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Recovered Body Paperback – August 1, 1998


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Paperback, August 1, 1998
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Cairns (Figures of the Ghost, Univ. of Georgia, 1994) is a religious poet, a spiritual poet, but most importantly a serious poet. He is not given to rehashing scripture or invoking prayer?he does both, in his own way, but in service to a greater goal. These poems seek not answers but understanding and an appreciation of life's complexities; the result is not so much a poetry of testimony as of investigation. Cairns reconsiders the biblical narratives that define his being in works like "The Death of Moses," "The Sacrifice of Isaac," "Jonah's Imprisonment," and "The Turning of Lot's Wife." In the latter poem, Marah is "unlike her husband" and remains faithful: "For even as the man fled the horrors of a city's conflagration...Marah saw that she could not turn her back on even one doomed child of the city, but must turn her back instead on the saved." Recommended.?Louis McKee, Painted Bride Arts Ctr., Philadelphia
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

Scott Cairns has the imaginative power and verbal grace to resurrect a deadened world-relocating the sacred in the body where it belongs. -- Eleanor Wilner

Scott Cairns is one of the best poets alive. -- Annie Dillard

Writing in fervor-not piety-as a poet writes in verse-not doggerel-Cairns brings to mind Nietzche's remark that we have Art that we may not perish from Truth. Cairns has Religion that he may not perish from Poetry. -- Richard Howard
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: George Braziller Inc; 1st edition (August 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807614378
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807614372
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,794,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Scott Cairns is the author of seven collections of poetry, The Theology of Doubt, The Translation of Babel, Figures for the Ghost, Recovered Body, Philokalia, Compass of Affection: Poems New & Selected, and Idiot Psalms. With W. Scott Olsen, he co-edited The Sacred Place, a collection of prose and verse celebrating the intersections of landscape and ideas of the holy. He wrote the libretti for The Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp, an oratorio composed by JAC Redford, and A Melancholy Beauty, an oratorio composed by Georgi Andreev. His poetry and essays have been included in Best Spiritual Writing, Best American Spiritual Writing, The Pushcart Prize XXVI, Upholding Mystery (Oxford, 1997), The Best of Prairie Schooner, and Shadow & Light, among other anthologies. His work has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Paris Review, The New Republic, Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religion, Spiritus, Tiferet, Western Humanities Review, and many other journals. He has taught American literature, poetry writing, and poetics courses at Westminster College, University of North Texas, Old Dominion University, and at University of Missouri, where he is currently Professor of English. In 1993, he founded the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, and served as its series editor from 1993 through 2006. In 2007, his spiritual memoir, Short Trip to the Edge, was published by HarperSanFrancisco and his translations and adaptations, Love's Immensity: Mystics on the Endless Life, was published by Paraclete Press; the paperback edition, Endless Life, was recently released. With Jeff Johnson and Roy Salmond, he recorded, Parable, a CD of recent poems. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006, and was named the Catherine Paine Middlebush Chair in English at the University of Missouri in 2009. He received the Denise Levertov Award in 2014.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
Erotic, holy, erudite, and deeply moving! I love how Cairns engages both metaphysical mystery and sensual materiality in a single amazing moment, in a single turn of phrase--as in "Loves" when Magdalen observes "All loves are bodily, require that the lips part, and press their trace of secrecy upon the one beloved." I'd say the visionary has returned to American poetry.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By M. J. Smith VINE VOICE on August 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
As I began this volume, I prepared myself to be disappointed. The first section "Deep Below Our Violences" consists of poems that are well written with an interesting mix of topics and forms. However, they say little about the world and humanity that is not common poetic parlance. "Alexandrian Fragments" uses the burning of the library in Alexandria as its primary image; "Archaeology: A Subsequent Lecture" uses a dig; "Interval with Erato" a sensual/sexual encounter with the muse ...
The second section "The Recovered Midrashim of Rabbi Sab", in contrast, shows a very inventive poet writing distinctive, meaningful prose poems. "YHWH's Image" presents an image of Time which pauses, twitches its tail, opens it's eyes while God creates creates humanity in his own image, a precise image molded in clay on God's body. "The Turning of Lot's Wife" shows the wife as the compassionate one: "... she could not turn her back on even one doomed child of the city, but must turn her back instead upon the saved." "In the Well of Joseph's Brief Despair" presents the view of the world from the bottom of the well - and its continuing effect on Joseph after his life was spared.
The final section "Supplications" presents two strong themes - Hebrew vs. Greek thought patterns and the value of body. The topics supporting these themes include religious stylites (monks living on small, high platforms, the harrowing of hell, the death of the crucified man headed for paradise, Mary Magdalen ... in these poems the same formal strengths appear that appear in the first section. However, here Cairns more frequently has something uncommon to say.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 22, 1999
Format: Paperback
I'm no convert, but I must say the charm and candor of these poems (not to mention the music and craft of the poems themselves) have me rethinking some of my knee-jerk dismissal of that old story. I'd heard he was a CHRISTIAN poet, but I didn't know he was also a POET. Amazing work.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 16, 1998
Format: Paperback
Cairns' best work yet. Personal highlights from the collection: "Interval with Erato" "The Estuary" "Short Trip to the Edge." Sweet, special work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By wordsmith101 on July 23, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm only beginning to explore Cairns' poetry and so far I like what I've read. He is thoughtful and yet possessed of a dry sense of humor that keep his poems from being weighed down. In this collection, the poems work together to nudge the reader towards a better appreciation of physical humanity. Cairns recognizes that the body is a good thing, and yet is painfully aware of how we seek to cover it up. My understanding is that Cairns goal in his poetry is to respect the necessary coverings of the body while trying to appreciate it anew-hence the title. I highly recommend this book.
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