Alive: New and Selected Poems
"Called by Susan Howe "one of the most outstanding poets of her generation," the American poet Elizabeth Willis has written some of the most luminous, electrifyingly lyrical poems of the past twenty years. This collection includes work from her five books, poems previously published only in magazines, and a section of new poems. With a poetics as attentive to the music of thought as George Oppen's and an ear that evokes the wildness of Rimbaud's Illuminations, Willis charts intricate, subterranean affinities. Her poems draw us into a range of pleasures and concernsfrom the scientific pastorals of Erasmus Darwin, to the domain of painters, politicians, erstwhile saints, witches, and agitators. Within the intimate and civic address of these poems, we witness the chaos of the contemporary world as it falls, for an ecstatic moment, into place: "The word comes at me with its headlights on, so it's revelation and not death."
Praise for "The Human Abstract" "These poems move with an uncanny precision to sound thought and the body it makes manifest. No one speaks more clearly in such subtle webs of feeling. Nor is there any other who can so bring us home. Elizabeth Willis is a master." --Robert Creeley ""The Human Abstract" returns the abstract to the essence of language, reviving our ears to the essential music of our humanity. In this music, we begin to construct for ourselves a dwelling made of incidents whose origins are as near as Sappho's celebrated fragments, Dickinson's wonderful prisms. In this collection, Elizabeth Willis recovers the originating lyric impulse into a haunting contemporary song. This is poetry of amazing intelligence and grace." --Ann Lauterbach "Dislocating the self's topology, Elizabeth Willis's mysterious poems emerge as shattered musical phrases, brilliantly in and out of key, exactly scored--meaning to sound the alarming tick and wobble of she who is born into the world at this historic moment. Her wary foot enters the room, her ear gathers its signals cunningly, and she's gone. We follow, compelled by this urgent hermetic reading of human event, fastened to her sorrow and appetite." --Kathleen Fraser Praise for "Turneresque" "Indulging in the quintessentially poetic art of associating things that have never been found together before, Willis...here combines the haunting luminosity of English painter J. M. W. Turner with the lucid black-and-white of American film noir, along with the darkly visionary poetry of Rimbaud, Blake and Baudelaire." --"Publishers Weekly" "Affirmative, even jocularly courageous. It seems--to borrow one of its own phrases--'to imply or intone the whole possibility of human sun.' "--Cole Swenson, "Rain Taxi"
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