The Eternal City: Poems (Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets)

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9780691146096: The Eternal City: Poems (Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets)
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Chosen by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon to relaunch the prestigious Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets under his editorship, The Eternal City revives Princeton's tradition of publishing some of today’s best poetry.

With an epigraph from Freud comparing the mind to a landscape in which all that ever was still persists, The Eternal City offers eloquent testimony to the struggle to make sense of the present through conversation with the past. Questioning what it means to possess and to be possessed by objects and technologies, Kathleen Graber’s collection brings together the elevated and the quotidian to make neighbors of Marcus Aurelius, Klaus Kinski, Walter Benjamin, and Johnny Depp. Like Aeneas, who escapes Troy carrying his father on his back, the speaker of these intellectually and emotionally ambitious poems juggles the weight of private and public history as she is transformed from settled resident to pilgrim.
______

From The Eternal City:
WHAT I MEANT TO SAY
Kathleen Graber ?

In three weeks I will be gone. Already my suitcase stands
overloaded at the door. I’ve packed, unpacked, & repacked it,
making it tell me again & again what it couldn’t hold.
Some days it’s easy to see the signifi cant insignificance
of everything, but today I wept all morning over the swollen,
optimistic heart of my mother’s favorite newscaster,
which suddenly blew itself to stillness. I have tried for weeks
to predict the weather on the other side of the world: I don’t want
to be wet or overheated. I’ve taken out The Complete Shakespeare
to make room for a slicker. And I’ve changed my mind
& put it back. Soon no one will know what I mean when I speak.
Last month, after graduation, a student stopped me just outside
the University gates despite a downpour. He wanted to tell me
that he loved best James Schuyler’s poem for Auden.
So much to remember, he recited in the rain, as the shops
began to close their doors around us. I thought he would live
a long time. He did not. Then, a car loaded with his friends
pulled up honking & he hopped in. There was no chance to linger
& talk. Today I slipped into the bag between two shoes that book
which begins with a father digging--even though my father
was no farmer & planted ever only one myrtle late in his life
& sat in the yard all that summer watching it grow as he died,
a green tank of oxygen suspirating behind him. If the suitcase
were any larger, no one could lift it. I’m going away for a long time,
but it may not be forever. There are tragedies I haven’t read.
Kyle, bundle up. You’re right. It’s hard to say simply what is true.
For Kyle Booten ?

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About the Author:

Kathleen Graber teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her poems have appeared in the New Yorker and the American Poetry Review, among other publications, and her first collection, Correspondence, was published in 2006.

Review:

Winner of the 2012 Book Merit Award in the General Trade, Poetry Series, New York Book Show

Finalist for the 2010 National Book Award in Nonfiction

Kathleen Graber, Winner of a 2017 Arts and Letters Award in Literature, American Academy of Arts and Letters

Winner of the 2011 Literary Award for Poetry, Library of Virginia

Finalist for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle in Poetry

Finalist for the 2011 William Carlos Williams Award, Poetry Society of America

Graber is one of the most interesting, slippery and philosophical new poets to come along in a while. . . . [W]hat makes Graber's poems so fresh and wild are the associative slips that happen between the distant past and the urgent present. (Publishers Weekly)

[N]othing short of a revelation. Graber is a new poet that we should have always had but didn't until just now. Graber is the kind of poet who thinks out loud, though not in the tricky, needley way of John Ashbery, but like someone very smart and very well-read trying to get to the bottom of every troubling and exciting thought. She thinks about her day to day life, family and friends, their every day goings on, their deaths and big tragedies, and she thinks about big ideas--life, death, meaning--mostly in the same poem. She name-checks some of the big figures of Western thought--Marcus Aurelius and Walter Benjamin, for instance--but does so as if she were talking to or about friends. She manages to do a scholar's work in these poems without the alienating haughtiness of many scholars. And despite their learned-ness, these are poems anyone could love. . . . If you only read one book of poetry this year, that's not enough, but start with this one.---Craig Teicher, Publishers Weekly

Graber's book--this is her second--is one of the few to come out in 2010 that has joined the little clutch I have of poetry books I read and reread. It's an unusually wise and sturdy book for a poet whose career is so young. . . . Graber isn't a formal innovator, nor is her subject matter--family, love, friendship, death, and the great books of classical literature--new to poetry, but she is nonetheless an absolute original. . . . Which is not to say she is by any means a grandiose poet. She's more of a very smart friend. Her problems are common--how to get along with others, how to make everyday love last and/or hurt less, how to have fun in the midst of a typically difficult life--and her poems offer, if not solutions (for there really are no solutions, are there?), company, and really good reading.---Craig Morgan Teicher, National Book Critics Circle board member,

A really unusual, engaging second book. Graber writes philosophical, meditative poems in a diction that's strangely natural and conversational; one poem is occasioned by leaving her keys in the apartment complex laundry room and locking herself out, another by rereading Walter Benjamin. The effect is of eavesdropping on the neurotic yet rigorous mind of an admired friend--the kind of unpretentious person who genuinely turns to books for solace. Her long-lined work grapples with loss, illness, and transience, allowing itself to be highly personal while never losing sight of the larger context of loss: the human condition. It's serious poetry as inviting as an intimate conversation. See for yourself.---Meghan O'Rourke, NPR

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9780691146102: The Eternal City: Poems (Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets)

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