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YA Book Club POSTPONED! Due to unforeseen circumstances, we have had to cancel this Saturday's YA book club meeting. We will reschedule and post it here and on our social media as soon as we can. 

Poetry Anthologies and Criticism

GILGAMESH

GILGAMESH

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Reflections on a lost poem and its rediscovery by contemporary poets

Gilgamesh is the most ancient long poem known to exist. It is also the newest classic in the canon of world literature. Lost for centuries to the sands of the Middle East but found again in the 1850s, it tells the story of a great king, his heroism, and his eventual defeat. It is a story of monsters, gods, and cataclysms, and of intimate friendship and love. Acclaimed literary historian Michael Schmidt provides a unique meditation on the rediscovery of Gilgamesh and its profound influence on poets today.

Schmidt describes how the poem is a work in progress even now, an undertaking that has drawn on the talents and obsessions of an unlikely cast of characters, from archaeologists and museum curators to tomb raiders and jihadis. Fragments of the poem, incised on clay tablets, were scattered across a huge expanse of desert when it was recovered in the nineteenth century. The poem had to be reassembled, its languages deciphered. The discovery of a pre-Noah flood story was front-page news on both sides of the Atlantic, and the poem's allure only continues to grow as additional cuneiform tablets come to light. Its translation, interpretation, and integration are ongoing.

In this illuminating book, Schmidt discusses the special fascination Gilgamesh holds for contemporary poets, arguing that part of its appeal is its captivating otherness. He reflects on the work of leading poets such as Charles Olson, Louis Zukofsky, and Yusef Komunyakaa, whose own encounters with the poem are revelatory, and he reads its many translations and editions to bring it vividly to life for readers.

HATRED OF POETRY

HATRED OF POETRY

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No art has been denounced as often as poetry. It's even bemoaned by poets: I, too, dislike it, wrote Marianne Moore. Many more people agree they hate poetry, Ben Lerner writes, than can agree what poetry is. I, too, dislike it and have largely organized my life around it and do not experience that as a contradiction because poetry and the hatred of poetry are inextricable in ways it is my purpose to explore.

In this inventive and lucid essay, Lerner takes the hatred of poetry as the starting point of his defense of the art. He examines poetry's greatest haters (beginning with Plato's famous claim that an ideal city had no place for poets, who would only corrupt and mislead the young) and both its greatest and worst practitioners, providing inspired close readings of Keats, Dickinson, McGonagall, Whitman, and others. Throughout, he attempts to explain the noble failure at the heart of every truly great and truly horrible poem: the impulse to launch the experience of an individual into a timeless communal existence. In The Hatred of Poetry, Lerner has crafted an entertaining, personal, and entirely original examination of a vocation no less essential for being impossible.

IN SEARCH OF DUENDE

IN SEARCH OF DUENDE

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The notion of "duende"--a demonic earth spirit embodying irrationality, earthiness, and a heightened awareness of death--became a cornerstone of Lorca's poetics. In Search of Duende gathers Lorca's writings about the duende and three art forms susceptible to it: dance, music, and the bullfight. A bilingual sampling of Lorca's poetry is also included, making this an excellent introduction to Lorca's poetry and prose for American readers.
Little History of Poetry

Little History of Poetry

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A vital, engaging, and hugely enjoyable guide to poetry, from ancient times to the present, by one of our greatest champions of literature--selected as the literature book of the year by the London Times

"[A] fizzing, exhilarating book."--Sebastian Faulks, Sunday Times, London

"Delightful.'"--New York Times Book Review

What is poetry? If music is sound organized in a particular way, poetry is a way of organizing language. It is language made special so that it will be remembered and valued. It does not always work--over the centuries countless thousands of poems have been forgotten. But this Little History is about some that have not.

