Chris Hedges

Truth: Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges

War Correspondent, Writer, Peace Activist

(1956 –  )

Once we sign on for war’s crusade, once we see ourselves on the side of the angels, once we embrace a theological or ideological belief system that defines itself as the embodiment of goodness and light, it is only a matter of how we will carry out murder.

 

Additional Quotes by Chris Hedges

  • The failure to dissect the cause of war leaves us open for the next installment.
  •  Point us away from the city of man toward the city of God.
  • Rape mutilation, abuse, and theft are the natural outcome of a world in which force rules, in which human beings are objects.
  • Very few veterans can return to the battlefield and summon the moral courage to confront what they did as armed combatants. 
  • War is necrophilia. And this necrophilia is central to soldiering, just as it is central to the makeup of suicide bombers and terrorists. The necrophilia is hidden under platitudes about duty or comradeship.

Biography

Chris Hedges, the son of a Presbyterian minister, was born on September 18, 1956 in St. Johnsbury Vt. He graduated from Colgate University with a BA in English Literature and went on to receive a Master of Divinity from Harvard.  He has an honorary doctorate from Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, California.

Hedges spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America , the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He was an early and outspoken critic of the US plan to invade and occupy Iraq and called the press coverage at the time “shameful cheerleading.” In 2002, he was part of a team of reporters for The New York Times who won a Pulitzer Prize for the paper’s coverage of global terrorism and that same year he won an Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism. In 2003, shortly after the war in Iraq began, Hedges was asked to give the commencement address at Rockford College in Rockford, Ill. He told the graduating class “…we are embarking on an occupation that, if history is any guide, will be as damaging to our souls as it will be to our prestige, power and security.” He went on to state that “This is a war of liberation in Iraq, but it is a war of liberation by Iraqis from American occupation.” As he spoke several hundred members of the audience began jeering and booing. His microphone was cut twice.  Two young men rushed the stage to try to prevent him from speaking and Hedges had to cut short his address.  He was escorted off campus by security officials before the awarding of diplomas. This event made national news and he became a lightning rod not only for right wing pundits and commentators, but also mainstream newspapers. The Wall Street Journal ran an editorial which denounced his anti-war stance and the New York Times issued a formal reprimand which required that Hedges cease speaking about the war.  The reprimand condemned his remarks as undermining the paper’s impartiality. Hedges resigned not long afterwards and became a senior fellow at the Nation Institute.

Hedges’ is the author of the 2002 best seller War is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, which is an examination of the poison of war and what it does to individuals and societies.  He states that war is the pornography of violence, a powerful narcotic that “…has a dark beauty, filled with the monstrous and the grotesque.” He goes on to explain, “War gives us a distorted sense of self. It gives us meaning. It creates a feeling of comradeship that obliterates our alienation and makes us feel, for perhaps the first time in our lives, that we belong.” Of his own experience of war, living and working as a journalist in the war zones of Central America, the Balkans and the Middle East, he writes: “I have seen too much of violent death. I have tasted too much of my own fear. I have painful memories that lie buried and untouched most of the time. It is never easy when they surface.” It is, possibly, his sensitivity to his own experiences with war that led him to what some contend is his most courageous work to date: his 2008 book Collateral Damage for which he interviewed combat veterans from the Iraq war. This book represents the largest number of named eyewitnesses within the US Military who have testified on therecord about atrocities carried out by American soldiers and marines during the military occupation of Iraq. His book reveals in heartbreaking detail the devastating moral and physical consequences of the occupation.

Hedges has also published the following books: What Every Person Should Know About War (2003), Losing Moses on the Freeway: The Ten Commandments in America (2005), American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America (2008), I Don’t Believe in Atheists (2008). and Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and theTriumph of Spectacle ( 2009).

Selected Writing: Voices in Wartime

Selected Writings by

Those Interviewed or Featured in the DocumentaryVoices in Wartime 

 

Abani, Chris. Daphne's Lot (Red Hen, 2003).
The masterful wedding of the narrative and the lyric in these poems (whose subject is the maturation of a sensibility, the coming-of-age of a young Englishwoman — the power of her ties to family, husband and her "adopted" country, Nigeria — as well as the illumination of her own soul and that of the narrator’s) fills the reader with both sorrow and wonder. It is an instructive tale for our age — its vision of the individual will and imagination resisting the madness of politics and the destruction of war is singular and profound. (Description by Carol Muske-Dukes) 


Abani, Chris.  Dog Woman (Red Hen, 2004).
These poems reveal a prodigious imagination, which is enlivened by sardonic wit and an inexhaustible capacity for irony and empathy. Daring to span a historical continuum that takes us as far back as the rituals of Christ suffering, through the tragic history of the Mayans of Mexico, to the starkly modern concerns of contemporary life, these poems find beauty and grace in the most painful things. The achievement here lies in the poet's ability to bring an engaging intelligence to bear on the complexities of race, gender and memory. Abani’s line has a sharp precision that turns a scream into a line of memorable lyric music without losing the emotion and force. That he does this again and again in poems of such vulnerability speaks highly of Abani's art. (Description by Kwame Dawes)


 
Abani, Chris. Graceland: A Novel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux; first edition, 2004).
In this dazzling novel by a singular new talent, the sprawling, swampy, cacophonous city of Lagos, Nigeria, provides the backdrop to the story of Elvis, a teenage Elvis impersonator hoping to make his way out of the ghetto. Broke, beset by floods, and beatings by his alcoholic father, and with no job opportunities in sight, Elvis is tempted by a life of crime. Thus begins his odyssey into the dangerous underworld of Lagos, guided by his friend Redemption and accompanied by a restless hybrid of voices including The King of Beggars, Sunday, Innocent and Comfort. Ultimately, young Elvis, drenched in reggae and jazz, and besotted with American film heroes and images, must find his way to a GraceLand of his own. Nuanced, lyrical, and pitch perfect, Abani has created a remarkable story of a son and his father, and an examination of postcolonial Nigeria where the trappings of American culture reign supreme.


