Wild Gratitude) and three books of prose in the last five years (
 

LAY BACK THE DARKNESS

Edward Hirsch, Author
Edward Hirsch, Author . Knopf $23 (88p) ISBN 978-0-375-41521-0
Open Ebook - 88 pages - 978-0-307-53699-0
Paperback - 88 pages - 978-0-375-71002-5
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The author of five previous collections (including the 1986 NBCC Award–winning Wild Gratitude) and three books of prose in the last five years (How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry among them), Hirsch was awarded a MacArthur "genius" grant, and was recently named president of the Guggenheim Foundation. (He was quoted as being "wildly energized" by the prospect.) This sixth collection should raise his reputation to Pinsky-like proportions. But although the two poets tackle many of the same themes (the Bible; classical literature; the Holocaust and its aftermath), Hirsch's poetic personae are much more straightforward. "The Desire Manuscripts," in seven parts, gives voice to books of The Inferno (in terza rima) and The Odyssey: "I have been many things in this life—/ husband, a warrior, a seer—but I cannot forget/ what the goddess can do to me, if she desires." The serial "Two Suitcases of Children's Drawings from Terezin, 1942–1944" works from a real set of found drawings from the Terezin concentration camp: "when the locks were unfastened/ the drawings spilled over/ like a waterfall/ and everyone was drenched." A third, longer work is the 10-part "Under a Wild Green Fig Tree: The Hades Sonnets, " which offers three poems in the voice of Eurydice, and an Orphic "Voyage": "I was sentenced to the punishment/ field along with other tormented spirits/ where I vowed to remember the ghostly/ and baleful blue undersongs of Hades/ and return with them to the waking world." In these and the shorter poems that fill out the collection, Hirsch puts his vaunted formal skills to careful use, creating characters readers will recognize immediately. (Mar. 20)

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