cover image From the New World: Poems 1976–2014

From the New World: Poems 1976–2014

Jorie Graham. Ecco, $29.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-231540-3

Graham’s second selected volume comes two decades after 1995’s Pulitzer-winning The Dream of the Unified Field and offers a well-curated representation of that period and her subsequent six books, along with four new poems. In culling from 11 collections, the volume is necessarily limited in scope, but it succeeds in giving readers—particularly new ones—a long view of the aesthetic development and ethical awakening of one of America’s most important and critically lauded contemporary poets. Here, the tightly composed lines from her early work in Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts and Erosion give way to The End of Beauty’s cinematics, mythologies, and time-exploding lyrics. These give way in turn to Graham’s middle-career search through form and fragmentation, into the burgeoning ethical consciousness of Never and Overlord, finally arriving at the zigzag, stacklike poems of her ecologically minded (and relatively restrained) previous two volumes. What some might consider many of her finest poems are missing here, but the scale of thought and perception—and the arc of arguments that coalesce over the course of this selected—is a testament to Graham’s work and her willingness to push herself into new territory with each new book. For that reason, one wonders, in reading the four new poems, if Graham is again searching for a new form to take her forward. (Feb.)