Harbinger: Poems

Harbinger: Poems

by Shelley Puhak
Harbinger: Poems

Harbinger: Poems

by Shelley Puhak

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Overview

“The speaker in Shelley Puhak’s Harbinger is no closer to knowing herself than I am, than we are, which is why we trust her. Each similarly titled poem holds a triptych mirror up to the artist and, in so doing, up to us all, so we may better see ourselves as we are. In ever-changing form.” —Nicole Sealey 

A stunning meditation on artistic creation and historical memory from the winner of the National Poetry Series, chosen by Nicole Sealey

From “Portrait of the artist, gaslit” to “Portrait of the artist’s ancestors” to “Portrait of the artist reading a newspaper,” the poems in Harbinger reflect the many facets of the artistic self as well as the myriad influences and experiences that contribute to that identity.

“Portrait of the artist as a young man” has long been the default position, but these poems carve out a different vantage point. Seen through the lens of motherhood, of working as a waitress, of watching election results come in, or of simply sitting in a waiting room, making art—and making an artist—is a process wherein historical events collide with lived experience, both deeply personal but also unfailingly political. When we make art, for what (and to whom) are we accountable? And what does art-making demand of us, especially as apocalypse looms?

With its surprising insights, Harbinger, the latest book from acclaimed poet Shelley Puhak, shows us the reality of the constantly evolving and unstable self, a portrait of the artist as fragmentary, impressionable, and always in flux.

  



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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780063233966
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/18/2022
Series: National Poetry Series
Pages: 80
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.20(d)

About the Author

Shelley Puhak is the author of Harbinger, a 2021 National Poetry Series selection. Puhak’s second book, Guinevere in Baltimore, was selected by Charles Simic for the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize, and her first, Stalin in Aruba, was awarded the Towson Prize for Literature. Her prose has appeared in the Atlantic, the Iowa Review, and Virginia Quarterly Review, and her nonfiction debut, The Dark Queens, was released in 2022.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

I

Portrait of the artist as Cassandra 3

Portrait of the artist in labor 4

Portrait of the artist in the NICU 5

Portrait of the artist as a twelve-year-old girl 7

Portrait of the artist as a squirrel 8

Portrait of the artist speaking Viking 9

Portrait of the artist's ancestors 11

Portrait of the artist with the family dog 14

Portrait of the artist as a dud 15

Portrait of the artist as a mommy 16

Portrait of the artist telling a bedtime story 17

Portrait of the artist as a 100-year-old house 18

Portrait of the artist as anonymous 19

II

Portrait of the artists throwing a dinner party while the city burns 23

Portrait of the artist as a scientist at the international seed bank, 1943 24

Portrait of the twentieth century as a plagiarist: a cento 25

Portrait of the artist as a satellite, petulant 26

Portrait of the artist as a satellite, lovesick 27

Portrait of the artist, gaslit 29

Portrait of the artist watching the space shuttle explode 31

Portrait of the artist as a waitress 33

Portrait of the artist in late August 35

Portrait of the artist looking over her shoulder 36

Portrait of the artist reading the newspaper 38

Portrait of the artist with an eight-year-old at the neighborhood picnic 40

Portrait of the artists watching the election results come in 41

III

Portrait of the artist as an artist 45

Portrait of the classmate who died young 46

Portrait of the fantasy lives of animals 47

Portrait of the artist, climbing a mountain 48

Portrait of the artist broken down in the valley of the shadow 49

Portrait of the artist as a pipe 51

Portrait of the artist in the pediatrician's waiting room 52

Portrait of the artist under a blood moon 53

Portrait of the artist with three moons 54

Portrait of the artist after the shooter drill 55

Portrait of the artist in the garden 57

Portrait of the artist with the inventor of the barometer 59

Portrait of the artist as a bog body 61

Sources 63

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