Staff Pick

“Tell me about a complicated man. / Muse, tell me how he wandered and was lost / when he had wrecked the holy town of Troy, / and where he went, and who he met, the pain / he suffered in the storms at sea, and how / he worked to save his life and bring his man / back home.” In a graceful return to iambic pentameter, Emily Wilson’s new translation of The Odyssey (W.W. Norton, $39.95) is resonant and light footed, swift and lithe. It also happens to be the first, in all 432 years since Homer was first translated into English, by a woman. The volume itself is a luminous beauty, well spaced, readable, with a thorough glossary, hand-drawn maps, and an enthralling but unencumbered translator’s note that heroically balances the interests and prerogatives of both casual or first-time readers and scholars long engaged with the epic.  It has never been a better time to pick up this foundational work!

The Odyssey Cover Image
By Homer, Emily Wilson (Translated by)
$39.95
ISBN: 9780393089059
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - November 7th, 2017

Staff Pick

“I am a house swollen with the dead,” Danez Smith writes, and Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf, $16), his powerful second book, might be read as one extended elegy for all the black victims of police shootings, lynchings, street violence, and HIV. Smith imagines not an afterlife but an alternative life for these lost boys. In many ways it’s a beautiful, redemptive, defiant vision, but it’s also heartbreaking and enraging—the fact remains that “we earned this paradise/ by a death we didn’t deserve.” Angry, passionate, and full of lines with the concision and urgency of protest slogans—“i was born a bull’s eye,” “history is what it is. it knows what it did,” “paradise is a world where everything /is sanctuary & nothing is a gun”—these poems are also expertly crafted lyrics. Smith’s formal skills range from the unvarnished prose poem, “dear white America,” to propulsive couplets and preacherly/rap rhythms and repetitions. One tour de force spills “blood” all over the page in a desperate effort to come to grips with all the real blood—including Smith’s—infected with HIV. In another, Smith turns to the demanding technical constraints of the crown of sonnets to channel his grief over the children he’ll never have, the children he can only “un”: “untuck them into bed, unkiss their lil wounds/ unteach them how to pray.” Don’t miss this one.

Don't Call Us Dead: Poems Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781555977856
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Graywolf Press - September 5th, 2017

Staff Pick

Whereas (Graywolf, $16), Layli Long Soldier’s stunning debut, starts and ends with “grassesgrassesgrasses.“ Natural, abiding, and usually overlooked, these speak a truth unavailable to this poet in either her largely erased native Lakota or in the English that has so often betrayed Indigenous peoples. “Everything is in the language we use,” Long Soldier says, and pushes her foster tongue to reveal things it’s been used to repress. While broken treaties and the Trail of Tears are probably familiar, you “may not have heard about the Dakota 38,” who, in “the largest ‘legal’ mass execution in U.S. history,” were hanged for their part in the 1862 Sioux Uprising. The order came from Lincoln the same week he issued the Emancipation Proclamation. This may or may not have been covered in the Congressional Resolution of Apology to Native Americans that Obama signed, with little fanfare and no Native leaders in attendance, before the brief statement was buried in the 2010 Defense Appropriations Act. Long Soldier alternates her courageous exhumation of history with stark glimpses of the toll these events have taken on real lives. Her formally innovative lyrics challenge margins and white space, making us see and feel the full impact of bullying, casual racism, and hate crimes. When Long Soldier follows a poem on her efforts to match the Lakota and English words for lost and the news of a friend’s beating, with a spare lyric about the birth of her daughter, the effect is sharp and poignant. Of the many urgent and important questions this incomparable book raises, perhaps the most emotionally devastating is the one that comes from Long Soldier’s “panic” at having to pass on a fractured heritage to her child. “What did I know of our language but pieces? Would I teach her to be pieces.” But she also knows “in the missing: power.” This is a book we’ve needed to a long, long time.

WHEREAS: Poems Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781555977672
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Graywolf Press - March 7th, 2017

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