By Laynie Browne
Publication month: June, 2022
ISBN# 9781950268603 (6 x 8.5, 232pp, paperback)
ISBN# 9781950268610 (6 x 8.5, 232pp, limited edition hardcover)
Laynie Browne’s latest poetry collection, Translation of the Lilies Back into Lists playfully employs the list poem and delivers poems which evade genre and subvert the quotidian material of daily life. These poems consider elegy, absence and bewilderment while allowing associative logic to make poetic leaps in imagination and mood that belie convention. This book explores the myriad ways one could attempt to categorize a lived experience with its dizzying infinitudes by marking it in finite language, and ultimately shows how poetry is an experiment for that translation. Browne’s exquisite collection considers language, time, and poetics in a way that is as electrifying as it is elusive. In homage to poet C.D. Wright, her title is inspired by Translations of the Gospel Back into Tongues.
It’s everybody’s biography, always “not yet begun," as well as the list of directions, questions, and observations for provoking an investigation into the interior of a life keenly attentive to the resonance of other lives. The reader recognizes herself as the I, the you, the character in a novel, someone missing, someone alive again— illuminated, self-conscious, caught in the act. Like CD Wright, whose work inspires the title, Laynie Browne is hilarious at a slant, provocative, and touching. Her language, which makes everything happen, has an incomparably swervy brilliance.
Though the poems are awash in the quotidian—buying gifts, planning travel, filling out forms, child care—they read like the textual record of a sensitive mind working through the “thoughts surrounding” the daily demands that make up a life. Such thinking, for Browne, is tinged with an acute awareness of our inevitable mortality.
—Harriet Books, Poetry Foundation
The experience of reading Translation of the Lilies Back into Lists was not unlike how Tender Buttons made me feel the first time I read it, or how Hejinian’s My Life makes me feel when I reread it. A sort of stuttering, obfuscated autobiographical narrative establishes itself in fits and starts as one makes one’s way through Translation, but I’d be hard pressed to summarize it. Nor would I want to; Translation is a marvelous book that is better experienced.
—Kevin O'Rourke, Michigan Quarterly Review
Laynie Browne is a poet, prose writer, teacher and editor. She is author of fourteen collections of poems and four books of fiction. Recent publications include Translation of the Lilies Back into Lists (forthcoming May 2022, Wave Books), In Garments Worn by Lindens; a novel, Periodic Companions; and a book of short fiction, The Book of Moments. Her work has appeared in journals such as Conjunctions, A Public Space, New American Writing, The Brooklyn Rail, and in anthologies including The Ecopoetry Anthology (Trinity University Press), The Reality Street Book of Sonnets (Reality Street, UK), and Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology (W.W. Norton). Her poetry has been translated into French, Spanish, Chinese, and Catalan. She co-edited the anthology I'll Drown My Book: Conceptual Writing by Women (Les Figues Press, 2013) and edited the anthology A Forest on Many Stems: Essays on The Poet's Novel (Nightboat, 2020). Honors and awards include a Pew Fellowship, the National Poetry Series Award for her collection The Scented Fox (Wave Books, 2007), and the Contemporary Poetry Series Award for her collection Drawing of a Swan Before Memory (University of Georgia, 2005). She teaches at the University of Pennsylvania.
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