Big Names and a Little Art
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The big story this fall in poetry is the sheer number of Pulitzer
Prize winners releasing new books—;ve out of six being
collections of new work. Meanwhile, two major poets break
new ground in their respective oeuvres, a poet under-rec-
ognized in the U.S. takes a cinematic turn, and three Henri
Michaux works are translated into English for the ;rst time.
Beginning with the Pulitzer poets, 1984 winner Mary Oliver follows last year’s Dog
Songs with a collection called Blue Horses. While the former collection actually was
all about dogs, only one poem in the new collection re;ects on Blue Horses (in this case,
the Franz Marc painting), though in true Oliver fashion nature is a primary concern
and vehicle for her meditations.
The 1993 winner, Louise Glück, follows Poems 1962–2012 with a captivating collection, Faithful and Virtuous Night, which takes readers on an adventure into the
unknown through an array of dreamlike portals.
One Thousand Things Worth Knowing: Poems is another wild, expansive
collection from the eternally surprising Paul Muldoon, 2003 winner and poetry editor
at the New Yorker. “Watchfulness” is the buzzword surrounding this one, and it seems
as great a place as any to start the 2015 reading year.
With A Progressive Education, master translator and 1970 winner Richard
Howard re;ects on his own youth in Cleveland through the voices of delightfully
precocious, ironic children who are as sophisticated as any characters in poetry.
Ted Kooser won the award in 2005 for Delights and Shadows, and the quintessen-
tially Midwestern poet ends his fans’ nearly decadelong wait for a follow-up with
The 1999 winner, MacArthur fellow Mark Strand, receives the “collected” treatment
to honor a long, celebrated life in poetry. For the Canadian-born, a former U.S. poet
laureate who now lives in Madrid, these Collected Poems will con;rm his place in
the canon as they invite a new generation of readers into his subtle, wise, surreal,
and witty world.
Edward Hirsch, like Strand a MacArthur fellow published by Knopf, hasn’t won a
Pulitzer, but he puts himself in the reckoning with Gabriel: A Poem. It’s the kind
of poem, however, that no poet wishes to write: a sustained elegy for his only son.
Heartbreaking yet unsentimental, Hirsch works through his fatherly sorrow in an
Matthea Harvey, one of America’s most imaginative, playful, and perceptive poets, is another in the running for major recognition this year. Her latest work, If the
Tabloids Are True What Are You? Poems and Artwork, blends her poetry and
visual art, with images working as titles in some places as well as a series of intriguing photographs. Harvey is de;nitively coming into her prime.
Also incorporating visual art is Thousand Times Broken: Three Books, Gillian
Conoley’s translations of works Henri Michaux completed between 1956 and 1959.
This period was the height of Michaux’s experimentation with mescaline, and we
also ;nd illustrations from him, as well as the inimitable Roberto Matta.
Canadian poet and essayist Lisa Robertson, one of the foremost manipulators of
the English language, unleashes a book-length poem, Cinema of the Present, that
interrogates the contemporary sense of self through a montage of observations and