With Swarm, her first new collection since The Errancy, Pulitzer Prize-winner Jorie Graham has given us a book-length sequence of poems stunning in its sober encounter with destiny, eros, and law. The narrator, at times almost vertigo-ridden by the problem of who is addressed-whom there still is to address-negotiates passionately with those powers human beings feel themselves to be "underneath": God, matter, law, custom, the force of love.
To "swarm" is to leave an originating organism'a hive, a home country, a stable sense of one's body, a stable hierarchy of values in an attempt, by coming apart, to found a new form that will hold. The Roman Empire, its distillation in the Forum's remains, the Romantic imagination of that buried past ("underneath"), as well as the collapse of the erotic border between lovers' bodies, are persistent metaphors for the destabilization and reformation of the idea and sensation of personhood.
The "first" person and "enjambment" are characters in this book, as are the fragment, the gap, the sentence. And everywhere lovers seek to find the borders that must break as well as those that must at all cost hold. Clytemnestra await-ing Agamemnon, Calypso veiling Ulysses, Daphne accepting Apollo a variety of mythological characters reappear here, ea-ger to plead their stories into sense, desper-ate for some insight into the buried justice of natural law.
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|Product dimensions:||6.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.25(d)|
About the Author
Jorie Graham is the author of twelve collections of poetry, including The Dream of the Unified Field, which won the Pulitzer Prize. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she teaches at Harvard University. The recipient of numerous awards, including the Pulitzer, the Forward Prize and the International Nonino Prize, Graham's work is widely translated.
Read an Excerpt
fromThe Reformation Journal
The wisdom I have heretofore trusted was cowardice, the leaper.
I am not lying. There is no lying in me,
I surrender myself like the sinking ship,
a burning wreck from which the depths will get theirs when the heights have gotten theirs.
My throat is an open grave. I hide my face.
I have reduced all to lower case.
I have crossed out passages.
I have severely trimmed and cleared.
Locations are omitted.
Uncertain readings are inserted silently.
Abbreviations silently expanded.
A "he" referring to God may be capitalized or not.
(is crying now) show me
is crying now (what's wrong)
in a strange tree of atoms of
too few moreno wonder
Give me the glassy ripeness
Give me the glassy ripeness in failure
Give me the atom laying its question at the bottom of nature
Send word Clear fields
Make formal event Walk
Reduce all to lower case Have reduced all
Cross out passages Have inserted silently
is there a name for?
born and raised
(go back) (need more)
having lived it leaves it possible
fear lamentation shame ruin believe me
explain given to
explain born of
Absence isodious to God
Unseen unseen the treasure unperceived
Unless you compare the treasure may be lost
Oh my beloved I'm asking
More atoms, more days, the noise of the sparrows, of the universals
Yet colder here now than in
the atom still there at the bottom of nature
that we be founded on infinite smallness
which occasions incorruption or immortality"
(incorruption because already as little as it can be)
(escape square, wasted square, safety square, hopeless square)
"to all except anguish the mind soon adjusts"
have reduced, have trimmed, have cleared, have omitted
have abbreviations silently expanded
to what avail
explain asks to be followed
explain remains to be seen