Gilgamesh: A Verse Play / Edition 1

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Overview

Bringing new life to the world's oldest story, Yusef Komunyakaa and Chad Gracia have refashioned a classic Sumerian legend into a compelling verse play. In this ageless saga, Gilgamesh of Uruk, part god and part man, embarks on an other-worldly quest in search of immortality. This new version elaborates on the key themes of the story and weaves them into a vibrant and emotional new form. Wesleyan's edition of Gilgamesh is like no other and will take its place among the most powerful and engaging interpretations of this timeless tale.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Gritty, laconic, well-known poet Komunyakaa (who won a Pulitzer for 1993's Neon Vernacular) teams up with playwright and dramaturge Garcia for a compelling, short, stage-ready adaptation of the Sumerian epic that may be the oldest story in the world. In the play, as in its ancient source, the ill-content King Gilgamesh develops a deep passion for Enkidu, a wild man who grew up among beasts. The king and the wild man fight together against the spectral forest-monster Humbaba; they win, but the resulting curse kills Enkidu, and the distraught king must travel to the ends of the Earth for the magic flower that might revive his friend. Komunyakaa's short lines and taciturn bearing fit the gravity of the warriors' tragedy, and he strikes the right balance between contemporary directness and antique grace. Gilgamesh, once embarked on his quest for the flower, demands of one among its many guardians: "Open the gate/ so I may confront the father of Grief." If Komunyakaa's Sumerians lack the verbal polish and the philosophical ambition of, say, fellow poet Seamus Heaney's Greeks (found in his translation of Sophocles), this is a dramatic work of sinewy vitality, with a real hero who moves and breathes on the stage. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In spare, stark language, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Komunyakaa and dramatist Gracia create a 21st-century version of the ancient Middle Eastern tale Gilgamesh. Repetition, occasionally almost to the point of chanting, moves the story forward. "And I sit here-/ And I sit here-/ And I sit here/ in my immense aloneness," Gilgamesh says next to the corpse of Enkidu, his rival. The writers also successfully imbue objects with power as in these words spoken by Ninsun: "The ax is a man./ A tool. A weapon./ A friend." The stage directions match the spareness and directness of the text's language and show Gracia's experience as a theatrical producer and writer of six other verse plays. A character list at the beginning would have been a useful addition. A few times the language lacks freshness as in the line "my god-given strength/ was sapped." However, on the whole, these two writers have brought vigorous life to this ancient tale. Recommended for most collections.-Doris Lynch, Monroe Cty. P.L., Bloomington, IN Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"In spare, stark language, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Komunyakaa and dramatist Gracia create a 21st-century version of the ancient Middle Eastern tale Gilgamesh... (T)hese two writers have brought vigorous life to this ancient tale. Recommended for most collections."—Library Journal

“Gritty, laconic, well-known poet Komunyakaa (who won a Pulitzer for 1993's Neon Vernacular) teams up with playwright and dramaturge Gracia for a compelling, short, stage-ready adaptation of the Sumerian epic that may be the oldest story in the world... Komunyakaa's short lines and taciturn bearing fit the gravity of the warriors' tragedy, and he strikes the right balance between contemporary directness and antique grace. Gilgamesh, once embarked on his quest for the flower, demands of one among its many guardians: 'Open the gate/ so I may confront the father of Grief.' If Komunyakaa's Sumerians lack the verbal polish and the philosophical ambition of, say, fellow poet Seamus Heaney's Greeks (found in his translation of Sophocles), this is a dramatic work of sinewy vitality, with a real hero who moves and breathes on the stage.”—Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780819568243
  • Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
  • Publication date: 10/16/2006
  • Series: Wesleyan Poetry Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 112
  • Product dimensions: 5.94 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Meet the Author

YUSEF KOMUNYAKAA is a professor in the creative writing department at New York University. He has won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and been awarded the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize.

CHAD GRACIA is a theater producer, dramaturge, and consultant specializing in the geopolitics of the Middle East. He has edited six verse plays and writes extensively on theater.

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Table of Contents

Collaborating with Komunyakaa: The Creation of Gilgamesh – Chad Gracia
Acknowledgments
GILGAMESH
Prelude
Act I
Act II

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