John Carey tells the stories behind the world's greatest poems, from the oldest surviving one written nearly four thousand years ago to those being written today. Carey looks at poets whose works shape our views of the world, such as Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Whitman, and Yeats. He also looks at more recent poets, like Derek Walcott, Marianne Moore, and Maya Angelou, who have started to question what makes a poem "great" in the first place.

For readers both young and old, this little history shines a light for readers on the richness of the world's poems--and the elusive quality that makes them all the more enticing.

NINETEEN WAYS OF LOOKING AT WA

NINETEEN WAYS OF LOOKING AT WA

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A new expanded edition of the classic study of translation, finally back in print
POETRY HANDBOOK

POETRY HANDBOOK

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With passion, wit, and good common sense, the celebrated poet Mary Oliver tells of the basic ways a poem is built--meter and rhyme, form and diction, sound and sense. She talks of iambs and trochees, couplets and sonnets, and how and why this should matter to anyone writing or reading poetry. Drawing on poems from Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, and others, Oliver imparts an extraordinary amount of information in a remarkably short space.

"Mary Oliver would probably never admit to anything so grandiose as an effort to connect the conscious mind and the heart (that's what she says poetry can do), but that is exactly what she accomplishes in this stunning little handbook."--Los Angeles Times

Proofs and Theories

Proofs and Theories

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Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

Proofs and Theories, winner of the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Non-Fiction, is an illuminating collection of essays by Louise Glück, one of this country's most brilliant poets.

Like her poems, the prose of Glück, who won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1993 for The Wild Iris, is compressed, fastidious, fierce, alert, and absolutely unconsoled. The force of her thought is evident everywhere in these essays, from her explorations of other poets' work to her skeptical contemplation of current literary critical notions such as sincerity and courage. Here also are Glück's revealing reflections on her own education and life as a poet, and a tribute to her teacher and mentor, Stanley Kunitz. Proofs and Theories is not a casual collection. It is the testament of a major poet.

ROAD NOT TAKEN

ROAD NOT TAKEN

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A cultural "biography" of Robert Frost's beloved poem, arguably the most popular piece of American literature

"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood . . ." One hundred years after its first publication in August 1915, Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken" is so ubiquitous that it's easy to forget that it is, in fact, a poem. Yet poetry it is, and Frost's immortal lines remain unbelievably popular. And yet in spite of this devotion, almost everyone gets the poem hopelessly wrong.

David Orr's The Road Not Taken dives directly into the controversy, illuminating the poem's enduring greatness while revealing its mystifying contradictions. Widely admired as the poetry columnist for the New York Times Book Review, Orr is the perfect guide for lay readers and experts alike. Orr offers a lively look at the poem's cultural influence, its artistic complexity, and its historical journey from the margins of the First World War all the way to its canonical place today as a true masterpiece of American literature.

"The Road Not Taken" seems straightforward: a nameless traveler is faced with a choice: two paths forward, with only one to walk. And everyone remembers the traveler taking "the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference." But for a century readers and critics have fought bitterly over what the poem really says. Is it a paean to triumphant self-assertion, where an individual boldly chooses to live outside conformity? Or a biting commentary on human self-deception, where a person chooses between identical roads and yet later romanticizes the decision as life altering?

What Orr artfully reveals is that the poem speaks to both of these impulses, and all the possibilities that lie between them. The poem gives us a portrait of choice without making a decision itself. And in this, "The Road Not Taken" is distinctively American, for the United States is the country of choice in all its ambiguous splendor.

Published for the poem's centennial--along with a new Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition of Frost's poems, edited and introduced by Orr himself--The Road Not Taken is a treasure for all readers, a triumph of artistic exploration and cultural investigation that sings with its own unforgettably poetic voice.

Praise for The Road Not Taken

"The most satisfying part of Orr's fresh appraisal of 'The Road Not Taken' is the reappraisal it can inspire in longtime Frost readers whose readings have frozen solid. The crossroads between the poet and the man is where Frost leaves his poems for us to discover, turning what seems like a fork in the road into a site of limitless potential." --The Boston Globe