A Swallow Press Book
“As jaded as Naipaul, as funny as the early Waugh, Cassity turns phrases upside down, and pieties inside out, in forms that are at once pithy and meticulous.”
If you think that Turner Cassity has mellowed or slowed down since the 1998 release of his selected poems, The Destructive Element, think again. In No Second Eden Cassity is back more Swiftian than ever. Among the targets reduced to ruin are countertenors, parole boards, the French Symbolists, calendar reformers, the Yale Divinity School, and the cult of Elvis. Without turning a blind eye, he even extends a toast to Wernher von Braun.
Surprisingly, there is a poem about the Mississippi in which Cassity grew up. Unsurprisingly, it is a vision quite unlike others of that state. Its chilly and amusing precision is about as far from Southern Gothic as you can get, although elsewhere there are faint hints of a failed Good Ole Boy. Indeed, the final poems in the collection are a bit more personal than one expects of this writer.
As rigorous in form as they are in feeling, the poems of No Second Eden are not for those with preconceived ideas of poetry or its purpose. Early in Cassity's career, James Merrill described Cassity's work as “an opera house in the jungle.” True so far as it goes, but he might also have called it the jungle in the opera house: a glimpse at the savagery behind every façade.
Turner Cassity was born in 1929 in Jackson, Mississippi. He is the author of seven collections of poetry and the recipient of numerous prizes and awards. He retired in 1991 as a catalog librarian at the R. W. Woodruff Library, Emory University. More info →
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Ordinary, everday, homely. These are words that come to mind to describe the dimension Hollis Summers’ poems live in. But they are inadequate words, and his are deceptively simple poems. They speak little, and quietly, but they record, in the silences they create, a desperate, melancholy magic about the surfaces and trivial events of our days. So we are led to discover, and assent, to all these tonal perceptions as the true domestic furniture of our inner lives.
E. L. Mayo was a quiet poet who embraced obscurity almost as a condition for his intellectual freedom. Still, a few discerning critics noticed. David Daiches has said that “Mayo’s poems … pretend to be simple prose–like utterances, whereas in fact the best of them contain an echoing poetic meaning which begins to relase itself a split second after we have read the words.”
Photographing Eden presents the first full-length collection of poems by a major new talent. The work meditates on several ideas, the crux of which is Eden: spirituality, environmentalism, and the relationships between men and women. Observing, often through the lens of a camera, our state in the world, the poems try to focus sharply on what often seems a blur.