings whose elegance remains undeniable, even when "prinked in the clown suit of commerce." Street View also navigates the resiliency and failings of the human body, and the memories of family and pivotal acquaintances that shape viewpoints for good or ill. This is the work of a seasoned poet in command of her craft, and deservedly, a finalist for the 2016 Able Muse Book Award.
Amazon Guide to Greece: Poems by George Kalogeris
In the tradition of second-century writer Pausanias, George Kalogeris offers a series of meditative poems on his Greek heritage, both through the intimate lens of his upbringing and the vast historical view of the country’s great literature and philosophy. Kalogeris’s Guide to Greece is a warm and personal collection that ambitiously ties the diaspora of Greek people and ideas into a single literary experience. The struggles of a displaced, working-class family, in turn, give rise to musings on Antigone and Odysseus. Ancient Greek heroes inspire considerations of modern-day greats, such as billionaire Aristotle Onassis and baseball player Harry Agganis. Mirroring the familiar yet mythic call of the Aegean Sea, these poems at once evoke vivid childhood memories and provide new explorations of time-honored epics.
Amazon The Surveyors: Poems by Mary Jo Salter
"I'm still alive and now I'm in Bratislava," says the speaker of one of Salter's poems, as she travels with her unlikely late-in-life love, a military man. She never expected to be here, to know someone like him, to be parted from her previous life; how did it happen? Time is hurtling, but these poems try to slow it down to examine its curious by-products--the prints of Dürer, an Afghan carpet, photographs of people we've lost. The title poem, a crown of sonnets, takes up key moments in the poet's past, the quirky advent of poetic inspiration, and the seemingly sci-fi future of the universe. Throughout, in a tone of ironic wonderment, placing rich new love poems alongside some inevitable poems of leavetaking, Salter invites the reader to weigh and ponder the way things have turned out--for herself, for all of us--in this new century, and perhaps to conclude, as she does, "That's funny . . . "
Amazon Night School by Carl Dennis
The poems in Carl Dennis’s thirteenth collection, Night School, are informed by an engagement with a world not fully accessible to the light of day, a world that can only be known with help from the imagination, whether we focus on ourselves, on people close at hand, or on the larger society.  Only if we imagine alternatives to our present selves, Dennis suggests, can we begin to grasp who we are. Only if we imagine what is hidden from us about the lives of others can those lives begin to seem whole. Only if we can conceive of a social world different from the one we seem to inhabit can we begin to make sense of the country we call our own. To read these poems is to find ourselves invited into a dialogue between what is present and what is absent that proves surprising and enlarging.
Amazon When Rap Spoke Straight to God by Erica Dawson
When Rap Spoke Straight to God isn’t sacred or profane, but a chorus joined in a single soliloquy, demanding to be heard. There’s Wu-Tang and Mary Magdelene with a foot fetish, Lil’ Kim and a self-loving Lilith. Slurs, catcalls, verses, erasures―Dawson asks readers, “Just how far is it to nigger?” Both grounded and transcendent, the book is reality and possibility. Dawson’s work has always been raw; but, When Rap Spoke Straight to God is as blunt as the answer to that earlier question: “Here.” Sometimes abrasive and often abraded, Dawson doesn’t flinch.  

A mix of traditional forms where sonnets mash up with sestinas morphing to heroic couplets, When Rap Spoke Straight to God insists that while you may recognize parts of the poem’s world, you can’t anticipate how it will evolve.   

With a literal exodus of light in the book’s final moments, When Rap Spoke Straight to God is a lament for and a celebration of blackness.  It’s never depression; it’s defiance―a persistent resistance. In this book, like Wu-Tang says, the marginalized “ain’t nothing to f--- with.”
Amazon The Mean Game by John Wall Barger
Poetry. THE MEAN GAME--John Wall Barger's fourth book-length entry in what might be called, collectively, a savage comedy--bristles with allegories that explore human cruelty and suffering. Gathering narratives that feel both ancient and modern, Barger forges an apocalyptic vision without sacrificing poetry's underlying sense of joy, humour and revelation. Part comic book translated from a dead language, and part nightmare dreamscape, THE MEAN GAME is a must-read from one of Canada's most kinetic writers.
Amazon Schnauzer: A play in one act by David Yezzi
 David Yezzi’s Schnauzer is a bold play-in-verse about our feral need for love untethered. Wild. Rabid. Reminiscent of early Albee, across leaps of time in vivid scenes suffused with a haunting lyricism and humor, Yezzi conjures characters struggling to wake up to the animal appetites of life. Dan O’Brien, Author of Body of an America
Amazon Poems for Camilla by Rachel Hadas
Rachel Hadas's remarkable new book treats the Aeneid as a commentary on our times. Just as Virgil wrote against the backdrop of the self-conflicted, imperial turbulence of Rome, Hadas examines our republic as it veers off into possibly irreversible disorder. The good news, as Hadas reminds us with her characteristic humanity and intelligence, is that individuals and societies often survive crises rather than succumbing to them. Against the jolts and jars of history, she asserts life's quiet miracles, including, in her case, the generational continuity extending from her revered father to the beloved grandchild to whom this book is dedicated.
Amazon Last One Out by Ernest Hilbert
Ernest Hilbert’s Last One Out traces the poet’s life from childhood memories of his father, both elegiac and nostalgic, to poems of celebration on the birth of his own son. Along the way, myth and history mingle with private reminiscences, drawing the reader from the haunted halls of the Chelsea Hotel to tank-littered Sinai battlefields, the tough streets of Philadelphia to the siege of Leningrad, as he dines with representatives from Vatican Museum, rows in the Oxford dawn, and scales retreating glaciers. This new volume finds Hilbert in his element, always the daring explorer, avid performer, and vexed observer of the terrors and temptations of the modern world and the troubled history from which it proceeds. Last One Out represents a decade’s effort, an astonishing achievement and essential reading.
Amazon Like by A. E. Stallings
A Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry

