Item description for Borges & Other Sonnets (New Odyssey Series) by William Baer...
This collection of hard-edged, contemporary sonnets takes an uncompromising look at the current times, and our human failings and foibles. Although markedly contemporary in its subjects, "Borges" and Other Sonnets presents keen awareness of the past and its unrelenting relationship with the present. The collection includes translations from two legendary sonneteers: Portuguese warrior-poet, Lus de Cames (1524--1580), and twentieth-century Argentine, J. L. Borges (1899--1986). Baers sonnet translations are widely praised for capturing the subtleties and soaring spirits of the originals.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.24" Width: 5.9" Height: 0.28" Weight: 0.34 lbs.
Publisher Truman State University Press
ISBN 1931112339 ISBN13 9781931112338
Availability 32 units. Availability accurate as of May 28, 2017 10:31.
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More About William Baer
WILLIAM BAER has taught film and screenwriting at the University of Evansville for the past fifteen years. He is currently the film critic at Crisis, and for years his work has appeared regularly in Creative Screenwriting. A recent Guggenheim recipient (2007), he has also received a Fulbright (Portugal) and an N.E.A. Creative Writing Grant in fiction. His twelve books include Elia Kazan: Interviews; Luis de Camoes: Selected Sonnets; and The Unfortunates, for which he received the T.S. Eliot Poetry award.
Reviews - What do customers think about Borges & Other Sonnets (New Odyssey Series)?
The Wonderful Sonnet Feb 22, 2004
Sadly, formal poetry seems to have been left behind even for many of the best of our modern poets. I could digress into one of my harangues about how free verse not based in the forms is not poetry; however, I'll resist. Still, there are some of us who still care deeply about the forms and I am one. In fact, the sonnet remains my favorite of the forms. That is why I was happy to see this book and I was not disappointed by it.
Baer is another who cares deeply about formal poetry. As founding editor of The Formalist, probably the most important magazine dedicated to formal poetry, he has done much to help the forms live on. He also does so through his work.
There are a number of good poems in this book. "Quarantine" is a wonderful, classically flavored sonnet. The first six lines are declarations of how "he" would fly to the side of his love whether she lived across the city, country or world. But we then transition to her "across the room in her sleeping gown" where she is "remote," "a cold, unpassable, infinite distance." Yet, he loves her and she must love him somehow despite her coldness: "needing nothing but him in her companionless hell." Nice.
I wish I had time to explicate more but let me just say that, of Baer's own work, "Balcony," "Snowflake," "Monster," "Pumpkin," "Crime Scene," "Swimming Pool," and "Last Will" are among my favorites.
Baer also includes two sections of translations is this book. Though Baer is clearly a fan of Jorge Luis Borges, neither his couples of poems to Borges or the sequence of translated sonnets did much for me. On the other hand, I found the sequence of sonnets by Luis de Camoes to be excellent. Though Camoes clearly had tragedies in his life, the poetry he drew from his suffering is often wonderful. His sonnet to the Tagus takes me back to Toledo--my favorite Spanish city--and his "Dear Gentle Soul" is very moving. The peak of Camoes' sonnets, however, is the first, "Curse," where we get a pure articulation of his despair: "Wipe away, with death, the day of my birth" which lead into a litany of curses should his time return again: "Let monsters be born. Let blood rain from the sky./Let every mother not recognize her child." Powerful stuff!
This is by no means a perfect book. I've already mentioned the Borges material and the Sermons (to Myself) section wasn't particularly impressive, though I did like "Centurion." Still, there are more than enough excellent sonnets here to make reading this book worthwhile. And maybe, just maybe, reading this will inspire a renewed respect for this important form of poetry.