Try

Overview

The poems in Cole Swensen's Try explore the intersection of writing with the visual arts, particularly late medieval and early Renaissance paintings. They also explore writing as a visual vehicle, both as a pattern across a field and as a catalyst for imagery. Looking at the paintings themselves involves examining the way that they make meaning and, in contrast, the way that words make meaning of them and of themselves - what happens when you have a representation of a representation? All the poems in this ...
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Overview

The poems in Cole Swensen's Try explore the intersection of writing with the visual arts, particularly late medieval and early Renaissance paintings. They also explore writing as a visual vehicle, both as a pattern across a field and as a catalyst for imagery. Looking at the paintings themselves involves examining the way that they make meaning and, in contrast, the way that words make meaning of them and of themselves - what happens when you have a representation of a representation? All the poems in this collection weave in and out of proximity to visual work, sometimes from the distance of a gallery viewer, sometimes as a character in the painting itself. Issues of narrative sequence and time float through the collection but are always subordinate to the play and rule of language on the page.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The world fleshed forth in oil paint, from Giotto to Joseph Albers, is meticulously essayed in the mixed-genre ekphraseis of Swensen's sixth full-length collection since 1984. Though the medieval and early Renaissance tableaux she focuses on are almost entirely composed in the restricted vocabulary of Christian iconography, Swensen regards them with a worldly eye, using her role as "translator" of the works--from religious past to secular present, from image to text--to explore an ethics of human immanence. Addressing herself to one in a countless string of mid-millenium representations of "the Flight into Egypt," for instance, Swensen finds "that the holy family enters not a heavenly but a very worldly world, a world just like ours except that it's not and that it can't be reached." As with the gulf between the visual and the verbal dimensions, what the mind posits as an inviolable border ("it can't be reached"), the body is ever violating--translating, trying--in practice. In a literally unguarded moment, the intangible yields to an insatiably human craving for contact: "She touched the painting/ as soon as the guard// turned his back." This illicit gesture discloses the very essence of Swensen's project, her daring try at a communion of flesh and canvas, word and image, art and life. FYI: Try was one of three works awarded the Iowa Poetry Prize in 1998, along with Bin Ramke's Wake ($10.95 136p ISBN 0-87745-658-5) and Kathleen Peirce's The Oval Hour ($10.95 96p ISBN 0-87745-664-X).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780877456599
  • Publisher: University of Iowa Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/1999
  • Series: Iowa Poetry Prize Series
  • Pages: 92
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Table of Contents

Prologue: Whatever Happened to Their Eyes 1
Triad 5
Trilogy 11
Triune 19
Trio 25
Triptych 31
Triarchy 51
Trinity 57
Trine 63
Triage 71
Epilogue 77
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