Exploding the myth that the Bible was largely unknown to medieval lay folk, Book and Verse presents the first comprehensive catalog of Middle English biblical literature: a body of work that, because of its accessibility and familiarity, was the primary biblical resource of the English Middle Ages. The medieval Bible, much like the Bible today, consists in practical terms not of a set of texts within a canon but of those stories which, because of a combination of liturgical significance and picturesque qualities, form a provisional "Bible" in the popular imagination. As James Morey explains in his introduction, although the Latin Bible was not accessible to the average English-speaker, paraphrases— systematic appropriation and refashioning of biblical texts—served as a medium through which the Bible was promulgated in the vernacular. This explains why biblical allusions, models, and large-scale appropriations of biblical narrative pervade nearly every medieval genre. Book and Verse is an indispensable guide to the variety and extent of biblical literature in England, exclusive of drama and the Wycliffite Bible that appeared between the twelfth and the fifteenth centuries. Entries provide detailed information on how much of what parts of the Bible appear in Middle English and where this biblical material can be found. Comprehensive indexing by name, keyword, and biblical verse allows a researcher to find, for example, all the occurrences of the Flood Story or of the encounter between Elijah and the Widow of Sarephta. An invaluable resource, Book and Verse provides the first easy access to the "popular Bible" assembled before and after John Wyclif's translation of the Vulgate into English.
Over the last few decades, Victorian scholars have produced many nuanced studies connecting the politics of crime to the generic developments of the novel—and vice versa. Ellen L. O’Brien’s Crime in Verse grants the same attention and status to poetic representations of crime. Considering the literary achievements and cultural engagements of poetry while historicizing murder’s entanglement in legal fictions, punitive practices, medical theories, class conflicts, and gender codes, O’Brien argues that shifting approaches to poetry and conflicted understandings of murder allowed poets to align problems of legal and literary interpretation in provocative, disruptive, and innovative ways.
Developing focused analyses of generic and discursive meanings, individual chapters examine the classed politics of crime and punishment in the broadside ballad, the epistemological tensions of homicidal lunacy and criminal responsibility in the dramatic monologue, and the legal and ideological frictions of domestic violence in the verse novel and verse drama. Their juxtaposition of the rhymes of anonymous street balladeers, the underexamined verse of “minor” poets, and the familiar poems of canonical figures suggests the interactive and intertextual relationships informing poetic agendas and political arguments. As it simultaneously reconsiders the institutional and ideological status of murder and the aesthetic and political interests of poetry, Crime in Verse offers new ways of thinking about Victorian poetry’s contents and contexts.
Gentle Flame recounts the life and presents for the first time the hitherto unknown poetry of Dudley, Fourth Lord North. Born during the reign of Elizabeth I, reared in that of James I, elected to Parliament under Charles I, and retired to his country seat during the time of Charles II, the life an poetry of the Fourth Lord North deepens present-day understanding of an age that saw much social change.
London: A History in Verse
Mark Ford Harvard University Press, 2012 Library of Congress PR1195.L6L64 2012 | Dewey Decimal 821.0080358421
London has long been understood through the poetry it has inspired. Mark Ford has assembled the most capacious and wide-ranging anthology of poems about London to date, from Chaucer to Wordsworth to the present day, providing a chronological tour of urban life and of English literature. The volume includes an introductory essay by the poet.
Before Black Lives Matter and Hamilton, there were abolitionist poets, who put pen to paper during an era when speaking out against slavery could mean risking your life. Indeed, William Lloyd Garrison was dragged through the streets by a Boston mob before a planned lecture, and publisher Elijah P. Lovejoy was fatally shot while defending his press from rioters. Since poetry formed a part of the cultural, political, and emotional lives of readers, it held remarkable persuasive power. Yet antislavery poems have been less studied than the activist editorials and novels of the time.
In Lyrical Liberators, Monica Pelaez draws on unprecedented archival research to recover these poems from the periodicals—Garrison’s Liberator, Frederick Douglass’s North Star, and six others—in which they originally appeared. The poems are arranged by theme over thirteen chapters, a number that represents the amendment that finally abolished slavery in 1865. The book collects and annotates works by critically acclaimed writers, commercially successful scribes, and minority voices including those of African Americans and women.
There is no other book like this. Sweeping in scope and passionate in its execution, Lyrical Liberators is indispensable for scholars and teachers of American literature and history, and stands as a testimony to the power of a free press in the face of injustice.
The history of Mexico is spoken in the voice of ordinary people. In rhymed verse and mariachi song, in letters of romance and whispered words in the cantina, the heart and soul of a nation is revealed in all its intimacy and authenticity. Mexico in Verse, edited by Stephen Neufeld and Michael Matthews, examines Mexican history through its poetry and music, the spoken and the written word.
