Books by ALSCW Members

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Moments Captured: A Novel by Robert Seidman
"Moments Captured" is the captivating story of two indelible individuals and a shattering murder in latenineteenth-century San Francisco. An epic saga of young America flexing its muscle, it is roughly based on the life of the great photographer Edward Muybridge. Crossing the country with his camera and outsized ambition, Muybridge meets the emancipated young dancer Holly Hughes, and inexorably she becomes the true focus of his life- though a corrupt robber baron interested in Muybridge's talent for technology comes between them.

Through Seidman's finely drawn prose, we witness nation-building on a colossal scale, along with the politics of wile, greed, and seduction. With an intense love affair at its center and a true-to-life narrative of art and technology, this novel brings to life one of the most picaresque settings in American history.
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Making the Poem: Stevens’ Approaches by George Lensing
Over sixty years after his death, Wallace Stevens remains one of the central figures of American modernist poetry, celebrated for his masterful style, formal rigor, and aesthetic explorations of both the natural and metaphysical world. In Making the Poem: Stevens’ Approaches, George S. Lensing charts the evolution of the poet’s body of work from a holistic perspective, examining many of the elements that Stevens drew upon in the making of his poetry. Lensing’s analysis extends from the sources and contents of well-known poems, including dynamic new readings of canonical texts like “Sea Surface Full of Clouds” and “The Idea of Order at Key West,” through the historical backgrounds and musical elements central to Stevens’ technique, before concluding with a discussion of the gradual reception his work sometimes received overseas. By considering the form and meaning of individual poems, as well as the composition and reception of a poet’s body of work, Making the Poem provides a fluid view of the evolution of Wallace Stevens’s poetry, analyzing key elements in its development, composition, and reception. Drawing on his decades of research and writing on Stevens, Lensing offers many new insights to help scholars and teachers navigate the poet’s occasionally elusive texts.
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Zero Visibility Paperback by Grzegorz Wróblewski
This collection of poems from one of Poland’s major contemporary writers, Grzegorz Wróblewski, demonstrates his characteristic virtues: anthropological focus, objectivist detachment (though not without hallucinatory interference), minimalistic precision. But it also signals the presence of new elements. One of them is an extensive reliance on found language, the preferred mode of Anglophone conceptual writers, here acquiring a distinctly Eastern European flavor. Another is his candor, which teases readers with glimpses of his most private feelings. Bleak and terse, Wróblewski subjects his material to almost clinical treatment in order to better dissect and so understand the series of events that we call reality.
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Shakespeare’s Rome: Republic and Empire by Paul Cantor
For more than forty years, Paul Cantor’s Shakespeare’s Rome has been a foundational work in the field of politics and literature. While many critics assumed that the Roman plays do not reflect any special knowledge of Rome, Cantor was one of the first to argue that they are grounded in a profound understanding of the Roman regime and its changes over time. Taking Shakespeare seriously as a political thinker, Cantor suggests that his Roman plays can be profitably studied in the context of the classical republican tradition in political philosophy.
           
In Shakespeare’s Rome, Cantor examines the political settings of Shakespeare’s Roman plays, Coriolanus and Antony and Cleopatra, with references as well to Julius Caesar. Cantor shows that Shakespeare presents a convincing portrait of Rome in different eras of its history, contrasting the austere republic of Coriolanus, with its narrow horizons and martial virtues, and the cosmopolitan empire of Antony and Cleopatra, with its “immortal longings” and sophistication bordering on decadence.
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Shakespeare’s Roman Trilogy: The Twilight of the Ancient World by Paul Cantor
Paul A. Cantor first probed Shakespeare’s Roman plays—Coriolanus, Julius Caeser, and Antony and Cleopatra—in his landmark Shakespeare’s Rome (1976). With Shakespeare’s Roman Trilogy, he now argues that these plays form an integrated trilogy that portrays the tragedy not simply of their protagonists but of an entire political community.

Cantor analyzes the way Shakespeare chronicles the rise and fall of the Roman Republic and the emergence of the Roman Empire. The transformation of the ancient city into a cosmopolitan empire marks the end of the era of civic virtue in antiquity, but it also opens up new spiritual possibilities that Shakespeare correlates with the rise of Christianity and thus the first stirrings of the medieval and the modern worlds.

