Katherine Larson is the winner of the 2010 Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition. With Radial Symmetry, she has created a transcendent body of poems that flourish in the liminal spaces that separate scientific inquiry from empathic knowledge, astute observation from sublime witness. Larson’s inventive lyrics lead the reader through vertiginous landscapes—geographical, phenomenological, psychological—while always remaining attendant to the speaker’s own fragile, creaturely self. An experienced research scientist and field ecologist, Larson dazzles with these sensuous and sophisticated poems, grappling with the powers of poetic imagination as well as the frightful realization of the human capacity for ecological destruction. The result is a profoundly moving collection: eloquent in its lament and celebration.
Richard Siken’s Crush, selected as this year’s winner of the Yale Younger Poets prize, is a powerful collection of poems driven by obsession. Siken writes with ferocity, and his reader hurtles unstoppably with him. His poetry is confessional, gay, savage, and charged with violent eroticism.
In her introduction to the book, competition judge Louise Glück hails the “cumulative, driving, apocalyptic power, [and] purgatorial recklessness” of Siken’s poems. She notes, “Books of this kind dream big…. They restore to poetry that sense of crucial moment and crucial utterance which may indeed be the great genius of the form.”
Ultima Thule (pronounced “thool”) is the mythical farthest point north, the coldest and remotest spot on earth. It is also the name of the most inaccessble changer in Mammoth Cave, which McCombs brings to life in his poetry. The cave’s limestone formations and the underground river that carves its spaces make a sort of echo chamber for the heartbeats of the author and his friends and neighbors, of whose lives the immense but buried cave is the dominant feature and metaphor.
Yale University Press will publish this book of poetry in April 2014.
A young soldier dons Napoleon’s hat. An out-of-work man wanders Berlin, dreaming he is Peter the Great. The famous exile Dante finally returns to his native city to “hang his crown of laurels up.” Familial and historical apparitions haunt this dazzling collection of poems by Will Schutt, the 2012 recipient of the prestigious Yale Series of Younger Poets award.
Coupled with Schutt’s own voice are the voices of some of Italy’s most prominent nineteenth- and twentieth-century poets including Giacomo Leopardi, Alda Merini, Eugenio Montale, and Edoardo Sanguineti. Subtle, discerning, restrained, the poems in Westerly probe a vast emotional geography, with its contingent pleasures and pains, “where the door’s always dark, the sky still blue.”
…some narrow sickness buried you.…[more]
Seamlessly braiding English and Spanish, Corral’s poems hurtle across literary and linguistic borders toward a lyricism that slows down experience. He employs a range of forms and phrasing, bringing the vivid particulars of his experiences as a Chicano and gay man to the page. Although Corral’s topics are decidedly sobering, contest judge Carl Phillips observes, “one of the more surprising possibilities offered in these poems is joy.”
I’m a cowboy
My soul is
These poems of maturation chronicle the poet’s relationship with his immigrant family and his unknowing attempt to recapture the unity of youth through comically doomed love affairs that evaporate before they start. Hungrily eclectic, the wry and emotionally piercing poems in this collection steal the forms of the shooting script, blues song, novel, memoir, essay, logical disputation, aphorism—even classical Chinese poetry in translation. But as Yale Younger Poets judge Louise Glück notes in her foreword, “The miracle of this book is the degree to which Ken Chen manages to be both exhilaratingly modern (anti-catharsis, anti-epiphany) while at the same time never losing his attachment to voice, and the implicit claims of voice: these are poems of intense feeling…. Like only the best poets, Ken Chen makes with his voice a new category.”
Mesmerizing and electric, her volume It Is Daylight reads as a series of dramatic monologues articulated in the privacy of an enclosed space. The poems are concrete and yet metaphysically challenging, both witty and despairing. Collins’ emotional complexity and uncommon range make this debut both thrillingly imaginative and ethical in its uncompromising attention to detail. In her Foreword, contest judge Louise Glück observes, “I know no poet whose sense of fraud, the inflated emptiness that substitutes for feeling, is more acute.” Glück calls Collins’ volume “savage, desolate, brutally ironic…a book of astonishing originality and intensity, unprecedented, unrepeatable.”
Fady Joudah’s The Earth in the Attic is this year’s winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition. In his poems Joudah explores big themes—identity, war, religion, what we hold in common—while never losing sight of the quotidian, the specific. Contest judge Louise Glück describes the poet in her Foreword as “that strange animal, the lyric poet in whom circumstance and profession…have compelled obsession with large social contexts and grave national dilemmas.” She finds in his poetry an incantatory quality and concludes, “These are small poems, many of them, but the grandeur of conception is inescapable. The Earth in the Attic is varied, coherent, fierce, tender; impossible to put down, impossible to forget.”
The book and the dream are the poet’s primary objects of investigation here. Through deft, quietly authoritative lyrics, Fisher meditates on the problems and possibilities—the frail craft—of perception for the reader, the dreamer, maintaining that “if the eye can love—and it can, it does—then I held you and was held.” In her foreword to the book, Louise Glück writes that Fisher’s poetry is “haunting, elusive, luminous, its greatest mystery how plain-spoken it is. Sensory impressions, which usually serve as emblems of or connections to emotion, seem suddenly in this work a language of mind, their function neither metonymic nor dramatic. They are like the dye with which a scientist injects his specimen, to track some response or behavior. Fisher uses the sense this way, to observe how being is converted into thinking.”