Abani, Chris. Kalakuta Republic: A Book of Poetry (Saqi Books, 2001).
Named after a prison cell familiar to many of Nigeria's political prisoners and dissidents, Kalakuta Republic is a powerful collection of poems detailing the harrowing experiences endured by Abani and others at the hands of Nigeria's military regime in the late 1980s.

Abani's poems are dedicated to those who shared in but did not live through the suffering, like John James, his cellmate, tortured to death in 1991 at the age of 14, and other 'kindred spirits, dreamers, fools'. In them he describes the characters that peopled his dark world, from the prison inmates to their torturers, the generals. This is Abani's first collection of poems following his release from jail, and while intense episodes are vividly described, it is above all a work greatly tinged with humanity and a durable tribute to the triumph of the human spirit.
 


Auden, W.H. Collected Poems: Auden (Vintage; reprint edition, 1991).
Between 1927 and his death in 1973, W. H. Auden endowed poetry in the English language with a new face. Or rather, with several faces, since his work ranged from the political to the religious, from the urbane to the pastoral, from the mandarin to the invigoratingly plain-spoken. 
This collection presents all the poems Auden wished to preserve, in the texts that received his final approval. It includes the full contents of his previous collected editions along with all the later volumes of his shorter poems. Together, these works display the astonishing range of Auden's voice and the breadth of his concerns, his deep knowledge of the traditions he inherited, and his ability to recast those traditions in modern times. 

Auden, W. H.; Edward Mendelson (editor). W.H. Auden: Selected Poems (Vintage; reissue edition, 1990).
This edition presents the original versions of many poems, which Auden revised to conform to his evolving political and literary attitudes later in his career. In this volume, Edward Mendelson has restored the early versions of some 30 poems generally considered to be superior to the later versions, allowing the reader to see the entire range of Auden's work. Selected and edited by Edward Mendelson.
 

Dickinson, Emily. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson (Back Bay Books, 1976).
Complete is the keyword here as this is the only edition currently available that contains all of Dickinson's poems. The works were originally gathered by editor Thomas H. Johnson and published in a three-volume set in 1955. Essential for academic and public libraries. (Library Journal) 

Dickinson, Emily. Selected Poems and Letters of Emily Dickinsonconvenient form. This is an excellent introduction to the work of a poet whose originality of thought remains unsurpassed in American poetry. (Anchor, reissue edition, 1959).
This Anchor edition includes poems and letters, as well as the only contemporary description of Emily Dickinson, and is designed for readers who want the best poems and most interesting letters in 
 

Enheduanna; Betty De Shong Meador. Inanna, Lady of the Largest Heart: Poems of the Sumerian High Priestess (University of Texas Press, 2001).
The earliest known author of written literature was a woman named Enheduanna, who lived in ancient Mesopotamia around 2300 BCE. High Priestess to the moon god Inanna, Enheduanna came to venerate the goddess Inanna above all gods in the Sumerian pantheon. The hymns she wrote to Inanna constitute the earliest written portrayal of an ancient goddess. In their celebration of Enheduanna's relationship with Inanna, they also represent the first existing account of an individual's consciousness of her inner life. This book provides the complete texts of Enheduanna's hymns to Inanna, skillfully and beautifully rendered by Betty De Shong Meador, who also discusses how the poems reflect Enheduanna's own spiritual and psychological liberation from being an obedient daughter in the shadow of her ruler father. Meador frames the poems with background information on the religious and cultural systems of ancient Mesopotamia and the known facts of Enheduanna's life. With this information, she explores the role of Inanna as the archetypal feminine, the first goddess who encompasses both the celestial and the earthly and shows forth the full scope of women's potential.
 

Enheduanna; Linda Wolfsgruber and Kim Echlin. Inanna: From the Myths of Ancient Sumer (Groundwood Books, 2003).
Long before the Bible, the Koran, and Greek and Roman mythology, the people of Sumer recorded stories of their gods and kings on cuneiform tablets. The world’s oldest epic poem, the 4,000-year-old Epic of Gilgamesh, tells of a hero who was part god, part man. But a recent discovery uncovered another, equally intriguing hero — Gilgamesh’s powerful sister, the goddess Inanna. Inanna embodies the quest for growth. Her stories describe her growth from childish inexperience and youthful exuberance into maturity as she gains the power to create, to destroy, and to name. She is a goddess of spirit and wisdom who outwits and defies the powerful, falls in love with the shepherd Dumuzi, and, like Gilgamesh, dares to seek immortality. The people of Sumer associated her with the planet Venus — radiant, strong, mysterious. Using Sumerian scholarship as a guide, Kim Echlin offers a sensitive and knowledgeable translation of the Inanna stories. Accompanied by the exquisite illustrations of Linda Wolfsgruber, these tales will interest both students of history and myth and anyone who appreciates art and poetry.
 

