Thursday, January 17, 2013

Guns, God And A Reggae Beat: A 2013 Poetry Preview

by Craig Morgan Teicher

Anne Carson's newest book of poetry will be called Red Doc>.
Peter Smith

Anne Carson's newest book of poetry will be called Red Doc>.
Now that we're done with all that fiscal cliff wrangling (sort of), it's time to move on to priority No. 2: the next year in poetry. Just kidding. But, with the whole year stretching out before us, it is a good time to get excited about what literature has in store.
2012 was the year of colossal books of collected poems (from Jack Gilbert, who passed away shortly after his book's publication; Louise Glück; Lucille Clifton and one or two others). While 2013 doesn't promise so many monumental doorstoppers, it's packed with powerful, important and comfortably slim volumes of new poems by famous poets, as well as some books poetry lovers will love from poets whose names might be new to them. Here's a look at the eight you won't want to miss.

Red Doc Rarely do books of poetry get sequels, but the big collection of 2013 is sure to be Anne Carson's follow-up to her now-legendary 1999 verse-novel Autobiography of Red, about the coming of age and erotic awakening of a (literal) boy-demon named Geryon. He is simply called "G" in Red Doc>, which, in prose poems and blocky verse-strophes, takes him through today's complex, technologically infused world. With a wise naivety he wonders things like, "...Why is/ everyone always angry on/ TV." He journeys with a lover named "Sad," facing death, love and maturity with Carson's trademark sharpness and her uncanny ability to make the strange seem familiar and the familiar strange. G observes the modern world as both citizen and stranger, wonderstruck, perplexed and disgusted by humanity: "How or what in their/ minds animals call us we/ hesitate to think," Carson observes, as her cast of characters converges around a volcano eruption. A classics scholar by training, Carson has made an extraordinary career of knitting old myths into contemporary culture. She is justly famous and beloved, and her many fans are always clamoring for more. This book, especially, will set them on fire.

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