Poetry Jorie Graham Overlord: Poems

ISBN 13: 9780060745653

Overlord: Poems

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9780060745653: Overlord: Poems

Book by Graham, Jorie

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From Publishers Weekly:

The title for Graham's best book in at least a decade introduces several obsessions at once: it's the code name for American plans on D-Day, a sign for the absence - or perhaps presence - of an omnipotent God, and a term for arrogant nations (the U.S. among them) who have forgotten, or never learned, the lessons of the Greatest Generation. Graham, who won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for The Dream of the Unified Field, pursues familiar metaphysical questions through the long lines and longer sentences of meditations such as "Upon Emergence": "Have I that to which to devote my/ self? Have I devotion?"; a series of poems with the title "Praying" take the question to its ends, often ending up angry, guilty or shocked. One anecdotal poem depicts her trying and failing to feed a homeless man; a more abstract effort imagines "a horrible labyrinth, this/ history of ours. No/ opening." Most striking of all are works closely tied to D-Day, to Normandy (where Graham now spends part of each year) and to servicemen's own testimony, which casts contemporary fears into ironic relief: "Are you at war or at peace," Graham asks, "or are war and peace/ playing their little game over your dead body?" The vague, notebook-like qualities of Graham's last few efforts baffled some admirers, who will likely, and rightly, see these clear and powerful poems as a return to form. (Mar. 2)
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From Booklist:

*Starred Review* In her previous books, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Dream of the Unified Field (1995), Graham explores the divide between perception and reality. In her stunning ninth collection, she is still an agile metaphysician, but her poetic self now kneels with her face in her hands, humbled by illness, war, and the ravaged earth. Forthright, compassionate, and ironic, Graham has crafted poems of lyrical steeliness and cauterizing beauty. The book's title refers to "Operation Overlord," the Allied offensive that culminated in the landing on Normandy's Omaha Beach, and that, for Graham, inspired exquisite and devastating tributes to soldiers. She then links the past to the grim post-9/11 present, where one god is pitted against another, a taxicab ride reveals a tangle of cultural conflicts and personal tragedies, and environmental decimation looms. Graham writes with breathtaking precision about the helplessness one feels in the face of suffering, but because "we cannot ask another to live / without hope," and because the poet's "great desire to praise" remains undaunted, Graham takes up the pen not only to eulogize but also to express "gratitude for the trees / and the birds they house." Donna Seaman
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