Hamill, Sam.  Almost Paradise: New and Selected Poems and Translations (Shambhala, 2005).
Sam Hamill is that rare figure whose life is continually in dialogue with the rich and diverse tradition of poetry, whether that dialogue takes the form of translating the work of a poet long dead, writing a poem in celebration of the work of a contemporary poet, or musing on what it means to be a poet himself. A true poet's poet—and also the founding editor of Copper Canyon Press, one of the most influential publishers of poetry today—Hamill has been part of America's poetry scene for decades and has won numerous prizes and awards for his work. This collection presents the best of Hamill's work from his 13 books of original poetry and from his numerous critically acclaimed works of translation, as well as a number of new, previously unpublished poems.
 

Hamill, Sam.  Destination Zero: Poems 1970-1995 (White Pine Press, 1997).
The founding editor of Copper Canyon Press is famous for his translations of classical Chinese, Japanese, Greek, and Latin poetry. But he writes good, solid original poetry full of graceful images and quiet meaning, too. This large, retrospective collection incorporating recent revisions is arranged chronologically, letting us see Hamill slowly honing his craft, making his work as pure as possible. He perhaps unwittingly refers to that work when he says of the natural world, "Always, the world we invent or build / around us remains dark. But there is always/ a door or window, and, beyond it, light." Although he walks through darkness, he also creates the illumination to guide us by means of his hopefulness, subtlety, and strength. In his world, you can always ease into a "tattered chair in trembling light as the sunset / slides into a shadow / ghosting the dark Pacific." (Description written by Elizabeth Millard)

 
Hamill, Sam. The Erotic Spirit (Shambhala, 1999).
Hamill, poet and translator, has created a ravishing anthology of poetry celebrating the spiritual aspect of eros, the longing not only to merge one's body with another, but to join souls. This sacred eroticism, expressed in such poems as the "Song of Songs," has been experienced through the ages and around the world as a path to a perfect love, to God no less. Hamill has chosen poems from various cultures expressing this soulful passion, but he hasn't neglected the wry side of eros, that is, the often disappointing conflict between idealized desire and the complex realities of corporal love. Hamill begins with Sappho and other early Greeks and moves on to the ever-teasing Catullus and, of course, Ovid. His selections of love poems by T'ang dynasty Chinese poets and Japanese poets are either gentle or piquant, balancing the rarefied view of Buddhists with the practiced physicality of the Taoists. Sufi love poems stand in interesting contrast to such teasing British bards as Robert Herrick and Andrew Marvell, who in turn, seem quite facile in comparison to such earthy romantics as Walt Whitman and Pablo Neruda. Other poets include Charles Baudelaire, Anna Akhmatova, Denise Levertov, Robert Creeley, Lucille Clifton, and Adrienne Rich.


Hamill, Sam.  The Sound of Water (Shambhala Centaur Editions; miniature edition, 2000).
Here are more than 200 of the best haiku of Japanese literature translated by one of America's premier poet-translators. The haiku is one of the most popular and widely recognized poetic forms in the world. In just three lines a great haiku presents a crystalline moment of image, emotion, and awareness. This illustrated collection includes haiku by the great masters from the 17th to the early 20th Century.
 

Hamill, Sam and J. P. Seaton. The Poetry of Zen (Shambhala).
A Zen poem is nothing other than an expression of the enlightened mind, a handful of simple words that disappear beneath the moment of insight to which it bears witness. Poetry has been an essential aid to Zen Buddhist practice from the dawn of Zen—and Zen has also had a profound influence on the secular poetry of the countries in which it has flourished. Here, two of America's most renowned poets and translators provide an overview of Zen poetry from China and Japan in all its rich variety, from the earliest days to the twentieth century. Included are works by Lao Tzu, Han Shan, Li Po, Dogen Kigen, Saigyo, Basho, Chiao Jan, Yuan Mei, Ryokan, and many others. Sam Hamill and J. P. Seaton provide illuminating introductions to the Chinese and Japanese sections that set the poets and their work in historical context. Short biographies of the poets are also included.
 

Heaney, Seamus. The Cure at Troy : A Version of Sophocles' Philoctetes (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1991).
The Cure at Troy is Seamus Heaney's version of Sophocles' Philoctetes. Written in the fifth century BC, this play concerns the predicament of the outcast hero, Philoctetes, whom the Greeks marooned on the island of Lemnos and forgot about until the closing stages of the Siege of Troy. Abandoned because of a wounded foot, Philoctetes nevertheless possesses an invincible bow without which the Greeks cannot win the Trojan War. They are forced to return to Lemnos and seek out Philoctetes' support in a drama that explores the conflict between personal integrity and political expediency.

Heaney's version of Philoctetes is a fast-paced, brilliant work ideally suited to the stage. Heaney holds on to the majesty of the Greek original, but manages to give his verse the flavor of Irish speech and context. 
 
Heaney, Seamus. Seeing Things: Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Reprint edition,1993).
Seeing Things (1991), as Edward Hirsch wrote in The New York Times Book Review, "is a book of thresholds and crossings, of losses balanced by marvels, of casting and gathering and the hushed, contrary air between water and sky, earth and heaven." Along with translations from the Aeneid and the Inferno, this book offers several poems about Heaney's late father.

Heaney, Seamus. The Spirit Level: Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997).
The Spirit Level was the first book of poems Heaney published after winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995. Reviewing this book in The New York Times Book Review, Richard Tillinghast noted that Heaney "has been and is here for good . . . [His poems] will last. Anyone who reads poetry has reason to rejoice at living in the age when Seamus Heaney is writing."
 

