Faculty Books

Waders

This book is made up of fifteen poems that Andrew Motion has written since moving from England to the United States in 2015. It is full of the shock and wonder of such a move, the new seeing and the sadness and the joy. Dazzling in its range of settings and themes, the poems take shape in an equally wide variety of forms as the book takes up haunting questions of home and belonging. Fog and ocean, love and loss.

In the first section of the book, a consideration of place is often linked to pressing ecological issues of our day. In the second, poems about childhood and family intertwine with complicated meditations on generation, inheritance, and independence. And in the long and moving final poem, the jewel of the collection, a startling autobiographical narrative uncovers the poet’s preoccupation with human transience, a preoccupation that binds the whole collection together. Waders is lithe and stunning, a treasure of a book from one of the finest poets writing today


Late Romance: Anthony Hecht―A Poet’s Life

Late Romance: Anthony Hecht―A Poet’s Life

Anthony Hecht (1923-2004) was one of America’s greatest poets, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and widely recognized as a master of formal verse that drew on wide-ranging cultural and literary sources, as well as Hecht’s experiences as a soldier during World War II, during which he fought in Germany and Czechoslovakia and helped to liberate the Flossenburg concentration camp.

In Late Romance, David Yezzi―himself a renowned poet and critic―reveals the depths that informed the meticulous surfaces of Hecht’s poems. Born to a wealthy German-Jewish family in Manhattan, Hecht saw his father lose nearly everything during the stock market crash of 1929. He grew into an accomplished athlete, actor, writer, and eventually a soldier in the crucible that consumed the world. Returning from the war, Hecht struggled to reconcile what he had witnessed and experienced, suffering from mental illness that required hospitalization. But he found the means to channel his emotions into poetry of lasting meaning, control, and depth; along with Robert Lowell, James Merrill, Theodore Roethke, and Elizabeth Bishop, Hecht remains a vital presence in letters.

Published to celebrate the 100th year of his birth, and to coincide with an edition of his collected poems (to be published by Knopf), Late Romance is the definitive, dramatic biography of a uniquely-gifted writer.


The Penguin Book of Elegy: Poems of Memory, Mourning and Consolation

The Penguin Book of Elegy: Poems of Memory, Mourning and Consolation

Elegy is among the world’s oldest forms of literature: a continuous poetic tradition which stretches back beyond the time of Virgil and Horace to Ancient Greece, speaking eloquently and movingly of the experience of loss and the yearning for consolation. In perhaps the purest instance of art’s fundamental ‘impulse to preserve’ (Philip Larkin), it gives shape and meaning to memories too painful to contemplate for long, and answers our desire to fix in words what would otherwise slip our grasp.

In The Penguin Book of Elegy, Andrew Motion and Stephen Regan trace the history of this tradition, selecting the best and most significant poems and poets from the Classical roots of elegy, and from its Renaissance revival down to the present day. They show how this remarkably resilient and versatile form has continued to adapt itself even as society and religious belief have shifted around it, with striking achievements in the work of twentieth- and twenty-first-century poets as different as Marianne Moore, Dylan Thomas, Denise Riley and Gwendolyn Brooks.

The result is the only comprehensive anthology of its kind now available in the English language. The Penguin Book of Elegy is itself a work of preservation – and a profound and moving catalogue of the fundamentally human urges to remember and honour the dead, and give comfort to those who survive them.


Music and Human Flourishing (The Humanities and Human Flourishing)

Music and Human Flourishing (The Humanities and Human Flourishing)

It has long been accepted that participating in music, either as a performer, listener, or composer, can contribute to human happiness and well-being. This volume, part of The Humanities and Human Flourishing series, explores a fourth musical activity–the act of music scholarship–and reveals how engagement with the cultural, social, and political practices surrounding music contributes to human flourishing in a way that listening, performing, and even composing alone cannot.

Music and Human Flourishing contains essays by eleven prominent scholars representing the fields of musicology, ethnomusicology, and music theory. The essays are divided into three general categories and cover a broad range of topics and music traditions. In Part I, Contemplation, contributors explore a specific facet of music’s connection to human flourishing and contemplate new approaches for future action. Part II, Critique, contains essays that challenge past assumptions of the various roles of music in society and highlight the effects that unconscious bias and stereotyping have had on music’s effectiveness to facilitate human flourishing. Part III, Communication, features essays that explore how ethnicity, gender, religion, and technology influence our ability to connect with others through music. Collectively, these essays demonstrate how the process of thinking and writing about music and human flourishing can lead to revelations about cultural identity, social rituals, political ideologies, and even spiritual transcendence.


Zoom Rooms: Poems

Zoom Rooms: Poems

The timeless and timely intersect in poems about our unique historical moment, from the prizewinning poet.

In Zoom Rooms, Mary Jo Salter considers the strangeness of our recent existence, together with the enduring constants in our lives.

The title poem, a series of sonnet-sized Zoom meetings—a classroom, a memorial service, an encounter with a new baby in the family—finds humor and pathos in our age of social distancing and technology-induced proximity. Salter shows too how imagination collapses time and space: in “Island Diaries,” the pragmatist Robinson Crusoe meets on the beach a shipwrecked dreamer from an earlier century, Shakespeare’s Prospero. Poems that meditate on objects—a silk blouse, a hot water bottle—address the human need to heal and console. Our paradoxically solitary but communal experiences find expression, too, in poems about art, from a Walker Evans photograph to a gilded Giotto altarpiece.

In these beautiful new poems, Salter directs us to moments we may otherwise miss, reminding us that alertness is itself a form of gratitude.


More Things in Heaven: New and Selected Poems

More Things in Heaven: New and Selected Poems

With formal grace and dexterity, David Yezzi’s More Things in Heaven draws from his four previous volumes and includes seventeen new poems that explore art and friendship, marriage and family, and a renewal through poetry that his careful craftsmanship makes possible. Here you will find compressed lyrics as well as longer, blank-verse narratives reminiscent of Robert Frost or Anthony Hecht. As Yezzi memorializes a host of relations and experience with humor and humanity, we are reminded of Shakespeare not only in the title of this volume, but also in the sheer range of characters—friends, family, poets, fellow citizens—given life in these poems


Descent

Descent

Poetry. African & African American Studies. Women’s Studies. LGBTQIA Studies. In 2013, poet Lauren Russell acquired a copy of the diary of her great-great-grandfather, Robert Wallace Hubert, a Captain in the Confederate Army. After his return from the Civil War, he fathered twenty children by three of his former slaves. One of those children was the poet’s great-grandmother. Through several years of research, Russell would seek the words to fill the diary’s omissions and to imagine the voice of her great-great-grandmother, Peggy Hubert, a black woman silenced by history. The result is a hybrid work of verse, prose, images and documents that traverses centuries as the past bleeds into the present.


