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Draft of a Letter (Phoenix Poets)

by

Draft of a Letter (Phoenix Poets) Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

From Second Draft:

What other people learn

From birth,

Betrayal,

I learned late.

 

My soul perched

On an olive branch

Combing itself,

Waving its plumes.  I said

 

Being mortal,

I aspire to

Mortal things.

 

I need you,

Said my soul,

If youre telling the truth.

 

Draft of a Letter is a book about belief—not belief in the unknowable but belief in what seems bewilderingly plain. Pondering the bodies we inhabit, the words we speak, these poems discover infinitude in the most familiar places. The revelation is disorienting and, as a result, these poems talk to themselves, revise themselves, fashioning a dialogue between self and soul that opens outward to include other voices, lovers, children, angels, and ghosts. For James Longenbach, great distance makes the messages we send sweeter. To be divided from ourselves is never to be alone. “If the kingdom is in the sky,” says the body to the soul, “Birds will get there before you.” “In time,” says the awakening soul, “I liked my second / Body better / Than the first.” To live, these poems insist, is to arise every day to the strange magnificence of the people and places we thought we knew best. Draft of a Letter is an unsettled and radiant paradiso, imagined in the death-shadowed, birth-haunted middle of a long life.

 

Praise for Fleet River

“A sensibility this cogent, this subtle and austere is rare; even rarer is its proof that poetry still flows through all things and transforms all things in the process.”—Carol Muske-Dukes, Los Angeles Times Book Review

Review:

"This third book by noted critic and poet Longenbach is a collection of lyrics presenting conversations between an eternal soul and that soul's embodied, temporal self. When this idiosyncratic fragmentation of 'the mind thinking' works, the results are lovely, intimate and distilled, as in the title poem, when the soul informs us, 'If you say the word death/ In heaven,/ Nobody understands'; or in 'Second Draft,' when the embodied self explains, '...I said// Being mortal,/ I aspire to/ Mortal things.// I need you,/ Said my soul,/ If you're telling the truth.' Throughout, Longenbach is drawn, romantically, to nature, though his natural descriptions and settings can feel dislocated or mythical, as if equal parts Wordsworth and Beckett; for example, 'The flower didn't speak to me but/ I spoke back, I heard// My name.' Sometimes Longenbach's romanticism gets overblown, however: 'To that hidden place,/ ... No shepherds came, no goatherds./ Only nymphs and muses/ Joining together in song.' Other times, the language feels merely flat, rather than distilled, compressed or charged. Nonetheless, at his best, Longenbach offers a moving directness and koanlike simplicity (or complexity): 'First rule: no one/ Is speaking. The second is/ Follow the sound.'" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

About the Author

James Longenbach is the Joseph Henry Gilmore Professor of English at the University of Rochester. He is the author, most recently, of The Resistance to Poetry and Fleet River, both published by the University of Chicago Press.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 

I

Ice Men

Death and Reason

Draft of a Letter

The Gift

Canzone

Joy and Reason

Buried Life

O Tourist

Self and Soul

The Gods in Exile

Ghost Pond

Swallowtail

 

II

Reason and Sorrow

Complaint

Second Draft

Abacus

Tenzone

Yard Work

Sparrow

Second Life

A Different Route

Self and Soul

Testament

After Petrarch

Product Details

ISBN:
9780226492681
Author:
Longenbach, James
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Subject:
American - General
Subject:
Single Author / American
Subject:
Poetry-A to Z
Edition Description:
Paperback
Series:
Phoenix Poets Series
Publication Date:
20070331
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
64
Dimensions:
8.5 x 6.13 in

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Poetry » A to Z

Draft of a Letter (Phoenix Poets) Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.50 In Stock
Product details 64 pages University of Chicago Press - English 9780226492681 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "This third book by noted critic and poet Longenbach is a collection of lyrics presenting conversations between an eternal soul and that soul's embodied, temporal self. When this idiosyncratic fragmentation of 'the mind thinking' works, the results are lovely, intimate and distilled, as in the title poem, when the soul informs us, 'If you say the word death/ In heaven,/ Nobody understands'; or in 'Second Draft,' when the embodied self explains, '...I said// Being mortal,/ I aspire to/ Mortal things.// I need you,/ Said my soul,/ If you're telling the truth.' Throughout, Longenbach is drawn, romantically, to nature, though his natural descriptions and settings can feel dislocated or mythical, as if equal parts Wordsworth and Beckett; for example, 'The flower didn't speak to me but/ I spoke back, I heard// My name.' Sometimes Longenbach's romanticism gets overblown, however: 'To that hidden place,/ ... No shepherds came, no goatherds./ Only nymphs and muses/ Joining together in song.' Other times, the language feels merely flat, rather than distilled, compressed or charged. Nonetheless, at his best, Longenbach offers a moving directness and koanlike simplicity (or complexity): 'First rule: no one/ Is speaking. The second is/ Follow the sound.'" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
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