After the Body: Poems New and Selected, Cleopatra Mathis
Pre-order only. Available July 2020.
From her first book, Aerial View of Louisiana, published in 1979, Cleopatra Mathis has given us poems that somehow manage to be elegant and visceral at once. What has changed in the progression of the six collections since then—in poetry addressing marriage, the mystery of animals, the delicate and indelible bonds of family, illness, and mortality—is that the visceral quotient has steadily increased, though the elegance remains undiminished. For Mathis, the navigation of a darkened hallway at night is a perilous expedition. After the Body charts the depredations of an illness that seems intent on removing the body, piece by piece. Through close and relentless observation of her own physical being, Mathis shows us how miniscule ambition, planning, and a sense of control over our own bodies are—things we so blithely take as real and solid when healthy. Her many publications, awards, and praise from peers testify that she is a lyric poet of the highest order. This expansive new book is the culmination of a brilliant career, and a necessary addition to any collection.
PRAISE FOR AFTER THE BODY:
“Beginning with her astonishing first book, Aerial View of Louisiana, in 1979, and now with her moving and poignant group of new poems, Cleopatra Mathis has surveyed and charted with ever-increasing lyric concision and dramatic intensity ‘the ritual ground work’ of human need. From book to book, Mathis demonstrates how memory extends its ‘first claim’ to include not only the mythic richness of her childhood in Louisiana but also the contrasting and complicating joy and grief of her life in New England as a transplanted Southerner. The resolute heart and keen human insights found everywhere in After the Body:New and Selected Poems renew the ‘claim’ many readers of contemporary American poetry have made for decades, that Cleopatra Mathis is one of our most important and essential poets.”