This volume comprises 60 poems written by the novel’s central character and narrator-poet “Locomotion” (the nickname of Lonnie Collins Motion). Introduced to the joys of poetry by his teacher, Ms. Marcus, Lonnie’s revelations about himself are drawn out by his discovery of the emotive qualities encouraged by poetry’s various forms, from haiku to sonnet. As he becomes more comfortable as a writer, Lonnie reveals the secret that at age seven, he and his sister were orphaned when their parents died in a fire. Throughout the collection, Lonnie’s personal growth corresponds with his willingness to become a more adventurous writer.
At the outset of the Civil War in 1861, two mysterious young women arrive by steamboat in Grand Tower, Illinois, a river town on the muddy banks of the Mississippi. One woman, vibrant and commanding, is dressed in the high-fashion regalia of the era; the other, withdrawn and brooding, looks very much as though she may be an escaped slave now walking on free soil. Soon after arriving, the new faces are offered room and board in the Pruitt household. As the mystery unfolds, the lives of both the Pruitts and their visitors are forever changed, and the degree of impact one person can have on another is tested to its limit.
The death of a young French sailor on August 3, 1793 marked the beginning of a crippling epidemic that took hold of Philadelphia, then the nation’s capital, and threatened the stability of a fledgling country, leaving between 4,000 and 5,000 dead. Using medical and non-medical accounts to recreate the fear that took hold of the city, the author spotlights those who were forced to flee, President Washington among them, and the heroic residents who stayed to help combat the spread of the disease. An American Plague brings together science, history, politics, and public health to tell the story of a nation in crisis.
Having spent the majority of her life bouncing between foster homes, 17-year-old Audelia “Del” Thigpen is cynical beyond her years and tired of being “Del.” In an attempt to escape both herself and Los Angeles, Del fakes her own death and hits the road. Her escape is hindered when she finds herself in the midst of an all-day traffic jam. Eight years later, it’s the opening night of “Breakout,” Del’s one-woman play. As the narrative switches between present and future, Paul Fleischman traces the path of youthful experience transformed into art.
One night out of the blue, Ratchet Clark’s ill-natured mother tells her that Ratchet will be leaving their Pensacola apartment momentarily to take the train up north. There she will spend the summer with her aged relatives Penpen and Tilly, inseparable twins who couldn’t look more different from each other. Staying at their secluded house, Ratchet is treated to a passel of strange family history and local lore, along with heaps of generosity and care that she has never experienced before. Also, Penpen has recently espoused a new philosophy – whatever shows up on your doorstep you have to let in. Through thick wilderness, down forgotten, bear-ridden roads, come a variety of characters, drawn to Penpen and Tilly’s open door. It is with vast reservations that the cautious Tilly allows these unwelcome guests in. But it turns out that unwelcome guests may bring the greatest gifts.
From Blues to Dixieland to Ragtime, early 20th century American popular music serves as a stylistic and thematic model for the poems in this collection. The poet limits himself to short verses, often of only two lines, complementing his urgent and highly personal subject matter while lending melodic vocal attributes to the verse. The collection infuses decades-old American lyric formulas with contemporary diction and vernacular, and, in so doing, recasts the past in the most contemporary of terms.
The struggle with day-to-day American life, set against the backdrop of larger and weightier social issues, takes center-stage in this collection. The earlier poems, which concern themselves primarily with the experience of the World War II soldier, balance morbid subject matter with rhyme and sing-song rhythm, while the later work is characterized by even-lined, unrhymed verse. Read chronologically, the collection is a tale of increasing self-knowledge and personal discovery.
This anthology presents selections from Charles Simic’s last eight books alongside 19 new poems. The quatrains with which Mr. Simic are most associated are coupled with free verse to relate profound contrasts realized through striking poetic imagery. Weighty, metaphysical concerns are addressed with sardonic wit and clear-mindedness. Compiled without section breaks, the collection presents the full scope of the poet’s arc, with work spanning two decades.
Written in the wake of personal tragedy, Sparrow grapples with one of the fundamental concerns of elegy: the contrast between love and grief. The poet finds the image of a flitting sparrow as the most fitting answer. Ghosts – from Lear to Godot to Oscar Wilde – haunt the brooding verse but also announce the promise of revival even in the face of the most heartbreaking loss.