Thursday, November 18, 2021 - 7:00pm

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In The Blues of Heaven, Barbara Ras delivers her characteristic subjects with new daring that both rattles and beguiles. Here are poems of grief over her brother's death; doors to an idiosyncratic working-class childhood among Polish immigrants; laments for nature and politics out of kilter. Ras portrays the climate crisis, guns out of control, the reckless injustice and ignorance of the United States government. At the same time, her poems nimbly focus on particulars--these facts, these consequences--bringing the wreckage of unfathomable harm home with immediacy and integrity. Though her subjects may be dire, Ras also weaves her wise humor throughout, moving deftly from sardonic to whimsical to create an expansive, ardent, and memorable book.

In his eighth collection, the celebrated poet Jim Moore looks into unrelenting darkness where moments of tenderness and awe illuminate, at times suddenly like lightning in the night, at others, more quietly, as the steady glow of streetlights in a snowstorm. These are poems of both patience and urgency, of necessary attendance and helpless exuberance in the breathing world—something rare in contemporary poetry. Written in Minneapolis amid the COVID-19 pandemic’s masked and distanced loneliness, after the police murder of George Floyd, as an empire comes to an end, Prognosis turns toward the living moment as a surprising source of abundance. Here we find instances of essential human connection animated by a saving grace that pulls us back from depression and despair. Contemplating with playful wisdom what it is to brave the later years of one’s life, Moore revels in the possibilities of joy and mourns the limits of our capacity to greet the unknown with resolve and wonder. The prognosis Moore foresees demands continued stillness, continued movement: “Also known as going home,” he writes. “Also known as getting over yourself.”

Barbara Ras is the author of four poetry collections: The Blues of Heaven (Pitt Poetry Series, 2021), The Last Skin (Penguin, 2010), which won the Texas Institute of Letters Best Book of 2010, One Hidden Stuff (Penguin, 2006), and Bite Every Sorrow, which won the Walt Whitman Award and also received the Kate Tufts Discovery Award.  Ras has received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, among others.  Her poems have appeared in the New Yorker, Tin House, Granta, Five Points, American Scholar, Massachusetts Review, and Orion, as well as in many other magazines and anthologies.  She is the editor of a collection of short fiction in translation, Costa Rica: A Traveler’s Literary Companion. Ras has taught in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson and at workshops nationally and internationally.  For four decades, Ras had a career in book publishing.  She is the founding director emerita of Trinity University Press and lives in San Antonio. 

Jim Moore is the author of seven books of poetry, including Underground, Invisible Strings, and Lightning at Dinner. His poetry has appeared in the Nation, the New Yorker, the Paris Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Spoleto, Italy.


The Blues of Heaven: Poems (Pitt Poetry Series) By Barbara Ras Cover Image
ISBN: 9780822966548
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: University of Pittsburgh Press - March 9th, 2021

Prognosis: Poems By Jim Moore Cover Image
ISBN: 9781644450703
Availability: BACKORDERED
Published: Graywolf Press - November 2nd, 2021