When, in the first parts of this eighth collection, Greger (Western Art) translates and imitates Horace, the careful, deceptively conversational urbanity comes over completely into her wry and disillusioned stanzas. Greger excels not only when she writes about such perennial topics as political fear or resentment in love, but also when she addresses her "subtropical students" in Gainesville where she teaches, and when she writes a verse-letter to Jane Austen from modern-day Bath: "have you slipped in/ to the costume museums, where no one ever goes?" Greger rarely rejoices, though she can surely console; her pruned-back, autumnal sensibility and her balanced lines suit the scenes she portrays. When she turns to her own biography, though, or to her travels in France and the Netherlands, she can veer from the classics, landing too close to her American models, Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell, though Greger's eye is colder, her preferred tones bitterer. This might be Greger's best book. It might also be her most restrained-a restraint that suggests both a choice and a character trait: we know her best when she writes most about the lives of others, least about her own. (Oct.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Men, Women, and Ghostsby Debora Greger
New from Debora Greger—“a special poet in every sense” (Poetry)In her eighth book of poetry, Debora Greger travels not just the present but the past, looking for some strange place to call home. She takes a taxi to Stonehenge. She writes letters to Li Po and Tu Fu, Shakespeare and Jane Austen, always seeking out the beast that is man and the beast… See more details below
New from Debora Greger—“a special poet in every sense” (Poetry)In her eighth book of poetry, Debora Greger travels not just the present but the past, looking for some strange place to call home. She takes a taxi to Stonehenge. She writes letters to Li Po and Tu Fu, Shakespeare and Jane Austen, always seeking out the beast that is man and the beast that is woman. She explores both the remoteness of the past (those radioactive fifties that were her childhood), and the weight of it—or, better, the responsibility of it. These modern traveler’s tales—musing, insistent, marvelous—place one woman’s collection of pasts into a world inhabited by Horace, Chekhov, the bank vault of England, and the giant octopus of Puget Sound.
"Some poets, Horace says, spend their lives/ going over the same old ground: some suburb/ of love. A parking lot/ at the shopping mall of loss." Greger travels fresh ground, negotiating the territory between antiquity and the modern world, from Europe to the United States and beyond. Using language that sings to the ear and dances to the eye, Greger's poems shiver with image and sound. "We were too late to catch the moon,/ already hauled up from the swamp/ and hung up to dry. Moon melon,// new penny-I turned my back on it/ ... for I was spleenful and fifteen." Many of her poems are celebrations, homage to the likes of Horace, Keats, and Herodotus. In letters, she addresses Jane Austen, Shakespeare, and Li Po, asking the large questions as well as the small. Offering verse that is part history and part exploration, Greger writes like an archaeologist; readers can anticipate surprise with each turned phrase. Nothing escapes her careful considerations. On the death of a young poet, she says, "Not even those of you/ who are still poets can escape this thing.// Beyond the world, I pull the rope/ of the door tighter. I stuff my mouth/ with ferns and roots as if with meat." Highly recommended.
Meet the Author
Debora Greger is a poet and professor who has won grants and awards from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim foundation. Her work has appeared in American Poetry Review, The New Yorker, and Paris Review.
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