Sunday, February 17, 2008

"To See the Earth"

After many years of prodding and probing, hacking and shaving, "To See the Earth" is now a book. I have many people to thank for helping it into its final form--a list that includes but is not limited to the following gratitudes: Thanks to Maggie Anderson, Cathy Bowman, Mark Halliday, Roger Mitchell, Maura Stanton, and especially my advisors David Wojahn and Bob Cording. Thanks as well to Abner Bardeguez, Jenny Barker, Becca Black, Michael Dumanis, Jim Doppke, Rita Grabowski, Chris Green, Bob King, Mike Magee, E.J. McAdams, Paula McLain, Anna Meek, Drew Morse, Tyrone Simpson, Gigi Thibodeaux, my family (Dad, Mom, Kath, Dave), and all workshop comrades at Indiana.

Thanks to Dmitry Psurtsev, Sergey Gandlevsky, Olga Leontevna, the Maslov family, John Patton, Paul and Mary Asel, Bernie Sucher, Jeff Lilley, Jeremy Huck, Peter Rossi, the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, and all the other fellow travelers (Willem, Mike, Nina, Steve, Tom, Garrick-—you know who you are) who made my life in Russia possible. Thanks as well to Majed Abbadi, Kathryn Bryan, Khuloud Jaqaman, Rima Kapitan, Kadhim Shabaan, Vera Tamari, and the Cleveland Friends Meeting.

Thanks to Indiana University, John Carroll University, Ledig House, and the Ohio Arts Council, for supporting the writing of this manuscript.

Thank you, finally, to Amy Breau, and our daughters Adele and Leila, without whom this would not have been.

To See the Earth navigates the increasingly turbulent waters of a globalized world—from Moscow to Chicago, from Philadelphia to Ramallah. In poems haunted by Anna Akhmatova, Robert Lowell, and Lev Rubinstein, Metres renders in vivid language what Fredric Jameson called “cognitive mapping”-—a kind of “situational representation on the part of the individual subject to the vaster and properly unrepresentable totality.” To See the Earth travels to Russia, memorializes immigrant Arab American family life in a Brooklyn brownstone, witnesses to the violence visited upon people both at home and abroad, and carves out of such losses images of hope—the birthing not of a terrible beauty, but of the “dreaming disarmed body.”

"An emotionally and intellectually charged poetry of various and intricately formed voices--a poetry that speaks of and against the unprecedented, destructive horrors taking place throughout our world, a poetry which, simultaneously, speaks for the radical truths of the essential love that infuses the best of the art of American poetry in our time. ‘ you speak speak’--Philip Metres's poetry speaks to us all, in ways critical, vital, profound, and brilliant."--Lawrence Joseph

Set in landscapes ranging from Russia to Kentucky, from Ephesus to the Murder Capital of the World (that’s Gary, Indiana!), from Cleveland to Hiroshima, Philip Metres’s superb poems explore the confusion and complexities that ordinary people face in talking to one another on this earth--in the slippery language of everyday speech, or across the secured borders of grammar and history. Words are not abstractions to Metres—-they’re as physical as fifty women making PEACE with their bodies, as mysterious as a bat soaring to unheard music, as illuminating as an ash tree “burning into its name.” Committed to an examination of both the public and the private life, these powerful poems echo in the mind long after the book is closed.--Maura Stanton

"Do our voyages, Auden once asked, “still promise the Juster Life”? Too many of us would answer this question in the negative—not so Philip Metres. His poems seek above all to traverse borders, not merely those between nations and cultures but also--and most importantly--between the self and history, between the personal and the political. Metres plays for high stakes, and he also knows that such ambition is pointless without the sure command of craft which he displays in abundance. To See the Earth is a debut of unusual distinction.” --David Wojahn

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