Book Recommendations from Our Advisory Editors
Jane Hirshfield recommends World of Made and Unmade by Jane Mead (Alice James Books, September 2016): “This is a work of enormous reach and dignity. The collection’s center is Mead’s mother’s death, though naming its subject doesn’t begin to convey the power of Mead’s writing, or of her multifaceted looking and feeling. The land, with its workers, plants, machinery, and creatures; larger political and social awareness; the family losing its matriarch but not its fullness; the mother noting in ledgers ‘her impeccable accounts of life as we know it’— all leap from the brief ink of Mead’s own impeccable accountings. It is rare to find such expanse of meaning constructed by such frugal strictness. Each word in this book seems a light bulb filament, flaring its own precise making into all that surrounds it, of grief, of life.”
Jane Hirshfield recommends Forbidden City by Gail Mazur (University of Chicago Press, 2016): “This is, quite simply, one of the most moving, beautifully-crafted collections of lyric poems I have read in a long time. Written after the death of Gail Mazur’s husband, the extraordinary artist Michael Mazur, its unity is tied on the knot of its grief.” This note was printed in the Winter 2016-2017 issue, mistakenly referring to Michael Mazur as Barry Mazur. We regret the error.
Tony Hoagland recommends Divan of Ghalib by Nachoem Wijnberg, translated by David Colmer (White Pine Press, July 2016): “The poems are not written by the Urdu Sufi poet Ghalib, but they borrow something from the ghazal form and its practice of elusive poetic allegory, which they also modernize.”
Tony Hoagland recommends A World Apart by Gustaw Herling (Penguin Books, 1996): “This is a wonderfully written memoir of two years in Stalin’s Northern Siberian gulag. Its stories and its psycho-sociological clarity are every bit as good as the more famous parallel memoirs by Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel.”
Tom Sleigh recommends Last Lake by Reginald Gibbons (University of Chicago Press, October 2016), Against Sunset by Stanley Plumly (W. W. Norton & Company, November 2016), Groundspeed by Emilia Phillips (University of Akron Press, March 2016), After the Fact: Scripts and Postscripts by Christopher Merrill and Marvin Bell (White Pine Press, September 2016): “All of these books have found their proper altitude and attitude. I selected them because they all exemplify, in Seamus Heaney’s words, ‘the poet stretched between politics and transcendence,’ not disposed to take a position but to be ‘affected by all positions, negatively rather than positively capable.’”