Lawrence Booth's Book of Visions

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.
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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.
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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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300089981
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2001
  • Series: Yale Series of Younger Poets
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 770,758
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 7.44 (h) x 0.26 (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.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Acknowledgments
Bellwether 3
Dramatics Personae 5
Wave 7
The Hobos 8
Dreadful Chapter One 9
Envoy 10
Octagon 12
Ace 13
Prisoner of Conscience 14
Leather-Stocking 16
Dreadful Chapter Two 17
Proof 18
Shady Grove 20
A Prayer Against Forgetting Boys 21
Seventeen 23
Progress Report 25
Ontology 27
Pontiac 28
Dreadful Chapter Three 29
Strait 30
Quantum Cowboy 31
Beck 32
Analog 33
Siding 34
A Condensed History of Beauty 36
Pegasus 41
Antimatter 42
Dreadful Chapter Four 43
Allegory 44
Affirmation 46
Future Booth 47
Raptor 48
Dreadful Chapter Five 49
Seven Chimeras 50
Act V, scene iv 52
Calumet 54
Complaint 55
Dreadful Chapter Six 57
Like a Tree 58
Exodusman 61
Missive 62
Canis Apologetica 64
Dreadful Chapter Seven 65
The Bootleggers 66
Feud 67
Schism 68
Look Away 69
Airlift, 1971 70
Braves 71
Eclipse 72
Raid 73
Reserve 76
Dovetail 77
A Dream of Ash and Soot 79
Pilgrims 80
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