In Place, Graham explores the ways in which our imagination, intuition, and experience—increasingly devalued by a culture that regards them as "mere" subjectivity—aid us in navigating a world moving blindly towards its own annihilation and a political reality where the human person and its dignity are increasingly disposable. Throughout, Graham seeks out sites of wakeful resistance and achieved presence. From the natural world to human sensation, the poems test the unstable congeries of the self, and the creative tensions that exist within and between our inner and outer landscapes—particularly as these are shaped by language.
Beginning with a poem dated June 5th, placed on Omaha Beach, in Normandy—the anniversary of the day before the "historical" events of June 6th—Place is made up of meditations written in a uneasy lull before an unknowable, potentially drastic change—meditations which enact and explore the role of the human in and on nature. In these poems, time lived is felt to be both incipient, and already posthumous. This is not the same as preparing for a death. It is preparing for a life we know we, and our offspring, shall have no choice but to live. How does one think ethically as well as emotionally in such a predicament? How does one think of one's child—of having brought a person into this condition? How does love continue, and how is it supposed to be transmitted? Does the nature of love change?
Both formally and thematically poems of ec(h)o-location in space/time, Graham's new poems work to discern "aftermath" from "future"—as the two margins of the form ask us to feel the vertiginous "double" position in which we find ourselves, constantly looking back just as we are forced to try to see ahead.
In an era where distrust of human experience and its attendant accountability are pervasive Place calls us, in poems of unusual force and beauty, to re-inhabit and make full use of—and even rejoice in—a more responsive and responsible place of the human in the world.
Jorie Graham is the author of 12 collections, including The Dream of the Unified Field which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts and teaches at Harvard University.
New American poetry accessible everyday thinking part of my work schedule for 2014 Useful introduction to a sense of place.
Required reading for serious students of poetry
Brilliant, modern, sensible, and with an accessible choice of words. Graham's poetic structure is worth exploring and expanding upon. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Alexandra Halaby
Let's take poem numero uno. WHY the line-breaks? And that shape? The next begins portentously 'I am the only one who ever lived who remembers.. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Simon Barrett
Well, I'm prejudiced. To my mind, Graham is a major poet and I would read anything written by her. I loved this book and have been re-reading it since I bought it new from... Read morePublished 18 months ago by C. Keyes
The originality of this book cannot be overstated, nor its emotion. Like Gerard Manley Hopkins, Graham devises a focus for self and soul in the "inscapes" of the world, perceived... Read morePublished 21 months ago by anonymous
Jorie Graham's "Place," one of the finest achievements of her poetic career, is a collection intense in the reading, demanding the most acute focus, but rewarding with moments that... Read morePublished on November 8, 2012 by P. L. McNamara