A stunning new collection by the award-winning young poet and translator

Like, that currency of social media, is a little word with infinite potential; it can be nearly any part of speech. Without it, there is no simile, that engine of the lyric poem, the lyre’s note in the epic. A poem can hardly exist otherwise. In this new collection, her most ambitious to date, A. E. Stallings continues her archeology of the domestic, her odyssey through myth and motherhood in received and invented forms, from sonnets to syllabics. Stallings also eschews the poetry volume’s conventional sections for the arbitrary order of the alphabet. Contemporary Athens itself, a place never dull during the economic and migration crises of recent years, shakes off the dust of history and emerges as a vibrant character.

Known for her wry and musical lyric poems, Stallings here explores her themes in greater depth, including the bravura performance Lost and Found, a meditation in ottava rima on a parent’s sublunary dance with daily-ness and time, set in the moon’s Valley of Lost Things.
Amazon The Bones of Winter Birds by Ann Fisher-Wirth
Like "sunlight stroking the birds' throats so it comes out as song," Ann Fisher-Wirth's graceful and sturdy lines unsettle the seemingly familiar. A writer of moral gravity, her distilled attentiveness presses against our all-too-common ambivalence and detachment from the ordinary world. Whether set in Mississippi, California, the Ozarks, or France, the poems in The Bones of Winter Birdsexhibit an abundance of compassion and civility. As Fisher-Wirth praises, laments, lets go, language salvages what might otherwise be missed. It's with attentiveness and emotional poise that these poems lay everything bare. Despite fear and everyday darkness, "I think we are provided for" she reminds us, a consolation for which I am grateful. This is a beautiful book.
Amazon The Promise of Elsewhere by Brad Leithauser
A comic novel about a Midwestern professor who tries to prop up his failing prospects for happiness by setting out on the Journey of a Lifetime.