Fruit

Fruit

Bruce Snider’s third poetry collection grapples with what it means to be childless in a world obsessed with procreation. Poems move between the scientific and the biblical, effortlessly sliding from the clinical landscape of a sperm bank to Mount Moriah as Abraham prepares Isaac for sacrifice. Exploring issues of sexuality, lineage, and mortality, Snider delves into subjects as varied as the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky; same-sex couple adoption; and Gregor Mendel’s death in 1884. Each poem builds into a broader examination of power and fragility, domesticity and rebellion, violence and devotion: heartrending vignettes of the aches and joys of growing up and testing the limits of nature and nurture. In language both probing and sensitive, Fruit delivers its own conflicted and celebratory answers to pressing questions of life, death, love, and biology.


Monstress: Stories

Monstress: Stories

Monstress stands as a landmark of American multicultural short fiction. Lysley Tenorio’s tales are framed by tense, fascinating dichotomies: tenderness and power, the fantastical and the realistic, pop culture and high culture, the American and the Filipino. Tenorio balances these opposites with rare skill, humor, and deep understanding, exploring universal themes—the sometimes-suffocating ties of family, the melancholy of isolation, the need to find connections—with uncommon empathy and breathtaking originality.


The Son of Good Fortune: A Novel

The Son of Good Fortune: A Novel

Excel spends his days trying to seem like an unremarkable American teenager. When he’s not working at The Pie Who Loved Me (a spy-themed pizza shop) or passing the time with his girlfriend Sab (occasionally in one of their town’s seventeen cemeteries), he carefully avoids the spotlight.

But Excel knows that his family is far from normal. His mother, Maxima, was once a Filipina B-movie action star who now makes her living scamming men online. The old man they live with is not his grandfather, but Maxima’s lifelong martial arts trainer. And years ago, on Excel’s tenth birthday, Maxima revealed a secret that he must keep forever. “We are ‘TNT’—tago ng tago,” she told him, “hiding and hiding.” Excel is undocumented—and one accidental slip could uproot his entire life.

Casting aside the paranoia and secrecy of his childhood, Excel takes a leap, joining Sab on a journey south to a ramshackle desert town called Hello City. Populated by drifters, old hippies, and washed-up techies—and existing outside the normal constructs of American society—Hello City offers Excel a chance to forge his own path for the first time. But after so many years of trying to be invisible, who does he want to become? And is it possible to put down roots in a country that has always considered you an outsider?

Thrumming with energy and at once critical and hopeful, The Son of Good Fortune is a luminous story of a mother and son testing the strength of their bond to their country—and to each other.


The Office of Historical Corrections: A Novella and Stories

The Office of Historical Corrections: A Novella and Stories

The award-winning author of Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self brings her signature voice and insight to the subjects of race, grief, apology, and American history.

Danielle Evans is widely acclaimed for her blisteringly smart voice and x-ray insights into complex human relationships. With The Office of Historical Corrections, Evans zooms in on particular moments and relationships in her characters’ lives in a way that allows them to speak to larger issues of race, culture, and history. She introduces us to Black and multiracial characters who are experiencing the universal confusions of lust and love, and getting walloped by grief—all while exploring how history haunts us, personally and collectively. Ultimately, she provokes us to think about the truths of American history—about who gets to tell them, and the cost of setting the record straight.

In “Boys Go to Jupiter,” a white college student tries to reinvent herself after a photo of her in a Confederate-flag bikini goes viral. In “Richard of York Gave Battle in Vain,” a photojournalist is forced to confront her own losses while attending an old friend’s unexpectedly dramatic wedding. And in the eye-opening title novella, a black scholar from Washington, DC, is drawn into a complex historical mystery that spans generations and puts her job, her love life, and her oldest friendship at risk.


Randomly Moving Particles

Randomly Moving Particles

Andrew Motion’s expansive new collection is built around two long poems that form its opening and close. The title poem, in a kaleidoscope of compelling scenes, engages with subjects that include migration, placement, loss, space exploration and current British and American politics. The more straightforwardly narrative poem, ‘How Do the Dead Walk’, while reaching back to immemorial stories of brutality, addresses issues of contemporary violence. The book is direct in its emotional appeal, ambitious in its scope, all the while retaining the cinematic vision and startling expression that so freshly lit the lines of his last, Essex Clay.


Flourish

Flourish

In Flourish, multiple meanings catch light—as the leaves of growing things might, or the facets of cut gemstones, or a signal mirror flashing in distress. These poems explore themes of thriving, growth, innovation, and survival, while immersing the reader in the pleasures of language itself—the “flourish” of linguistic gesture, play, form, turn, and adornment.

Here, the lens zooms in and out to micro and macro levels, asking us to see the familiar with new eyes. The collection engages with the materials of the worlds we inhabit—natural worlds and those of our own making—and a full spectrum of poetry’s own materials, building worlds of words and illuminating the shadowed terrain of our interior landscapes as well.


Trust Exercise: A Novel 

Trust Exercise: A Novel 

In an American suburb in the early 1980s, students at a highly competitive performing-arts high school struggle and thrive in a rarefied bubble, ambitiously pursuing music, movement, Shakespeare, and particularly, their acting classes. When within this striving “Brotherhood of the Arts”, two freshmen, David and Sarah, fall headlong into love, their passion does not go unnoticed – or untoyed with – by anyone, especially not by their charismatic acting teacher, Mr. Kingsley.  

The outside world of family life and economic status, of academic pressure and of their future adult lives, fails to penetrate this school’s walls – until it does, in a shocking spiral of events that catapults the action forward in time and flips the premise upside-down. What the listener believes to have happened to David and Sarah and their friends is not entirely true – though it’s not false, either. It takes until the audiobook’s stunning coda for the final piece of the puzzle to fall into place – revealing truths that will resonate long after the final sentence.  

As captivating and tender as it is surprising, Trust Exercise will incite heated conversations about fiction and truth, and about friendships and loyalties, and will leave listeners with wiser understandings of the true capacities of adolescents and of the powers and responsibilities of adults. 


Camp Tiger 

Camp Tiger 

Every year, a boy and his family go camping at Mountain Pond.

Usually, they see things like an eagle fishing for his dinner, a salamander with red spots on its back, and chipmunks that come to steal food while the family sits by the campfire.

But this year is different. This year, the boy is going into first grade, and his mother is encouraging him to do things on his own, just like his older brother. And the most different thing of all . . . this year, a tiger comes to the woods.

With lyrical prose and dazzling art, Pulitzer Prize finalist Susan Choi and Caldecott-honor winning artist John Rocco have created a moving and joyful ode to growing up.