Heaney, Seamus. Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999).
As selected by the author, Opened Ground includes the essential work from Heaney's twelve previous books of poetry, as well as new sequences drawn from two of his landmark translations, The Cure at Troy and Sweeney Astray, and several previously uncollected poems. Heaney's voice is like no other--"by turns mythological and journalistic, rural and sophisticated, reminiscent and impatient, stern and yielding, curt and expansive" (Helen Vendler, The New Yorker)--and this is a one-volume testament to the musicality and precision of that voice. The book closes with Heaney's Nobel Lecture: "Crediting Poetry."
 
Heaney, Seamus. Finders Keepers: Selected Prose 1971-2001 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999).
A selection of the best of three decades of writing about poetry, a celebration of the “tenacious curiosity” (Los Angeles Times) of the Nobel laureate.

Whether autobiographical, topical, or specifically literary, these writings circle the central preoccupying questions of Seamus Heaney’s career: “How should a poet properly live and write? What is his relationship to his own voice, his own place, his literary heritage, and the contemporary world?”

Along with a selection from Heaney’s three previous collections of prose (Preoccupations, The Government of the Tongue, and The Redress of Poetry), the present volume includes a rich variety of pieces not previously collected in books, ranging from formal lectures to radio commentaries about the rural Ireland of his childhood to illuminating reviews of his contemporaries. In its soundings of a wide range of poets—Irish and British, American and Eastern European, predecessors, fellows, and successors—Finders Keepers becomes, as its title heralds, “an announcement of both excitement and possession.”
 

Hedges, Chris. War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (Anchor, 2003).
As a veteran war correspondent, Chris Hedges has survived ambushes in Central America, imprisonment in Sudan, and a beating by Saudi military police. He has seen children murdered for sport in Gaza and petty thugs elevated into war heroes in the Balkans. Hedges, who is also a former divinity student, has seen war at its worst and knows too well that to those who pass through it, war can be exhilarating and even addictive: “It gives us purpose, meaning, a reason for living.”

Drawing on his own experience and on the literature of combat from Homer to Michael Herr, Hedges shows how war seduces not just those on the front lines but entire societies, corrupting politics, destroying culture, and perverting the most basic human desires. Mixing hard-nosed realism with profound moral and philosophical insight, War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning  is a work of terrible power and redemptive clarity whose truths have never been more necessary.
 
Hedges, Chris. What Every Person Should Know About War (Free Press, 2003).
Acclaimed New York Times journalist and author Chris Hedges offers a critical -- and fascinating -- lesson in the dangerous realities of our age: a stark look at the effects of war on combatants. Utterly lacking in rhetoric or dogma, this manual relies instead on bare fact, frank description, and a spare
question-and-answer format. Hedges allows U.S. military documentation of the brutalizing physical and psychological consequences of combat to speak for itself.

Hedges poses dozens of questions that young soldiers might ask about combat, and then answers them by quoting from medical and psychological studies.
•    What are my chances of being wounded or killed if we go to war?
•    What does it feel like to get shot?
•    What do artillery shells do to you?
•    What is the most painful way to get wounded?
•    Will I be afraid?
•    What could happen to me in a nuclear attack?
•    What does it feel like to kill someone?
•    Can I withstand torture?
•    What are the long-term consequences of combat stress?
•    What will happen to my body after I die?

This profound and devastating portrayal of the horrors to which we subject our armed forces stands as a ringing indictment of the glorification of war and the concealment of its barbarity
Homer; translation, Robert Fagles. The Iliad (Penguin Classics; revised education edition, 2003). One of the foremost achievements in Western literature, Homer's Iliad tells the story of the darkest episode of the Trojan War. At its center is Achilles, the greatest warrior-champion of the Greeks, and his conflict with his leader Agamemnon. Interwoven in the tragic sequence of events are powerfully moving descriptions of the ebb and flow of battle, the besieged city of Ilium (Troy), the feud between the gods, and the fate of mortals.


Homer; translation, Robert Fagles. The Odyssey (Penguin Classics; revised education edition, 2003).
The Odyssey is literature's grandest evocation of everyman's journey through life. Odysseus' reliance on his wit and wiliness for survival in his encounters with divine and natural forces, during his ten-year voyage home to Ithaca after the Trojan War, is at once the timeless human story and an individual test of moral endurance. In the myths and legends that are retold here, Fagles has captured the energy and poetry of Homer's original in a bold, contemporary idiom, and given us an Odyssey to read aloud, to savor, and to treasure for its sheer lyrical mastery. 

Howe, Marie. The Good Thief: Poems (National Poetry Series, Persea Books; first education edition, 1988).  Selected by Margaret Atwood as a winner in the 1987 Open Competition of the National Poetry Series, this unique collection was the first sounding of a deeply authentic voice. Howe's early writings concern relationship, attachment, and loss, in a highly original search for personal transcendence. Many of the 34 poems in The Good Thief appeared in such prestigious journals and periodicals as The Atlantic, The American Poetry Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, The Agni Review, and The Partisan Review.

Howe, Marie. What the Living Do: Poems (W.W. Norton & Company; new education edition, 1999).
Informed by the death of a beloved brother, here are the stories of childhood, its thicket of sex and sorrow and joy, boys and girls growing into men and women, stories of a brother who in his dying could teach how to be most alive. What the Living Do reflects "a new form of confessional poetry, one shared to some degree by other women poets such as Sharon Olds and Jane Kenyon. Unlike the earlier confessional poetry of Plath, Lowell, Sexton et al., Howe's writing is not so much a moan or a shriek as a song. It is a genuinely feminine form . . . a poetry of intimacy, witness, honesty, and relation" (Boston Globe).

