Joseph Brodsky spent his life advocating for the place of the poet in society. As Derek Walcott said of him, “Joseph was somebody who lived poetry . . . He saw being a poet as being a sacred calling.” The poems in this volume span Brodsky’s career, which was marked by his expulsion from the Soviet Union in 1972. Together, they represent the project that, as Brodsky said, the “condition we call exile” presented: “to set the next man—however theoretical he and his needs may be—a bit more free.”
This edition, edited and introduced by Brodsky’s literary executor, Ann Kjellberg, includes poems translated by Derek Walcott, Richard Wilbur, and Anthony Hecht, as well as poems written in English or translated by the author himself. Selected Poems, 1968-1996 surveys Brodsky’s tumultuous life and illustrious career and showcases his most notable and poignant work as a poet.
“Brodsky charged at the world with full intensity and wrestled his perceptions into lines that fairly vibrate with what they are asked to hold. There is no voice, no vision, remotely like it.”—Sven Birkerts, The New York Times Book Review
“Brodsky’s poetry can be placed in the category of the sublime, and in his personal fate it is possible to detect this as a certain loftiness of thought: he practiced poetry as a kind of act, an act not subject to the short-range strictures of time.”—Czeslaw Milosz, Nobel Prize Laureate