Synopses & Reviews
From this critically acclaimed and award-winning poet, a stunning volume of new and selected works that display her signature intelligence, depth, and vigorous originality
Hailed as ?visionary? by The New Yorker and ?radiant? by The New York Times Book Review, Linda Bierds returns with a collection that gives us the best of her astonishing work, and then gives us more: the gift of fifteen new poems. As a poet, she has always shied away from the easy indulgences of confessional poetry, turning her attention instead to the things that unite us in our common humanity? art, science, music, history?and bringing alive people (some famous, some little-known) who have made contributions to these spheres. The new poems are no less vital, transporting the reader from medieval to modern-day Venice to the moon; from anatomical sketches to primitive mapping and early naturalism? returning always to the empathy that guides her work.
These tightly woven poems are linked organically through repeating imagery, reflected and refracted through the prism of Bierds?s singularly rich imagination. Her language itself communicates just as much as this visuality; as Stanley Plumly has said, ?The autobiography of her imagination would only be half as intense were the writing itself less beautiful and clear, less perfect to pitch.?
"The eighth volume and first retrospective from MacArthur winner Bierds (First Hand) makes her powers clear while showing how little her work has changed since the 1980s. She uses the English language as a composer of symphonic music might use an orchestra, taking romantic sighs, noble passages and high-flown trills from a full range of vocabulary and reference. She applies her lyrical, humane sensibility and her way with descriptive language to her own life occasionally, but far more often to the lives of eminent artists, writers, inventors and scientists Erasmus and Charles Darwin, Thomas Edison, Anton van Leeuwenhoek (who invented the microscope), Marc Chagall, Dr. Tulp (of Rembrandt's Anatomy Lesson), Dorothy Wordsworth, the British physicist and public lecturer Michael Faraday. Ever alert to loss, Bierds finds the human and natural worlds worthy of fragile praise. In her marriage of research with appreciation, Bierds can recall Amy Clampitt, though she may lack Clampitt's range. In one of several new poems set in Venice, Bierds watches 'the sea quickly cast/ its daily mass, herringbone brick by brick.' An older poem sees farmers in an English village grind cow horns into translucent house windows, whose 'moth-wing haze... softened our guests with the gauze light/ of the Scriptures.'" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Praise for Linda Bierds
"Dear Linda Bierds: The past few mornings I have been reading your Flight: New and Selected and am writing to tell you how much I admire the poems, each and all, and how much in awe I am by their learning and richness and beauty. Youve been able to get more into many of those single poems than most poets can get into complete volumes, myself included. On this New Years morning, I send you good wishes from a cold and very snowy Great Plains.”—Ted Kooser (U.S. Poet Laureate, 2004-05)
“With her sure prowess for crafting language thats both fiercely attentive and delicately nuanced, Bierds time and again demonstrates her own exemplary gift for holding the worlds marvels up to scrutiny.”—David Barber, Boston Globe (poetry editor, The Atlantic)
“The autobiography of her imagination would be only half as intense were the writing less beautiful and clear, less perfect to pitch.”—Stanley Plumly
“Her poems reflect a double vision, set in history and yet released from it by imagination. Her research seems impeccable, but fortunately she is not confined by it; the facts keep giving way to intuition, intensely empathetic and hauntingly articulated.”—David Walker, Field
“Bierds writes with the authority, incisiveness, and magic of one who has mastered her craft. . . . These poems celebrate the wonders of life. First Hand is a nearly perfect book.”—Library Journal
“Resurrecting the past through language is resurrecting language itself. The language of Bierdss poems smokes, flares, and flickers out, leaving an afterglow.”—The Bloomsbury Review
“She approaches each poem as Fellini approached film, with an infinite capacity for wonder.”—Jeff Encke, Octopus
“Bierds remarkable images are filled with nuance, echo with the conscience of all humanity.”—The Washington Post Book World
“Her true originality has no need of quirkiness to emphasize it, and the range of her interests, empathy, knowledge, and imagination is imposing.”—W.S. Merwin
“A poet of magnitude.”—Harold Brodkey
“Visionary.”—The New Yorker
“Radiant.”—The New York Times Book Review
Her poems, with their constantly surprising delicacy and their language rich with insight and a sensuous music, radiate real power and authority and animal presence.” W. S. Merwin (U.S. Poet Laureate, 20102011)
He is best known for his Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases, but among filmmakers Roget is better known for his explanation of the optical illusion that still bedevils them: Why does a wheel moving forward always seem on film to be running backward? For Linda Bierds, the illusion also refers to our relationship to language, to our belief that words hold something more than their definitions. Why do we strive to articulate the world even as we know this is a shifting and illusory pursuit? Why do we continue to seek perfection, pursue beauty, yearn for immortality? Rogets Illusion offers no answer. It simply shows the striving.
About the Author
Linda Bierds has been awarded fellowships from the MacArthur, John Simon Guggenheim, Ingram-Merrill, Wolfers-ONeill, and Rockefeller Foundations; and has received the PEN West Poetry Prize, the Poetry Society of Americas Consuelo Ford Award, the Virginia Quarterly Reviews Emily Clark Balch Poetry Prize, and two National Endowment for the Arts grants. Her work has appeared widely, in publications such as The Atlantic, Field, The Kenyon Review, The New Yorker, Parnassus, and The Virginia Quarterly Review, to name a few. She lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington.