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Reliquaries [Paperback]

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Item description for Reliquaries by Eric Pankey...

Originally drafted over a six-month period, the five-line sections of each poem in Reliquaries were written mostly as walking meditations in the hills and woods above and along the banks of the Occoquan River in Virginia. While that landscape is present in several places in the collection, the mind in these poems wanders arctic zones, England, Europe, the distances and openness of the American Midwest where the poet grew up, and takes up subjects such as the death of family and friends, faith and doubt, beauty and the sublime, philosophy and art. This book is Pankey's most expansive, accessible and wide-ranging to date. Written in long lines that, like Whitman's, catalog and collect, arrange out of the scattershot an order-even if only a momentary order, even if only a relic of order on which one places faith in a greater unifying order.

Completed on a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship at the same time as 2003's Oracle Figures (Ausable Press), Reliquaries is a cousin and companion to that book. It is a book-length sequence of poems that combines the spiritual and sometimes hermetic quest of Pankey's short lyric poems of the 1990s (Apocrypha, The Late Romances and Cenotaph) with his more directly narrative, plain-spoken poems of the 1980s (For the New Year, Heartwood). Like a reliquary, each poem not only holds shards of memory, relics of the past, but each poem is a meditation upon the complexity of memory-its uncertainty and mutability, its precision and candor, its grave density and its ether-weight.

Eric Pankey has received the Walt Whitman Award from The Academy of American Poets, the Poetry Award from the Library of Virginia and fellowships from the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. A professor of English at George Mason University, he lives in Fairfax, Virginia.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   113
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 6" Height: 8.75"
Weight:   0.5 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 1, 2005
Publisher   Ausable Press
ISBN  1931337128  
ISBN13  9781931337120  

Availability  0 units.

More About Eric Pankey

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Eric Pankey is the author of seven previous books: For the New Year, which won the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets, Heartwood, Apocypha, The Late Romances, Cenotaph, which won the Poetry Award from the Library of Virginia, Oracle Figures and Reliquaries. His work has been supported by fellowships from the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. A professor of English at George Mason University, he lives with his wife and daughter in Fairfax, Virginia.

Eric Pankey currently resides in Fairfax, in the state of Virginia. Eric Pankey was born in 1959.

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Product Categories

1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > English > American Literature
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > General
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > Single Authors > United States
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States > Poetry > 20th Century
5Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States > Poetry > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Reliquaries?

An anthology of original poetic meditations on the complexity of memory  Dec 10, 2005
Reliquaries is an anthology of original poetic meditations on the complexity of memory, originally written as a companion volume to "Oracle Figures". The long lines of the poem are fluid yet orderly, with a rhythm and tempo that underscore the reflective meaning. A soulful and contemplative collection that invites rereading and quiet meditation. "Small Confessions": A whole flock of waxwings occupied the holly, feasted on the berries, / And as if a single brush stroke, the flock lifted, banked, settled in the / Bradford pear, / Only to rise, to retrace the curve back to the holly. / Rilke says, "Even / forgetting / Has a shape in the permanent realm of mutation." / Even, I wonder, the forgetting of memory having forgotten?
A Marvel  Mar 15, 2005
W. H. Auden, who, like Seymour Glass, is never wrong, defined the difference between major and minor poets as ones who do not evolve over the course of their writing lives and those who do. By this criterion, Eric Pankey is a major poet, and by any criterion an extraordinary one as well. His seventh book is less a collection than other books of poetry, including Pankey's previous ones (the distance between _Heartwood,_ a word used once here, and this book is astronomical). _Reliquaries_ is a unified field of connections; links between the unexpected; startling metaphysics; strange ordinariness or ordinary strangeness offered directly, as literal fact. Mystical breakthroughs come at the reader with quiet, inarguable authority, affirming journey, rather than destination.

There are three sources for this authority. First is the comforting, no-nonsense objectivity of the language, the poetry's insistence on the physical, the logical, the unemotional.

In my idleness I imagine the fly might one day discover a way through the glass,
And the miracle will not be the other side, but the liquid simplicity of the passage.

That said, _y_ is not _x,_
And perhaps there are other ways to solve for those particular values, perhaps better proofs.

The soul, bound as any matter to gravity, moves from room to room,
A slowly deflating balloon let go that rides the thermal up, the cold down.

If transcendent experiences are to carry the weight of conviction, this is the way they must be presented.

The vocabulary of _Reliquaries_ is precise, informed, and new. It makes poetry accommodate "karst," "narthex," "mudra," "catenary," "kohl," and "lectionary." These words, used naturally and necessarily, point to the specificity and wideness of experience in _Reliquaries._

The second source of authority is equally poetic. It comes from the long, mostly end-stopped lines that imbue the world of this book with the literalness of prose without sacrificing the dazzling force of art. The sheen is mesmerizing. At 110 pages _Reliquaries_ may be longer than usual, yet this reader finds it as impossible to stop reading as to cut a Beethoven symphony in the middle of a movement. The book compels the reader into its ambience. I have read it thrice, all the way through each time. Edgar Allan Poe wrote that a long poem is but succession of short poems. _Reliquaries_ goes Poe one better. It is both.

Finally, the impact derives from a feeling never named that nevertheless comes through in every line: love. Decently awake readers will see the nods to anger and despair, and without such acknowledgments, this would be a work of delusion. Instead, its fidelity to experience carries us beyond what we think we know to what we can know, the marvel of process. "I admit to faith, even when I come up empty-handed with only a specter of faith," the voice writes, with brutal courage, having lovingly discarded "husks" in the first poem as he lovingly discards them in the last.

A voyage to and in the other, in a thousand tessellated lines that transport you where you may need to go. _What are you waiting for?_

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