The Gift of Tongues: Twenty-five Years of Poetry from Copper Canyon Press


Copper Canyon's 25th anniversary anthology gathers nearly 300 poems by over 100 distinguished poets and translators.

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Copper Canyon's 25th anniversary anthology gathers nearly 300 poems by over 100 distinguished poets and translators.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As founder of Copper Canyon Press, Hamill, a poet himself, has been at the forefront of small, independent poetry publishers for a quarter of a century. Culled from the more than 150 books published so far by Copper Canyon, the nearly 300 poems here serve as testament to Hamill's goal of presenting poetry in, as he says in his Introduction, a "great flowering" of contemporary poetry and translations. Noting that he has "never tried to establish a `school' of poetics thought around the press," he has "selected for publication poetry that has moved me, poetry that seems to be memorable in some way." His taste is demonstrated in works as diverse as those of Su Tung-p'o (11th-century China) and Lucille Clifton. Other noted authors include Thomas Centolella, Heather Allen and W. S. Merwin. While Hamill swears allegiance to no poetic school, Copper Canyon works often fall into two categories: images of the connections between humans and nature, such as found in Robert Bringhurst's "The Song of Ptahhotep" ("The heart is an animal. Learn where it leads./ Know its gait as it breaks. Know its range,/ how it mates and feeds") and images from the troubled modern lives, as in Carolyn Kizer's "Bitch" ("Now, when he and I meet, after all these years,/ I say to the bitch inside me, don't start growling"). Hamill's prefatory essay and concluding annotated bibliography of all Copper Canyon Books are themselves worth the price of this collection, but as he'd be the first to note, it's the poems that matter most. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Hamill, poet and principal editor of the prestigious Copper Canyon Press, has assembled a remarkable retrospective of the many labors of his little company. The list of poets offered here is almost staggering in its variety: Nobel Prize winners (Pablo Neruda and Odysseus Elytis); prominent American poets (Hayden Carruth, John Haines, W.S. Merwin, Carolyn Kizer, and James Laughlin); poets in translation (Jean Joubert, O.V. de L. Milosz, Sandor Csoori, and Su Tung-p'o); and poets beginning to come into their own (Eleanor Wilner, Shirley Kaufman, Timothy Liu, and Richard Jones). Hamill's taste, as reflected in these choices, honors a certain humility, an earthiness, in poetry. Hamill's introduction sketches the recent history of American poetry, of which Copper Canyon has been an important part; his notes are warmly percipient appreciations of the poets his press has fostered. This anthology will appeal strongly to all readers of contemporary poetry; highly recommended.Graham Christian, Andover-Harvard Theological Lib., Cambridge, Mass.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556591167
  • Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/1996
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Poet and translator Sam Hamill was the Founding Editor of Copper Canyon Press and is currently the Director for Poets Against War.

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Table of Contents

A Personal Introduction
The Old Man Is Like Moses 3
In the Forest 4
Each Time 6
Riding Westward 7
After Our War 8
Anna Akhmatova Spends the Night on Miami Beach 9
Rondeau at the Train Stop 11
A Primer about the Flag 12
The Book of the Dead Man #1 12
The Book of the Dead Man #43 13
Iron Man of the Hoh 15
from Crow with No Mouth: Ikkyu 17
On This Side of the River 18
Alone 19
Clouded Sky: Miklos Radnoti 20
Orpingalik's My Breath 21
Under the Vulture-Tree 23
Sierra Bear 24
Chinese Dragons 25
Ode to a Maintenance Man and His Family 26
The Song of Ptahhotep 27
Parsvanatha 30
Oregon Landscape with Lost Lover 31
If I Yes 32
Touched 33
Sappho's Gymnasium 35
Grey Woman 40
Combing 41
from The Sleeping Beauty 42
The Cows at Night 43
Sonnet 45
from "Vermont" 45
The Camps 48
Testament 54
Soul Make a Path Through Shouting 56
From the Theater of Wine 57
A Death Fugue 59
Small Acts 61
Woman of Three Minds 62
Joy 66
dear jesse helms 67
night vision 68
Three Songs 69
Everything You Own 70
Somebody Consoles Me with a Poem 71
This Body 73
Solitude 73
Driving in a Snowstorm 75
Beetle Light 76
from "Priest" 78
Lost Body 79
Sun the First 80
from "Anoint the Ariston" X 82
from "With Life & with Death" 83
from "Anoint the Ariston" XXVII 84
As Endymion 85
Ourselves or Nothing 87
Post-Modernism 91
Two Horses and a Dog 92
Station (1) 93
Station (2) 94
Station (4) 94
Prey 96
House of Breath 97
Imprint of Microscopic Life Found in Arctic Stones 99
Ordinary, as Love 101
To the Far Corners of Fractured Worlds 102
If the Owl Calls Again 111
Nocturnal 112
Evening Change 112
Two Lines from Paul Celan 113
Reading Seferis 115
The Gift of Tongues 117
Poem on Losing One's Teeth 119
Yang Wan-li's "Moored for the Night at the Lan-chi Riverside Courier Station" 121
Appaloosa Hail Storm 122
Transcanadian 123
At Betharram 123
At the Olive Grove of the Resistance 124
The Clean People 126
Solitaire 128
Unexpected Manna 129
Neighbor 130
Fir 131
Times Like This 132
The Poet's Heart 133
The Novel 134
The Key 142
Brilliant Sky 145
"We started home, my son and I" 146
By the Rivers 147
The Accuser 148
The Buddha of Sokkuram 149
Poem in November 151
On the Sand Dune 155
Elegy for Myself 156
Bitch 157
For Sappho/After Sappho
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