More broadly, Cantor places Shakespeare’s plays in a long tradition of philosophical speculation about Rome, with special emphasis on Machiavelli and Nietzsche, two thinkers who provide important clues on how to read Shakespeare’s works. In a pathbreaking chapter, he undertakes the first systematic comparison of Shakespeare and Nietzsche on Rome, exploring their central point of contention: Did Christianity corrupt the Roman Empire or was the corruption of the Empire the precondition of the rise of Christianity? Bringing Shakespeare into dialogue with other major thinkers about Rome, Shakespeare’s Roman Trilogy reveals the true profundity of the Roman Plays.
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The Homeric Simile in Comparative Perspectives: Oral Traditions from Saudi Arabia to Indonesia by Jonathan Ready
The Homeric Simile in Comparative Perspectives: Oral Traditions from Saudi Arabia to Indonesia investigates both the construction of the Homeric simile and the performance of Homeric poetry from neglected comparative perspectives, offering a revealing exploration of what made the epics such powerful examples of verbal artistry. Divided into two Parts, the volume first considers similes in five modern-day oral poetries - Rajasthani epic, South Sumatran epic, Kyrgyz epic, Bosniac epic, and Najdi lyric poems from Saudi Arabia - and studies successful performances by still other verbal artists, such as Egyptian singers of epic, Turkish minstrels, and Chinese storytellers. By applying these findings to the Homeric epics, the second Part presents a new take on how the Homeric poet put together his similes and alters our understanding of how the poet displayed his competence as a performer of verbal art and interacted with his poetic peers and predecessors. Engaging intensively with a diverse array of scholarship from outside the field of classical studies, from folkloristics to cognitive linguistics, this truly interdisciplinary volume transforms how we view not only a central feature of Homeric poetry but also the very nature of Homeric performance.
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After the Afterlife by T.R. Hummer
Poetry. Philosophy. AFTER THE AFTERLIFE explores the zone between language and spirit. It is a book of inner and outer boundaries: of blockades, of tunnels, of wormholes. Where does our consciousness come from, and where is it going, if anywhere? With a nimble blend of wit, whimsy, and erudition, Hummer's poems assay the border that the shaman is forced to cross to wrestle with the gods, which is the same border the mystic yearns to broach, and the ordinary human stumbles over while doing laundry or making lunch—where questions of identity melt in the white heat of Being:

"which is like trying to teach / The cat to waltz, so much awkwardness, so many tender / advances, and I'm shocked when it actually learns, / When it minces toward me in a tiny cocktail gown, offering a martini, / asking for this dance, insisting on hearing me refuse / To reply, debating all along, in the chorus of its interior mewing, who / are you really, peculiar animal, who taught you to call you you."
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Eon: Poems by T.R. Hummer
Eon is the third and final collection in a conceptual trilogy that includes T.R. Hummer’s Ephemeron (2012) and Skandalon (2014). Along with its sister volumes, Eon tells part of the story of the all too short arc of our being in the world and the mystery that follows death. Separated into three sections, this work is a meditation on what humans can know concerning the eternal. Its second section, “Urn,” is comprised of a series of poems that read like extended epitaphs, all titled for and informed by someone who has passed away. The collection is shot through with significant corporeal imagery, as well as metaphysical flourishes, and closes with a section that gestures toward the redemptive power of love. In both its style and its multiple references to the work of Rainer Maria Rilke, Emily Dickinson, and Philip Levine (to name a few influences), the collection is deeply aware of the poetic tradition from which it comes and into which it enters.
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Babylon Under Western Eyes: A Study of Allusion and Myth by Andrew Scheil
Babylon under Western Eyes examines the mythic legacy of ancient Babylon, the Near Eastern city which has served western culture as a metaphor for power, luxury, and exotic magnificence for more than two thousand years.

Sifting through the many references to Babylon in biblical, classical, medieval, and modern texts, Andrew Scheil uses Babylon’s remarkable literary ubiquity as the foundation for a thorough analysis of the dynamics of adaptation and allusion in western literature. Touching on everything from Old English poetry to the contemporary apocalyptic fiction of the “Left Behind” series, Scheil outlines how medieval Christian society and its cultural successors have adopted Babylon as a political metaphor, a degenerate archetype, and a place associated with the sublime.

