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Northerners
     

Northerners

by Seth Abramson
 
In James Armstrong's pellucid poetry the drifting of autumn leaves shares space with the baroque architecture of nineteenth century England. A woman peruses a book of pharmaceuticals in a coffee shop looking for hints of happiness. And a naked woman wearing hip boots stares out of the 1940s in a photograph hung in a Michigan bar. Twilight is always moving the shadows

Overview

In James Armstrong's pellucid poetry the drifting of autumn leaves shares space with the baroque architecture of nineteenth century England. A woman peruses a book of pharmaceuticals in a coffee shop looking for hints of happiness. And a naked woman wearing hip boots stares out of the 1940s in a photograph hung in a Michigan bar. Twilight is always moving the shadows of our urban lives out toward the country, our inherited past, where a deer or a heron waits like an angel glimpsed through the fog. Armstrong's poems elucidate the mystery and beauty of borders– temporal and historical, as well as geographical– while his pastoral sensibility floods our senses with images of the natural world, seemingly stopping time, edifying us, and helping us–for a few moments anyway–to transcend our enervated contemporary lives. Reading this book is like diving into a deep lake. It cleanses the soul.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This book will get a lot of well-deserved attention. A former public defender in New Hampshire and now a graduate student in Wisconsin, Abramson has picked up a very large following as a blogger and commentator, covering poetry, politics, and higher education, and generating a controversial, U.S. News–style ranking of graduate programs in writing. After all that, what's left for the poetry? Plenty: serious and ambitious, full of torqued proverbs and hard-to-follow advice, Abramson's own work shows a poet uncommonly interested in general statements, in hard questions, and harder answers, about how to live: "Everyone knows what not to do/ in a dream," he warns, "and in a dream everyone has the heart/ to tell you who you are." Waking life, he implies, turns out harsher, and stranger. Abramson's work as an attorney impinges on several memorable poems: "the worst/ is meeting those people you know/ you can do nothing for." American regions—the Upper Midwest, Boston, northern New England—also draw attention, and sometimes ire. Ultimately, though, Abramson's taut phrases show a personality, sometimes welcoming, and sometimes grimacing, at a tough, lovely, often inhospitable world: "It is not too early for us// to turn our backs on the track," he advises, before announcing "YES—// there is no secret self—/ but still/ I follow it everywhere." (May)
From the Publisher

“This book will get a lot of well-deserved attention. A former public defender in New Hampshire and now a graduate student in Wisconsin, Abramson has picked up a very large following as a blogger and commentator, covering poetry, politics, and higher education, and generating a controversial, U.S. News–style ranking of graduate programs in writing. After all that, what's left for the poetry? Plenty: serious and ambitious, full of torqued proverbs and hard-to-follow advice, Abramson's own work shows a poet uncommonly interested in general statements, in hard questions, and harder answers, about how to live: "Everyone knows what not to do/ in a dream," he warns, "and in a dream everyone has the heart/ to tell you who you are." Waking life, he implies, turns out harsher, and stranger. Abramson's work as an attorney impinges on several memorable poems: "the worst/ is meeting those people you know/ you can do nothing for." American regions—the Upper Midwest, Boston, northern New England—also draw attention, and sometimes ire. Ultimately, though, Abramson's taut phrases show a personality, sometimes welcoming, and sometimes grimacing, at a tough, lovely, often inhospitable world: "It is not too early for us// to turn our backs on the track," he advises, before announcing "YES—// there is no secret self—/ but still/ I follow it everywhere.”—Publishers Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781930974968
Publisher:
New Issues Poetry & Prose, Western Michigan University
Publication date:
04/18/2011
Series:
Green Rose Series
Pages:
53
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.60(h) x 0.30(d)

What People are Saying About This

Cole Swensen
“From the first line of the first poem, this book takes us into mythical territory: mankind is walking backward, and it’s back into the garden, yet this is not regressive, nor is it redemptive. A little later, an apple appears . . . Seth Abramson’s genius lies in the ability to condense the power of our culture’s founding concepts into their particulars, and then to show how those particulars are every bit as alive today, and as relevant. And he shows it more through language’s muscle than through its meaning, for while he says a lot in this collection, it’s the torque and snap of the medium, used as a material for art rather than as a vehicle for ideas, that keeps the reader on the page, becoming a part of it.”

Meet the Author

JAMES ARMSTRONG grew up in Portage, Michigan. Armstrong is the author of Monument of a Summer Hat (New Issues) and Blue Lash (Milkweed Editions). His poems have appeared in Triquarterly, Gulf Coast, Orion, The Snowy Egret, the New York Times Book Review, Shade, and elsewhere. Armstrong received the PEN-New England Discovery Prize for poetry in 1996, and he has been awarded an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in poetry and a Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship in poetry. He is currently a professor of English at Winona State University in Winona, Minnesota.

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