The Cambridge Companion to Gershwin

The Cambridge Companion to Gershwin

George Gershwin is often described as a quintessentially American composer. This Cambridge Companion explains why, engaging with the ways in which his music was shaped by American political, intellectual, cultural and business interests. As a composer and performer, Gershwin embraced technological advances and broke new ground in music business practices. In the decades preceding World War II, he captured the mechanistic pulse of modern life with his concert works and lay the groundwork for the Great American Songbook with his Broadway shows and film music. With his brother Ira, and his cousins Henry and B. A. Botkin, Gershwin explored various ethnic and cultural identities and contemplated their roles in US culture. His music confronted race during the Jim Crow era and continues to engage with issues of race today. This interdisciplinary exploration of Gershwin’s life and music describes his avowed pursuit of an ‘American’ musical identity and its ongoing legacy.


The Suicide’s Son

The Suicide’s Son

“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.


Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite

Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite

It’s a challenge to transform the “Nutcracker Suite’s” romantic orchestra into jumpin’ jazz melodies, but that’s exactly what Duke Ellington and his collaborator, Billy Strayhorn, did.

Ellington’s band members were not so sure that a classical ballet could become a cool-cat jazz number. But Duke and Billy, inspired by their travels and by musical styles past and present, infused the composition with Vegas glitz, Hollywood glamour, and even a little New York jazz.


Stet

Stet

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.


The Norton Anthology of Poetry, sixth edition

The Norton Anthology of Poetry, sixth edition

A responsive and media-rich revision of the best-selling anthology of poetry in English

This highly anticipated new edition features NEW poets, NEW poems, and innovative digital resources. The Sixth Edition of The Norton Anthology of Poetry is an even better teaching tool for instructors and remains an unmatched value for students.


Essex Clay

Essex Clay

Andrew Motion’s prose memoir In the Blood (2006) was widely acclaimed, praised as ‘an act of magical retrieval’ (Daily Telegraph) and ‘a hymn to familial love’ (Independent). Now, twelve years later and three years after moving to live and work in the United States, Motion looks back once more to recreate a stunning biographical sequel – but this time in verse.

Essex Clay rekindles, expands and gives a tragic resonance to subjects that have haunted the poet throughout his writing life. In the first part, he tells the story of his mother’s riding accident, long unconsciousness and slow death; in the second, he remembers the end of his father’s life; and in the third, he describes an encounter that deepens the poem’s tangled themes of loss and memory and retrieval. Although the prevailing mood of the poem has a Tennysonian sweep and melancholy, its wealth of physical details and its narrative momentum make it as compelling as a fast-paced novel: a settling of accounts which admits that final resolutions are impossible.


Jiggery-Pokery Semicentennial

Jiggery-Pokery Semicentennial

Poetry. It is 50 years since Atheneum published Anthony Hecht and John Hollander’s Jiggery-Pokery, a compendium of verses known as double dactyls. The double dactyl was the invention of Hecht and Paul Pascal, and is was aptly described on the jacket of Jiggery-Pokery as a devilish amalgam of rhyme, meter, name-dropping and pure nonsense. It caught on, too, just as the limerick and the clerihew had caught on, and has been testing the mettle of many a poet–and not a few aspiring poets–ever since. To celebrate Jiggery-Pokery`s half-century, Waywiser is delighted to be publishing JIGGERY-POKERY SEMICENTENNIAL, a wholly new compendium expertly edited by Dan Groves and Greg Williamson. The volume is dedicated to the memories of Hecht and Hollander, and it comes with a splendid introduction by Willard Spiegelman, Hughes Professor emeritus at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and a regular contributor to the Leisure & Arts pages of The Wall Street Journal. Spiegelman’s most recent books are Senior Moments: Looking Back, Looking Ahead (2016) and If You See Something, Say Something: A Writer Looks at Art (2016). The volume also comes complete with a cover by the celebrated graphic designer Milton Glaser, a singularly appropriate choice since Glaser (still going strong at the age of 88) designed the cover for and also illustrated the original Hecht-Hollander volume.


Black Sea

Black Sea

David Yezzi’s fourth book of poems considers what it’s like, during times of roiling change, to feel like a stranger on one’s own street and in one’s own country. This uprooting is partly geographic, partly psychic: what was familiar has become as foreign as the fabled Black Sea (the site of the Roman poet Ovid’s exile). The emotional pressure of this dislocation pushes his poems into lyric fragments and mordant humor. Home, once a comfort, now hides a threat.


What’s Hanging on the Hush

What’s Hanging on the Hush

Poetry. Women’s Studies. WHAT’S HANGING ON THE HUSH wrestles with concerns that range from race, gender and sexuality to loneliness, madness and grief, and nothing escapes questioning, least of all the position of the poet herself. With humor and slightly off-kilter introspection, these poems disrupt even their own speaking, frequently singing “I.” Collectively, they demonstrate the underlying restlessness of a subjectivity never quite at ease, like the solitary cats who meander across these pages and disappear only to turn up where they are least expected. Operating in a range of modes, from tight lyrics to sprawling, fragmented texts to language experiments, WHAT’S HANGING ON THE HUSH is a tightly constructed interrogation of construction itself. At its heart is an exploration of solitude and a feminist’s existential reckoning—the struggle of being/making in the world.


Jazz Italian Style: From its Origins in New Orleans to Fascist Italy and Sinatra

Jazz Italian Style: From its Origins in New Orleans to Fascist Italy and Sinatra

Jazz Italian Style explores a complex era in music history, when politics and popular culture collided with national identity and technology. When jazz arrived in Italy at the conclusion of World War I, it quickly became part of the local music culture. In Italy, thanks to the gramophone and radio, many Italian listeners paid little attention to a performer’s national and ethnic identity. Nick LaRocca (Italian-American), Gorni Kramer (Italian), the Trio Lescano (Jewish-Dutch), and Louis Armstrong (African-American), to name a few, all found equal footing in the Italian soundscape. The book reveals how Italians made jazz their own, and how, by the mid-1930s, a genre of jazz distinguishable from American varieties and supported by Mussolini began to flourish in northern Italy and in its turn influenced Italian-American musicians. Most importantly, the book recovers a lost repertoire and an array of musicians whose stories and performances are compelling and well worth remembering.


