Swarm

Overview

T S. Eliot, Elizabeth Bishop, John Ashbery -- and Jorie Graham. The New Yorker places Ms. Graham in this distinguished line of poets, heralding the Pulitzer Prize winner as a profound voice in American poetry. Now, in her eighth collection, she further enhances her reputation with a book-length sequence of verse that is a stunning work of grandeur.

The New Republic writes, "for 'swarm,' in other words...read 'be born again.' Graham is writing about a spiritual turning point, a ...

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Overview

T S. Eliot, Elizabeth Bishop, John Ashbery -- and Jorie Graham. The New Yorker places Ms. Graham in this distinguished line of poets, heralding the Pulitzer Prize winner as a profound voice in American poetry. Now, in her eighth collection, she further enhances her reputation with a book-length sequence of verse that is a stunning work of grandeur.

The New Republic writes, "for 'swarm,' in other words...read 'be born again.' Graham is writing about a spiritual turning point, a new beginning.... Beauty -- that is, the pure sense-perception which has long been a concern for Graham -- is no longer the most important criterion. Now goodness is...[and] the idea of submission, of obedience, without understanding: one must 'yield' before 'hearing the reason' for yielding."

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Editorial Reviews

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Jorie Graham proves once again to be the most formidable and innovative voice in contemporary poetry.... An exhilarating ride in Swarm.
Harvard Review
Capacious talent.... The bodiless virtuosity of formal mastery has met the flexibility and passion of the mind and eye at liberty.
Boston Book Review
These poems are among the most intense, personal, and ardent [Graham] has written.
Virginia Quarterly Review
Graham is quite clearly one of the most distinctive and exciting poets writing today.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060935092
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/28/2001
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 132
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.28 (d)

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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Read an Excerpt

from The Reformation Journal

The wisdom I have heretofore trusted was cowardice, the leaper.

I am not lying. There is no lying in me,

I surrender myself like the sinking ship,

a burning wreck from which the depths will get theirs when the heights have gotten theirs.

My throat is an open grave. I hide my face.

I have reduced all to lower case.

I have crossed out passages.

I have severely trimmed and cleared.

Locations are omitted.

Uncertain readings are inserted silently.

Abbreviations silently expanded.

A "he" referring to God may be capitalized or not.

(is crying now)          show me

is crying now            (what's wrong)

in a strange tree    of atoms    of

too few            more         no wonder

Give me the glassy ripeness

Give me the glassy ripeness in failure

Give me the atom laying its question at the bottom of nature

Send word                                    Clear fields

Make formal event                                 Walk

                                        Turn back

Reduce all to lower case        Have reduced all

Cross out passages             Have inserted silently

is there a name for?

glassy ripeness

in failure

born and raised

and you?

(go back)                        (need more)

having lived it               leaves it possible

fear    lamentation    shame    ruin    believe    me

explain      given to

explain      born of

Absence isodious                        to God

I'm asking

Unseen unseen                      the treasure unperceived

Unless you compare            the treasure may be lost

Oh my beloved                    I'm asking

More atoms, more days, the noise of the sparrows, of the universals

Yet colder here now than in

the atom still there at the bottom of nature

that we be founded on infinite smallness

which occasions incorruption or immortality"

(incorruption because already as little as it can be)

(escape square, wasted square, safety square, hopeless square)

"to all except anguish the mind soon adjusts"

have reduced, have trimmed, have cleared, have omitted

have      abbreviations      silently      expanded

to what               avail

explain       asks to be followed

explain       remains to be seen

 

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2000

    Graham as Orchestra

    While not as accessable as Graham's books The Errancy and Dream of a Unified Field, Swarm does take the serious poetry reader one step beyond in the evolution of Graham's process. I admit that I'm a devoted fan of her work, and I admit that I find her poems dense, difficult, and sometimes biorhythmically subjective, though not tangental. But I love the sense that her poems are tomes in themselves, each one to be explored and savored again and again, rather than read and 'experienced' briefly. Swarm is a symphony both within the poems and as a whole. The intense intellectual issues Graham is known for infuse the poems, yet the book itself has its own staggered, structured movement. Reading Graham is like walking through a forest in which each tree is a separate continent.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 1999

    Assumptions toward meaning

    Graham's poems, as ever, run over with a confusing blend of classical reference and contemporary, post-modern thought. Yet, in spite of all the freshness within some of the poems, there remains the difficulty and inaccessibility that has become typical of the Iowa style that she exemplifies: the clipped lines with their recondite enclosures, a world within each line. At times, the almost jigsaw-like feel to her aesthetic is intriguing, at other times annoying. To endorse Ms. Graham in total would be to buy into the subtle bourgeois, intellectual desire to own poetry in academic terms and to complexify it.

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