Sea Change

Sea Change

by Jorie Graham
     
 

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The New York Times has said that "Jorie Graham's poetry is among the most sensuously embodied and imaginative writing we have," and this new collection is a reminder of how startling, original, and deeply relevant her poetry is. In Sea Change, Graham brings us to the once-unimaginable threshold at which civilization as we know it becomes

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Overview

The New York Times has said that "Jorie Graham's poetry is among the most sensuously embodied and imaginative writing we have," and this new collection is a reminder of how startling, original, and deeply relevant her poetry is. In Sea Change, Graham brings us to the once-unimaginable threshold at which civilization as we know it becomes unsustainable. How might the human spirit persist, caught between its abiding love of beauty, its acknowledgment of continuing injury and damage done, and the realization that the existence of a "future" itself may no longer be assured?

There is no better writer to confront such crucial matters than Jorie Graham. In addition to her recognized achievements as a poet of philosophical, aesthetic, and moral concerns, Graham has also been acknowledged as "our most formidable nature poet" (Publishers Weekly). As gorgeous and formally inventive as anything she has written, Sea Change is an essential work speaking out for our planet and the world we have known.

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Editorial Reviews

San Francisco Chronicle
“Jorie Graham’s status as a canonic poet – of the academic breed, with a flair for blending the intellectual and the sensual – is virtually guaranteed.”
Time Out New York
“Sea Change is among Graham’s most powerful books.”
Entertainment Weekly
“Graham confronts modern wickedness torture and global warming are two themes in lush, sometimes hymnlike verse, A-.”
Village Voice
“Jorie Graham’s intricate, sophisticated, and mercurial poems have long been one of the splendors of contemporary American literature. In her latest book, she turns her attention to death, and the result is perhaps her finest collection yet.”
Booklist (starred review)
“Stunning... Forthright, compassionate and ironic, Graham has crafted poems of lyrical steeliness and cauterizing beauty... Graham writes with breathtaking precision.”
New York Times Book Review
“[Never] declares that the artistic task of becoming, once begun, continues on.”
Booklist
"Stunning... Forthright, compassionate and ironic, Graham has crafted poems of lyrical steeliness and cauterizing beauty... Graham writes with breathtaking precision."
Publishers Weekly

Graham's 11th collection contains what might be her most urgent and impassioned writing to date. These 19 poems continue Overlord's (2005) meditation on current political and social crises, but the relative composure and straightforwardness of that volume has given way to panic, breathlessness, vertigo and fracture: "life disturbing life, & it/ fussing all over us, like a confinement gone/ insane, blurring the feeling of/ the state of / being." Humankind's degradation of the environment and itself during wartime are Graham's primary concerns, with the title referring specifically to the way in which an apparently small shift-an undercurrent's "warming by 1 degree"-will bring forth ruin: "the in - / dispensable / plankton is forced north now, & yet further north,/ spawning too late for the cod larvae hatch, such/ that the hatch will not survive, nor the/ species in the end." Here, the interconnectedness of all life isn't just a spiritual commonplace, it is grounds for a call to action, and one that Graham-a poet of rare responsiveness to the natural world and a thinker of great ethical responsibility-is uniquely qualified to make. (Apr.)

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Library Journal

Graham's 12th collection of poetry can be daunting. A Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and Harvard professor, Graham fuses the philosophical and the colloquial with the surreal in a style characterized by lengthy sentences-some containing nearly 400 words. Arranging fragments, clauses, and prepositional phrases, these long-lined, collagelike poems often end with a striking final image, as Graham meditates breathlessly on everything from nature to politics to the act of imagining. The result is a very literary language poetry-there are echoes of W.H. Auden, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Marianne Moore, among others. Like Auden, whose "Musée des Beaux Arts," is none too subtly referenced here, Graham looks at the bleak side of life. Like Hopkins, she coins words such as "lightshafts" and combines words, as in "leaf-glittering, shadow-mad," to produce a metaphor-driven stream-of-consciousness effect. Like Moore, Graham seems fond of lists, especially of vivid nouns; ultimately, she presents what Moore described as "the raw material of poetry" as opposed to the poem itself. Recommended for academic libraries only.
—Diane Scharper

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061537189
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/31/2009
Edition description:
Original
Pages:
80
Sales rank:
451,206
Product dimensions:
7.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.40(d)

Read an Excerpt

Sea Change
Poems

Sea Change

One day: stronger wind than anyone expected. Stronger than
ever before in the recording
of such. Un-
natural says the news. Also the body says it. Which part of the body—I look
down, can
feel it, yes, don't know
where. Also submerging us,
making of the fields, the trees, a cast of characters in an
unnegotiable
drama, ordained, iron-gloom of low light, everything at once undoing
itself. Also sustained, as in a hatred of
a thought, or a vanity that comes upon one out of
nowhere & makes
one feel the mischief in faithfulness to an
idea. Everything unpreventable and excited like
mornings in the unknown future. Who shall repair this now. And how the future
takes shape
too quickly. The permanent is ebbing. Is leaving
nothing in the way of
trails, they are blown over, grasses shoot up, life disturbing life, & it
fussing all over us, like a confinement gone
insane, blurring the feeling of
the state of
being. Which did exist just yesterday, calm and
true. Like the right to
privacy—how strange a feeling, here, the right
consider your affliction says the
wind, do not plead ignorance, & farther and farther
away leaks the
past, much farther than it used to go, beating against the shutters I
have now fastened again, the huge mis-
understanding round me now so
still in
the center of this room, listening—oh,
these are not split decisions, everything
is in agreement, we set out willingly, & also knew to
play by rules, & if I say to you now
let'sgo
somewhere the thought won't outlast
the minute, here it is now, carrying its North
Atlantic windfall, hissing Consider
the body of the ocean which rises every instant into
me, & its
ancient e-
vaporation, & how it delivers itself
to me, how the world is our law, this indrifting of us
into us, a chorusing in us of elements, & how the
intermingling of us lacks in-
telligence, makes
reverberation, syllables untranscribable, in-clingings, & how wonder is also what
pours from us when, in the
coiling, at the very bottom of
the food
chain, sprung
from undercurrents, warming by 1 degree, the in-
dispensable
plankton is forced north now, & yet farther north,
spawning too late for the cod larvae hatch, such
that the hatch will not survive, nor the
species in the end, in the the right-now forever un-
interruptible slowing of the
gulf
stream, so that I, speaking in this wind today, out loud in it, to no one, am suddenly
aware
of having written my poems, I feel it in
my useless
hands, palms in my lap, & in my listening, & also the memory of a season at its
full, into which is spattered like a
silly cry this in-
cessant leaf-glittering, shadow-mad, all over
the lightshafts, the walls, the bent back ranks of trees
all stippled with these slivers of
light like
breaking grins—infinities of them—wriggling along the walls, over the
grasses—mouths
reaching into
other mouths—sucking out all the
air—huge breaths passing to and fro between the unkind blurrings—& quicken
me further says this new wind, &
according to thy
judgment, &
I am inclining my heart towards the end,
I cannot fail, this Saturday, early pm, hurling myself,
wiry furies riding my many backs, against your foundations and your
best young
tree, which you have come outside to stake again, & the loose stones in the sill.

Sea Change
Poems
. Copyright © by Jorie Graham. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Meet the Author

Jorie Graham is the author of eleven collections of poems. Her poetry, widely translated, has been the recipient of numerous awards, among them the Pulitzer Prize, the Forward Prize (UK), and the International Nonino Prize. She lives in Massachusetts and teaches at Harvard University.

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