Paper $18.00 ISBN: 9780226613505 Published March 2019
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Against Translation

Alan Shapiro

Against Translation

Alan Shapiro

96 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2019
Paper $18.00 ISBN: 9780226613505 Published March 2019
E-book $10.00 to $18.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226613642 Published April 2019

We often ask ourselves what gets lost in translation—not just between languages, but in the everyday trade-offs between what we experience and what we are able to say about it. But the visionary poems of this collection invite us to consider: what is loss, in translation? Writing at the limits of language—where “the signs loosen, fray, and drift”—Alan Shapiro probes the startling complexity of how we confront absence and the ephemeral, the heartbreak of what once wasn’t yet and now is no longer, of what (like racial prejudice and historical atrocity) is omnipresent and elusive. Through poems that are fine-grained and often quiet, Shapiro tells of subtle bereavements: a young boy is shamed for the first time for looking “girly”; an ailing old man struggles to visit his wife in a nursing home; or a woman dying of cancer watches her friends enjoy themselves in her absence. Throughout, this collection traverses rather than condemns the imperfect language of loss—moving against the current in the direction of the utterly ineffable.

Contents
Acknowledgments

ONE

Against Translation
Manhood
Preposterous
Cuban Missile Crisis
Bystander
Hurricanes
Justice
Photograph of Neo-Nazi March through Skokie, Illinois, 1977

TWO

Ancestry
Father
Grounders
Shoelaces
Family
Devotion
Hands
Geese
Glamour
Encore

THREE

Oracles
First Love
Mirrors
Grasshopper
Puberty
Gary
Smell
Infidelity
After Flossing
Memory
Neo-Platonic
Late Desire
Countdown
Letter to the Cemetery Owner

FOUR

Turkey Vulture
Kindness
Letter to Kathy
Outcast
Ambition
Hell
Buddy
Wheelies
Keats
Nonsense
Teaching
Words
Patience
Diaries
 
Notes
Review Quotes
Booklist
"The usual complaint about translation is linguistic. Something is lost going from one language to another. Shapiro’s concern is bigger. He writes pictorial and dramatic poems packed with recollection, interpretation, characterization, and penetration . . . an eminently rereadable collection."
Martha C. Nussbaum, University of Chicago
“In our difficult times, the need for poetry becomes a hunger. Few living poets speak to our need as deftly and powerfully as Alan Shapiro. Searing, hauntingly sad, often hilarious, these poems—about childhood, aging, the ‘berserk debris’ that our violence leaves in its wake, the way the age-old laws of masculinity banish laughter—reconnect the circuits of the soul, overcharged by its daily news-diet of hatred and polarization.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit https://www.press.uchicago.edu
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