Prodigal: New and Selected Poems, 1976 to 2014

Prodigal: New and Selected Poems, 1976 to 2014

by Linda Gregerson

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In her first book of collected work, prize-winning poet Linda Gregerson mines nearly forty years of poetry, bringing us a full range of her talents.

Ten new poems introduce Prodigal, followed by fifty poems, culled from Gregerson's five collections, that range broadly in subject from class in America to our world's ravaged environment to the wonders of parenthood to the intersection of science and art to the passion of the Roman gods, and beyond. This selection reinforces Gregerson’s standing as “one of poetry’s mavens . . . whose poetics seek truth through the precise apprehension of the beautiful while never denying the importance of rationality” (Chicago Tribune).
A brilliant stylist, known for her formal experiments as well as her perfected lines, Gregerson is a poet of great vision. Here, the growth of her art and the breadth of her interests offer a snapshot of a major poet's intellect in the midst of her career.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780544301689
Publisher: HMH Books
Publication date: 09/01/2015
Sold by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 434,564
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

LINDA GREGERSON’s honors include a Guggenheim fellowship, four Pushcart Prizes, a Kingsley Tufts Award, and the selection of Magnetic North as a National Book Award finalist. Gregerson is a professor at the University of Michigan. Her poetry appears in the Atlantic, The  New YorkerPoetry, the Yale Review, and many other publications.
LINDA GREGERSON is the author of Waterborne, The Woman Who Died in Her Sleep, and Fire in the Conservatory. She teaches Renaissance literature and creative writing at the University of Michigan. Her poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry as well as in the Atlantic, Poetry, Ploughshares, the Yale Review, TriQuarterly, and other publications. Among her many awards and honors are a Guggenheim Fellowship, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, four Pushcart Prizes, and a Kingsley Tufts Award.

Read an Excerpt

 Night. Or what
         they have of it at altitude
like this, and filtered
   air, what was
in my lungs just an hour ago is now
      in yours,
         there’s only so much air to go
   around. They’re making
more people, my father would say,
      but nobody’s making more land.
            When my daughters
were little and played in their bath,
      they invented a game whose logic
   largely escaped me — 
         something to do with the
of bubbles and plastic ducks — until
   I asked them what they called it. They
      were two and four. The game
was Oil Spill.
   Keeping the ducks alive, I think,
         was what you were supposed to
            contrive, as long
   as you could make it last. Up here
   in borrowed air,
in borrowed bits of heat, in costly
         cubic feet of steerage we’re
      a long
   held note, as when the choir would seem
to be more
      than human breath could manage. In
            the third age, says the story, they
   divided up the earth. And that was when
   the goddess turned away from them.
 from De Arte Honeste Amandi
How Love, When It Has Been Acquired, May Be Kept 
That was when the war was on, the one we felt good
to hate, so of course I thought he’d come from there.
It was June. The light grown long again.
She’d roll his chair to the window
and back. But no, you said, it was love.
They were getting it wrong.
A leg. A leg. An arm to the elbow.
Like the man who burned his daughter to get
good winds. The sea for days had been flat
as the sky. He’d walk while the light went down
and could only tell the water from the air by the drag
below his knees. So this is what it’s like
to have no body. A perfect benevolent temperature.
The wheels of the chariots grind
in the hulls of the ships. He lay so still he honeycombed,
may he be safe, may we be sound. The time
they bargained for came piece by piece.
 Indications That One’s Love Has Returned
 There’s an illness, of the sort that’s named for a man
who first imagines that disparate threads might be threads
on a loom, that is called his syndrome, and frightens
the weaver, who cannot unravel by night
what she sees in the day. Their table had the sun for hours.
The piazza was white. They talked
about physicians at home, whose stories were longer, if less
in accord. And about the morning months ago
when the color first spread beneath her eyes.
From cheekbone to cheekbone, the smallest vessels had burst
in a pattern called butterfly, they’d named that too,
as the tour guides name rocks till you can’t see the
         sandstone plain
anymore, but Witch’s Cauldron and Hornet’s Nest.
The wings went away. The course of the river that carved
         the rock
is air now, and baffles intent. She’d been used to a different notion
of course, the kind you might follow for love of the thing
or of knowledge, the wings in the glass.

Table of Contents

New Poems

Sostenuto 3

The Wrath of Juno 5

The Weavers 7

Font 9

The Dolphins 12

The Wrath of Juno 14

Heliotrope 16

Pythagorean 19

Ceres Lamenting 22

And Sometimes 26

From Fire in the Conservatory

From De Arte Honeste Amandi 33

Geometry 35

Maudlin; Or, the Magdalen's Tears 36

Wife 38

Much Missed 40

Fire in the Conservatory 42

"Halfe a Yard of Rede Sea" 44

From The Woman Who Died in Her Sleep

The Bad Physician 49

For My Father, Who Would Rather Stay Home 52

Safe 57

An Arbor 61

Good News 65

For the Taking 69

The Resurrection of the Body 71

Bunting 74

Salt 80

Creation Myth 84

With Emma at the Ladies-Only Swimming Pond on Hampstead Heath 90

Target 92

Bleedthrough 98

The Woman Who Died in Her Sleep 103

From Waterborne

Eyes Like Leeks 111

Noah's Wife 114

Cord 117

Maculate 120

The Horses Run Back to Their Stalls 123

Waterborne 125

Pass Over 129

Narrow Flame 134

Grammatical Mood 135

From Magnetic North

Sweet 141

Bicameral 145

Make-Falcon 150

Bright Shadow 154

Father Mercy, Mother Tongue 156

At the Window 160

The Turning 162

My Father Comes Back from the Grave 166

Over Easy 170

Prodigal 173

Elegant 176

From The Selvage

The Selvage 183

Slight Tremor 185

Constitutional 186

Lately, I've taken to 188

Getting and Spending 191

Dido Refuses to Speak 195

From the Life of Saint Peter 204

Her Argument for the Existence of God 213

Still Life 215

Notes 223

Index of Titles and First Lines 227

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