Hughes, Langston; Arnold Rampersad (editor). The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes (Vintage Classics; first classics education edition, 1995).
This generous volume is a genuine literary milestone, the first comprehensive collection of the verse of a writer who has been called both the poet laureate of African America and our greatest popular poet since Walt Whitman. The book contains 860 poems, including all the verse that Hughes published during his lifetime, and nearly 300 that have never before appeared in book form.
Hughes, Langston. The Dream Keeper and Other Poems (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 1996).
In a larger format, featuring Brian Pinkney's scratchboard art on every spread, Hughes's inspirational
message to young people is as relevant today as it was in 1932.
 


Hughes, Langston. The Ways of White Folks: Stories (Vintage Classics, reprint edition, 1990).
In these acrid and poignant stories, Hughes depicted black people colliding—sometimes humorously, more often tragically—with whites in the 1920s and '30s.


Jarrell, Randall. Randall Jarrell's Book of Stories: An Anthology (New York Review Books Classics, 2002).
In this engagingly diverse anthology, critic and poet Randall Jarrell illuminates storytelling as a fundamental human impulse. Redefining the story form in this collection of world classics, he sets ballads, poems, parables, anecdotes, fairy tales, and legends alongside short stories by Anton Chekhov, Isak Dinesen, Robert Frost, D. H. Lawrence, Katherine Anne Porter, Leo Tolstoy, and others. Jarrell’s inimitable taste and innovative choices — he includes both well-known works like Gogol’s “The Nose” and quirkier selections such as Chuang Tzu’s “Five Anecdotes” — deepen the reader’s appreciation of the storyteller’s art and its place in the world. “Jarrell is everywhere the man who has just read something he loves or hates.... And what unfailing taste he possessed.” (Leslie Fiedler)
 

Jarrell, Randall. The Complete Poems (Noonday Press; reissue edition, 1981).
Poet, novelist, critic, and teacher, Randall Jarrell was a diverse literary talent with a distinctive voice, by turns imaginative, realistic, sensitive, and ironic. His poetry, whether dealing with art, war, memories of childhood, or the loneliness of everyday life, is powerful and moving. A poet of colloquial language, ample generosity, and intimacy, Jarrell wrote beautifully "of the American landscape," as James Atlas noted in American Poetry Review, "[with] a broad humanism that enabled him to give voice to those had been given none of their own."

The Complete Poems is the definitive volume of Randall Jarrell's verse, including Selected Poems (1955), with notes by the author; The Woman at the Washington Zoo (1960), which won the National Book Award for Poetry; and The Lost World (1965), "his last and best book," according to Robert Lowell. This volume also brings together several of Jarrell's uncollected or posthumously published poems as well as his Rilke translations.
 
Jarrell, Randall. Poetry and the Age (University Press of Florida; expanded edition, 2001).
Randall Jarrell was the critic whose taste defined American poetry after World War II. Poetry and the Age, his first collection of criticism, was published in 1953. It has been in and out of print over the past 40 years and has become a classic of American letters. In this new edition, two long-lost lectures by Jarrell have been added. Recently discovered by critics, they speak to issues at the heart of Jarrell's criticism: the structure of poetry and the question "Is American poetry American?" 
 

Levitt, Peter. Bright Root, Dark Root (Broken Moon Press (1991).
In the presence of a poet who has been given and who has accepted the sacred duty of bringing the poem into the world, there is the bare, but sufficient, intimation of the very beginning, of the marvel
and heartbreak of creation. Such a poet is Peter Levitt and such a book is Bright Root, Dark Root. There is great beauty in this book. Beauty is at the heart of it, at that place, Tepheret, where the Kabbalists tell us spirit and form meet, where men and women are holy together and where, as these poems indicate, light becomes body and body becomes light. All the mystical texts, which Levitt knows so well—Hebrew, Greek, Buddhist—speak of the moment and injunction: Let there be light. And here there is that light. Peter Levitt understands the necessity and risk of carrying it and offers it to us, with tenderness, for these dark times. (Description written by Deena Metzger)

 
Levitt, Peter. Fingerpainting on the Moon: Writing and Creativity as a Path to Freedom (Harmony; first edition, 2003).
In Fingerpainting on the Moon, Peter Levitt shows us new ways to create and live from the spiritual source of our lives. “We were born to create,” he says. “It’s our birthright. Our nature. Remember: Everything is permitted in the imagination!” Based on Peter’s more than 30 years as a poet and teacher, this book helps readers to express and rely upon their deepest nature in creative work, whether it is writing, painting, music, or just being alive. “You are both deeply human and deeply Divine,” he tells us. “Only practice fingerpainting on the moon and you will discover how true this is.”

Creativity of any kind requires risk—the risk of being a beginner, letting go of control, or revealing intimate or even unknown parts of ourselves. It can also be a source of tremendous joy: the joy of giving voice to our deepest needs and imaginings. Taking a gentle and freeing approach to creativity, Peter Levitt shows us the essentially spiritual nature of creative acts and helps us open our hearts and minds so we can express ourselves with courage, innate wisdom, and authenticity.
 