 Combining remarkable erudition with a clear and accessible style, Babylon under Western Eyes is the first comprehensive examination of Babylon’s significance within the pantheon of western literature and a testimonial to the continuing influence of biblical, classical, and medieval paradigms in modern culture.
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Race, Transnationalism, and Nineteenth-Century American Literary Studies by Robert Levine
Inspired by Toni Morrison's call for an interracial approach to American literature, and by recent efforts to globalize American literary studies, Race, Transnationalism, and Nineteenth-Century American Literary Studies ranges widely in its case-study approach to canonical and non-canonical authors. Leading critic Robert S. Levine considers Cooper, Hawthorne, Stowe, Melville, and other nineteenth-century American writers alongside less well known African American figures such as Nathaniel Paul and Sutton Griggs. He pays close attention to racial representations and ideology in nineteenth-century American writing, while exploring the inevitable tension between the local and the global in this writing. Levine addresses transatlanticism, the Black Atlantic, citizenship, empire, temperance, climate change, black nationalism, book history, temporality, Kantian transnational aesthetics, and a number of other issues. The book also provides a compelling critical frame for understanding developments in American literary studies over the past twenty-five years.
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Fancy’s Orphan by George Drew
"George Drew holds a high place among our lyric poets, and is a masterful storyteller besides. For evidence of his narrative skills, see 'Elegy for Jared,' 'The Men,' 'Matthew Brady Speaks,' 'About Connecticut,' and others. Fancy's Orphan is an outstanding collection full of things moving and memorable. Any reader is sure to find great pleasure in." --X.J. Kennedy
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The Stranger World by Ryan Wilson
“Ryan Wilson’s unsettling debut collection The Stranger World is filled with poems of menace and promise, surprise and sorrow, tempered by gentle humor and always tuned to a fine music. The long poem ‘Authority’ reads like a masterpiece of modern horror. The deeply psychological ‘Xenia’ is a minor miracle of a poem. These pages contain ‘real shores across imagined seas . . . where black suns set,’ where the poet meditates on ‘that present unity / of absences the living move among.’ Each page of The Stranger World yields a new delight. Wilson proves himself a worthy heir to Anthony Hecht with this remarkable, disarming, and genuinely moving book. Seek it out.”
— Ernest Hilbert
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Understanding John Guare by William W. Demastes
John Guare, one of the most innovative and influential contemporary American playwrights of the last sixty years, is best known for such works as House of Blue Leaves, winner of an Obie Award, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best American Play, and four Tony Awards, and Six Degrees of Separation, recipient of the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best American Play and the Olivier Best Play Award and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. In Understanding John Guare, William W. Demastes provides a concise biography and analyzes the playwright’s career from his earliest works produced off-off Broadway in the 1960s to his most recent Broadway play, A Free Man of Color, a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in Drama

Often compared to his contemporaries Sam Shepard and David Mamet, who have distinctive voices tied to their mastery of realistic, idiomatic American English, Guare has a style that is perhaps more varied, Demastes speculates, the result of his formal training in theater. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University, Guare earned an M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama. He then polished his theater craft in New York City during the exciting and turbulent 1960s, breaking from realist conventions and creating an unlikely blend of comedy, burlesque, stand-up comedy, and absurdly incongruous plotlines. The result has been a theater of surprise, rich in stage action, and experimentally invigorating

Demastes examines Guare’s tools and techniques such as mixing serious with comic, creating characters who break into song and dance, inserting standup comedy routines, and drawing from the most absurd incongruities of everyday life. In doing so, Guare has created plays about the best and worst of humanity, about lost souls, and about delusional ideals.
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The Lives of Frederick Douglass by Robert Levine
Frederick Douglass’s fluid, changeable sense of his own life story is reflected in the many conflicting accounts he gave of key events and relationships during his journey from slavery to freedom. Nevertheless, when these differing self-presentations are put side by side and consideration is given individually to their rhetorical strategies and historical moment, what emerges is a fascinating collage of Robert S. Levine’s elusive subject. The Lives of Frederick Douglass is revisionist biography at its best, offering new perspectives on Douglass the social reformer, orator, and writer.
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Pierre: Or, The Ambiguities Eds. Robert Levine and Cindy Weinstein
When Pierre was published one year after Moby-Dick, expectations were high. Readers expected—and Melville delivered—adventure, humor, and brilliance. Magnificent and strange, Pierre is a richly allusive novel mirroring both antebellum America and Melville’s own life. (Norton Critical Edition)
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The If Borderlands: Collected Poems by Elise Partridge
Elise Partridge’s poetry has been widely admired for its scrupulous truth to life and meticulous, glittering craft. Whether writing about family and friends, the natural world and the daily round, or serious illness, Partridge was, as Rosanna Warren has said, “a poet of brilliant precisions. Each line represents a new, glinting angle of thought. . . . The result is an art of eerie compassion and an almost hyper-realist perception of the small.”

This new collection includes all the poems that Partridge prepared for publication during her lifetime as well as a selection of uncollected or unpublished poems.
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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.