Hans Christian Andersen and Music: The Nightingale Revealed

Hans Christian Andersen and Music: The Nightingale Revealed

Hans Christian Andersen was the most prominent Danish author of the nineteenth century. Now known primarily for his fairy tales, during his lifetime he was equally famous for his novels, travelogues, poetry, and stage works, and it was through these genres that he most often reflected on the world around him. With the bicentennial of Andersen’s birth in 2005, there is still much about the writer that is not yet common knowledge. This book explores a single aspect of that void – his interest in and relationship to the musical culture of nineteenth-century Europe. Why look to Andersen for information about music? To begin, Andersen had a musical background. He enjoyed a brief career as an opera singer and dancer at the Royal Theater in Copenhagen, and in later years he went on to produce opera libretti for the Danish and German stage. Andersen was also an avid music devotee. He made thirty major European tours during his seventy years, and on each of these trips he regularly attended opera and concert performances, recording his impressions in a series of travel diaries. In short, Andersen was a well-informed listener, and as this book reveals, his reflections on the music of his age serve as valuable sources for the study of music reception in the nineteenth century. Over the course of his life, Andersen embraced and then later rejected performers such as Maria Malibran, Franz Liszt, and Ole Bull, and his interest in opera and instrumental music underwent a series of dramatic transformations. In his final years, Andersen promoted figures as disparate as Wagner and Mendelssohn, while strongly objecting to Brahms. Although such changes in taste might be interpreted as indiscriminate by modern-day readers, this study shows that such shifts in opinion were not contradictory, but rather quite logical given the social and cultural climate of the age.


The Surveyors

The Surveyors

“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 . . . “


Last Day on Earth: Stories

Last Day on Earth: Stories

From the award-winning author of Music Through the Floor and Model Home, a riveting and profoundly moving story collection by a writer “uncannily in tune with the heartbreak and absurdity of domestic life” (Los Angeles Times).

A boy on the edge of adolescence fears his mother might be a robot; a psychotically depressed woman is entrusted with taking her niece and nephew trick-or-treating; a reluctant dad brings his baby to a coke-fueled party; a teenage boy tries to prevent his mother from putting his estranged father’s dogs to sleep. Ranging from a youth arts camp to an aging punk band’s reunion tour, from a dystopian future where parents no longer exist to a ferociously independent bookstore, Last Day on Earth revolves around the endlessly complex, frequently surreal system that is family.

Eric Puchner, the author hailed as “technically gifted and emotionally insightful” (The New York Times Book Review), and someone who “puts the story back in short story” (San Francisco Chronicle Book Review), delivers a gloriously original, utterly memorable collection that invokes both the comedy and tragedy of our lifelong endeavor to come of age.


Coming in to Land: Selected Poems 1975-2015

Coming in to Land: Selected Poems 1975-2015

From England’s former Poet Laureate, a collection of selected poetry spanning his celebrated career, presented for the first time by an American publisher

Andrew Motion has said, “I want my writing to be as clear as water. I want readers to see all the way through its surfaces into the swamp.” Though the territory of his exploration may be murky and mired—the front lines of war, political entanglements, romantic longing, and human suffering—Motion’s conversational tone and lyrical style make for clear, bold poems that speak to contradictions at the heart of the human condition.

Whether underground in an urban metro, in the poet’s home, on the steps leading up to Anne Frank’s annex, or wading in the Norfolk broads, Motion’s richly imagined landscapes contain unspoken mysteries underneath the poet’s candor. In the tradition of English pastoral poetry that includes Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney, and William Wordsworth, these poems skate over sweeping empires and plumb emotional depths, settling in a meditative, understated register. As an introduction to one of England’s most lauded living poets, English Elegies offers a moving depiction of this writer’s career as a chronicler of modernity’s pitfalls and triumphs.


Beethoven’s Heroic Symphony (Once Upon a Masterpiece)

Beethoven’s Heroic Symphony (Once Upon a Masterpiece)

Discover the little-known story of Beethoven’s beloved masterwork. 

As the best pianist in Vienna, Ludwig van Beethoven had everything: talent, money, fame. But he also had a terrible secret. He was slowly going deaf. Though his hearing deserted him, the maestro never lost his music. Seeking inspiration for his compositions, Beethoven hit upon Napoleon Bonaparte, then considered a liberator and a folk hero. Soon after Beethoven completed the work, Napoleon declared himself Emperor of France; betrayed and enraged, Beethoven tore his copy of the score to pieces. But his friend Ferdinand rescued a copy, and in time, Beethoven renamed it Eroica: the Heroic Symphony, dedicated to hero in each and every one of us.


Meantime: A Novel

Meantime: A Novel

“Nicole wasn’t actually my stepsister, but no other word fit any better. My father and her mother had fallen in love on a church committee. Breaking up two families would have caused needless damage, and so the adults decided that all seven of us should move to a new house together….”

And so we’re introduced to the two unlikely stepsisters at the heart of Meantime. Katharine Noel– the award winning author of the national bestseller Halfway House–delivers a funny, wise and moving novel of the stories we tell about the past, and how they inform our understanding of the present as well as our choices for the future.

Claire Hood’s unconventional upbringing in the “Naked Family”– as they were infamously nicknamed by their suburban neighbors–taught her to embrace the unexpected. Now in her thirties, Claire has a husband, Jeremy, who longs to start a family, but Claire’s blueprint in life is to avoid an ordinary existence at all costs.

At the same time, her stepsister Nicole has set her mind to having a baby on her own. Just as Nicole needs Claire more than ever, Jeremy falls seriously ill and his high school girlfriend resurfaces to lend a hand in his recovery. Everything Claire thinks she values–and everything she imagines about the kind of person she wants to be– is thrown into question.

With grace, humanity, and humor, Katharine Noel examines the complex, delicate connections between parents and children, spouses, and siblings. Meantime is a heartfelt, insightful novel of how individuals shape and reshape their families– both given and chosen–while discovering their truest sense of self.


The Hole Story of Kirby the Sneak and Arlo the True

The Hole Story of Kirby the Sneak and Arlo the True

In this narrative poem, Kirby the sneaky, dog-genius steals the hole Arlo dug in the yard and the social order begins to break down. Kirby faces grave, injurious peril in restoring cosmic harmony. In rhyming couplets he reflects on the hole’s eerie influence, he contemplates spider webs, Newton, The Old West, Scottish history, Templars, the Roundtable Knights, the existence of dragons, and the nature of time, itself. This nimbly written, playful poem will delight children of all ages even the adult ones.


The New World: A Novel

The New World: A Novel

Washed ashore after escaping Treasure Island, young Jim Hawkins and his companion Natty find themselves stranded on the Gulf Coast of Texas. Their ship, the Nightingale, has been destroyed, and besides one other crew member, they are the only survivors.  Before they can even grasp the full scope of their predicament, they realize they are not alone on the beach. When a band of Native Americans approaches the shore in a threatening fury, they brutally kill Jim and Natty’s last shipmate, rob their dead crew, and take the two desperate survivors hostage.

