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Siste Viator Paperback – March 1, 2006

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Voyage of the Sable Venus
2015 National Book Awards - Poetry Winner
Get your copy of this year's National Book Award winner for poetry, "Voyage of the Sable Venus: and Other Poems" by Robin Coste Lewis. Hardcover | Kindle book | See more winners
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The title's Latin translates as "traveler, halt," a traditional opening for inscriptions on gravestones; Manguso's enticing sophomore effort has both the gravity of epitaphs and enough oddity to halt readers in their tracks. Clearer and grimmer than her debut, The Captain Lands in Paradise, this book often uses aphoristic sentences in place of lines: "A good horse runs even at the shadow of the whip"; "The second-hardest thing I have to do is not be longing's slave." Dating and flirtation, astronomical discoveries, the omnipresence of death, unanswerable queries ("Which stories of farms are the ones that can save me?")—all move within the speaker's mind in a manner that the poems are designed to arrest. "A coin you dropped when you took your pants off is still on the floor," she declares in "Address to an Absent Lover." "Please come back and pick it up." That lover might be the reader or simply a romantic partner, or God: the essence and power of Manguso's method lie in our not knowing which is which. (Mar.)
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About the Author

SARAH MANGUSO is the author of The Captain Lands in Paradise (2002). With Jordan Davis she coedited the anthology Free Radicals: American Poets Before Their First Books (2004). She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and teaches at the Pratt Institute. Her poems and prose have appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Believer, Boston Review, The London Review of Books, McSweeney's, the New Republic, The Paris Review, and three editions of The Best American Poetry series.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 63 pages
  • Publisher: Four Way; 1st edition (March 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1884800696
  • ISBN-13: 978-1884800696
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #431,095 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sarah Manguso is the author, most recently, of Ongoingness: The End of a Diary. Her five other books include The Guardians, named one of the top ten books of the year by Salon, and The Two Kinds of Decay, named an Editors' Choice by the New York Times Book Review and a Best Book of the Year by the Independent, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Telegraph. Her other books include the story collection Hard to Admit and Harder to Escape, included in in McSweeney's One Hundred and Forty-Five Stories in a Small Box, and the poetry collections Siste Viator and The Captain Lands in Paradise, which was named a Favorite Book of the Year by the Village Voice. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Rome Prize, and her books have been translated into five languages. Her essays have appeared in Harper's, the New York Review of Books, and the New York Times Magazine, and her poems have won a Pushcart Prize and appeared in four editions of the Best American Poetry series. She grew up near Boston and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Killian HALL OF FAME on October 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
My publishers always tell me to refrain from titling my books in any other language than English, and yet Sarah Manguso has found a wide audience for her poetry even when her book has a Latin name. I like it, for it gives the book a sort of ancient Ruskin feeling, or Carlyle, something very solid you can sink your teeth into. In addition we are more likely to respond to a plea like "stop, stranger," when we hear it in Latin. Manguso's writing seems fast on its feet, colloquial and speedy like that Mineola Prep boy Frank O'Hara idolized, and yet it has a quiet slow side to it, its long lines sometimes slowing to a crawl by the time they meet the right margin of the page, thus matching the request its title makes, as if to say, if you will be still, so will I.

Her poems about poetry itself have an amusing steel to them ("Sing to me little face/ Sing of the little faces you remember from life") but this collection improves on her first in its treatment of love and sensuality. If you've read Mina Loy's "Pig Cupid" poems, and wanted to see more of them, SISTE VIATOR might sate your need, though Manguso's contemporary love of contingency is far removed from Loy's modernism. The talking animals and objects of CAPTAIN come back anew, and the cryptic metaphors--the lovers as "two volumes lying on the bed,/ Maybe mystery novels, touching." In "Thers Is Such a Thing," an ageless voice comes out of lost eons to reminisce, "I spoke to fire as to a bright lover in the forest/ Whose brightness was for me."

I wish there were a bit more stanzaic variety, or maybe a few poems that were longer than a page. Nowadays the short poem has returned with a vengeance, perhaps designed to fit into one computer screen, or written on a computer, no scrolling down.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Gardener on September 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
Fans of THE CAPTAIN LANDS IN PARADISE will not be disappointed in Manguso's new work. Simultaneously dark and playful, it is startling in its insights and imagery (...I'm on my knees in the music room, driving the brush tip into my open eye./I am painting myself a bridge. I can almost see it.") and slyly funny ("My favorite euphemism for death is the future"). Dark though they often are, the poems function as a kind of lullaby not to be afraid of the dark, and are strangely comforting. Manguso's is a unique voice and sensibility, and SISTE VIATOR a book to read over and over.
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By Osiris on November 11, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A book full of very deep poetry and stuff that really gets you to think. The poems are also fairly short, so you don't have to suffer if there is one you particularly dislike. Most of these poems were good.
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There are some real gems in this collection but the remaining poems tend to diminish the power of those stronger poems. Overall I liked 'Siste Viator' but it could have been so much more.
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