James Richardson’s poems appear frequently in The New Yorker, Slate, and Paris Review. He is a professor of English and creative writing at Princeton University.
For James Richardson, poetry is serious and speculative play for both intellect and imagination. By the Numbers is striking for its range of line and movement, for its microlyrics, crypto-quatrains, “ten-second essays,” and the twist and snap of aphorisms. Drawing from myriad fables—Ovidian, Shakespearean, georgic, and scientific—Richardson makes familiar scenes strange enough to provoke new and startling insights.
“Ten-second Essay #138”
Faces are motion, which is why all the photos of you are bad. Even the most natural-looking portrait is a sentence interrupted, one note of an aria, held. Though faces themselves hide a deeper motion. You seem to sit there and meet my eyes across the table, but you are so many other places, clinging here for a moment against all the currents that will soon sweep you onward. We are so moved by the faces caught in the windows of trains going the other way because they tell us how all faces really are.
This book gathers under one roof poems from all of Richardson’s earlier collections, a number of which are out of print: Reservations (1977), Second Guesses (1984), As If (1992), A Suite for Lucretians (1999), How Things Are (2000), and Vectors: Aphorisms & Ten-Second Essays (2001), as well as a large selection of new poems and aphorisms.
A distillation of three decades of work, Interglacial will introduce this poet to a new generation of readers. Richardson fans will be pleased to discover early poems long out of print, and to see this poet’s work in a larger, retrospective context.