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Desesperanto: Poems 1999-2002 [Paperback]

Marilyn Hacker

Price: 9.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

8 Feb 2005
Desesperanto refines the themes of loss, exile, and return that have consistently informed Marilyn Hacker's work. The title itself is a wordplay combining the name of the invented to-be-universal language Esperanto and the French 'desespoir', meaning despair. Desesperanto, then, is a universal language of despair-despair of the possibility of a universal language.

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More About the Author

Marilyn Hacker is the author of twelve books of poems, including Names (Norton, 2009) Essays on Departure (Carcanet Press, UK, 2006) and Desesperanto (Norton, 2003). Her ten volumes of translations from the French include Hédi Kaddour's Treason (Yale University Press, 2010), , Emmanuel Moses' He and I (Oberlin College Press, 2009), Marie Etienne's King of a Hundred Horsemen (Farrar Strauss and Giroux, 2008) which received the 2009 American PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, Vénus Khoury-Ghata's Alphabets of Sand (Carcanet Press, UK, 2008)and Rachida Madani's Tales of a Severed Head (Yale, 2012). She is a past recipient of the Academy of American Poets' Lenore Marshall Award, the Poets' Prize, the National Book Award, two Lambda Literary Awards, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the PEN Voelcker Award and the Argana International Poetry Award from the House of Poetr/ Beit as-Shir in Morocco for 2011.She is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, and lives in Paris.

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"...Desesperanto, features rhyming meditations on multiculturalism, abortion rights, homophobia, and Palestinian suffering... wrenching yet exquisite..."Jane Yeh, The Times Literary Supplement "The voice that emerges in these sad,grey lines is calm and cool and sure of itself." Time Out New York "The poems in this volume speak of loss, pain, grief, separation, betrayal, in a dazzling variety of strict forms, both traditional and invented... These are poems to listen to intently, to read and re-read; poems to live with." Mary MacRae, Magma

About the Author

MARILYN HACKER's honours include a National Book Award and the 2004 Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She has published eleven previous volumes of poetry, all available in Norton paperback editions. She lives in Paris and New York.

