Collected Poems

Collected Poems

by Paul Auster
     
 

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Paul Auster's penetrating and charged verse resembles little else in recent American poetry. This collection of Auster's poetry, translations, and composition notes from early in his career do much to reinforce the idea that Paul Auster is, indeed, a unique and masterful figure in the literary world.

Taut, densely lyrical, and everywhere informed by a powerful and

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Overview

Paul Auster's penetrating and charged verse resembles little else in recent American poetry. This collection of Auster's poetry, translations, and composition notes from early in his career do much to reinforce the idea that Paul Auster is, indeed, a unique and masterful figure in the literary world.

Taut, densely lyrical, and everywhere informed by a powerful and subtle music, this selection of writings begins with the compact verse fragments of Spokes (written when Auster was in his early twenties) and Unearth, continues on through the more ample meditations of Wall Writing, Disappearances, Effigies, Fragments From the Cold, Facing the Music, and White Spaces, then moves further back in time to include Auster's revealing translations of many of the French poets who influenced his own writing, as well as the provocative and previously unpublished “Notes From A Composition Book” (1967). An introduction by Norman Finkelstein connects biographical elements to a consideration of the work, and takes in Auster's early literary and philosophical influences.

Powerful, haunting, and precise, this view from the past to the present will appeal to those unfamiliar with this aspect of Auster's work, as well as those already acquainted with his poetry.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
Despite all the red flags it raises -- a famous novelist publishing a book of poems, the most recent of which are nearly 25 years old -- this is not the work of a dabbler. — Eric McHenry
Publishers Weekly
Before embarking as a novelist, young Paul Auster (City of Glass) published poetry in a variety of small journals and magazines. This handy volume collects all his verse from the late 1960s through 1980. It's poetry very much of its period, oriented toward French mid-century thought and modes. A pale, defeated imagism presides, as visions of whiteness and woundedness unspool from line to line. Things vanish out of the world (a key section is called "Disappearances") and hands clench onto the empty space where they've been. Many of the poems treat the paradoxes of perception and epistemology: "He is alive, and therefore he is nothing/ but what drowns in the fathomless hole/ of his eye,// and what he sees/ is all that he is not." The scholar Norman Finkelstein provides an illuminating introduction, tracing connections between allusions in the poetry and actual events in the young Auster's life, such as the collapse of his parents' marriage and his attendance at riot-torn late '60s Columbia University. To add heft to the slim book, a number of Auster's translations from the French are included, mostly of the surrealist communist poets of a previous era (Breton, Tzara, Eluard) who attained a new popularity when the events of May `68 made them, literally, poster boys for the New Left in Paris. As a translator, Auster is always effective when he employs a small vocabulary, and his work on Tzara is genuinely impressive: "I know I carry the song in me and I am not afraid/ I carry death and if I die it is death." Otherwise Collected Poems remains a curiosity, a tantalizing look at the work of a poet whose breakthrough led him away from line breaks and into the actions of prose. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
As Norman Finkelstein notes in his quick-witted introduction to this collection, Auster has fans, not merely readers. While Auster is widely studied in academia, he has attracted a legion of devoted readers who eagerly await the release of each novel (his 11th, Oracle Night, was just published in December; for a review, see LJ 12/03). But are Auster fans equally familiar with the poetry that he has written-and translated-for decades? If not, this compendium of free verse, selected from previously published collections (e.g., Spokes and Disappearances), is a good starting point to study his fiction since it mostly deals with its prevalent theme: the mysterious ways in which things happen by chance, making us question the real power of fate and whether it ever has anything to do with what appears to be accidental. Truth-seeking and meditative ("so many words/ lost in the wide world/ within me, and thereby to have known/ that in spite of myself/ I am here"), Auster's stubbornly self-contained poems are really "photographic" versions of his novels, or as Auster himself once said, they are "like taking still photographs, whereas prose is like filming with a movie camera." Definitely a solid purchase.-Mirela Roncevic, "Library Journal" Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781585674046
Publisher:
Overlook
Publication date:
01/05/2004
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
6.16(w) x 9.06(h) x 0.87(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Paul Auster is the bestselling author of The New York Trilogy and many other critically acclaimed novels. He was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize in 2006. His work has been translated into more than forty languages. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Brooklyn, New York
Date of Birth:
February 3, 1947
Place of Birth:
Newark, New Jersey
Education:
B.A., M.A., Columbia University, 1970

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