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New Books - 11/02
Giuseppe Ungaretti: Selected Poems, translated by Andrew Frisardi ($30
FSG) Ungaretti (1888-1970) is considered to be among the leading Italian
poets of his generation; indeed, T.S. Eliot called him "one of the few
authentic poets." But until now little of Ungaretti's haunted and haunting
poetry has been available in English. Included in this bilingual edition
are generous samplings from his entire body of work, from his first writings
as a young soldier in World War I to poems written near his death, along
with the essay "Ungaretti on Ungaretti."
Nonrequired Reading: Prose Pieces by Wislawa Szymborska, translated by
Clare Cavanagh ($24 Harcourt) Polish poet Szymborska received the Nobel
Prize for Literature in 1996. Unbeknownst to many of her readers, she also
was a columnist and reviewed an amazing array of books on all sorts of
topics (canine illnesses, caves, bodybuilding, to name a few). Her wit,
wisdom, and warmth are evident in these brief, engaging essays. And
speaking of Ms. Szymborska, _Miracle Fair_, a selection of her poems
translated by Joanna Trzeciak, has just arrived in paperback ($15.95
Poems of Paul Celan, translated by Michael Hamburger ($18.95 paperback,
$35 hardcover; Persea) Mr. Hamburger has revised and expanded his seminal
translation of this incredible German poet. Added are the poem "Wolf'
s-Bean," as well as a note on the poem's history, and Mr. Hamburger's essay,
"On Translating Celan."
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, translated by W.S. Merwin ($22 Knopf)
Merwin has created a clear and compelling verse translation of this classic
Arthurian tale of mystery and adventure that begins when a huge green knight
on a green horse arrives at King Arthur's court with a strange challenge.
Those wanting to brush up on their Middle English will be able to do so with
this bilingual edition.
Miniatures and Other Poems by Barbara Guest ($12.95 Wesleyan) "Perfume in
a bottle," Fanny Howe has deemed this 26th collection of poetry from Ms.
Guest, and it makes sense to describe these condensed, intense pieces so.
She needs few words to make a world - "Moldy day. Leather gaiters. Warm
camisole. / Slow measure."
Chinese Whispers by John Ashbery ($22 FSG) "Night settles briskly as with
feather duster / and rag under arm, determined to be not too civilized. / It
seems the sky left us / hanging, long ago, and now wants us undetermined, /
untried sheep nosing out of the mist. / Be thankful for all you haven't
been, and could be / in a warier situation. For desk values. The shoehorn.
// Our lives ebbing always toward the center, / the unframed portrait."
Denise Levertov: Selected Poems ($24.95 New Directions) Five years after
her death in Seattle, Ms. Levertov's long time publisher has gathered poems
from her nineteen individual collections into one rich volume that resonates
with her graceful, brave, worshipful voice. Also included are a preface by
her friend and colleague Robert Creeley and an afterword by her literary
executor, Robert A. Lacey.
Poetry Comics: An Annotated Anthology_ and _Poetry Comics: A Literary
Postcard Book by Dave Morice ($16.95 and $9.95 respectively, Teachers &
Writers) Hurrah! They're back! Many of you have heard us describe with
glee Mr. Morice's comic-book rendering of the warhorses of poetry
(frustratingly out of print for years). Now at last we have a book to put
in your hands. Far from demeaning or belittling the poems, Mr. Morice's
drawings refresh and enliven them. And what a treat to have them in
postcard format, too. (Is it too early to say the words "stocking stuffer"?
So Ask: Essays, Conversations, and Interviews by Philip Levine ($15.95
University of Michigan Press) Michigan's impressive Poets on Poetry series
adds another volume from Mr. Levine. He is as present here as he is in his
poetry, and as intense, engaged, and opinionated. He writes (or speaks -
part of the book consists of conversations with other writers) with passion
of poems, poets, teachers, and family. The press has also brought back into
print his memoir, _The Bread of Time: Toward an Autobiography_ ($18.95).
Blind Huber by Nick Flynn ($14 Graywolf) This intense, almost eerie book
takes as its subject bees, beehives, and two men in 18th century France who
discovered much of what we now know about the apiarian world. Francois
Huber, blinded in childhood, and his assistant, Burnens, spent 50 years
studying bees, and Mr. Flynn speaks not only in their voices but in the
voices of the bees themselves. Stanley Kunitz described this collection as
"a work of the creative imagination unlike any other."
Divertimento: The Lost Works of Nelson Bentley ($12 Floating Bridge) Early
and late poems, and a short story, by the late, much beloved professor who
was a friend and mentor to likely thousands. This book also contains many of
his "Bentleyisms," pithy statements about poetry and writing for which he
was locally famous. An example: Art is reality intensified; it's not reality
all mashed up.
Good Poems, Selected and Introduced by Garrison Keillor ($25.95 Viking)
Okay, Thanksgiving hasn't come yet, but we saw a Santa doll downtown last
week, so here goes.. This collection of poems from Mr. Keillor's nightly
public radio spot, The Writer's Almanac, has gift written all over it. Your
aunt and/or uncle maybe? Niece or nephew? Spouse? Yourself? The poets range
from Shakespeare and Dickinson to Berryman and Oliver, with Bukowski along
for the ride. Brief biographies of the writers close out this 476-page tome.
Mr. Keillor being a radio person, it should come as no surprise that compact
disc ($26.95) and cassette ($24.95) sets of these poems are also available,
read by the poets in many cases, as well as by Mr. Keillor.
Nine Horses by Billy Collins ($21.95 Random House) We said it was coming
in our last mailer, and here it is: a collection of new poems by the wildly
popular Poet Laureate of the United States. Mr. Collins's casual, comic tone
is still with him, but an awareness of mortality adds a new depth and
shading to his work. Mr. Collins will be reading on Bainbridge Island on
December 7, at 3:00, and we have the $10 tickets available.