Nelson, Marilyn. The Cachoeira Tales And Other Poems (Louisiana State University Press, 2005).
Soaring images, rhythmic language, and wry humor come together in these three narrative poems that explore travel from an African American historical and social perspective. A cab ride turns into an amazing encounter with the driver, an amateur physicist whose ideas about space and time travel spark the poet’s musings on chutzpah and artistic ambition. A trip to Triolet, a Creole village in the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius, leads the poet to ponder the past and present as she reflects on the ironic complexities of the slave trade and its legacy shared by so many peoples. And in "The Cachoeira Tales," longing to take her family on a journey to "some place sanctified by the Negro soul," the poet finds herself in Brazil’s Bahia, along with a theater director, a jazz musician, a retired commercial pilot, an activist, a university student, and two mysterious African American women whom they meet along the way. In rhymed couplets, each pilgrim tells a story, and the result is a rollicking, sensual exploration of spirit and community, with a nod to Chaucer and to traditional Trickster tales.
 

Nelson, Marilyn. Carver: A Life in Poems (Front Street; first education edition, 2001).
This collection of poems assembled by award-winning writer Marilyn Nelson provides young readers with a compelling, lyrical account of the life of revered African-American botanist and inventor George Washington Carver. Born in 1864 and raised by white slave owners, Carver left home in search of an education and eventually earned a master’s degree in agriculture. In 1896, he was invited by Booker T. Washington to head the agricultural department at the all-black-staffed Tuskegee Institute. There he conducted innovative research to find uses for crops such as cowpeas, sweet potatoes, and peanuts, while seeking solutions to the plight of landless black farmers. Through 44 poems, told from the point of view of Carver and the people who knew him, Nelson celebrates his character and accomplishments. She includes prose summaries of events and archival photographs.
 
Nelson, Marilyn. The Field of Praise: New and Selected Poems (Louisiana State University Press, 1997).
In The Fields of Praise, Marilyn Nelson claims as subjects the life of the spirit, the vicissitudes of love, and the African American experience and arranges them as white pebbles marking our common journey toward a "monstrous love / that wants to make the world right." Nelson is a poet of stunning power, able to bring alive the most rarified and subtle of experiences. A slave destined to become a minister preaches sermons of heartrending eloquence and wisdom to a mule. An old woman scrubbing over a washtub receives a personal revelation of what Emancipation means: "So this is freedom: the peace of hours like these." Memories of the heroism of the Tuskegee Airmen in the face of aerial combat abroad and virulent racism at home bring a speaker to the sudden awareness of herself as the daughter "of a thousand proud fathers."
 

Nelson, Marilyn. A Wreath for Emmett Till (Houghton Mifflin, 2005).
In 1955, people all over the United States knew that Emmett Louis Till was a fourteen-year-old African American boy lynched for supposedly whistling at a white woman in Mississippi. The brutality of his murder, the open-casket funeral, and the acquittal of the men tried for the crime drew wide media attention.

Award-winning poet Marilyn Nelson reminds us of the boy whose fate helped spark the civil rights movement. This martyr’s wreath, woven from a little-known but sophisticated form of poetry, challenges us to speak out against modern-day injustices, to "speak what we see."
 

Owen, Wilfred. Collected Poems of Wilfred Owen (New Directions Publishing Corporation, revised edition, 1965).
Wilfred Owen’s death in the First World War was an irreparable loss to English poetry. His war poems, most of which were composed in a 13-month period, on the front lines, have kept their originality and force through the past 80 years. The best of them are considered the finest poems about war in the English language. This definitive editor of Owen’s poetry, based on a close study of the ms. sources in the British Museum and elsewhere, contains a selection of the poet’s juvenilia and several other unpublished poems, as well as those that have appeared in the editions edited by Siegfried Sassoon and Edmund Blunden.


Sassoon, Siegfried; Rupert Hart-Davis (editor). The War Poems of Siegfried Sassoon (Faber & Faber, 1983).
For The War Poems of Siegfried Sassoon, Sir Rupert Hart-Davis has arranged the poems as far as possible in the order of their composition. A useful Biographical Table is also included, so that students, scholars, and other readers can trace the movement of the soldier alongside the mind of the poet. Fourteen of the poems in this volume are published for the first time.
 

Schell, Jonathan. The Fate of the Earth and the Abolition: And, the Abolition (Stanford Nuclear Age Series)( Stanford University Press, 2000).
When Jonathan Schell heard all that loose talk about attainment of objectives in a limited nuclear war, it was too much for him and he did what all of us would like to do: he wrote a book. It is very pessimistic. The mere presence of all those weapons is enough to ensure that sometime, somewhere, someone is going to set one off. Schell makes sure all of us know the horrendous possibilities of a nuclear exchange and all the reasons for bringing such possibilities to a halt.
 

Shay, Jonathan. Achilles In Vietnam : Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character (Scribner, 1995).
In this strikingly original and groundbreaking book, Dr. Shay examines the psychological devastation of war by comparing the soldiers of Homer's Iliad with Vietnam veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Although The Iliad was written 27 centuries ago it has much to teach about combat trauma, as do the more recent, compelling voices and experiences of Vietnam vets.

 
Stallworthy, Jon. Great Poets of World War I: Poetry from the Great War (Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2002).
In times of war and national calamity—writes Jon Stallworthy in his illuminating survey of the lives and work of 12 celebrated war poets—large numbers of people seldom seen in church or bookshop will turn for consolation and inspiration to religion and poetry. Never more so than in the First World War did the poignant poetry of hundreds of young men scarred by battle reach so large and eager an audience. Among the most famous and memorable of these youthful voices were those of the strikingly handsome, golden-haired, nobly patriotic Rupert Brooke, dead at 28; the serious-minded, poignantly truthful Wilfred Owen, who was shot down, at 25; and the defiant Siegfried Sassoon whose gallantry in the Somme Offensive earned him the Military Cross and nickname “Mad Jack.” Profiled in this volume, too, and illustrated throughout with photographs of the action they saw and manuscripts of the poems they wrote are Edmund Blunden, whose work is haunted by the war until his death in 1974; Isaac Rosenberg, the painter who captured the absurdity and horror of war in words; along with Julian Grenfell, Edward Thomas, Charles Hamilton Sorley, Francis Ledwidge, Ivor Gurney, David Jones, and Robert Graves. With access to the archives of the Imperial War Museum and its wide collection of rare color and black-and-white photographs, this volume beautifully combines art, poetry, biography, and the tragic, noble, bleak, and confounding experience that was the Great War.