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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Study your French 10 Dec 2003
By Shaquanna Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Marilyn Hacker's collection of poems, Desesperanto, is a blend of American subjects and French flair. The poetry collection is a look into the woman herself. Her thoughts, concerns in the world, and her sorrow of the friends that she has lost in the recent years. The poems here are very thought provoking and insightful. They are designed to challenge the reader to go a step beyond the passive reading most are accustomed to. Hacker's use of the French language is designed to add melody and rhythm to the poems, while forcing the reader to run and find a French-to-English dictionary. I'm not sure if this is a book I would choose for beginning poetry classes. It is a work that I would recommend for advance poetry fans and perhaps a women's literature course.
My personal favorite out of the collection is "English 182." The poem explores the emotions of an English professor (Hacker) attempting to gain some sense of her students. The speaker singles out a young African-American student that never participates in class discussions and eventually plagiarizes a paper. The speaker responds by reaching out to the student, by attempting to teach on African-American female poets.
The poem reaches out to me as a Black student because I have often felt isolated in all White classes, learning about figures that I cannot relate to. Despite the fact that the speaker does teach about Black women, it can be very difficult to speak up in a class where you are the only minority. It is my experience that many professors often feel that Black Students should feel obligated to speak out in class. They feel that if there is little representation of the Black race in the class, those few students should feel compelled to speak up for the entire population. Rather than feeling obligated to speak, my of these students retreat into their own shell when faced with the task of being the only Black in class. Hacker does a great job exploring the issues of failure with the poem. I would love to see her tap into theme of insufficient minority representation in the university setting.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read the Book 7 Jan 2004
By Julie Fay - Published on Amazon.com
I'm glad there are some blank pages in the back of this book because it gives me a place to jot notes. What's happened around this book since it's publication-silence-(i.e. so few reviews) is part and partial/symptomatic of what the poet decries in her first poem-a prologue to the rest of the book-as the "abandoned dissident discourse" brought on by "leaden words like `Homeland.'"
Are reviewers too lazy, too busy, too afraid to take on the challenges a book like this puts forth? This book asks that we do our homework or that we be as well read, as engaged in the real world of current and past politics and policies as the author is. The book calls for each reader to write his/her own reader's guide (much as Hacker's earlier poem "Ballad of Ladies Lost and Found" demanded: "Make your own footnotes; it will do you good.")
Hacker's aim, in part, is to make us aware of the people, the public people, who populate her text, people such as June Jordon, Muriel Rukeyser, Audre Lorde, Neruda, Venus Khoury-Ghata, Hayden Carruth, all of them politically engaged poets who considered themselves charged, as poets, with the duty to speak out against the ills of the world around them. As Hacker does.
Poetry is for an elite few! Poof! This poetry is available to anyone who takes the time to read it-to shut off CNN, "Friends" and FOX News and delight in the sounds that cascade and roll over us and give us what the best poetry has forever: delight to the ear because of its musical/verbal genius, its use of assonance, consonance, rhyme of every kind, alliteration. The poems deliver the kind of pleasure successfully completing a jigsaw puzzle does and at the same time hit home with their portrayal of human experiences that most of us have lived through: the loss of a loved one to cancer, the experience of being jilted by a lover, the fear of death, the fear of life as we know it today in the "homeland."
Read it and think. Read it and look up the proper names. Read it and weep. Read it and carry on.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Witness-Visionary of the Heart, Mind, Body and Body Politic 26 July 2003
By yerra sugarman - Published on Amazon.com
The emotional urgency, complexity and freshness of Marilyn Hacker's poems in her most recent collection DESESPERANTO (2003), work seamlessly and forcefully with their formal mastery and prosodic inventiveness. The originality of her rhyme and the pressure she places on her meter reinvigorate fixed forms to create a unique counterpoint with her poems' emotional power and the daring of their subject matter. The result is work that is always poignant, reflective, energetic and generous in its good-natured and unfaltering humanity by one of America's most important poets of social conscience, of the body and the body politic. This poetry allows us to enter the tonal range of the poet's griefs, joys and her meditative quandaries into the nature of these so that we may learn from her how we might have the courage to enter our own. Hacker, as always, opens new doors widely, showing us that to be socially engaged and personal, erudite and playful, intellectual and raw, a witness to the largest issues of our time and an incisive observer of the daily, passionate and inclusively human, while reworking form to make it her own, give rise to poetry that is among the most potent and necessary being written in English today. In her "Elegy to a Soldier," a sequence dedicated to the memory of poet/writer/scholar/activist June Jordan, Hacker weaves together the everyday details of a life intensely lived along with her own and Jordan's deeply metaphysical and political consciousness. The rawness of real life is savored and celebrated while also seen into and connected with a vision that burns through surfaces. Hacker writes, "Now your death, as if it were 'yours': your house, your / dog, your friends, your son, your serial lovers. / Death's not 'yours,' what's yours are a thousand poems / alive on paper..." Marilyn Hacker's work is a guidebook that leads us into and through ourselves, singing to us with prayerful attention that we must live as fully as possible each day of our lives no matter what, that the acceptance and melding of hope and despair together, create a light that illuminates what is needed for a just world of endless possibility
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Contemplative Measures: Marilyn Hacker's _Desesperanto_ 26 July 2003
By Cori L. Gabbard - Published on Amazon.com
Marilyn Hacker's poetic structure may be impeccably formal, but the subtlety and grace of her rhyme, meter and other paradigmatic schemes stunningly enhance, rather than contrast with, the emotional intimacy of the poems in her twelfth and newest volume, Desesperanto (2003). Like Hacker's earlier collections, Desesperanto addresses the political-"Embittered Elegy," for example, concerns the murders of hate-crime victim Matthew Shepard and pro-choice practitioner Dr. Barnett Slepian-but the quotidian familiarity of the poet's language and the moments she portrays (the "Bronx-bound local. . .rumbling up the tracks"; a mother passing a soccer ball back and forth with her two young children) define each poem as an individual snapshot of personal meditation. Readers should pay particular attention to the "sonnet-portraits" of Paris in the book's second section ("Itinerants"). Though unflinching in the unsentimentality and often dark accuracy of their vision, they nevertheless inspire a certain nostalgia for the city where the "rue de Bretagne leads past the Square/du Temple." In short, Hacker's voice is less that of the poet speaking to her (mostly) anonymous readers than that of all humanity expressing the core of its experience.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hacker's review 9 Dec 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
After reading Hacker's book Desesperanto I felt like I knew her with out knowing her. She writes beautifully about her life, friends, where she grew up, her get-away place(Paris), and her strong opinions about politics. Through imagery and word usage she gives the reader the setting, the time, and the emotional state she was in. You can hear the train in New York, see the cafes in Paris, and smell the Lapsang Souchong. The use of French gives you a better sense of what she was trying to capture in this collection and a good explanation of her life in New York and in Paris.
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