Faster Than Light: New and Selected Poems, 1996-2011

Overview

Conjuring numerous voices and characters across oceans and centuries, Faster Than Light explores widely disparate experiences through the lens of traditional poetic forms. This volume contains a selection of Marilyn Nelson's new and uncollected poems as well as work from each of her lyric histories of eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century African American individuals and communities.

Poems include the stories of historical figures like Emmett Till, the ...

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Faster Than Light: New and Selected Poems, 1996-2011

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Overview

Conjuring numerous voices and characters across oceans and centuries, Faster Than Light explores widely disparate experiences through the lens of traditional poetic forms. This volume contains a selection of Marilyn Nelson's new and uncollected poems as well as work from each of her lyric histories of eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century African American individuals and communities.

Poems include the stories of historical figures like Emmett Till, the fourteen-year-old boy lynched in 1955, and the inhabitants of Seneca Village, an African American community razed in 1857 for the creation of Central Park. "Bivouac in a Storm" tells the story of a group of young soldiers, later known as the Tuskegee Airmen, as they trained near Biloxi, Mississippi, "marching in summer heat / thick as blackstrap molasses, under trees / haunted by whippings." Later pieces range from the poet's travels in Africa, Europe, and Polynesia, to poems written in collaboration with Father Jacques de Foiard Brown, a former Benedictine monk and the subject of Nelson's playful fictional fantasy sequence, "Adventure-Monk!" Both personal and historical, these poems remain grounded in everyday details but reach toward spiritual and moral truths.

LSU Press

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Praise for Marilyn Nelson

"Only Marilyn Nelson can take one of the most hideous events of the twentieth century and make of it something glorious.... It's a towering achievement, one whose power and anger and love will make breath catch in the throat and bring tears to the eyes." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"[Nelson's] poems are simple, sincere, and sometimes so beautiful they seem not works of artifice, but honest statements of pure, natural truths." -- School Library Journal

"A powerful achievement." -- Booklist (starred review)

"Ambitions in conception and meticulous in execution. Marilyn Nelson is a versatile poet, equally at home in free-verse monologues, narrative poems, and lyrics strictly formal or free-flowing." -- Betty Adcock, The Southern Review

"The mostly quiet music of these poems is so lovely, so compellingly lovely, that I could not help but read them aloud -- to myself, in a room in which I might have been alone except that the poems' characters, spoken, speaking, became presences there, assuming a reality that only the best poetry achieves. This is a beautiful book." -- Kelly Cherry, The Hollins Critic

LSU Press

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807147344
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
  • Publication date: 11/12/2012
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 525,899
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Marilyn Nelson is the author of numerous books, including The Cachoeira Tales and Other Poems, The Fields of Praise, and Magnificat. Her honors include three National Book Award Finalist medals, the Frost Medal, the Poets' Prize, and the Boston Globe/Hornbook Award. Nelson is an emeritus professor at the University of Connecticut, the former poet laureate of Connecticut, and founder and director of Soul Mountain Retreat.

LSU Press

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Table of Contents

I Lyric Histories

A Wreath for Emmett Till 3

From The Freedom Business

Witness 10

Pestilence 11

A Voyage by Sea 12

Keeper of the Keys 13

Fat on the Fire 15

Meg 16

Cows in the Shade 17

Sap Rising 18

Farm Garden 19

The Freedom Business 20

From Fortune's Bones: The Manumission Requiem

On Abrigador Hill 21

Dinah's Lament 23

Not My Bones 24

From Seneca Village

Sky-Land 26

Conductor 28

The Cotillion 29

Address 30

Thompson and Seaman Vows, African Union Church 31

Words and Whispers 32

Little Box 34

Miracle in the Collection Plate 35

Sisters of Charity 37

Uncle Epiphany 38

From Miss Crandall's School for Young Ladies & Little Misses of Color

The Book 39

Family 40

The Tao of the Trial 41

Miss Ann Eliza Hammond 42

Etymology 43

Albert Hinkley 44

Worth 45

From Carver: A Life in Poems

Watkins Laundry and Apothecary 46

Old Settlers' Reunion 48

Four a.m. in the Woods 49

Cafeteria Food 50

Called 51

My People 52

Chemistry 101 53

From an Alabama Farmer 54

Bedside Reading 55

Poultry Husbandry 57

1905 59

Veil-Raisers 61

How a Dream Dies 62

The Dimensions of the Milky Way 64

Ruellia Noctiflora 65

Goliath 67

House Ways and Means 68

"God's Little Workshop" 69

Eureka 71

Mineralogy 72

Last Talk with Jim Hardwick 74

Moton Field 75

From Sweethearts of Rhythm

Bugle Call Rag 76

Chattanooga Choo-Choo 77

Jump, Jump, Jump 78

She's Crazy with the Heat 79

Red-Hot Mama 80

That Man of Mine 81

Improvisation, 1948 82

Drum Solo, 1950 83

The Song Is You 84

II Other Selected Poems

From The Cachoeira Tales and Other Poems

Faster Than Light 87

Cachoeira Tales 92

General Prologue 92

C.I.A. 97

Harmonia and Moreen 97

Baixa Mall 99

Olodum 105

A Igreja do Nossa Senhor do Bonfim 109

Triolets for Triolet 113

III New and Uncollected Poems

Millie-Christine 119

A Small Good News 126

Little Dialogue with the Muse 127

First Alzheimer's Sonnet 128

Second Alzheimer's Sonnet 129

The Truceless Wars 130

Live Jazz, Franklin Park Zoo 131

To the Confederate Dead 132

Bivouac in a Storm 135

Six-Minute Dogfight 137

Written in Clouds 138

Honor Guard 139

Eternal Optimist 140

Psalm for Another People 141

Nine Times Nine, on Awe 142

In the Waiting Room 145

The Mohembo Road 148

For the Feast of Corpus Christi 152

How to Be Human Now 154

The Contemplative Life 154

The Language of the Absolute 155

Stone Adze 156

The Risk Unto Death 157

Truth and Beauty 157

La Gare Central 157

Where Humanity Begins 157

Nothing Stranger 158

From "Adventure-Monk!" 159

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