A Pulitzer Prize Finalist
A National Book Award Finalist
Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize
A St. Louis Post-Dispatch Best Book of the Year
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
This is Frank Bidart's first book of lyrics—his first book not dominated by long poems. Speed, song, intimacy, and directness replace narrative elaboration. Less embattled than his earlier work, less actively violent, these new poems have, by conceding time's finalities and triumph, acquired a dark radiance unlike anything seen before in Bidart's long career.
Mortality—imminent, not theoretical—forces the self to question the relation between the actual life lived and what was once the promise of transformation. We see this against a broad landscape. The book opens with Marilyn Monroe, followed by the glamor of the eighth-century Chinese imperial court (seen through the eyes of one of China's greatest poets, Tu Fu). At the center of the book is an ambitious meditation on the Russian ballerina Ulanova, the ballet Giselle, and the nature of tragedy. All this gives new dimension and poignance to Bidart's recurring preoccupation with the human need to leave behind some record or emblem, a made thing that stands, in face of death and loss, for the illuminations of art.