BOOKS


POETRY

Dwelling

Aliki Barnstone shows us that a poem is a lingering, a deepening . . . and on a good day, with a good poem, we can learn to live there. Thus her teeming new book becomes a dwelling of many rooms—rich, humane, songful, poems as penetrating in their profound interiority as they are both welcoming and justice-seeking in their social sensibility. Dwelling is a true lyric ecology, where “the words inside [are] seeds,” and she makes me want to “hum among wildflowers / whose names recall / daughters, home, and harvest.” Aliki Barnstone writes with wisdom and awe alike, with eros, sorrow, and praise. This poet wears the laurels very well indeed. 

—David Baker

In the desert of our days, Aliki Barnstone is an oasis of sensuality, memory, spirituality, and "exuberance hard-won." Read Dwelling, and let the vitality of her tributes to ancestors, to immigrants, to Jews, Greeks, and Christians--to sunflowers, hollyhocks and petunias, a rhetoric of flowers interlaced with song--buoy you up. Let her truths about mothers and daughters, and, yes, her truths about death, bespeak "the urge to live."
—Alicia Ostriker

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Madly in Love (Carnegie Mellon Poetry)

Late one summer night he tore through/ her latched screen door, his trousers/ in his hand, and declared his love." So begins the title poem, which leads off a charmed yet haunting collection that tracks and explores the weather patterns of longing, depression and despair. The "he" in the above quote is a librarian--perhaps the ultimate personification of quiet desperation--and his madness is par for Barnstone's passionate summers of "tornadoes, rivers flooding their banks,// agitated dreams, desire." In winter, however, yearnings are safely packed in ice; complacency and melancholia are the snowfall, and the only visitors to the poet's bed are the ghosts of a suicide uncle and grandfather. Spring arrives with insistence, "irises poke green/ butterknives through dark dirt," and Barnstone takes to the water--a shower, a bath, a swim in the river--to soothe her body, with hope that love and sex will converge and her heart will rise. Scattered throughout these 29 poems are phrases borrowed from Emily Dickinson. Indeed, Dickinson's influence is apparent in Barnstone's deceptively simple lines, a matter-of-factness that seems to come straight from her bloodstream and a hushed urgency that is deafening. —Review of Madly in Love, Publishers Weekly

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Bright Body

Aliki Barnstone knows what makes the body bright: a wild heart, flesh [that] is vanity and dust, a ravenous mind, and "a spirit that broods over, flashing her wings."  What shines and resonates out of the center of her astonishing craft is a celebration of her glamour and self-discovery.  Her megawatt imagery is dazzling enough to make blatant connections to our own bright bodies. One would have to be a zombie not to find irresistible this poet's enduring music that is by turns physical and ferocious, that intelligently and ecstatically trumpets the human. Shine on, sister, shine on! — Major Jackson

​When a poet is in full possession of her art, and is also in love with the world she inhabits--warts and all—then you get a book like Aliki Barnstone’s “BRIGHT BODY”. This is how an urgent voice stands witness, draws our attention, maps out our days. It’s quiet, yet bedazzling work. This book is the meal you didn’t know you were hungry for. — Cornelius Eady

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Dear God,
Dear Dr. Heartbreak 

Aliki Barnstone is in full bloom, silkily erotic, and radiantly intelligent. —Carolyn Kizer

"All of a sudden I understand why I like Aliki Barnstone’s poems so much. They remind me of the one she has studied most–shall we call her her master–Emily Dickinson. Not in the forms, not, as such, in the music, and not in the references; but in that weird intimacy, that eerie closeness, that absolute confession of soul . . . . In Barnstone, too, the two worlds are intensely present, and the voice moves back and forth between them. She has the rare art of distance and closeness. It gives her her fine music, her wisdom, her form. She is a fine poet."

— Gerald Stern


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Blue Earth 

"Blue Earth is Aliki Barnstone's fifth book of poetry. Andrei Codrescu says: "It's a lucky and wondrous gift to us that Aliki Barnstone plays so much world on her finely tuned poetic instrument. These poems scintillate with beauty, accuracy, and adventure."

"Blue Earth reads like a picaresque novel. The poems take us from the exotic locals of Tibet and Greece to the more familiar landscapes of America. It is a journey of precision and grace that transports the reader “into some clear, unexpected blue place.”
—Cathy Smith Bowers


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Wild With It

Rural American ecstasies, religious litanies loosely modeled on psalms, the joys and anxieties of gestation and motherhood, and erotic fulfillment all find voice in the winning, sometimes ingenuous poems of Aliki Barnstone's Wild with It. Barnstone's locales range from Greece to Manhattan to the rural Midwest, her forms from Whitmanesque free verse to a well-turned ghazal; the prolific poet, translator and anthologist (Madly in Love; Voices of Light) does best when she explores all her subjects at once, considering sex during pregnancy, for example, or offering "passion in a flame dress,/ caress of silk falling away." —Review of Wild With It, Publishers Weekly

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The Real Tin Flower: Poems About the World at Nine


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TRANSLATION

The Collected Poems of C. P. Cavafy: A New Translation 

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A new translation of a poet widely considered one of the most important of the twentieth century.
C. P. Cavafy (1863-1933) has written some of the most powerful poems in history. His work uncannily translates history, the record of the many, into an individual personal document. Though Cavafy is wickedly satirical, many of his poems are located in a landscape of intimacy. Drawing on the spectrum of ancient Greek poetic tradition, his poetry is still internal, whether his speaker is a spoiled rich boy who plans to enter politics or a poor, ostracized, pure and beautiful young man destroyed by poverty and priggish social mores.

