Core Samples from the World

Overview

A gorgeous, wide-ranging volume of poetry and essays by Forrest Gander, studded with the work of three great photographers.
Forrest Gander’s Core Samples from the World is a magnificent compendium of poetry, photography, and essay (a form of Japanese haibun). Collaborating with three acclaimed photographers, Gander explores tensions between the familiar and foreign. His eloquent new work voices an ethical concern for others, exploring empathic relations in which the world itself...

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Overview

A gorgeous, wide-ranging volume of poetry and essays by Forrest Gander, studded with the work of three great photographers.
Forrest Gander’s Core Samples from the World is a magnificent compendium of poetry, photography, and essay (a form of Japanese haibun). Collaborating with three acclaimed photographers, Gander explores tensions between the familiar and foreign. His eloquent new work voices an ethical concern for others, exploring empathic relations in which the world itself is fundamental. Taking us around the globe to China, Mexico, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Chile, Core Samples shows how Gander’s “sharp sense of place has made him the most earthly of our avant-garde, the best geographer of fleshly sites since Olson” (Donald Revell, The Colorado Review).

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Gander is an experimental poet in the most literal sense of the word, in that each of his books attempts things that haven't been tried before, either by him or others. In this eighth collection, four sequences of poems respond to pictures by three photographers—Raymond Meeks, Graciela Iturbide, and Lucas Foglia—making of the images metaphors for people and places that are easy to see but difficult to penetrate. The poems don't describe the pictures so much as work in chorus with them; in a poem on whose facing page is a Meeks photo of a shirtless, dust-covered boy carrying a basket, Gander writes: "I cannot be discarded, his eyes say," which is as much a response to the picture as it is a challenge to the visitor to take the unfamiliar place on its own terms. Concluding each section is a piece of jumpy prose, a kind of lyric essay, narrating one of four journeys—to Xinjiang, Mexico, Bosnia-Herzegovina. and Chile—all of which serve to illustrate that "Behind everything/ the foreigner sees, something he doesn't/ know how to look for." In these pieces, Gander gets as close as one can to the sensations of being an outsider straining toward empathy: "I wanted to borrow eyes/ from another language," he writes. "I was looking for the words to come." (May)
Booklist
Wry and glimmering. Gander's border crossings and core samples illuminate places that grant revelations bemusing and profound.”— Donna Seaman
Washington Independent Book Review
Gander pays attention to nuance. He sees collaborations between the world and self as ethical questions.”— Grace Cavalieri
Boston Review
“In Core Samples Gander burrows into the particularities of disparate places and cultures in order to sound the differences between them. His work moves across forms and modes, reminding us that writing is an action, a process of creation, itself a form of traveling.”
Critical Mass
Gander has always been an innovative poet, and one deeply concerned with the events, and languages, beyond America’s borders. In this, certainly his most accessible, and possibly his most powerful, book, he brings the world’s frightening and beautiful strangeness far beyond the edge of the page.

”— Craig Morgan Teicher

The Washington Post

Each section opens with a complex, disorienting poem that re-creates the traveler’s experience of being in a place where things don’t quite make sense. Then Gander shares stories of things he has seen or heard of. He records his observations as he travels with other writers and exchanges ideas about poetry’s ability to transcend borders. The reader is constantly surprised by what comes next — such as a side trip to Utopia, Va. — and begins to crave the interruptions, which add freshness and energy to the work

Donna Seaman - Booklist
“Wry and glimmering. Gander's border crossings and core samples illuminate places that grant revelations bemusing and profound.”
Grace Cavalieri - Washington Independent Book Review
“Gander pays attention to nuance. He sees collaborations between the world and self as ethical questions.”
Craig Morgan Teicher - Critical Mass

Gander has always been an innovative poet, and one deeply concerned with the events, and languages, beyond America’s borders. In this, certainly his most accessible, and possibly his most powerful, book, he brings the world’s frightening and beautiful strangeness far beyond the edge of the page.

Library Journal
A foreigner with poetry as his passport, Pushcart/Whiting award winner Gander (Eye Against Eye) takes "core samples" of the cultures he finds on journeys to China, Mexico, Chile, and Bosnia and Herzegovina and presents them in a blend of poetry, haibun (a Japanese form of essay-poem), and photography (by a trio of others). "Did you know Bosnia is the only country without a McDonald's?" a new friend in Sarajevo asks him; while in San Luis Potosí, another man points out Julieta, owner of "the most famous legs in Mexico," since they were caught on video when tossed into the air by a renegade bull. In Beijing, Gander marvels at what "appears to be a casino boat on the lake," ornate and beautiful, "carved from ocherous marble." But not all is easygoing: "At dinner, the Santiago poet averts her face from the gringo…. A synecdoche, he is taken for his government…. With suspicion at the threshold of dialogue, there is always a word blocking the first word." VERDICT This impressive compendium takes us to corners of the world well worth seeing, particularly through Gander's eyes. Recommended for all readers of contemporary poetry.—Louis McKee, Painted Bride Arts Ctr., Philadelphia
Elizabeth Lund
The reader is constantly surprised by what comes next…[Core Samples from the World] delivers on its promise.
—The Washington Post
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811218870
  • Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 6/8/2011
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 471,289
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Forrest Gander grew up in Virginia and has degrees in geology and English literature. His recent books include the novel As a Friend andthe translation Firefly Under the Tongue: Selected Poems of Coral Bracho (PEN
Translation Prize Finalist), both from New Directions. A United States
Artists Rockefeller Fellow, Gander is recipient of fellowships from the NEA,
the Guggenheim, Howard, and Whiting foundations. He is the Adele Kellenberg
Seaver Professor of Literary Arts and Comparative Literature at Brown
University.

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