Suddenly, Jim and Natty are thrust into an adventure that takes them all across the unruly American South. Starting with a desperate escape from a violent chief who obsessively keeps close on their trail, they join up with a troupe of entertainers who take them to a thriving and dangerous New Orleans, and seek the closest port so they can set sail for home once again.

In magnificent, free-wheeling prose and in a high-flying style, Andrew Motion has spun a fantastic yarn that will win the hearts of adventure lovers everywhere.


It’s Hard to Say: Selected Poems

It’s Hard to Say: Selected Poems

“Only a few poets transcend the history of taste to participate in the history of art – and only in a handful of poems. Salter has been struck by lightning more than once.” So wrote the critic James Longenbach, and in It’s Hard to Say, which is Salter’s first UK Selected, one can see the proof of Longenbach’s statement. It’s Hard to Say gathers poems from each of Salter’s seven previous collections – Henry Purcell in Japan, Unfinished Painting, Sunday Skaters, A Kiss in Space, Open Shutters, A Phone Call to the Future, and Nothing by Design – and the accomplishment of this fine poet is on display at every point, in poems that are unfailingly well-made, and which move from the touching to the angry, from the humorous to the entirely serious, from the domestic to the universal.

 


My Education

My Education

Regina Gottlieb had been warned about Professor Nicholas Brodeur long before arriving as a graduate student at his prestigious university high on a pastoral hill.  He’s said to lie in the dark in his office while undergraduate women read couplets to him. He’s condemned on the walls of the women’s restroom, and enjoys films by Roman Polanski. But no one has warned Regina about his exceptional physical beauty—or his charismatic, volatile wife.

My Education is the story of Regina’s mistakes, which only begin in the bedroom, and end—if they do—fifteen years in the future and thousands of miles away. By turns erotic and completely catastrophic, Regina’s misadventures demonstrate what can happen when the chasm between desire and duty is too wide to bridge.


Nothing by Design

Nothing by Design

A beautiful collection of verse––both light and dark, elegiac and affirmative––from one of our most admired poets.

The title Nothing by Design is taken from Salter’s villanelle “Complaint for Absolute Divorce,” in which we’re asked to entertain the thought of a no-fault universe. The wary search for peace, personal and public, is a constant theme in poems as varied as “Our Friends the Enemy,” about the Christmas football match between German and British soldiers in 1914; “The Afterlife,” in which Egyptian tomb figurines labor to serve the dead; and “Voice of America,” where Salter returns to the Saint Petersburg of her exiled friend, the late Joseph Brodsky. A section of charming light verse serves as counterpoint to another series entitled “Bed of Letters,” in which Salter addresses the end of a long marriage. Artfully designed, with a highly intentional music, these poems movingly give form to the often unfathomable, yet very real, presence of nothingness and loss in our lives.


The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum

The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum

A cutting-edge account of the latest science of autism, from the best-selling author and advocate

When Temple Grandin was born in 1947, autism had only just been named. Today it is more prevalent than ever, with one in 88 children diagnosed on the spectrum. And our thinking about it has undergone a transformation in her lifetime: Autism studies have moved from the realm of psychology to neurology and genetics, and there is far more hope today than ever before thanks to groundbreaking new research into causes and treatments. Now Temple Grandin reports from the forefront of autism science, bringing her singular perspective to a thrilling journey into the heart of the autism revolution.

Weaving her own experience with remarkable new discoveries, Grandin introduces the neuroimaging advances and genetic research that link brain science to behavior, even sharing her own brain scan to show us which anomalies might explain common symptoms. We meet the scientists and self-advocates who are exploring innovative theories of what causes autism and how we can diagnose and best treat it. Grandin also highlights long-ignored sensory problems and the transformative effects we can have by treating autism symptom by symptom, rather than with an umbrella diagnosis. Most exciting, she argues that raising and educating kids on the spectrum isn’t just a matter of focusing on their weaknesses; in the science that reveals their long-overlooked strengths she shows us new ways to foster their unique contributions.

From the “aspies” in Silicon Valley to the five-year-old without language, Grandin understands the true meaning of the word spectrumThe Autistic Brain is essential reading from the most respected and beloved voices in the field.


Birds of the Air

Birds of the Air

Like Robert Frost’s North of Boston, David Yezzi’s Birds of the Air intersperses charged lyrics with longer dramatic narratives. His monologues explore the frenetic pressures of urban life, as a number of memorable characters take stage: the guy who is hired to clear out a dying man’s apartment; the actor stuck in an inadvertently hilarious production of Macbeth and his estranged girlfriend’s tragic end; and the short-order cook who elevates his work to an art form. Like the birds of the air described by St. Matthew, these threadbare denizens of the modern city subsist on the few scraps that fall to them.


Paradise, Indiana: Poems

Paradise, Indiana: Poems

A father and son shovel snow from a driveway; a boy accidentally sets himself on fire; two boys fish for bluegill; a young drag queen returns home to die. At the center of it all, a teenage boy’s suicide resonates through the lives of those closest to him. The poems in Bruce Snider’s Paradise, Indiana describe a place where mundane events neighbor the most harrowing.

Shaped by the author’s experiences growing up in rural Indiana, Snider investigates the landscapes traditionally claimed by male poets such as James Wright, James Dickey, and Richard Hugo, whose visions of place rarely, if ever, included the presence of gays and lesbians. Paradise, Indiana envisions a seldom recorded rural America, one where everything exists side by side: the county fair and an abandoned small town gay bar, farmers and cross-dressers, death and hope, beauty and despair.


Charms Against Lightning

Charms Against Lightning

“That feeling of becoming a new person in a different place, even if it’s an illusion, is intoxicating to me, and always has been. I love writing about places, but only places where I don’t belong.”—James Arthur

Awakening is the theme of this fiery debut about the “ghost world” of shadows and personae. A sense of history, politics, and place is an integrated and integral part of the whole, alive with stirring accounts of travel, intimate moments of solitude, and encounters with the ineffable. Romantic in spirit and contemporary in outlook, James Arthur writes exciting, rhythmical, elastic poems.


The Customs House

The Customs House

Andrew Motion’s new book opens with a sequence of war poems (first published as the pamphlet Laurels and Donkeys, on Armistice Day 2010), drawing on soldiers’ experiences of war from 1914 until today – beginning with a story about Siegfried Sassoon and moving via World War Two and Korea to the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of the poems are in the voices of combatants, others are based on memories of the poet’s father, who landed at D-day and fought in France and Germany. The poems combine understatement with a clear-eyed and unswerving candour.

The Customs House has other rooms: a group of topographies, mapping moments in a marriage against the contingencies of place and family history; and several ‘found poems’, in which the poet collaborates with his source, mixing what is there already with what is about to be there: whether a remarkable sonnet sequence on the last days of the Baroque genius Francesco Borromini, or in other poems a richly imagined extrapolation from the silent premises of a painting.


