Crave Radiance: New and Selected Poems 1990-2010

Crave Radiance: New and Selected Poems 1990-2010

by Elizabeth Alexander
     
 

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The first career retrospective by the award-winning poet Elizabeth Alexander, including her poem delivered at Barack Obama's presidential inauguration

We crave radiance in this austere world,
light in the spiritual darkness.
Learning is the one perfect religion,
its path correct, narrow, certain, straight.
—from “Allegiance&

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Overview

The first career retrospective by the award-winning poet Elizabeth Alexander, including her poem delivered at Barack Obama's presidential inauguration

We crave radiance in this austere world,
light in the spiritual darkness.
Learning is the one perfect religion,
its path correct, narrow, certain, straight.
—from “Allegiance”


Over twenty years, Elizabeth Alexander has become one of America’s most exciting and important poets, and her selection as the inaugural poet by President Obama confirmed her place as one of the indispensable voices of our time. Crave Radiance: New and Selected Poems 1990–2010 gathers twenty pages of new poetry, along with generous selections from her previous work. The result is the definitive volume to date by this American master.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Alexander is now widely known as the poet who read her "Praise Song for the Day" at President Obama's inauguration, but as this first retrospective volume attests, that poem was preceded by a substantial and varied body of work composed over the past 20 years. Alexander's two primary themes, which are interwoven into almost all of her poems, are the traumas of African-American history and the microcosm of the family, where those traumas show some of their effects and where their healing begins. Early poems look for heroes among artists and ancestors, as well as political figures, as in "A Poem for Nelson Mandela": "On a rooftop of a prison/ in South Africa Nelson Mandela/ tends garden and has a birthday/ as my Jamaican grandfather in Harlem... / raises tomatoes." In later poems, Alexander delves into black pop culture: "Was the Black Nation whispering to me/ from the Jet magazines stacked on the floor," she asks in "Tending." The book's most powerful sequence is a long series of poems recounting the 1839 rebellion on the slave ship Amistad, whose rebels were sequestered in New Haven (where Alexander lives and teaches), sparking a controversial trial. A selection of new poems, including "Praise Song," closes this volume, which will cement Alexander's status as much more than the inaugural poet. (Oct.)
Library Journal
When President Obama chose Alexander to participate in his inauguration, he shone a well-deserved light on her original, insightful, powerful poems. This collection offers 20 new pieces, including her inaugural poem, "Praise Song for the Day," along with generous selections from her previous work (e.g., American Sublime). The result is an inspiring volume that will assert and assure Alexander's proper place among the important poets of our age. Offering exciting and unexpected appropriations of history, pop culture, biography, and even dreams—in fact, especiallydreams—her lyrical narratives and pensive meditations open doors to rooms most readers have never seen, let alone entered. As she shows us around, the world we think we know is rolled about like the colorful chips at the end of a kaleidoscope. "In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air,/ any thing can be made, any sentence begun./ On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,/ praise song for walking forward in that light." VERDICT Highly recommended for all readers of contemporary poetry, especially those interested in African American literature.—Louis McKee, Painted Bride Arts Ctr., Philadelphia

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781555975685
Publisher:
Graywolf Press
Publication date:
09/28/2010
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

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