Focusing on modern Mexico, from 1840 to the 1980s, this volume examines the cultural venues in which people articulated their understanding of the social, political, and economic change they witnessed taking place during times of tremendous upheaval, such as the Mexican-American War, the Porfiriato, and the Mexican Revolution. The words of diverse peoples—people of the street, of the field, of the cantinas—reveal the development of the modern nation. Neufeld and Matthews have chosen sources so far unexplored by Mexicanist scholars in order to investigate the ways that individuals interpreted—whether resisting or reinforcing—official narratives about formative historical moments.
The contributors offer new research that reveals how different social groups interpreted and understood the Mexican experience. The collected essays cover a wide range of topics: military life, railroad accidents, religious upheaval, children’s literature, alcohol consumption, and the 1985 earthquake. Each chapter provides a translated song or poem that encourages readers to participate in the interpretive practice of historical research and cultural scholarship. In this regard, Mexico in Verse serves both as a volume of collected essays and as a classroom-ready primary document reader.
Leontyne Price remains one of the twentieth century’s most revered opera singers and, notably, the first African American to achieve such international acclaim. In movements encompassing poetry and prose, writer and musician Kevin Simmonds explores Price as an icon, a diva, a woman, and a patriot—and himself as a fan, a budding singer, and a gay man—through passages that move polyphonically through the contested spaces of Black identity, Black sound, Black sensibility, and Black history.
Structured operatically into overture, acts, and postlude, The Monster I Am Today guides the reader through associative shifts from arias like “weather events” and Price’s forty-two-minute final ovation to memories of Simmonds’s coming of age in New Orleans. As he melds lyric forms with the biography of one of classical music’s greatest virtuosos, Simmonds composes a duet that spotlights Price’s profound influence on him as a person and an artist: “That’s how I hear: Her.”
Not God: A Play in Verse
Marc J. Straus Northwestern University Press, 2006 Library of Congress PS3569.T69213N68 2006 | Dewey Decimal 812.54
The tread of the nurses leaving the room next door tells the woman her neighbor has died. The language of the hospital is one she has unwillingly, painstakingly learned: the rhythm of machines, the counting of pills, the measuring of words, the shadowy news of an MRI. And in these harrowing, eloquent poems, she opens this world, this language of illness, to us, revealing how deeply these words and rhythms are also the measure of life. The views of her doctor are also evocatively expressed--his anger, struggles, and hopes--as he speaks of the delicate bond he forms with his ill patients. Composed by a distinguished medical oncologist whose literary work has been performed in venues throughout the country, the poems of Not God document one woman's encounter with cancer, a journey through illness whose end, while inevitable, is also unknown. Alternating with the words of her doctor, these poems form a remarkable dialogue of the flesh becoming word, and of the body inventorying--and finally transcending--its limitations.
"The great pleasure of this book is the writing itself. Not only is it free of academic and ‘lit-crit' jargon, it is lively prose, often deliciously witty or humorous, and utterly contemporary. Poetry's Afterlife has terrific classroom potential, from elementary school teachers seeking to inspire creativity in their students, to graduate students in MFA programs, to working poets who struggle with the aesthetic dilemmas Stein elucidates, and to teachers of poetry on any level."
--- Beckian Fritz Goldberg, Arizona State University
"Kevin Stein is the most astute poet-critic of his generation, and this is a crucial book, confronting the most vexing issues which poetry faces in a new century."
---David Wojahn, Virginia Commonwealth University
At a time when most commentators fixate on American poetry's supposed "death," Kevin Stein's Poetry's Afterlife instead proposes the vitality of its aesthetic hereafter. The essays of Poetry's Afterlife blend memoir, scholarship, and personal essay to survey the current poetry scene, trace how we arrived here, and suggest where poetry is headed in our increasingly digital culture. The result is a book both fetchingly insightful and accessible. Poetry's spirited afterlife has come despite, or perhaps because of, two decades of commentary diagnosing American poetry as moribund if not already deceased. With his 2003 appointment as Illinois Poet Laureate and his forays into public libraries and schools, Stein has discovered that poetry has not given up its literary ghost. For a fated art supposedly pushing up aesthetic daisies, poetry these days is up and about in the streets, schools, and universities, and online in new and compelling digital forms. It flourishes among the people in a lively if curious underground existence largely overlooked by national media. It's this second life, or better, Poetry's Afterlife, that his book examines and celebrates.
Kevin Stein is Caterpillar Professor of English and Director of the Creative Writing Program at Bradley University and has served as Illinois Poet Laureate since 2003, having assumed the position formerly held by Gwendolyn Brooks and Carl Sandburg. He is the author of numerous books of poetry and criticism.
