Synopses & Reviews
The stunning follow-up volume to her 2007 Pulitzer Prize-winning Native Guard
, by Americas new Poet Laureate
Natasha Tretheweys poems are at once deeply personal and historical—exploring her own interracial and complicated roots—and utterly American, connecting them to ours. The daughter of a black mother and white father, a student of history and of the Deep South, she is inspired by everything from colonial paintings of mulattos and mestizos to the stories of people forgotten by history. Meditations on captivity, knowledge, and inheritance permeate Thrall, as she reflects on a series of small estrangements from her poet father and comes to an understanding of how, as father and daughter, they are part of the ongoing history of race in America.
Thrall confirms not only that Natasha Trethewey is one of our most gifted and necessary poets but that she is also one of our most brilliant and fearless.
"Claudia Emerson's Late Wife tells the story of love lost and redeemed. Her poetry explores the way we attach meaning to things without us and connect them with our inner lives. In her hands heartbreak and healing turn as tangible as the material world she observes with such love and such precision." Mark Jarman
"Like the estranged lover in one of her poems who pitches horseshoes in the dark with preternatural precision, so Emerson sends her words into a different kind of darkness with steely exactness, their arc of perception over and over striking true. With exceptional linguistic and emotional poise, her fine new collection moves from retrospect to prospect, from one love's withering to another's rebirth, from loss not merely tallied but to that rarer arrival: loss weighed, survived, understood." Deborah Pope
"Though they clearly fit into various points along the outline of a story, Emerson's new poems transcend narrative. They are deeply absorbing because their author has brilliantly observed brief but powerful moments, and rendered these miracles of observation with secure craftsmanship." Henry Taylor
"Utterly elegant." —Elle Magazine
“Mother, father, brother, sister, husband, daughter, son populate this book. But these relationships, past or present, are not static. As they move in time and place—Montana, Idaho, Manhattan, Alaska—the poems map an inner geography, spaces of loss and acceptance, memory and survival. They are stepping stones through a life only as ordinary as the truth of art. Martins poems belie their artfulness almost with the ease of conversation; they ask for little but give much. Few poets can trace an itinerary of the heart with such distinctive grace and clarity.”
“These are poems of a humane poet who has made communion with our great ancient stories: when she sweeps away loss, she discovers wonder, when she wipes away tears, she discovers play, and when she faces difficult deaths, she reminds us that we all must face our lives even when they skim 'lightly on the tide, white, fine as baby hair.' This is a splendid book of fire and desire."
"Martin’s I Follow in the Dust She Raises is the kind of poetry that invites the word luminous, so impoverished by overuse it can no longer light the inside of a bulb, much less invoke noonday. Too many blurbs have been attached to a series of lesser books that make the mistake of working nature by subtraction—assuming that an endless wheat field with a tractor in it under an immense Nebraska sky—offer a limned absence that by itself could bring us to metaphysical tears. . . . To simple but potent effect, Martin starts from zero and works by addition.”
“Martin’s work will take you on one woman’s lifelong journey in pursuit of that intangible goal: to be content, a theme that her work so beautifully embodies. Perhaps if you faithfully journey through these pages with her, by the end, you will realize that you have found that same thing as well.”
In Late Wife
, a woman explores her disappearance from one life and reappearance in another as she addresses her former husband, herself, and her new husband in a series of epistolary poems. Though not satisfied in her first marriage, she laments vanishing from the life she and her husband shared for years. She then describes the unexpected joys of solitude during her recovery and emotional convalescence. Finally, in a sequence of sonnets, she speaks to her new husband, whose first wife died from lung cancer. The poems highlight how the speaker's rebeginning in this relationship has come about in part because of two couples' respective losses.
The most personal of Claudia Emerson's poetry collections, Late Wife is both an elegy and a celebration of a rich present informed by a complex past.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning Native Guard
explored Natasha Tretheweys relationship with her black mother. Now, her new collection, Thrall
takes on the uneasy relationship between her and her white father. It charts the intersections of public and personal history that determine the roles to which a mixed-race daughter and her white father are consigned.
I Follow in the Dust She Raises is a collection of deeply personal poems born from a life sharply observed. Martin takes readers from the mountains of the West to the shores of Alaska, as she delves into the rippling depth of childhood experiences, tracks the moments that change a life, and settles into the fine grooves of age. Exploring the ties of family and grief, Martins unflinching poetry ripples with moments of extraordinary beauty plucked from what seem like ordinary lives.
About the Author
Claudia Emerson is also the author of the poetry books Pharaoh, Pharaoh and Pinion: An Elegy, both published in Dave Smith's Southern Messenger Poets series. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Southern Review, Shenandoah, TriQuarterly, New England Review, and other journals. The recipient of a Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Virginia Commission for the Arts, she is an associate professor of English at University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Table of Contents
Miracle of the Black Leg 9
On Captivity 13
1. DE ESPAÑOL Y DE INDIA PRODUCE MESTIZO 16
2. DE ESPAÑOL Y NEGRA PRODUCE MULATO 19
3. DE ESPAÑOL Y MESTIZA PRODUCE CASTIZA 22
4. THE BOOK OF CASTAS 24
Kitchen Maid with Supper at Emmaus; or, The Mulata 27
The Americans 33
1. DR. SAMUEL ADOLPHUS CARTWRIGHT ON
DISSECTING THE WHITE NEGRO, 1851 33
2. BLOOD 34
3. HELP, 1968 35
Mano Prieta 37
De Español y Negra; Mulata 39
1. NOSTOS 41
2. QUESTIONS POSED BY THE DREAM 42
3. SIREN 43
Torna Atrás 48
Bird in the House 50
How the Past Comes Back 72
On Happiness 74
Vespertina Cognitio 75