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Crave Radiance: New and Selected Poems 1990-2010 Hardcover – September 28, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Alexander is now widely known as the poet who read her "Praise Song for the Day" at President Obama's inauguration, but as this first retrospective volume attests, that poem was preceded by a substantial and varied body of work composed over the past 20 years. Alexander's two primary themes, which are interwoven into almost all of her poems, are the traumas of African-American history and the microcosm of the family, where those traumas show some of their effects and where their healing begins. Early poems look for heroes among artists and ancestors, as well as political figures, as in "A Poem for Nelson Mandela": "On a rooftop of a prison/ in South Africa Nelson Mandela/ tends garden and has a birthday/ as my Jamaican grandfather in Harlem... / raises tomatoes." In later poems, Alexander delves into black pop culture: "Was the Black Nation whispering to me/ from the Jet magazines stacked on the floor," she asks in "Tending." The book's most powerful sequence is a long series of poems recounting the 1839 rebellion on the slave ship Amistad, whose rebels were sequestered in New Haven (where Alexander lives and teaches), sparking a controversial trial. A selection of new poems, including "Praise Song," closes this volume, which will cement Alexander's status as much more than the inaugural poet. (Oct.) (c)
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From Booklist

Alexander, whose first collection, The Venus Hottentot, came out in 1990, is now known as President Obama’s inaugural poet. This potent retrospective collection offers the best of Alexander’s five previous books, including selections from her young-adult title, Miss Crandall’s School for Young Girls and Little Misses of Color (2007), which hold their own as poems for adults of all ages here. Chair of Yale University’s African American Studies Department, Alexander brings intellectual power, musicality, sensuousness, and vernacular immediacy to her lyrics, which entwine the personal with the social, the tactile with the imaginary, the past with the present. Her inaugural poem, “Praise Song for the Day,” is one of a group of striking new poems, in which Alexander pays empathic tribute to writer Jean Toomer, artist Elizabeth Catlett, “ordinary” black women, and all who lived during the worst of times for African Americans, holding on to their humor and wisdom, and finding their way through hate, fear, and pain to embrace the sublime. Storyteller, teacher, and poet, Alexander looks deeply within and speaks out with grace and power. --Donna Seaman
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"Ten Windows" by Jane Hirshfield
Hirshfield explores how poetry’s world-making takes place: word by charged word. By expanding what is imaginable and sayable, Hirshfield proposes, poems expand what is possible. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press; First Edition, First Printing edition (September 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555975682
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555975685
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #840,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Elizabeth Alexander is a poet, essayist, playwright, and teacher born in New York City and raised in Washington, DC. She has published numerous books of poems, including AMERICAN SUBLIME (2005), which was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, a young adult collection (co-authored with Marilyn Nelson), MISS CRANDALL'S SCHOOL FOR YOUNG LADIES AND LITTLE MISSES OF COLOR, which won a 2008 Connecticut Book Award, and, most recently, CRAVE RADIANCE: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS 1990-2010. She teaches at Yale University, and this is her first picture book. You can visit her online at www.elizabethalexander.net.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on December 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Some poets rise beyond speaking their own thoughts and opinions, and speak to America. "Crave Radiance: New and Selected Poems 1990-2010" looks at the long body of work from Elizabeth Alexander, famed for delivering her poem 'Praise Song for the Day' at the Inauguration of Barack Obama. She has been called America's poets, and this volume comprises her best work over two decades. "Crave Radiance" more than deserves its place in any poetry or literature collection. "Emancipation": Corncob constellation,/oyster shell, drawstring pouch, dry bones.//Gris gris in the rafters./Hoodoo in the sleeping nook./Mojo in Linda Brent's Crawlspace./Nineteenth century corncob cosmogram/set on the dirt floor, beneath the slant roof,/left intact the afternoon/that someone came and told those slaves//"We're free".
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By Fran Markwardt on January 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wonderful collection of poems from a great poet. (My favorite!) She's able to make lovely little word gems of her experiences as a black woman.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Straight from the heart; earthy; revealing just the right amount. Sometimes the language startles this white girl. Then I get over it.
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