Winner of The National Book Award for Poetry 2009
Synopses & Reviews
"Keith Waldrop is one of the freshest, strongest poets in our language. Transcendental Studies
shows how good he really is. Intelligence and lyricism live together in his work, exalted intellect and sly cunning, playfulness and heartbreak, they all dance together, sometimes with postmodern angularity, sometimes with a sort of Horatian civility. I open the book and read and just want to go on. Waldrop's mastery is not just of the local text, but of that great animal, the book."Robert Kelly, author of The Book from the Sky
"These haunts, thought haunts really, leave their melodies on Keith Waldrop's great poem arrays. A frequent wonder. Tune slowly to taste."Clark Coolidge, author of The Act of Providence
"Keith Waldrop has concerned himself with the topology of the world of writing more consistently and valuably than any poet I can think of since the late Paul Celan. There is, in Waldrop's work, a steady thought directed to the way that we make our way in the world by thinking and speaking. Where Wallace Stevens gave us the portrait of a man bothered by the march of ants through his shadow, Waldrop gives us the disturbances of the world in its representations."A. L. Nielsen, Gargoyle
"Along with iridescent things these cycles of eccentrically drifting poems tell of our oceanic and domestic spaces for life and death, it is the phrasing itself that shows Keith Waldrop's artistry. Discrete but dreamlike, the phrasing is every poem's heartbeat. While its leaps and glides take metaphysics home at last, it is the writing, not that of a conjuror but the word as such (as elsewhere in Waldrop's outrageously funny poems), that fascinates. Here is a poet still against the grain and of authentic madcap modernity."Christopher Middleton, author of Collected Poems
"Waldrop has long been a major force in American avant-garde poetics, and this substantial new volume is big news indeed. Comprising three sequences each almost a book in itself plus an epilogue, it is an extended philosophical meditation on what are, broadly, the major themes of all poetry: perception, the imagination, the body, and how the human inner life interacts with the larger world. In mostly short, jagged free verse pieces, Waldrop goes at these lofty concepts head-on in accessible, if cerebral, language. The speaker of the first sequence, itself composed of six sets of lyrics, lists and a longer poem, attempts to prove the claim that 'I saw... everything/ that was happening on earth and can/ describe the hum of clouds.' The second sequence is a set of discrete poems made up of sentence fragments and aborted thoughts that strive toward completion and correspondence: 'Most suicides/ in May, June, July. Unusual/ heat drives most toward God. A/ cul-de-sac.' The last is, again, a set of sets of poems, the most compelling of which, called 'Carriage a Transition ' pours lyric bursts down the page. The volume concludes with a longer poem called 'Epilogue: Stone Angels' that meditates in a Rilkian mode on cemetery statues, which 'are/ the opposite of perception: we/ bury our gaze in them.' These poems are similarly entrancing." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
This compelling selection of recent work by internationally celebrated poet Keith Waldrop presents three related poem sequences"Shipwreck in Haven," "Falling in Love through a Description," and "The Plummet of Vitruvius"in a virtuosic poetic triptych. In these quasi-abstract, experimental lines, collaged words torn from their contexts take on new meanings. Waldrop, a longtime admirer of such artists as the French poet Raymond Queneau and the American painter Robert Motherwell, imposes a tonal override on purloined materials, yet the originals continue to show through. These powerful poems, at once metaphysical and personal, reconcile Waldrop's romantic tendencies with formal experimentation, uniting poetry and philosophy and revealing him as a transcendentalist for the new millennium.
Kofi Awoonor, one of Ghanas most accomplished poets, had for almost half a century committed himself to teaching, political engagement, and the literary arts. The one constant that guided and shaped his many occupations and roles in life was poetry. The Promise of Hope
is a beautifully edited collection of some of Awoonors most arresting work spanning almost fifty years.
Selected and edited by Awoonors friend and colleague Kofi Anyidoho, himself a prominent poet and academic in Ghana, The Promise of Hope contains much of Awoonors most recent unpublished poetry, along with many of his anthologized and classic poems. This engaging volume serves as a fitting contribution to the inaugural cohort of books in the African Poetry Book Series.
About the Author
Kofi Awoonor (1935–2013) was a diplomat and a professor of comparative literature at numerous universities, including the University of Ghana. He is the author of several volumes of poetry, including Night of My Blood; Ride Me, Memory; The House by the Sea; and The Latin American and Caribbean Notebook. His collected poems (through 1985) were published in Until the Morning After. Kofi Anyidoho, a poet and scholar, serves on editorial boards for several journals and has been a guest editor of Matatu, a journal of African culture and society that is published in Amsterdam.
Table of Contents
I: Shipwreck in Haven
II: Falling in Love through a Description
III: The Plummet of Vitruvius
The Unreliable Narrator
Carriage: a transition
Variations on a Paraphrase
Epilogue: Stone Angels