In these glimmering and lyrical translations, with an introduction and scholarly endnotes cowritten with Willis Barnstone, Aliki Barnstone has been faithful to the original Greek, capturing both Cavafy's song and his vernacular in ways neglected in previous translations. Paying close attention to tone and diction, she has employed her well-tuned poet's ear, making Cavafy's verse breathe new music in English.


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CRITICISM, ANTHOLOGIES, EDITION

Changing Rapture:
Emily Dickinson’s Poetic Development 

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Aliki Barnstone challenges the critical commonplace that Emily Dickinson's poetry did not change and evolve over the course of her career as a poet. She argues that this notion of her lack of development, while it contributes the established myth of the isolated and timeless Dickinson, has tended to diminish our appreciation of her as a poet and thinker, whose work is both an innovative artistic achievement and a cultural commentary. Throughout the book, Barnstone contextualizes Dickinson's evolving spiritual and poetic development within nineteenth-century American culture.
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The Shambhala Anthology of Women's Spiritual Poetry 

​​The Shambhala Anthology of Women's Spiritual Poetry celebrates the unique spiritual life of women through a rich selection of poetry written over the past four thousand years, from thirty-six different languages and cultures. It ranges from verse by the first recorded poet, a Sumerian priestess named Enheduanna (circa 2,300 BCE), to Anne Sexton; from early Buddhist nuns to Emily Dickinson; from Hildegard of Bingen to Tess Gallagher. Many of the translations are from distinguished authors and poets, such as Coleman Barks, Samuel Beckett, Stanley Kunitz, W. S. Merwin, Kenneth Rexroth, Arthur Waley, and Richard Wilbur.

In this book (originally published as Voices of Light), the spiritual impulse is expressed broadly as a visionary quest toward self-realization, as well as the desire for union with God, with the source of divine light, with a mystic lover, or with the source of nature. Many of the poets here also remind us that the spiritual is within everyone and unites us through empathy with the suffering and joy of others—a poetry of witness.

Contributors include: Anne Bradstreet, Sappho, Sylvia Plath, Hildegard of Bingen, Yosano Akiko, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Tess Gallagher, Anne Sexton, Beatrice of Nazareth, Carolyn Forché, Mary: Mother of Jesus, Denise Levertov, Emily Dickinson, H.D., Linda Hogan, Charlotte Brontë, Louise Erdrich, Lucille Clifton, Anna Akhmatova, Marianne Moore, Mechthild of Magdeburg, Praxilla, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, and many others.


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Voices of Light: Spiritual and Visionary Poems by Women Around the World from Ancient Sumeria to Now

These are the voices of women who, throughout the ages, yearned for self-realization and union with the divine. The words of the first known poet were chiseled on cuneiform tablets four thousand years ago. Her name was Enheduanna; she was a moon priestess and daughter of the king of Sumeria, a woman of power and privilege who wrote, "From the doorsill of heaven comes the word: 'Welcome!'" Millennia later, Emily Dickinson would write, "Why — do they shut Me out of Heaven?/ Did I sing — too loud?" Voices of Light brings together spiritual poems by women from around the world and allows these women to sing loudly, whether or not they were welcomed by the heavens or their own social situations. Though often deprived of public position, women have long practiced the personal art of writing and so have been prepared to be our spiritual and visionary voices of light.

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The Calvinist Roots of the Modern Era

Multidisciplinary views of Calvinism's dynamic, diverse, and persistent influence on modern American literature and thought. Many of America's philosophical, social, and religious traditions are founded upon Calvinist beliefs, and that heritage inevitably permeates our literature, too. While the debt of 18th- and 19th-century writers to Calvinism as theological doctrine and secular ideology has already been well documented, this collection of essays traces Calvinism's presence in 20th-century literature and demonstrates its impact as psychological construct, cultural institution, and socio-political model. From Pound to Faulkner, Eliot to Wharton, modern American poets, novelists, and film-makers of different religious, ethnic, and regional backgrounds have breathed in the Calvinist atmosphere.​
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Trilogy
(New Directions Classic)

The classic Trilogy by H.D. (Hilda Doolittle, 1886-1961), including a large section of referential notes for readers and students, compiled by Professor Aliki Barnstone.
As civilian war poetry (written under the shattering impact of World War II). Trilogy's three long poems rank with T.S. Eliot's "Four Quartets" and Ezra Pound's "Pisan Cantos." The first book of the Trilogy, "The Walls Do Not Fall," published in the midst of the "fifty thousand incidents" of the London blitz, maintains the hope that though "we have no map; / possibly we will reach haven,/ heaven." "Tribute to Angels" describes new life springing from the ruins, and finally, in "The Flowering of the Rod"―with its epigram "...pause to give/ thanks that we rise again from death and live."―faith in love and resurrection is realized in lyric and strongly Biblical imagery.

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H.D. and Poets After

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This work explores the influence of the poet and prose writer H.D. upon contemporary American poetry. The contributors - who include eminent American poets - write about their literary engagement with H.D. and other Imagist poets from an autobiographical and critical perspective. Aliki has an essay in this book, 'The Blank Pages of the Unwritten Volume of the New': Gnosticism in H.D.'s Trilogy and Brenda Hillman's Death Tractates"
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