Silver: Return to Treasure Island

Silver: Return to Treasure Island

A rip-roaring sequel to Treasure Island—Robert Louis Stevenson’s beloved classic—about two young friends and their high-seas adventure with dangerous pirates and long-lost treasure.

It’s almost forty years after the events of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island:  Jim Hawkins now runs an inn called the Hispaniola on the English coast with his son, Jim, and Long John Silver has returned to England to live in obscurity with his daughter, Natty. Their lives are quiet and unremarkable; their adventures have seemingly ended.

But for Jim and Natty, the adventure is just beginning. One night, Natty approaches young Jim with a proposition: return to Treasure Island and find the remaining treasure that their fathers left behind so many years before. As Jim and Natty set sail in their fathers’ footsteps, they quickly learn that this journey will not be easy.  Immediately, they come up against murderous pirates, long-held grudges, and greed and deception lurking in every corner. And when they arrive on Treasure Island, they find terrible scenes awaiting them—difficulties which require all their wit as well as their courage.  Nor does the adventure end there, since they have to sail homeward again…

Andrew Motion’s sequel—rollicking, heartfelt, and utterly brilliant—would make Robert Louis Stevenson proud.


The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality

The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality

In recent years, a handful of scientists has been racing to explain a disturbing aspect of our universe: only 4 percent of it consists of the matter that makes up you, me, and every star and planet. The rest is completely unknown.

Richard Panek tells the dramatic story of how scientists reached this cosmos-shattering conclusion. In vivid detail, he narrates the quest to find the “dark” matter and an even more bizarre substance called dark energy that make up 96 percent of the universe. This is perhaps the greatest mystery in all of science, and solving it will bring fame, funding, and certainly a Nobel Prize. Based on hundreds of interviews and in-depth, on-site reporting, the book offers an intimate portrait of the bitter rivalries and fruitful collaborations, the eureka moments and blind alleys, that have redefined science and reinvented the universe.


Say So

Say So

Poetry. The poems in SAY SO are at once rigorously formal and wildly experimental. Human utterance—be it prayer or plea or pun or turn of phrase or epithet—is one of SAY SO’s primary pistons; poetic tradition—rhyme, meter, form, rhetoric—is another; the beauty and betrayals of the body, or bodies—echoed in the beauty and betrayal of language itself—is a third. Together, these forces provide the pressure that makes SAY SO move and brings these poems to life.


Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self

Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self

When Danielle Evans’s short story “Virgins” was published in The Paris Review in late 2007, it announced the arrival of a bold new voice. Written when she was only twenty-three, Evans’s story of two black, blue-collar fifteen-year-old girls’ flirtation with adulthood for one night was startling in its pitch-perfect examination of race, class, and the shifting terrain of adolescence.

Now this debut collection delivers on the promise of that early story. In “Harvest,” a college student’s unplanned pregnancy forces her to confront her own feelings of inadequacy in comparison to her white classmates. In “Jellyfish,” a father’s misguided attempt to rescue a gift for his grown daughter from an apartment collapse magnifies all he doesn’t know about her. And in “Snakes,” the mixed-race daughter of intellectuals recounts the disastrous summer she spent with her white grandmother and cousin, a summer that has unforeseen repercussions in the present.

Striking in their emotional immediacy, the stories in Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self are based in a world where inequality is reality but where the insecurities of adolescence and young adulthood, and the tensions within family and the community, are sometimes the biggest complicating forces in one’s sense of identity and the choices one makes.


Model Home

Model Home

Warren Ziller moved his family to Southern California in search of a charmed life, and to all appearances, he found it: a gated community not far from the beach, amid the affluent splendor of the 1980s. But the Zillers’ American dream is about to be rudely interrupted. Warren has squandered their savings on a bad real estate investment, which he conceals from his wife, Camille, who misreads his secrecy as a sign of an affair. Their children, Dustin, Lyle, and Jonas, have grown as distant as satellites, too busy with their own betrayals and rebellions to notice their parents’ distress. When tragedy strikes, the Zillers are forced to move to Warren’s abandoned housing development in the desert. In this comically bleak new home, each must reckon with what’s led them there and who’s to blame—and whether they can summon the forgiveness needed to hold the family together.

With penetrating insights into modern life and an uncanny eye for everyday absurdities, Eric Puchner delivers a wildly funny, heartbreaking, and thoroughly original portrait of an American family.


A Person of Interest

A Person of Interest

Professor Lee, an Asian-born mathematician near retirement age would seem the last person to attract the attention of FBI agents. Yet after a colleague becomes the latest victim of a serial bomber, Lee must endure the undermining power of suspicion and face the ghosts of his past.

With its propulsive drive, vividly realized characters, and profound observations about soul and society, Pulitzer Prize-finalist Susan Choi’s third novel is as thrilling as it is lyrical, and confirms her place as one of the most important novelists chronicling the American experience. Intricately plotted and psychologically acute, A Person of Interest exposes the fault lines of paranoia and dread that have fractured American life and asks how far one man must go to escape his regrets.


Shore Ordered Ocean

Shore Ordered Ocean

By turns playful and serious, the poems in Dora Malech’s long-awaited second collection, Shore Ordered Ocean, revel in the inherent tensions and pleasures of sense, sound and syntax, reveal the resonance in the offhand utterance, seek the unexpected in aphorism and cliché, and tap into the paradoxical freedom of formality. This is an extraordinary collection of highly idiosyncratic poems that explore place, politics, the body, love, art, and more.


The Swallow Anthology of New American Poets

The Swallow Anthology of New American Poets

The Swallow Anthology of New American Poets gathers the work of 35 of the most compelling and talented new poets writing today. Groundbreaking anthologies of this kind come along once in a generation and, in time, define that generation. The Swallow Anthology identifies a group of poets who have recently begun to make an important mark on contemporary poetry, and their accomplishment and influence will only grow with time. The poets of The Swallow Anthology do not constitute a school or movement; rather they are a group of unique artists working at the top of their craft. As editor David Yezzi writes in his introduction, “Here is a group of poets who have, perhaps for the first time since the modernist revolution, returned to a happy détente between warring camps. This is a new kind of poet, who, dissatisfied with the climate of extremes, has found a balance between innovation and received form, the terror beneath the classical and the order underpinning the romantic. This new unified sensibility is no watered–down admixture, no easy compromise, but, rather, the vital spirit behind the most accomplished poetry being written by America’s new poets.”Poets include: Craig Arnold, David Barber, Rick Barot, Priscilla Becker, Geoffrey Brock, Dan Brown, Peter Campion, Bill Coyle, Morri Creech, Erica Dawson, Ben Downing, Andrew Feld, John Foy, Jason Gray, George Green, Joseph Harrison, Ernest Hilbert, Adam Kirsch, Joanie Mackowski, Eric McHenry, Molly McQuade, Joshua Mehigan, Wilmer Mills, Joe Osterhaus, J. Allyn Rosser, A. E. Stallings, Pimone Triplett, Catherine Tufariello, Deborah Warren, Rachel Wetzsteon, Greg Williamson, Christian Wiman, Mark Wunderlich, David Yezzi, and C. Dale Young.


