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The Antigone Poems Perfect Paperback – June 15, 2014

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Product Details

  • Perfect Paperback: 104 pages
  • Publisher: Ataire Productions & Publications; First edition (June 15, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0980644704
  • ISBN-13: 978-0980644708
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,544,977 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


This is the most strangely beautiful book to come across this desk in a long time. First, it's always interesting to have a publisher print a work 40 years after it's written without disclosing why. All that we know is that the writer and artist lived in Montreal and Toronto in the 1970's. I guess Tasker's death in 1992 has something to do with this premiere.

First we should know something about Antigone in literature. Well it's an ancient Greek tragedy where Antigone, the female protagonist, is ultimately jailed and sentenced to death, and all you need to know is that everyone--all the principles--die in the end, except for the prison guards. I'm not being flippant, but truthfully, to read these poems, that's all you need to know.

And I ADORE these weird little poems. They are surreal and wild. The charcoal drawings are terrifyingly brilliant. They scare the bejesus out of you and you can't stop turning the pages. It's like bingeing on BREAKING BAD and WAKING THE DEAD both at once. I deem this a holy book--written in ecstasy and the madness of genius and I hope it's reprinted and lasts forever. The poems are untitled. Check this out:
We live our lives
The instant between life and death
To touch death always,
That is the sun.

This copy I hold in my hand--no one will ever get from me. This is ART you cannot buy or sell. It is the flaming center of the volcano that makes us create. Grace Cavalieri, The Washington Independent Review of Books

Haunting. If one word describes Marie Slaight’s The Antigone Poems, this is it.

The collection of poems, some only a fragment of a thought, others filling the page with a stream of consciousness narrative, tells the story of Antigone from the first person perspective of Antigone herself. Loosely based on the Greek myth of Antigone, who inevitably suffers as a rebel in her family, the poems are filled with anguish, emotional violence and suffering. However, Slaight comments near the end of her book that she wanted to “live all lives, all deaths, encompass all women.” Thus the pain, anguish, and suffering in this book applies to more than just the doomed Antigone of Greek mythology; it applies to the collective suffering of all women.

The tone of the poems is understandably dark considering the subject material, and the periodic charcoal drawings by Terrence Tasker only enhance the haunting nature of the story told by Slaight. Furthermore, the poems are delivered from a deeply personal and intimate viewpoint, so the reader is often tied directly to the emotions of the speaker. The often short form of each poem also helps add an intimate feeling as each poem seems to represent a separate thought about Antigone’s torment.

For those who are not familiar with the original roots of the Greek myth involving Antigone, some readers may have little grounding to understand the greater narrative taking place in the poems. For this reason, some research or prior knowledge is helpful to understand the basis of the collection. Nevertheless, as already pointed out, this collection encompasses more than the sufferings of a single woman; it involves the torment of many.

Overall, Slaight’s The Antigone Poems, written in the 1970s and never released until now, is a disturbingly poignant and startlingly vivid portrait of one woman’s suffering in the face of pain and heartbreak. It will surely not be forgotten after the turn of the last page.’ The San Francisco Book Review

Rich in allegory and metaphor, this illustrated collection of poetry explores the tragedy of Antigone, the defiant woman of Greek myth.

With a strong first-person narrative, the collection is divided into five chapters featuring fragmented poems that explore love, loss, passion and pain through Antigone’s eyes. The book opens with a riveting prelude: “And sing / my bitter praises / to nails / and flint / and flesh.” As the collection moves forward, Slaight continues with poems that are spare yet precise in their language and construction. The first chapter introduces Antigone as a woman awakening, through pain, to her senses as well as to her vulnerability and power: “The passion comes angrily…then the awakening of all senses, nerves—open, alive, tingling.” However, there’s no consistent narrative thread to follow through the collection; rather, fragments and images capture Antigone’s journey. Some of the stronger lines focus on her insight into her role as a rebel: “All love pains / Are an aged protest / Wanting fresh surge; / Decrying the ancient throb / Of memories.” Slaight’s poems also use this close first-person perspective to unpack Antigone’s struggle for independence and identity as a woman—“Fought order, limits, time.” It is not exactly clear why Slaight focuses more on Antigone’s suffering and less on her rebellion from Creon, ruler of Thebes, though a later chapter provides a transition into her exile: “I walk on blood / I carve a vein / I bear sons / In exile / I carry screams / I seek revenge / I await return / In exile.” Throughout, Tasker’s haunting charcoal drawings reflect the tone of anguish and despair in Slaight’s poetry.

