Songlines in Michaeltree : New and Collected Poems
"Songlines in Michaeltree" is the long-awaited collected poems-with the sparkling addition of some new ones-of one of America's most revered poets. Hailed by critics as a distinctive and powerful presence in contemporary American poetry, Michael S. Harper is an artist and a truth teller who tempers his astonishing technical virtuosity with a compassionate and healing vision. A keen observer and a potent commentator, Harper calls a complacent society vigorously to account while cradling the wounded and remembering the lost. Calling Harper "one of the finest poets of our time ...[and] one of the most human and humane," George Cuomo of the San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle observed, "Harper's poetry has drawn its vitality from the incredible energy of his language and the honesty of his perceptions." "Songlines in Michaeltree" is a magnificent celebration of Harper's continuing, unstinting gifts.
- Hardback | 408 pages
- 159.5 x 237.5 x 30mm | 741.5g
- 14 Jun 2000
- University of Illinois Press
- Baltimore, United States
"Harper has eschewed neither the personal, political nor the lyrical, but consistently forged a middle road from the multiple intersections of memory and experience, music and language, oppression and achievement. As this welcome retrospective demonstrates, Harper's progressive, improvisatory power respects a variety of traditions in the arts... A testament to the scope of Harper's ambitions and masteries, this volume includes some engaging new work, helpful notes, and two brief essays, and should solidify Harper's reputation as an engaging, accessible, uncompromising keeper of the flame." Publisher's Weekly "No other poet has embodied the riffs and modalities of jazz and blues more exquisitely ... sometimes the ellipses are so deep, the multiple meanings keep hitting long after you've turned the page. A Harper poem teaches how to think on many different levels, to hold one thought like a pianist holds a chord... Beyond the brilliant turns and shifts of Harper's poems are their clear-eyed and compassionate dealings with the hard news of life... There is also the promise of what he calls the healing song -- nothing less than the transformative power of art informed by history yet grounded in the full complexity of human potential -- and tendered, of course, with 'a love supreme."" -- Poet's Choice column by Rita Dove, The Washington Post Book World "Harper's poetic project has been about merging history and memory, enlarging our collective frame of reference by juxtaposing personal experience and historical events, poetic language and fast talk, fear and music... Voices are woven throughout his work: they are fractured, dissenting, parenthetical; they convey wholly different tones, moods, intelligences, interior dialogues... In the intense cadence of his song, Michael Harper's world continues to be beautifully evoked." -- Harvard Review "Placing himself at a crossroads that unites the particulars of his private life to the more universal experiences of all African Americans, Harper is a poet-historian who calculates 'how much the past costs' to a given individual, how many 'skeletons in the closet' one inherits." -- Poetry "Harper delivers his poems in an informal, accessible language. But behind each line lies a passion that reveals itself as music... No one else writes quite like Michael Harper. He has something original and nourishing to offer." -- Virginia Quarterly Review "Harper ... demonstrates that he is still out there with the likes of Ornette Coleman and Julius Hemphill, composing out of scratch and sample and a vital sense of the subdominant new healing songs for the inner ear, new songlines we might follow through the darkest places." -- Michael Thurston, Poetry in Review "To read this extended collection of Harper's work is to be steeped in African-American culture. Readers should be prepared to learn history, and be aware that they are listening to jazz." -- Multicultural Review ADVANCE PRAISE "The songlines in this collection are rootlines back to the best poems of thirty-plus years, and new shoots and branches greening the new season of Michael S. Harper's poetic project... Songlines in Michaeltree reminds us of how boldly he explores the outer reaches of love and grievance, so that he might find the fresher pitches, fresher phrasings, of a love supreme--peace on earth." -- Robert B. Stepto From reviews of earlier collections: "Much is made of the role of history in Harper's poetry, and with good reason: he is clearly a living, breathing encyclopedia of the African-American experience. But these poems are as much for the ear as the mind. Harper handles history the way Coltrane handled standards: you hear the old stories in there, but the telling makes them new." -- Joel Brouwer, Harvard Review "One of the dominant poetic voices of his generation." -- G. E. Murray, Chicago Sun-Times "This is very likely the finest poetry now being written in a woe-begotten and woe-begone country--perhaps the best since John Berryman--and the serious reader had better buy or at least read all of it at once." -- Edwin Fussell, Parnassus: Poetry in Review