The Mower: New & Selected Poems

The Mower: New & Selected Poems

The Mower introduces the poetry of British poet laureate Andrew Motion to American readers for the first time. This selection, chosen by Andrew Motion himself, is an outstanding representation of the poet’s varied body of work elegies, sonnets, poems of social and political observation, and unsentimental poems about childhood, post-war England, and natural life composed over the course of three decades.

A significant and consistent feature of Motion’s work, throughout his shifts in style and changes in imaginative topog­raphies, is his signature clarity of observation, his un­willingness to sacrifice intelligibility or embrace opacity. Instead, Motion employs the full power of the English language to do his bidding, and, in love with words as he is, the words cooperate, communicate transforming the intangible, the abstract into intelligible images, associations, and ultimately, knowledge.

In his role as poet laureate for the past ten years, Motion has worked to make poetry more widely available to the general public free of charge (through his online archiving of poets reading their work at The Poetry Archive).


A Phone Call to the Future

A Phone Call to the Future

This “wholly attractive volume” that brings together 25 years of “elegantly shaped and voiced creations” (William Pritchard, The Boston Globe) offers a generous sampling of Mary Jo Salter’s five previous award-winning volumes and a collection of superb new poems. A mid-career retrospective of one of the major poets of her generation.


A Most Marvelous Piece of Luck

A Most Marvelous Piece of Luck

There’s an extraordinary amount of wit and wordplay—outrageous puns, fractured homilies, garbled quotations, double entendres—in this short book. A Most Marvelous Piece of Luck recalls those planetarium shows that, in their vertiginous final minutes, whirl the audience through the cosmos. To say that Williamson is one of the three or four contemporary American masters of light verse may be a less grand pronouncement than it sounds, given how few serious poets these days would aspire to the title. Williamson’s rhymes are likewise dexterous, with a number of unexpected combinations and here and there he comes up with something so neatly preposterous that Byron might have been proud to claim it. The book holds up so well, richly repaying rereading, because there’s a somber, eerie iciness at its core.


Azores

Azores

Like a voyage to the Portuguese islands of the title, the poems in Azores arrive at their striking and hard-won destinations over the often-treacherous waters of experience—a man mourns the fact that he cannot not mourn, a father warns his daughter about harsh contingency, an unnamed visitor violently disrupts a quiet domestic scene. The ever-present and uncomfortable realities of envy, lust, and mortality haunt the book from poem to poem. Yezzi does not shy away from frank assessments of desire and human failing, the persistent difficulties of which are relieved periodically by a cautious optimism and even joy. Whether the poem’s backdrop is volcanic islands in the Mid-Atlantic or Manhattan Island at sunset, Yezzi examines the forces of change in the natural world, as w hether mundane or startlingly intimate. By turns plainspoken, caustic, evocative, and wry, these poems are, in matters of form, well-wrought and musical and, in matters of the heart, clear-eyed and always richly human.


Music Through the Floor

Music Through the Floor

Eric Puchner’s celebrated debut collection, a finalist for the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award, established him as one of our most brilliant and promising new literary voices.

Writing from an impressive range of perspectives—men and women, children and adults, immigrants and tourists—Puchner deftly exposes the dark, tender undersides of his characters with arresting beauty and precision. Here are people fumbling for identity in a dehumanizing world, captured in moments that are hilarious, shocking, and transcendent, sometimes all at once. Unfailingly true, surprisingly moving, and impossible to forget, these stories make up an extraordinary and strikingly original collection.


Halfway House

Halfway House

One day, Angie Voorster—diligent student, all-star swimmer and ivy-league bound high school senior—dives to the bottom of a pool and stays there. In that moment, everything the Voorster family believes they know about each other changes. Katharine Noel’s extraordinary debut illuminates the fault lines in one family’s relationships, as well as the complex emotional ties that bind them together.

With grace and precision rarely seen in a first novel, Noel guides her reader through a world where love is imperfect, and where longing for an imagined ideal can both destroy one family’s happiness and offer them redemption. Halfway House introduces a powerful, eloquent new literary voice.


Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue

Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue

George Gershwin only has a few weeks to compose a concerto. His piece is supposed to exemplify American music and premiere at a concert entitled “An Experiment in Modern Music.” Homesick for New York while rehearsing for a musical in Boston, he soon realizes that American music is much like its people, a great melting pot of sounds, rhythms, and harmonies. JoAnn Kitchel’s illustrations capture the 1920s in all their art deco majesty.


The Invisible Century: Einstein, Freud, and the Search for Hidden Universes

The Invisible Century: Einstein, Freud, and the Search for Hidden Universes

The Invisible Century is an original look at two of the most important revolutions—and revolutionaries—of the modern era. This dual biography of Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud— and their parallel journeys of discovery that altered forever our understanding of the very nature of reality. Einstein and Freud were the foremost figures in search of the next level of scientific knowledge—evidence we can’t see. Here on the frontier of the invisible, their investigations reached unprecedented realms—relativity and the unconscious—and spawned the creation of two new sciences, cosmology and psychoanalysis. Together they have allowed us for more than a hundred years to explore previously unimaginable universes without and within.


The Year We Studied Women

The Year We Studied Women

In this intimate first collection Bruce Snider explores the intricacies of memory, loss, and identity in poems about everything from algebra to sperm to lipstick. A farmer finds the body of a dead child, a boy watches his mother get ready for a date, a woman with cancer shops for a wig, an overweight sister shares a cupcake with her little brother. In the book’s longest and most complex poem a tarot card reading excavates the relationship between a son and his distant, often violent father. Sometimes funny, always big-hearted and inventive, Snider catalogues the minutiae of daily life with language that is plainspoken yet strongly imagistic, weaving together both public and private moments as he maps one man’s longing for transformation. It’s an attempt to reconcile it all—past and present, fear and desire, self and sexuality—making the barest symbols of maleness and femaleness into their own deeply personal language.


American Woman: A Novel

American Woman: A Novel

A novel of impressive scope and complexity, “American Woman is a thoughtful, meditative interrogation of…history and politics, of power and racism, and finally, of radicalism.” (San Francisco Chronicle), perfect for readers who love Emma Cline’s novel, The Girls.

