Synopses & Reviews
The first full-length volume of poems in a decade by the former poet laureate of the United States
In The Back Chamber, Donald Hall illuminates the evocative, iconic objects of deep memory—a cowbell, a white stone perfectly round, a three-legged milking stool—that serve to foreground the rich meditations on time and mortality that run through his remarkable new collection. While Halls devoted readers will recognize many of his long-standing preoccupations—baseball, the family farm, love, sex, and friendship—what will strike them as new is the fierce, pitiless poignancy he reveals as his own lifes end comes into view. The Back Chamber is far from being death-haunted, but rather is lively, irreverent, erotic, hilarious, ironic, and sly—full of the life-affirming energy that has made Donald Hall one of Americas most popular and enduring poets.
This 20th collection from the former U.S. poet laureate (My Noiseless Entourage) departs only by degrees from his poems of earlier decades but it could just be his best book. Like most of Simic's work these new poems end up short and sad setting mysterious wry even Kafkaesque scenes in which nobody gets what anyone wants: "A dark little country store full of gravediggers' children buying candy./ (That's how we looked that night.)" Simic served as laureate in the last years of the Bush administration and some of his new poems may reflect that experience: they attack with a pessimistic asperity callous military officers bloodthirsty states and unnecessary wars along with a weary or cynical America: "the TV is on in the living room/ Canned laughter in the empty house/ Like the sound of beer cans tied to a coffin." Simic alludes quietly to the war ravaged Serbia he fled as a child. But the "ragged puppets" who populate Simic's stanzas are not always so foredoomed: in an 11 part sequence called "The Invisible" Simic modulates into a restrained and deeply moving lyric lament admiring a dragonfly for his clear wings a crow who was once "a professor of philosophy" and a "Bird comforting the afflicted/ With your song." (Oct.) " Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
"This 20th collection from the former U.S. poet laureate (My Noiseless Entourage) departs only by degrees from his poems of earlier decades--but it could just be his best book. Like most of Simic's work, these new poems end up short and sad, setting mysterious, wry, even Kafkaesque, scenes in which nobody gets what anyone wants: 'A dark little country store full of gravediggers' children buying candy./ (That's how we looked that night.)' Simic served as laureate in the last years of the Bush administration, and some of his new poems may reflect that experience: they attack, with a pessimistic asperity, callous military officers, bloodthirsty states and unnecessary wars, along with a weary or cynical America: 'the TV is on in the living room,/ Canned laughter in the empty house/ Like the sound of beer cans tied to a coffin.' Simic alludes quietly to the war-ravaged Serbia he fled as a child. But the 'ragged puppets' who populate Simic's stanzas are not always so foredoomed: in an 11-part sequence called 'The Invisible,' Simic modulates into a restrained and deeply moving lyric lament, admiring a dragonfly for his clear wings, a crow who was once 'a professor of philosophy,' and a 'Bird comforting the afflicted/ With your song.' (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"This 20th collection from the former U.S. poet laureate (My Noiseless Entourage) departs only by degrees from his poems of earlier decades--but it could just be his best book." —Publishers Weekly, STARRED review
"For the reader boiling in triple-digit SoCal heat at the end of the summer, Donald Hall's "The Back Chamber: Poems" arrives like a sudden cloudburst and shower of cooling rain. . .A former U.S. poet laureate, Hall has always had this elemental power — to vividly evoke his particular New England climate and geography so that it can't be mistaken for any other — but what is more unexpected in this new collection of poems, his 16th, is passion."--LA Times "If the poems in it are relatively somber, theyre equally witty, consummately well-crafted." --Booklist, STARRED review "Featuring moving, amusing, musical poems about love, aging, and baseball, this work will have broad appeal and is recommended for all collections."—Library Journal "The former U.S. poet laureate reaches his 20th book in unmistakably honest form..." --Publishers Weekly
In his first volume of poetry since his tenure as poet laureate, Charles Simic shows he is at the height of his poetic powers. These new poems mine the rich strain of inscrutability in ordinary life, until it is hard to know what is innocent and what ominous. There is something about his work that continues to be crystal clear and yet deeply weighted with violence and mystery. Reading it is like going undercover. The face of a girl carrying a white dress from the cleaners with her eyes half-closed. The Adam & Evie Tanning Salon at night. A sparrow on crutches. A rubber duck in a shooting gallery on a Sunday morning. And someone in a tree swing, too old to be swinging and to be wearing no clothes at all, blowing a toy trumpet at the sky.
A new collection of poems by the recent Poet Laureate.
The first, full-length volume of poems in a decade by former poet laureate of the United States Donald Hall
In Child Made of Sand, Kingsley Tufts-winner Thomas Lux demonstrates a restless energy to explore new territory while confirming his place in the pantheon of contemporary American poetry.
Readers familiar with Thomas Luxs quick-witted images ("Language without simile is like a lung/ without air") and his rambunctious, Cirque-Du-Soleil-like imagination ("The Under-Appreciated Pontooniers") will find in his new collection, Child Made of Sand, not only the signature funny, provocative, and poignant super-surrealism that has made him, along with Charles Simic, James Tate, and Dean Young, one of Americas most inventive and humane poets, but they will also find in a surprising series of homages, elegies, rants, and autobiographical poems a new register of language in which time and mortality echo and reverberate in quieter notes. In "West Shining Tree," we can hear this shift in register when he asks: "Ill head dead West and ask of all I see:/ Which is the way, the long or the short way,/ to the West Shining Tree?"
About the Author
DONALD HALL, poet laureate of the United States from 2006 to 2007, has received the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in poetry, the Lenore Marshall Award, the 1990 Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America, and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Table of Contents
The Moths Who Come in the Night to Drink Our Tears 3
The Little Three-Handed Engine That Could 4
The Chairman of Naught 6
You and Your Ilk 7
The Drunken Forest 8
The Underappreciated Pontooniers 9
Nietzsche Throws His Arms Around the Neck of a Dray Horse 10
Scriptus Interruptus 11
A Frozen Ball of Rattlesnakes 12
The Queen of Truth 13
A Delivery of Dung 14
Since Death and Its Sequelae 20
Every Time Someone Masturbates God Kills a Kitten 22
West Shining Tree 23
From Whom All Blessings Flow 24
The Probabilist 26
Rue de la Vieille Lanterne 27
Like Tiny Baby Jesus, in Velour Pants, Sliding down
Your Throat (A Belgian Euphemism) 28
Not the Same Kind of Mud as in “Two Tramps in Mud Time” 30
Ermine Noose 31
The Riverine Farmers 36
The Anti-Lunarian League 38
Boy Born with Small Knife in His Head 40
Graves Rented by the Hour 41
Dendrochronologist Blues 42
The Goldfish Room (Where the Cops
Beat You in the Head with a Phonebook) 44
The River of Nuts 46
Baby Madsong 48
Soup Teachers, 54
The Hunchback Farmhand 55
Ladys Slipper 56
Bricks Sinking in Deep Water 57
Dead Horse 58
A Walk in the Woods with Shotguns 62
Outline for My Memoir 64