Be With (Paperback)
WINNER OF THE 2019 PULITZER PRIZE IN POETRY
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2018 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD
Publishers Weekly Best Poetry Book of 2018
Forrest Gander’s first book of poems since his Pulitzer finalist Core Samples from the World: a startling look through loss, grief, and regret into the exquisite nature of intimacy
Drawing from his experience as a translator, Forrest Gander includes in the first, powerfully elegiac section a version of a poem by the Spanish mystical poet St. John of the Cross. He continues with a long multilingual poem examining the syncretic geological and cultural history of the U.S. border with Mexico. The poems of the third section—a moving transcription of Gander’s efforts to address his mother dying of Alzheimer’s—rise from the page like hymns, transforming slowly from reverence to revelation. Gander has been called one of our most formally restless poets, and these new poems express a characteristically tensile energy and, as one critic noted, “the most eclectic diction since Hart Crane.”
About the Author
Forrest Gander was born in the Mojave Desert and grew up in Virginia. In addition to writing poetry, he has translated works by Coral Bracho, Alfonso D’Aquino, Pura Lopez-Colome, Pablo Neruda, and Jaime Saenz. The recipient of grants from the Library of Congress, the Guggenheim, Howard, Whiting, and United States Artists Foundations, he taught for many years as the AK Seaver Professor of Literary Arts & Comparative Literature at Brown University.
Gander’s verses have a shattering, symphonic quality, but he uses poetry to locate and dislocate at once, pushing against the borders of meaning or pitching his camp where language estranges itself from sense. There are dazzling fragments, unraveling syntax, poems that, in their ghostliness, also force us to be alert to our own fragile lives.
— Tess Taylor
Be With charts the addled chronology of personal loss. Poetry often creates a supernatural-seeming rapport with the dead, but rarely has the communication between worlds felt so eerily reciprocal.
— Dan Chiasson
Life, death, and every minor phenomenon in between feels more vivid in Gander’s heartbreaking work.
— Be with
Utterly naked and bereft, elegies, apologies, could-have-beens, Gander grieves and wonders about what's left in his life. Reading this book may hurt, but it will help people to keep living through what they thought they could never survive.
— Craig Morgan Teicher
If Gander’s philosophical strain and flamboyant lingo suggest Wallace Stevens, and his conversance with science and his stress on the ‘ongoing’ recall A. R. Ammons, he insinuates a knotty, digressive intensity that is fully his own.
A complex reading experience punctuated by intense beauty.
Gander’s love for formal, even archaic language and the quiet complexity of his syntax can build striking abstract landscapes in which the material and spiritual worlds seem equally intelligent.
Written in the wake of this loss, Be With breaks form to render Gander’s own brokenness, leaving gaps in the middle of lines and channeling St. John of the Cross. Gander explores his own dark night of the soul—and, as a poet particularly concerned with ecology, the dark night of our natural world.
— Anthony Domestico
Gander does not turn away from grief but dives into its awful and cathartic cascading beauty that wavers between gravity and weightlessness.