No Surrender

Overview

A searing new collection from a master of the poetic monologue.
A disillusioned Irish nun moves to America, meets Elvis, and rediscovers her faith. An amputee goes on a strange journey during a hurricane. Each of the speakers in Ai's daring new collection has a uniquely American story to tell, and each is ...

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New York 2010 Hardcover First edition NEW 137pp. [21.5 cm] New. Hardcover. In No Surrender, her final collection, Ai returns again to the form of the dramatic monologue for ... which she is best known. Haunting, flinty, and full of characteristic dark humor, these poems display the "raw power, jagged edges and unfliching examination of violence and despair" (New York Times) that Ai has been praised for. A disillusioned Irish nun moves to America, meets Elvis, and rediscovers her faith. An ampute goes on a strange journey during a hurricane. Each of the speakers in this book has a uniquely American story to tell, one that is told with bravery and ambition and that displays the indomitability of the human spirit in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Read more Show Less

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No Surrender: Poems

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Overview

A searing new collection from a master of the poetic monologue.
A disillusioned Irish nun moves to America, meets Elvis, and rediscovers her faith. An amputee goes on a strange journey during a hurricane. Each of the speakers in Ai's daring new collection has a uniquely American story to tell, and each is told with the poet's characteristic dark humor and ambition.’
From "Brotherhood" Now we're middle aged,
Bearing the curse, not the luck of the Irish,
On our shoulders like crosses.
We know that loss is just the outcome of living,
The dross that's left after you turn gold back into iron
And end up in Rio with a mulatta, who's got a habit,
But he doesn't care. He's flying blind
And I am right behind him.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A master of the dramatic monologue in her last book, Ai, who died in March 2010, dives into the minds and memories of a diverse array of characters, both fictional and non. The characters include Elizabeth Custer, the outspoken wife of the general in the Civil War; a young man who is raped by his roommate after a graduation celebration turns to debauchery; Manesh, a scholar of philosophy from New Delhi who is nearly suffocating in a box aboard ship, smuggling himself to America. Despite their differences, these characters all channel Ai's own voice and concerns. In "Fatherhood," a part-Irish woman fantasizes about fitting in at an Irish street fair. "The Hunt" involves an interracial marriage with a prominent woman named Florence. Several of the poems explore the speakers' troubled relationship to others-mainly family: "We fathers, sons brothers, uncles, and husbands,/ Confused and Sputtering into our glasses, Paralyzed by what passes for living/ In the age of terror and misgiving." This book makes a powerful conclusion to an important poet's career.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal
Ai (1947–2010) established her reputation, with seven books in 35 years, by giving voice, through dramatic monologs, to the famous and infamous, the marginalized and alienated. With this posthumous collection, she ventures closer to home; one cannot help but sense similarities to her own biography among the occasionally outlandish embellishments. The people who speak these poems are odd, curious, and yet so strikingly familiar, so right. A disillusioned nun moves to America from Ireland, meets Elvis, and rediscovers her faith; a pregnant young woman searches her desert home for the rattlesnake that haunts her; a woman confronts her mother's self-destructive addiction. A double amputee named Ulysses goes on a remarkable journey through a hurricane, while a New York taxi driver tells us: "I was smuggled to America/ inside a ship's container." These are the words of common people, with unique American lives, American dreams, and, sadly, American nightmares. "I am part Southern/ Cheyenne as well as black, Irish, German and half/ Japanese," a speaker (reminiscent of Ai herself) recounts her ancestry, "which doesn't please him." VERDICT Ai has brought a new vitality to the long-forgotten monolog, reason enough for anyone interested in contemporary poetry to read this book. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/10.]—Louis McKee, Painted Bride Arts Ctr., Philadelphia
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393078862
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/27/2010
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Ai (1947-2010) is the author of eight books of poetry, including the National Book Award–winning Vice. In 2009 she was named a United States Artist Ford Fellow. She was a professor at Oklahoma State University.

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