Synopses & Reviews
In this, his fifteenth collection of poetry, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet James Tate continues doing what he does best. His poems are evocative, provocative, funny, subtle, eccentric, occasionally disturbing, and wildly outrageous. Tate′s surrealist style strikes its own utterly new and original note in American poetry; as Charles Simic has observed, "To write a poem out of nothng at all is Tate′s genius...Just about anything can happen next in this kind of poetry and that is its attraction...He makes me think that anti-poetry is the best friend poetry ever had."
My daughter has lived overseas for a number
of years now. She married into royalty, and they
won′t let her communicate with any of her family or
friends. She lives on birdseed and a few sips
of water. She dreams of me constantly. Her husband,
the Prince, whips her when he catches her dreaming.
Fierce guard dogs won′t let her out of their sight.
I hired a detective, but he was killed trying to
rescue her. I have written hundreds of letters
to the State Department. They have written back
saying that they are aware of the situation. I
never saw her dance. I was always away at some
convention. I never saw her sing. I was always
working late. I called her My Princess, to make
up for my shortcomings, and she never forgave me.
Birdseed was her middle name.
"Over the past several books, the prolific Pulitzer Prize winner Tate (Return to the City of White Donkeys) has been inching toward the invention of a new kind of American poem, a hybrid of prose poetry (though he's got loose, almost arbitrary line breaks), fable, surrealism and a sort of outsider folk poetry. These chatty, narrative works humorously treat all kinds of subjects, from civil unrest ('There are soldiers everywhere. Its' hard/ to tell which side they're on,' I said. 'They're against us./ Everyone's against us. Isn't that what you believe') to altruism ('I said I didn't want any help from anyone, but, then,/ when no one offered to help, I was really hurt') and wildcats ('I loved his quick, agile movements, never doubting himself,/ as most of us do'). A dark undercurrent runs beneath them all, and war and politics which tend to confuse the poems' speakers are frequent subjects. It's rare that a poet so far into his career this is Tate's 15th collection comes up with something new; quietly, Tate has found a fresh way of telling some of America's stories." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet James Tate returns with his 15th book of poetry, an exciting new collection that offers nearly 100 fresh and thought-provoking pieces that embody Tate's trademark style and voice: his accessibility, his dark humor, and his exquisite sense of the absurd.
Tate's work is stark he writes in clear, everyday language yet his seemingly simple and macabre stories are layered with broad and trenchant meaning. His characters are often lost or confused, his settings bizarre, his scenarios brilliantly surreal. Opaque, inscrutable people float through a dreamlike world where nothing is as it seems. The Ghost Soldiers offers resounding proof, once again, that Tate stands alone in American poetry.
About the Author
James Tate was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1943. He is the author of 15 books of poetry, including Shroud of the Gnome; Worshipful Company of Fletchers, which won the National Book Award in 1994; Selected Poems, which won the Pulitzer Prize and the William Carlos Williams Award in 1991; Distance from Loved Ones; Reckoner; Constant Defender; Riven Doggeries; Viper Jazz; Absences; Hints to Pilgrims; The Oblivion Ha-Ha; and The Lost Pilot, which was selected by Dudley Fitts for the Yale Series of Younger Poets. In addition to his poetry, Tate has also published two books of prose, Dreams of a Robot Dancing Bee and The Route as Briefed, and edited The Best American Poetry 1997. His honors include a National Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Poetry, the Tanning Prize, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. He teaches at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.