Stallworthy, Jon. The Oxford Book of War Poetry (Oxford University Press, 1984).
"Reminds one of the large numbers and great variety of war poems from many centuries that are very good poems. Mr. Stallworthy's selections include most of the best, at least the best in English"--New York Times Book Review. "Excellently edited...this volume frames great evil and greater bravery"--Los Angeles Times Book Review. "This collection is of exceptionally high quality"--Washington Post Book World. This chronological compilation of 250 powerful poems ranges Troy to the World Wars to El Salvador, from Homer to Whitman to Wilfred Owen.
 

Stallworthy, Jon. The Poems of Wilfred Owen (W. W. Norton & Company, 1986).
This is the finest single-volume of the work of the greatest poet of the First World War.  Of all of the work bequeathed to us by that generation of young men who fought in the trenches, Owen’s is the most remarkable for its breath of sympathy and its understanding of human suffering and tenderness, at home and on the battlefield.
This new, authoritative edition, indispensable to student and general reader alike, contains the text of 103 poems and 12 fragments, among them 33 poems not previously published or otherwise available in a paperback edition. Many of the most famous have important new readings; illuminating notes and a detailed bibliographical table are also included.
 

Stallworthy, Jon. Wilfred Owen (Oxford University Press; reprint edition, 1993).
Reissued to mark the centenary of Wilfred Owen's birth, this biography is more than a simple account of his life--the childhood spent in the back streets of Birkenhead and Shrewsbury, the appalling months in the trenches--it is an enquiry into the workings of a poet's mind. Reproducing some of Owen's drawings and facsimile manuscripts of many of his greatest poems, this portrait is indispensable to any student of Wilfred Owen and the poetry of the First World War.
 
Swift, Todd. Budavox : Poems (1990 - 1999) (DC Books, 2005).
As performer, writer, impresario and editor, (of the significant anthologies Map-Makers’ Colours: New Poets of Northern Ireland and Poetry Nation: The North American Anthology of Fusion Poets), Todd Swift has defined a new kind of cosmopolitan panache for the idea of the poet as key figure at the end start of a new millennium.
 
Swift, Todd. Café Alibi (DC Books, 2002).
Swift’s Budavox: poems 1990-1999 explored sex, violence, art, and memory, to critical acclaim. His new collection, Café Alibi, written while the author lived abroad in Budapest and Paris, extends these concerns with popular culture, history, desire, nostalgia, and the often competing claims of travel and home. Swift’s crisp, elegant, deceptively calm language questions images of 'the child, the adult and the outside world' in ways both witty and disturbing. Café Alibi maps a stylish itinerary through exotic terrain, offering at once hostility and ultimate peace, poetry that puts love to the test and disarms our darkest fears.
 

Swift, Todd. Rue du Regard (DC Books, 2004).
Todd Swift is one of Canada’s leading younger expatriate writers. Elegant, moving, and masterful, Rue du Regard forms the final part of a trilogy, following the acclaimed Budavox and Café Alibi. Written in Paris and London between 2001 and 2004, Rue du Regard crosses the channel between these two great cities and between two kinds of poetry: experimental and mainstream. The book deals with looking: in, out, back, and ahead. In almost whiplash motion, certain moods, themes, and images from Swift’s earlier collections here snap forward, double-back. The universal accidents of travel and memory, love and desire, violence and innocence, are central.

Swift, Todd and Philip Norton. Short Fuse: The Global Anthology of New Fusion Poetry (Rattapallax Press, 2002).
Short Fuse is the first major global collection of poetry from the 21st-century featuring many of the poets who are defining world literature and culture. Over 175 innovative poets from around the world are represented in this remarkable 400-page volume, ebook & CD. The fusion poets define these complex times through new forms of performance and text by mixing the best of the oral and written traditions. The hundreds of poems in this eclectic and powerful gathering are ferocious, funny, erotic, elegiac, and always grounded in the real experiences and voices of our startling present. Included with this collection is a free ebook with additional poems not available in the book and a full-length CD featuring recordings by the poets. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to UNICEF. Major figures are presented alongside the most exciting younger voices. Some of the prominent poets featured in the collection are Simon Armitage, Billy Collins, Todd Colby, Patricia Smith, Bob Holman, Glyn Maxwell, Eileen Tabios, Robert Priest, Andrea Thompson, Wednesday Kennedy, Willie Perdomo, Tug Dumbly, Lucy English, Charles Bernstein, Penn Kemp, Regie Cabico, Edwin Torres, John Kinsella, Ron Silliman, Peter Finch, Guillermo Castro, Michael Hulse, Robert Priest, Nicole Blackman, David McGimpsey, Louise Bak, Golda Fried and many more. Short Fuse is the global, contemporary, and expanded extension of Poetry Nation.

