ANNE CARSON was born in Canada and has been a professor of Classics for over thirty years. Her awards and honors include the Lannan Award, the Pushcart Prize, the Griffin Trust Award for Excellence in Poetry, and fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur Foundations.
In 13 intricately related, supple and confident works in verse and prose, eminent poet and classicist Carson (Autobiography of Red) takes on the meaning and function of sleep; the art and attitudes of Samuel Beckett; the last days of an elderly mother; guns; a solar eclipse; "Longing, a Documentary"; the films of Michelangelo Antonioni; and the vexing, paradoxical projects of women mystics, among them Simone Weil and the medieval heretic Marguerite Porete. Porete, Sappho and others are subjects for brilliant prose essays. The volume's unusual length, though, comes mostly from one-act operas, closet dramas, and other work with stage or film components. "The Mirror of Simple Souls," a short opera and artist's book about Porete, already has an underground reputation: here it takes its place among other works for dramatic recital, including "Hunger Tango," "Stroke and Dye Aria" and a teasingly brief verse screenplay about Abelard, Helo?se and chickpeas. For all its variety, though, the strongest work in this strong collection may be the short, spiky, individual poems, which certainly provide the best single lines: "Your glassy wind breaks on a shoutless shore and stirs around the rose." (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Carson here presents a hybrid collection of works she labels "poetry, essays, and opera" in poetic form and language. As in her earlier books (e.g., The Beauty of the Husband; If Not, Winter), her work here is provocative, her language intriguing, and her themes universal. Describing "decreation" as the state in which the self dissolves, Carson imagines other writers and artists whose works illustrate and/or parallel her own experience. Using the images of Greek god Hephaistos, mystic Marguerite Porete, philosopher Simone Weil, poet Sappho, and lovers Heloise and Abelard, she offers glimpses into a contemporary relationship between mother and daughter (presumably her mother and herself), love and marriage, and what it means to be a woman. Personal experience permeates the collection, and the reader is allowed to draw from the wisdom and hard-won experience of the poet's personae. Recommended for all academic and public libraries with large collections of poetry. [Carson is a two-time National Book Critics Circle Award finalist and was the first woman to win the T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry in 2001.-Ed.]-Pam Kingsbury, Univ. of North Alabama, Florence Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
"One of the most interesting gatherings of material that any poet has published within living memory. . . . She is quite unlike any other poet writing today." -The Economist"Exhilarating . . . Carson takes risks, subverts literary conventions, and plays havoc with our expectations. She is a wonder: an unconventional poet who has a huge following among today's readers of poetry and whose work has been honored with our most prestigious literary awards . . . When it comes to content, most poetry is boring compared to Carson's . . . She writes as if every poet, writer, religious thinker, and philosopher who has ever lived is still our contemporary . . . Carson is immensely learned. [Her] prose, with its clarity, compactness, and memorable epigrams, reminds me of Emerson . . . To work with fragments of ancient lyric poems, as Carson does, is to [be] an archaeologist of the invisible whose tools are her learning and her imagination . . . She is interested in her characters in a way that most poets are not. Her language is the language of fiction and the manner in which the stories are told resembles magical realism with its wild imaginings and its carnival atmosphere. As for her subject matter, she writes perceptively and amusingly about men and women in love, their jealousies, their misunderstandings, and the solitude which they are not able to overcome . . . The essays in Decreation are full of marvelous insights . . . What the poet and the authentic thinker share, according to Heidegger, is their ability to wonder at how things exist and to live with that wonder. Carson reminds us that poeticizing in this broader philosophical sense and in the narrow sense of the poetic have always been related. The play of philosophical ideas makes [all] her books worth reading . . . Enthralling, masterful, engaging, stunning, inspired, impressive, profoundly moving, poignant, probing."-The New York Review of Books"Cool, resolute, smart, and lovely . . . Carson has emerged in the last two decades as a kind of prophet of the unknowable. Decreation may be her loneliest book-a theological treatise and dramatization of how to escape one's self . . . Carson attempts [this task] with great tenderness, framing the undoing as a work of love that compels one to forsake oneself in order to be something more-truer, more luminous, and also more transient. Carson moves from form to form-poetry, essay, screenplay-and from body to body . . . In the shape traced by Carson's rapid flight patterns one can almost discern a transcendent emptiness, uninhabitable to more stationary souls."-The Village Voice