A beautifully bound, impressive collection with language as evocative as its illustrations.’ Kirkus Reviews

From the Inside Flap

An intensely personal invocation of the Sophocles tragedy, The Antigone Poems questions power, punishment and one of mythology's oldest themes: rebellion. Created in the 1970s while writer Marie Slaight and artist Terrence Tasker were living in Montreal and Toronto, its poetry and images capture the anguish of the original tale in an unembellished modernized rendition. The work's obsessive, ritualistic and ultimately mysterious force brings into sharp focus the heroic, tragic figure at the centre of the primordial compact between gods and humans.

More About the Author

MARIE SLAIGHT (1954 - ) has worked in Montreal, New Orleans, and Buenos Aires as a writer, producer, and performer for film, theatre and music. Her poetry has appeared in American Writing, Pittsburgh Quarterly, Poetry Salzburg, The Abiko Quarterly, New Orleans Review and elsewhere. Marie Slaight is currently the director of Altaire Productions & Publications, a Sydney-based arts production company, which has been involved in independent New Orleans music and such films as the award-winning documentary Bury the Hatchet, Kindred and Happy Baby. The Antigone Poems, written in the 1970s and a collaboration with artist Terrence Tasker, is her first published collection of poetry.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kyle on June 21, 2014
Format: Perfect Paperback
I disagree with some of the reviews that I have read that Marie Slaight creates a modern retelling of the aforementioned play. I do not believe that these poems will be understood as someone telling the classic with a modern twist, which is a little misleading depending on how you read some of the descriptions and reviews of this book. However, this is still an excellent book, you will be brought into the symbolism and imagery of Antigone's heroic yet terrible narrative. These poems were written in the 1970's, attached with charcoal sketches of the same time period when the author and illustrator were in Montreal and Toronto.

However, don't think that you wouldn't enjoy the book just because you know nothing of Antigone. These poems are beautiful and brilliant as stand alone poems. I was surprised how fast I ate up these poems, and they were very quick to read. I believe I finished this book for my second time around just on the bus back to my apartment. You will be amazed at the morbid yet impeccably intricate details, subtle rhyme, and alliteration that is littered through every poem in this small collection.

The charcoals are GORGEOUS. They are definitely a huge plus for the book, you get a couple littered in between the poems and a lot of beautiful charcoal sketches at the end of the book. I can admit that it might be a reason for the high price.

In the end, this book is definitely something to pick up and read. I recommend you shop around for a good price, or just go ahead and buy it nice and new! I saw some pictures of the physical cover and I admit it is beau-ti-ful!
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Format: Perfect Paperback
Review by Jessica Bell

What an honour to have been given a review copy of The Antigone Poems. I gobbled this book up. Then gobbled it up again. Then savoured each word during my third read through. Notice a couple of eating-related words there? This is no mistake. This book isn’t just a meal, it’s a five-course meal.

The Antigone Poems is so stark and striking in design. Minimal text decorates the large cream cartridge pages, giving you the impression that you’re about to dine on a variety of French dishes. And once you begin reading, each poem overwhelms your senses with potent flavours and subtle seasonings. With every word you push through your lips (this book must be read aloud), comes a new and intensified spice of irresistible pain and angst.

Though this book is an “intensely personal invocation of the ancient Greek tragedy,” Antigone, by the ancient Greek tragedian, Sophocles, you do not need to have read Sophocles’ timeless tale to “get” it. I could, probably, with a little more time on my hands, write a review that references individual moments in the original play, but I won’t. Not because it wouldn’t be an interesting exercise, but because I think this book needs to be read and enjoyed without potential readers feeling burdened by the subject matter.

I’ll say it again: You do not need to have read Antigone to enjoy this book.

This book is about life and death, pain and love. If you have a dark passionate side to your soul like me, you will surely find yourself salivating over breathtaking lines such as:

If this perfume doesn’t burst
It will twist into venom.


All love pains
Are an aged protest
Wanting fresh surge;
Decrying the ancient throb
Of memories.
Read more ›
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By Andrew on July 4, 2014
Format: Perfect Paperback
The Antigone Poems is a powerful and beautifully presented book of poetry with the narrative pull of a great novel.

Poet Marie Slaight has an unerring ear for the musicality of language that's reminiscent of Dorothy Porter's best work. She has captured the essence of Antigone's tragic tale, sparely, seductively, suspensefully and with tantalising precision. But be warned: there is real blood in these words. And sex. And love. And birth. And death. The superb charcoals by the late Terence Tasker are a fitting and haunting visual accompaniment to the unfolding psychodrama.

This book is not just an exploration into the well-trodden territory of Greek mythology. Slaight's final, profoundly moving stanzas reveal that The Antigone Poems is the most deeply personal and relatable of journeys. It is, in fact, all of our journeys.

And, most tellingly of all, you'll find yourself returning to it again and again.
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