Tennyson, Alfred, Lord. Idylls of the King and a Selection of Poems (Signet Classics, 2003).
With regal melancholy and superb craftsmanship, Alfred Tennyson, evoked past and present—The Isle of the Lotus Eaters, heraldic Camelot, and his own twilit English gardens—seeking to reconcile the Victorian zeal for public progress with private despair. He juxtaposed opposites—not only Old Times but New, but also Beauty and Squalor, High Class and Low—and then entwined them, allowing his work to transcend its own achievement and intentions. Using eloquence, epic and grandeur, and myth, Tennyson created the masterful style most imitated by poets of his era. And his haunting rhapsodic poems, detailing the struggles of kings and commoners, still cast their lyrical spell today.

Tennyson, Alfred. The Letters of Alfred Lord Tennyson: Letters of Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1821-1850 (Belknap Press, 1981).

'... This book is a joy to read and explore from start to finish and nobody ever caught by the mystery and comedy of Tennyson's genius will wish to be without it. The great success... is to have taken his unpromising material and turned it into a real narrative... They have done so by the range, candor, and wit of their commentary and documentation....' (Michael Ratcliffe, The Times)

Tennyson, Alfred. Tennyson: Selected Poems (Penguin Classics, reprint edition, 1992).
Treasury of verse by great Victorian poet includes famous long narrative poem, Enoch Arden, plus a selection of important lyrics, monologues, ballads and other typical pieces. Among them: "The Lady of Shalott," "The Charge of the Light Brigade," "Break, break, break," "Flower in the crannied Wall" and more. Also included are excerpts from three longer works: “The Princess,” "Maud," and "The Brook."  This edition reprinted from the authoritative standard edition and includes lists of titles and first lines.

Villamil, Antonieta. Razones de la senora bien y veinte poemas bastardos (Latino Press, 2000).   Tradicionalmente 21 poemas, en un libro que rompe la tradición, choca por su lenguaje descarnado y honesto y nos deleita con las voces de 21 mujeres, que poema a poema y en un crecendo de voces mutiladas, nos muestran su historia y nos cuentan la zaga de seres, que a pesar de las condiciones, se superan y nos hacen sentir la terrible belleza de lo efímero.

 
Villamil, Antonieta. Suave y lento (Latino Press, 2000).
"The mirror this poet holds up to nature is a cracked one, reflecting back a world made whole again. And from the thinnest shreds of hope, each of us reconstructs the world, one terrible piece at a time. A real magical discovery." (Jack Grapes, Editor)

Esta magnífica obra contiene lo mejor de la poesía erótica publicada en español en Los Estados Unidos. La poeta nos va mostrando una historia de amor, que poema a poema, se entreteje suave y lentamente, con todas las dificultades, que acarrea el acto amoroso desde la contemplación del sujeto amado hasta el desencuentro, las evasivas y la reiteración del amor.
 
Villamil, Antonieta. Traigo como arena en los ojos un poema inmenso (Trilce Editores, 1988).
Los textos de Traigo como arena en los ojos un poema inmenso, asaltan en su lenguaje intenso las zonas prohibidas de lo nocturno y el erotismo.

Excéntrica y alucinada, esta poesía se anuda como la música o el grito en una metáfora que desordena e inquiere, que se rebela y devela. Que atrapa y repele la luz, los arañazos de la vida y la muerte, el regocijo y la  violencia, en una sociedad que niega toda voz de lo femenino.
 
Villamil, Antonieta. Violento Placer (Latino Pr  2001).
Los textos de este libro, asaltan en su lenguaje intenso las zonas prohibidas de lo nocturno y el erotismo. Excéntrica y alucinada, esta poesía se anuda como la música o el grito en una metáfora que desordena e inquiere, que se rebela y devela. Que atrapa y repele la luz, los arañazos de la vida y la muerte, el regocijo y la violencia, en una sociedad que niega toda voz de lo femenino." Guillermo Martínez González, poeta, ensayista, traductor y editor. Trilce Editores, Bogotá Colombia.
 
Violento Placer nos ofrece 3 libros en uno. Publicado en Nueva York por The Latino Press, se presentan en este libro las versiones finales de muchos de los poemas y las correcciones, que por razones ajenas, escaparon imprenta en los libros anteriores.
 

Warn, Emily. Leaf Path (Copper Canyon Press, 1982).
In selecting The Leaf Path for the 1981 King County Arts Commission Publication Project, Susan Griffin wrote: “Emily Warn’s poetry is feeling, moving, dealing with the powerful and deepest part of being, yet delicately, even precisely crafted.”
 

Warn, Emily. The Novice Insomniac (Copper Canyon Press, 1996).
In her second book—fourteen years in the making—Emily Warn explores the multi-shaded whats of being. Whether invoking the persona of Esther to examine Jewish culture, musing upon the threatened landscape of her native Northwest, or witnessing the frustration of the insomniac’s darkened domain, her poems offer solace to what is most vulnerable in this world. Finding a voice for those who live in the margins of society, she creates a world of anxious wakefulness and exaggerated reality. Here is a poet whose vision is at once mature and refreshingly new. (Copper Canyon Press description)  


Whitman, Walt; Murphy, Francis (Editor). Walt Whitman: The Complete Poems (Penguin Classics, reprint edition, 1990).
In 1855 Walt Whitman published Leaves of Grass, the work which defined him as one of America's most influential voices, and which he added to throughout his life. A collection of astonishing originality and intensity, it spoke of politics, sexual emancipation and what it meant to be an American. From the joyful "Song of Myself' and "I Sing the Body Electric" to the elegiac "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd'," Whitman's art fuses oratory, journalism and song in a vivid celebration of humanity.

Subscribe to Chris Hedges