On the lam for an act of violence against the American government, 25-year-old Jenny Shimada agrees to care for three younger fugitives whom a shadowy figure from her former radical life has spirited out of California. One of them, the kidnapped granddaughter of a wealthy newspaper magnate in San Francisco, has become a national celebrity for embracing her captors’ ideology and joining their revolutionary cell.

A brilliant readastonishing in its honesty and confidence,” (Denver PostAmerican Woman explores the psychology of the young radicals, the intensity of their isolated existence, and the paranoia and fear that undermine their ideals.


The Hidden Model

The Hidden Model

From the huddling men in a Rembrandt print to an image in a bathroom mirror that might be Christ or a mere smudge, David Yezzi, with his precisely carved and subtly cutting language, questions and considers the surfaces of our perceptions and the life they conceal-that which suggests, asks, demands to be seen. In this deeply philosophical book, Yezzi deploys a mobile intelligence that reaches from the world of art to the landscape of the mind’s cravings and demonstrates a capacious gift for using the formal techniques of poetry in unobtrusive and captivating ways, rendering verse that is both poetically rich and emotionally charged.


Open Shutters

Open Shutters

Mary Jo Salter’s sparkling new collection, Open Shutters, leads us into a world where things are often not what they seem. In the first poem, “Trompe l’Oeil,” the shadow-casting shutters on Genoese houses are made of paint only, an “open lie.” And yet “Who needs to be correct / more often than once a day? / Who needs real shadow more than play?”

Open Shutters also calls to mind the lens of a camera—in the villanelle “School Pictures” or in the stirring sequence “In the Guesthouse,” which, inspired by photographs of a family across three generations, offers at once a social history of America and a love story.

Darkness and light interact throughout the book—in poems about September 11; about a dog named Shadow; about a blind centenarian who still pretends to read the paper; about a woman shaken by the death of her therapist. A section of light verse highlights the wit and grace that have long distinguished Salter’s most serious work.

Fittingly, the volume fools the eye once more by closing with “An Open Book,” in which a Muslim family praying at a funeral seek consolation in the pages formed by their upturned palms.

Open Shutters is the achievement of a remarkable poet, whose concerns and stylistic range continue to grow, encompassing ever larger themes, becoming ever more open.


Errors in the Script

Errors in the Script

Greg Williamson’s verbal wizardry is again on display in these funny and darkly serious poems. As Richard Wilbur said of his first collection, The Silent Partner, Williamson “is concerned with the fugitive nature of all orderings.” And here, in the latest title in the Sewanee Writers’ Series, the doubling and hidden dangers in life and language ricochet wildly, as in the quadruple look at people’s relationship to nature and metaphor in “The Dark Days” or in the group of twenty-six “Double Exposures” where each poem has to be read three times.

These obsessive themes lead to a final section about the difficulties of any artistic quest in these disordered times. We hear from a sesquipedalian security mirror and a disapproving muse, join in progress a medieval romance in a shopping mall, despair with Wile E. Coyote, and see the poet’s frustrated efforts at a life in art in the title poem, a meditation on modern times,  filled with computer glitches, phone trees, and talk radio.


Keats

Keats

Offering the first look at the poet John Keats (1795-1821) in a generation, Motion’s dramatic and astute narration pays close attention to the political and social contexts in which Keats came to maturity, and masterfully interweaves Keats’ life with his work, making incisive use of the young poet’s inimitable letters.


A Kiss in Space

A Kiss in Space

From the first poem, which takes us up in a hot-air balloon over Chartres, to the last, in which a Russian cosmonaut welcomes an American colleague onto the Mir space station, Mary Jo Salter’s exhilarating fourth collection draws the reader into the long distances of the imagination and the intimacies of the heart. Poignant poems about her own past—such as “Libretto,” in which a childhood initiation into opera merges with a family drama—are set against historical poems such as “The Seven Weepers,” where a 19th-century English explorer in Australia comes face-to-face with the Aborigines his own people have doomed to decimation. The book’s centerpiece, “Alternating Currents,” juxtaposes real historical figures like Alexander Graham Bell and Helen Keller with their fictional contemporaries Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, as each of them plumbs the mysteries of perception. Along the way are poems on family life, on films (from home movies to Hollywood romances), on travel in France, and on works of art (from a child’s fingerpainted refrigerator magnet to Titian’s last painting).

In this splendid and engaging collection, Mary Jo Salter pays homage with wit and compassion to the precious dailiness of life on Earth, while gazing tantalizingly beyond its boundaries to view such wondrous events as a kiss in space.


The Foreign Student: A Novel

The Foreign Student: A Novel

A debut novel tells the poignant story of a young Korean man, who narrowly escaped death in his war-torn country, and a Tennessee woman haunted by sexual abuse as they find solace, comfort, and hope in each other.


Seeing and Believing: How the Telescope Opened Our Eyes and Minds to the Heavens

Seeing and Believing: How the Telescope Opened Our Eyes and Minds to the Heavens

In 1609, Galileo fit two lenses inside a cylindrical tube, aimed it at the sky, and forever changed the world. With pith and charm, Seeing and Believing tells the story—era by era, visionary by visionary, technology by technology, and discovery by discovery—of how the telescope has changed the way we look at ourselves. In the tradition of Dava Sobel’s bestselling Longitude, it focuses on the often larger-than-life figures behind our cosmological odyssey—from Galileo and William Herschel (the musician-turned-astronomer who discovered Uranus) to the crazy brilliance of George Ellery Hale and the minds behind the mighty Hubble space telescope. Seamlessly fusing elements of philosophy, politics, literature, and religion, this fascinating narrative chronicles the humbling journey into a universe infinitely more vast than we ever imagined. Star- gazers, space enthusiasts, and curious minds of every sort will love this holiday and year-round gift.


Sunday Skaters

Sunday Skaters

A third collection of poems highlights tones of playfulness, wisdom, compassion, and profundity while following a woman’s deeply personal journeys through love, family, place, and time.


Philip Larkin: A Writer’s Life

Philip Larkin: A Writer’s Life

A biography of the poet discusses his friendships with other aspiring writers, painters, and musicians, his repressive family life, his need for affection and fear of the encroachment on his writing that marriage represented, and his work.


Unfinished Painting

Unfinished Painting

A sidewalk painter who refuses to hurry his rendition of the Birth of Venus though it threatens to rain, the late-night crying of a daughter, the unexplained suicide of a friend: Salter’s perceptions in this Lamont-winning collection are both accomplished and deeply felt. The poet studs the path to an emotional and mental realm with earthly and physical markers.