Sparrow, a luminous new volume of poetry by acclaimed poet, novelist, and critic Carol Muske-Dukes, draws the reader into a mesmerizing world of love and loss. In the wake of personal tragedy, the death of her husband, Muske-Dukes asks herself the questions that undergird all of art, all of elegy. “What is the difference between love and grief?” she asks in a poem, finding no answer beyond the image of the sparrow, flitting from Catullus to the contemporary lyric.
Beyond autobiographical narrative, these are stripped-down, passionate meditations on the aligned arts of poetry and acting, the marriage of two artists and their transformative powers of expression and experience. Muske-Dukes has once again shown herself to be, in this profound elegiac collection, one of today’s finest living poets.
From the Hardcover edition.
About Carol Muske-Dukes
Carol Muske-Dukes is the director of the graduate program in literature and creative writing at the University of Southern California. Her most recent collection of poetry, An Octave Above Thunder, was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She has written two novels—Saving St. Germ and Dear Digby—and a collection of critical essays. She lives in Los Angeles.
Advance praise for Sparrow
“Marriage is a pact with an other both beloved and unknowable—and loss, therefore, means losing both what we know and what we can never circumscribe. Sparrow is a stunning elegy for the actor David Dukes, but like all great poetry, it reaches beyond the specifics of a life, or a death. In poems haunted by Lear and Godot, Catullus and Oscar Wilde, a chorus of shades, art’s animating phantoms, ghost this brooding, loving book into startling life.” —Mark Doty
“A private matter Sparrow may invoke, but it reaches to the center of so much loss—personal and public.” —Adrienne Rich
“Sparrow is an act of retrieval, a way of reviving David Dukes through memory. The lines of the poems are, in effect, life-lines, and within them he is brought back into a second life, one that will last.” —Mark Strand
“Sparrow is a powerful, compelling journey from the loss of a personal paradise to the regaining that follows. Carol Muske-Dukes shows us how grief can be stabilized by craft and sense brought to bear on anguish, one careful line of poetry at a time.” —Billy Collins
Praise for Carol Muske-Dukes
“[In Red Trousseau] Carol Muske-Dukes achieves the insight, emotional accuracy, and terrifying sureness of moral discernment she has always sought. She surveys human relations with an acid clairvoyance through which the reckless currents of personal and cultural history course, ripping away all but the essential tones of the human conversation.” —Jorie Graham
“[An Octave Above Thunder] is poetry of beauty and integrity that tells the truth of art.” —The Nation
“[Carol Muske-Dukes is] that wonderful rare thing: a poet who has the ability to deepen the secrets of experience even while revealing them.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review
From the Hardcover edition.