Louie Hake is forty-three and teaches architectural history at a third-rate college in Michigan. His second marriage is collapsing, and he's facing a potentially disastrous medical diagnosis. In an attempt to fend off what has become a soul-crushing existential crisis, he decides to treat himself to a tour of the world's most breathtaking architectural sites. Perhaps not surprisingly, Louie gets waylaid on his very first stop in Rome--ludicrously, spectacularly so--and fails to reach most of his other destinations. He embarks on a doomed romance with a jilted bride celebrating her ruined marriage plans alone in London. And in the Arctic he finds that turf houses and aluminum sheds don't amount to much of an architectural tradition. But it turns out that there's another sort of architecture there: icebergs the size of cathedrals, bobbing beside a strange and wondrous landscape. It soon becomes clear that Louie's grand journey is less about where his wanderings have taken him and more about where his past encounters with romance have not. Whether pursuing his first wife, or his estranged current wife, or the older woman he kissed just once a quarter-century ago, Louie reveals himself to be endearing, deeply touching, wonderfully ridiculous . . . and destined to find love in all the wrong places.
Amazon 3 Nights of the Perseids by Ned Balbo
In Ned Balbo's new book, the deep time of the stars collides with the brief span of our lives as technology offers a world ever more dystopian: online ties give way to mobbing, the Web yields a hidden crime, and even a text message can be lethal. Standing against these forces are the grace of love and memory, the exhilaration of music, and the hope revealed in glimpses where "a clockwork cosmos meets / horizons that a greater dark augments." Balbo shows his virtuosity in a range of meters and forms: from poems on Elizabeth Bishop and Edna St. Vincent Millay to elegies about Prince and David Bowie, from ocean depths and tainted rivers to interstellar voyages that raise questions about our origins and place. This is a book about contemporary America and beyond, where politics can generate both laughter and despair, and even an adversary can look with sympathy on a nation he has come to know through undisclosed surveillance. 3 Nights of the Perseids, winner of the 2018 Richard Wilbur Award, is a powerful, and provocative, collection.
Amazon The Suicide’s Son by James Arthur
“I believe in the power of original sin,” writes James Arthur, “in the wound /  that keeps on wounding.” Set against a backdrop of political turmoil in the United States, The Suicide’s Son is about the complicated personal histories that parents inherit, add to, and pass on to their children. This is a confessional book of masks and personae, of depopulated landscapes haunted by history’s violence, of speakers whose conflicted truth-telling is marked by sense of complicity in the falsehoods they glimpse around them. “I’m aging very slowly, because every part of me / is already dead," says Frankenstein’s monster. With his formidable powers of observation and inimitable ear for the cadences of speech, Arthur shows himself to be, in only his second book, one of the best English-language poets writing today.
Ducklake Books Bay Leaves by Kelsay Books
Jan Schreiber has published poems over five decades. His books include Digressions (1970), Wily Apparitions (1992), Bell Buoys (1998), and Peccadilloes (2014), as well as two books of translations: A Stroke upon the Sea and Sketch of a Serpent. A cycle of his poems, Zeno’s Arrow, was set to music by Paul Alan Levi in 2001. His criticism has appeared widely and was collected in his book Sparring with the Sun (2013). He teaches in the BOLLI program at Brandeis University and runs the annual Symposium on Poetry Criticism at Western State Colorado University. He was Poet Laureate of Brookline, Massachusetts from 2015 to 2017.
Amazon As If It Were: Poems by Fred Chappell
"Inspired by ancient, modern, and contemporary writings, Fred Chappell’s sprightly new collection of verse, As If It Were, presents tales, anecdotes, pointed stories, and aphorisms to spark the conscience of readers young and old. Playful and even zany, the humor in these poems pulls readers into a world filled with noble lions, crafty foxes, predacious wolves, longsuffering asses, and fashionable peacocks. Chappell illustrates how the fable offers a timeless form of wisdom, surprising us with revelations that challenge what we think we already know, along with fresh observations of daily experiences. With its informal, even nonchalant tone of address and lush, polished language, As If It Were endows homespun materials with alchemical insights."
Amazon Words and Days by Hesiod, translated by A. E. Stallings
"The ancient Greeks revered Hesiod, believing he had beaten Homer in a singing contest and that after his dead body was thrown to sea, it was brought back by dolphins. His Works and Days is one of the most important early works of Greek poetry. Ostensibly written by the poet to chide his lazy brother, it recounts the story of Pandora’s box and humanity’s decline since the Golden Age, and can be read as a celebration of rural life and a hymn to work. Alicia Stallings’s new translation breathes new life into Hesiod’s work, rendering its vivid poetry for a new generation of classics readers."
Amazon The Aeneid by Virgil, translated by David Ferry
"This new translation brings Virgil’s masterpiece newly to life for English-language readers. It’s the first in centuries crafted by a translator who is first and foremost a poet, and it is a glorious thing. David Ferry has long been known as perhaps our greatest contemporary translator of Latin poetry, his translations of Virgil’s Eclogues and Georgics having established themselves as much-admired standards. He brings to the Aeneid the same genius, rendering Virgil’s formal metrical lines into an English that is familiar and alive. Yet in doing so, he surrenders none of the feel of the ancient world that resonates throughout the poem, and gives it the power that has drawn readers to it for centuries. In Ferry’s hands, the Aeneid becomes once more a lively, dramatic poem of daring and adventure, of love and loss, of devotion and death. Never before have Virgil’s twin gifts of poetic language and urgent, compelling storytelling been presented so powerfully for English-language readers. Ferry’s Aeneid will be a landmark, a gift to longtime lovers of Virgil, and the perfect entry point for new readers."
Amazon The Truth of Two by Harry Thomas
"Selected translations by Harry Thomas: Catullus, Li Bai, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Giacomo Leopardi, Salvador Díaz Mirón, Paul Valéry, Antonio Machado, Umberto Saba, Giuseppe Ungaretti, Pedro Salinas, Eugenio Montale, Jorge Luis Borges, Pablo Neruda, Primo Levi, Yves Bonnefoy, Joseph Brodsky."
Amazon Street View: Poems by Maryann Corbett
"Maryann Corbett's Street View is a panorama of views: suburban and urban avenues, shown in leaf and in snow; alleyways where misfits lurk in darkness, but also where "Adonis, charioteer of municipal waste collection, rides with the morning"; and boulevards of old buildings whose elegance remains undeniable, even when "prinked in the clown suit of commerce." Street View also navigates the resiliency and failings of the human body, and the memories of family and pivotal acquaintances that shape viewpoints for good or ill. This is the work of a seasoned poet in command of her craft, and deservedly, a finalist for the 2016 Able Muse Book Award."