This book sheds new light on the work of Robert Hayden (1913–80) in response to changing literary scholarship. While Hayden’s poetry often reflected aspects of the African American experience, he resisted attempts to categorize his poetry in racial terms. This fresh appreciation of Hayden’s work recontextualizes his achievements against the backdrop of the Black Arts Movement and traces his influence on contemporary African American poets. Placing Hayden at the heart of a history of African American poetry and culture spanning the Harlem Renaissance to the Hip-Hop era, the book explains why Hayden is now a canonical figure in 20th-century American literature.
In deep readings that focus on Hayden’s religiousness, class consciousness, and historical vision, author Derik Smith inverts earlier scholarly accounts that figure Hayden as an outsider at odds with the militancy of the Black Arts movement. Robert Hayden in Verse offers detailed descriptions of the poet’s vigorous contributions to 1960s discourse about art, modernity, and blackness to show that the poet was, in fact, an earnest participant in Black Arts-era political and aesthetic debates.
What does it mean to contemplate? In the Middle Ages, more than merely thinking with intensity, it was a religious practice entailing utter receptiveness to the divine presence. Contemplation is widely considered by scholars today to have been the highest form of devotional prayer, a rarified means of experiencing God practiced only by the most devout of monks, nuns, and mystics.
Yet, in this groundbreaking new book, Eleanor Johnson argues instead for the pervasiveness and accessibility of contemplative works to medieval audiences. By drawing together ostensibly diverse literary genres—devotional prose, allegorical poetry, cycle dramas, and morality plays—Staging Contemplation paints late Middle English contemplative writing as a broad genre that operated collectively and experientially as much as through radical individual disengagement from the world. Johnson further argues that the contemplative genre played a crucial role in the exploration of the English vernacular as a literary and theological language in the fifteenth century, tracing how these works engaged modes of disfluency—from strained syntax and aberrant grammar, to puns, slang, code-switching, and laughter—to explore the limits, norms, and potential of English as a devotional language. Full of virtuoso close readings, this book demonstrates a sustained interest in how poetic language can foster a participatory experience of likeness to God among lay and devotional audiences alike.
This Craft of Verse
Jorge Luis Borges Harvard University Press, 2000 Library of Congress PN1064.B67 2000 | Dewey Decimal 809.1
Through a twist of fate that the author of Labyrinths himself would have relished, these lost lectures given in English at Harvard in 1967–1968 by Jorge Luis Borges return to us now, a recovered tale of a life-long love affair with literature and the English language. Transcribed from tapes only recently discovered, This Craft of Verse captures the cadences, candor, wit, and remarkable erudition of one of the most extraordinary and enduring literary voices of the twentieth century. In its wide-ranging commentary and exquisite insights, the book stands as a deeply personal yet far-reaching introduction to the pleasures of the word, and as a first-hand testimony to the life of literature.
Though his avowed topic is poetry, Borges explores subjects ranging from prose forms (especially the novel), literary history, and translation theory to philosophical aspects of literature in particular and communication in general. Probably the best-read citizen of the globe in his day, he draws on a wealth of examples from literature in modern and medieval English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Greek, Latin, Arabic, Hebrew, and Chinese, speaking with characteristic eloquence on Plato, the Norse kenningar, Byron, Poe, Chesterton, Joyce, and Frost, as well as on translations of Homer, the Bible, and the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám.
Whether discussing metaphor, epic poetry, the origins of verse, poetic meaning, or his own “poetic creed,” Borges gives a performance as entertaining as it is intellectually engaging. A lesson in the love of literature and in the making of a unique literary sensibility, this is a sustained encounter with one of the writers by whom the twentieth century will be long remembered.
Under 25 contains early writings of such distinguished Duke University graduates as William Styron, Mac Hyman, Reynolds Price, Anne Tyler, James Applewhite, and Fred Chappell. All of the pieces were written either when their authors were undergraduates or very recent graduates, which makes for a collection of stories and poems which is youthful and energetic, but never naive.
2006 Independent Publisher Book Award for Story Teller of the Year
In this updated edition of Ana Castillo’s celebrated novel in verse, featuring a new introduction by Poet Laureate of Texas Carmen Tafolla, we revisit the story’s spirited heroine, known only as “Ella” or “She,” as she takes us through her own epic journey of self-actualization as an artist and a woman. With a remarkable combination of tenderness, lyricism, wicked humor, and biting satire, Castillo dramatizes Ella’s struggle through poverty as a Chicano single mother at the threshold of the twenty-first century, fighting for upward mobility while trying to raise her son to be independent and self-sufficient. Urged on by the gods of the ancients, Ella’s life interweaves with those of others whose existences are often neglected, even denied, by society’s status quo. Castillo’s strong rhythmic voice and exploration of such issues as love, sexual orientation, and cultural identity will resonate with readers today as much as they did upon the book’s original publication more than ten years ago. This expanded edition also includes a short preface by the author, as well as a glossary, a reader’s guide, and a list of additional suggested readings.