Plainwater: Essays and Poetry by Anne Carson, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Plainwater: Essays and Poetry

Plainwater: Essays and Poetry

by Anne Carson
     
 

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The poetry and prose collected in Plainwater are a testament to the extraordinary imagination of Anne Carson, a writer described by Michael Ondaatje as "the most exciting poet writing in English today." Succinct and astonishingly beautiful, these pieces stretch the boundaries of language and literary form, while juxtaposing classical and modern traditions.

Overview

The poetry and prose collected in Plainwater are a testament to the extraordinary imagination of Anne Carson, a writer described by Michael Ondaatje as "the most exciting poet writing in English today." Succinct and astonishingly beautiful, these pieces stretch the boundaries of language and literary form, while juxtaposing classical and modern traditions.

Carson envisions a present-day interview with a seventh-century BC poet, and offers miniature lectures on topics as varied as orchids and Ovid. She imagines the muse of a fifteenth-century painter attending a phenomenology conference in Italy. She constructs verbal photographs of a series of mysterious towns, and takes us on a pilgrimage in pursuit of the elusive and intimate anthropology of water. Blending the rhythm and vivid metaphor of poetry with the discursive nature of the essay, the writings in Plainwater dazzle us with their invention and enlighten us with their erudition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Despite her fastidious, ornately post-modern style, Carson finds her subject matter in classicism. The fruits of this unique, difficult combination are strikingly displayed in this selection of her published work. Seemingly composed of equal parts enigma, experiment and exegesis, Carson's writings incorporate a dizzying spectrum of forms-prose poem, mock interview, travel journal, academic essay. ``Mimnermos: The Brainsex Paintings'' explores what are perhaps figmentary fragments of the ancient Greek poet's work, which divulges ``a kind of hunger for the motions of the self that we are mining still.'' The blurb-like, often humorous paragraphs and prose poems of ``Short Talks'' (which are ``on'' subjects as varied as chromoluminism and Sylvia Plath) and ``The Life of Towns'' (with stops in ``Apostle Town'' and ``Town of Greta Garbo'') afford the pleasure of a whimsical crossword puzzle. But Carson achieves a surreal, perplexing brilliance in ``Canicula di Anna,'' a 53-section poem partially set in the paintings of the 16th-century artist Perugino. The final selection, ``The Anthropology of Water,'' takes an abruptly confessional turn, though one measured (as the title suggests) by the poet's near-scientific intellectualism that, as in all these writings, gives her work a dazzling lucidity. (July)
Janet St. John
Carson's poetry and prose defy categorization as much as they blur the boundaries of their own forms. In fact, nearly formless, Carson's writing resists convention through word variation and substitution, stretching language to create new meanings, formulas, and outcomes. For example, in "The Life of Towns," town becomes a representative letter like "a" in the formula: if" ab" and "bc", then "ac". In other words, "townviewpointself" and" self" includes all the various vantage points and different ways of expressing vision. Carson, a professor of ancient Greek and Latin, incorporates classical languages and a mythological sensibility in surprising ways throughout her work. The strongest and most engaging section is "Short Talks" (from her book by that title), which was excerpted in the "1992 Best American Essays" but could have just as easily appeared in a poetry anthology. The pieces have the appeal of haiku and the experimental quality of language poetry by Scalapino and Lauterbach. These "talks" gracefully unite the vivid metaphor and rhythm of poetry with the contemplative and digressive discourse of essay. Carson knows the rules of language and how to break them. This is stimulating, rare, and challenging writing, fabulous food for thought--for the adventurous reader.
From the Publisher
"The most exciting poet writing in English today." —Michael Ondaatje

"Breathtaking...[a] work of gorgeous innovation and a staunch, hypnotic intelligence." -The Village Voice

"Carson has created an individual form and style for narrative verse.— Seldom has Pound's injunction — Make It New — been so spectacularly obeyed." -The New York Review of Books

"Carson writes like an angel—Her passions recall that incandescent chronicler of love Elizabeth Smart [and] Malcolm Lowry's passionate stream of consciousness." -Katherine Govier, TIME

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679431787
Publisher:
Knopf Publishing Group
Publication date:
07/04/1995
Edition description:
1st ed
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.95(w) x 8.65(h) x 1.04(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Anne Carson lives in Montreal where she is the Director of Graduate Studies, Classics, at McGill University. She is the recipient of many awards, including the QSPELL A.M. Klein Poetry Prize, the 1996 Lannan Award and the 1997 Pushcart Prize. Her most recent book, Autobiography of Red, was a finalist for the National Book Critics' Circle Award and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

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