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Harbinger: Poems

Harbinger: Poems

by Shelley Puhak

Narrated by Shelley Puhak

Unabridged — 53 minutes

Shelley Puhak
Harbinger: Poems

Harbinger: Poems

by Shelley Puhak

Narrated by Shelley Puhak

Unabridged — 53 minutes

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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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

★ 10/17/2022

In keeping with its title, this ominous and energetic entry from Puhak (Guinevere in Baltimore) offers an uncertain view of the present and future. The poems, organized as a series of “portraits,” resist despair by giving voice to things in hiding, or on the brink of oblivion. In “Portrait of the Artist as a 100-year-old House,” the environment smells “more like scared/ wet dog, like back of mouth,/ like old apple core.” In others, the artist likens her thoughts to a squirrel, “coiled and crouching,” and speaks as a bog body, inviting the reader to unearth her from under the peat: “Search out my fingers/ under the turf’s muck./ Stroke my hair,/ softer than the moss.” Puhak also explores motherhood and the dangers of men. In “Portrait of the Artist in Labor,” she lists harbingers: “The pills are the harbinger of the eyelid/ twitch. The boys piled in the car/ the harbinger of the rape kit.” These poems are fierce and foreboding, proving poetry’s revelatory power. (Oct.)

From the Publisher

"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

Harbinger is a reminder of something we all too commonly lose track of: the idea of poetry as an art form...Puhak’s grasp here is shocking, reaching across centuries, millennia...[but with] a narrative that is perfectly contemporary, postmodern, and personal...exquisitely well-crafted...Sometimes, a book can surprise you.”  — New York Journal of Books

"Ominous and energetic...These poems are fierce and foreboding, proving poetry’s revelatory power." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"These poems share a deep curiosity about and connection to our world, good and bad, majestic and dystopian…A collection that should not be missed.”   — Library Journal

Nicole Sealey

"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."

Library Journal

11/01/2022

Nearly every poem in this National Poetry Series winner from Puhak (Guinevere in Baltimore) is titled with a close variant of the phrase "Portrait of the Artist," yet what widely different journeys each takes us on, from the first scares of motherhood ("A child too perfect// calls to the knife. Hallelujah the birthmark, the extra digit") to love ("I carried/ water for you, the one for whom the world's/ aqueducts/ were not conduit enough"). Puhak scores frissons with many of her unusual and striking comparisons ("your hidden musculature/ you're lashed to the mast of my bone-ship") and is not averse to addressing world problems; at a dinner party, "The guests arrive when the flames start./ We draw the curtains/ …While the city burns, while the algae blooms, while the oceans froth acrid." These poems share a deep curiosity about and connection to our world, good and bad, majestic and dystopian. Some are uplifting, while others deepen our pain about tragedies from shooter drills to ancestors' forced relocations. Yet even at their most troubling, the quirky humor provides some respite. VERDICT Though a few are not fully realized, in general these poems balance the dire and dystopian with the joyful and caring, inviting the reader to stay onboard for each new voyage. A collection that should not to be missed.—Doris Jean Lynch

Product Details

BN ID: 2940175829786
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/18/2022
Series: National Poetry Series
Edition description: Unabridged

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