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Lawrence Booth's Book of Visions
     

Lawrence Booth's Book of Visions

by Maurice Manning, W. S. Merwin (Foreword by)
 

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This year’s winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition is Maurice Manning’s Lawrence Booth’s Book of Visions. These compelling poems take us on a wild ride through the life of a man child in the rural South. Presenting a cast of allegorical and symbolic, yet very real, characters, the poems have “authority, daring, [and]

Overview


This year’s winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition is Maurice Manning’s Lawrence Booth’s Book of Visions. These compelling poems take us on a wild ride through the life of a man child in the rural South. Presenting a cast of allegorical and symbolic, yet very real, characters, the poems have “authority, daring, [and] a language of color and sure movement,” says series judge W.S. Merwin.

From Seven Chimeras

The way Booth makes a love story: same as a regular story, except under one rock is a trapdoor that leads to a room full of belly buttons;  each must be pushed, one is a landmine. The way Booth makes hope: thirty-seven acres, Black Damon, Red Dog. Construct a pillar of fire in the Great Field and let it become unquenchable. The way Booth ends the Jack-in-the-Box charade: shoot the weasel in the neck and toss it to the buzzards. The way Booth thinks of salvation: God holding a broken abacus, colored beads falling away.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Lawrence Booth is a vigorous, trash-talking, frustrating and entirely made-up young man from a rural South that's equal parts carnivorous nightmare, Freudian pastoral and deep-fried family romance. Manning, who hails from Kentucky, becomes the latest in the venerable Yale Younger Poets series (now judged by W.S. Merwin) with these sometimes over-the-top, often surprisingly difficult poems about Lawrence's boyhood and youth in a "sweet tobacco, cornmeal, archetypal world." Sonnets, catalogues, shaped poems and non sequitur-filled rambles consider Booth's "gradeschool days," his vivid nights, his television-viewing habits, his explorations on foot, his difficult sister and his comic attacks on his region's heritage. Manning also depicts Lawrence's companions the vicious, overwhelming father Mad Daddy; Red Dog, a faithful dog; Missionary Woman, a love interest; God; the devil; and Black Damon, a young African-American who speaks seven of his own poems (called "Dreadful Chapter One," "Dreadful Chapter Two," and so on) in a deliberately outrageous minstrel dialect ("Red Dog barkie echo plum back to the house"). Manning's mesh of voices, fears and incidents (not to mention his blackface moments) recalls John Berryman's Dream Songs, and Merwin notes the similarities in a perceptive foreword. Yet Manning's adventurously uneven verses bring him close to ambitious Southerners, from Robert Penn Warren to Frank Stanford; his often antirealist forms seek to capture a South many people will find incredible. (Aug.) Forecast: Merwin's third pick for Yale since becoming its judge is also his second Southern-set, book-length sequence in a row, following last year's Ultima Thule by Davis McCombs. Yale'sprestigious first-book series reached its peak in the '50s, when then-judge W.H. Auden picked (among others) Ashbery, Hollander, Rich and Merwin himself. But with the right regional and national publicity, this uneven volume could do well. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300089981
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
07/28/2001
Series:
Yale Series of Younger Poets
Pages:
96
Product dimensions:
6.25(w) x 7.50(h) x (d)

Read an Excerpt

From "Seven Chimeras":

The way Booth makes a love story:
same as a regular story, except
under one rock is a trapdoor that leads
to a room full of belly buttons;
each must be pushed, one is a landmine.

The way Booth makes hope:
thirty-seven acres, Black Damon,
Red Dog. Construct a pillar of fire
in the Great Field and let it become
unquenchable.

The way Booth ends the Jack-in-the-Box charade:
shoot the weasel in the neck
and toss it to the buzzards.

The way Booth thinks of salvation:
God holding a broken abacus,
colored beads falling away.

Meet the Author

Maurice Manning is a native of Danville, Kentucky. He holds degrees from Earlham College, the University of Kentucky, and the University of Alabama, where he received his MFA in 1999. He has held a writing fellowship to The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. He currently teaches English at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana.

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