Everytime a Knot is Undone, a God is Released: Collected and New Poems 1974-2011

Everytime a Knot is Undone, a God is Released: Collected and New Poems 1974-2011

by Barbara Chase-Riboud


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The long breath of Barbara Chase-Riboud's poems recalls poets of the antique world we know only from fragments, like Sappho. And yet here is a disquieting and sumptuous contemporary voice that seems to gather up antiquity and modernity with equal fervor and scorn. These poems are sexually charged, possessed of a courtly disdain and a strange nobility that seems to well up from below to be self-creating and unlike the verse of any other poet writing today.

Certainly one secret to this work is that Chase-Riboud's poems are informed by her epic, polished bronze sculptures, as her sculptures are informed by her narrative fiction, and her fiction by her poems. The idea of the Renaissance Man is almost a cliché, but how often do we get to see what it means for an artist to be a Renaissance Woman? Chase-Riboud has been a major in sculpture, fiction, and poetry for close to half a century: selling over a million copies of her path-breaking novel Sally Hemings in the late '70s, winning the Carl Sandburg Award for her second collection of poems in the late '80s, and now, nearly thirty years later, on the heels of a major retrospective of her sculpture at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Berkeley Art Museum, here is Everytime a Knot is Undone, a God is Released, her first new and collected volume of verse.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781609805944
Publisher: Seven Stories Press
Publication date: 11/04/2014
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Barbara Chase-Riboud’s first collection of poetry, From Memphis & Peking (1974), was edited by Toni Morrison and released to wide critical acclaim. For her second collection, Portrait of a Nude Woman as Cleopatra (1988), she was awarded the Carl Sandburg Poetry Prize for Best American Poet. Her five historical novels include the bestselling Sally Hemings (1979), Valide (1986), Echo of Lions (1989), The President's Daughter (1994), and Hottentot Venus (2004). She won the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for Best Novel by an American Woman for Sally Hemings. In 1996, she received a Knighthood in Arts and Letters from the French government in joint recognition of her literary and artistic achievements. Chase-Riboud is a renowned sculptor whose works belong to major museum collections around the world. She was honored with a rare living-artist personal exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2000. In 2013, a major survey of her sculpture and drawings was held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and then traveled to the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. Born in Philadelphia of Canadian-American descent and a graduate of Yale University of Art, she is the recipient of numerous fellowships and honorary degrees. She lives in Paris, Rome, and New York.


Paris, France

Date of Birth:

June 26, 1939

Place of Birth:

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


B.F.A. from Temple University; M.A. in art and architecture from Yale University

Table of Contents

I Everytime a Knot is Undone, A God is Released, 2011 9

II Portrait of a Nude Woman as Cleopatra, 1984-1987 57

III Anna, 1974 129

IV From Memphis & Peking, 1965-1974 145

V White Porcelain, 1975-2000 177

VI Love Perfecting, 2002-2007 209

VII Letters, 1998-2008 277

VIII Autographs, 34 Bronze Poems 1974-2008 311

IX The Lightness of My Whoredom, 2000-2009 347

X Keo Sirisomphone 365

Chronology 377

Index of first lines 392

Index of poem titles 395

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