Stumbling Blocks: Roman Poems

Stumbling Blocks: Roman Poems

by Karl Kirchwey


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Through six earlier books Karl Kirchwey has rewarded readers with poems of great musicality, visual richness, and historical resonance. Stumbling Blocks: Roman Poems represents a culmination of his “formal mastery”—an honor often too loosely bestowed in contemporary American poetry, but one Kirchwey thoroughly earns.

As in his 1998 New York Times Notable Book The Engrafted Word, the city of Rome becomes a lens through which to understand the contemporary human experience and the upheavals of human loss. Stumbling Blocks takes as its starting point the shattered ancient Roman ruins described in Renaissance poet Joachim du Bellay's celebrated sonnet—a landscape of death feeding upon itself and restored to life in the imagination of each successive generation to salvage its own narratives.

Kirchwey builds new arches and mythological intersections in exquisite poems that take long walks in the Eternal City, through landscapes far away and deep within. This gorgeous collection takes us back in time and brings us forward through our Old and New Worlds, revealing through the religion of art both beauty and atrocity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780810136274
Publisher: Northwestern University Press
Publication date: 10/15/2017
Edition description: 1
Pages: 104
Sales rank: 971,049
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

KARL KIRCHWEY is the author of six previous collections of poetry: A Wandering Island; Those I Guard; The Engrafted Word; At the Palace of Jove; The Happiness of This World: Poetry and Prose; and Mount Lebanon. His essays and reviews have been widely published. He has also written a verse play based on the Alcestis of Euripides and a translation of Paul Verlaine, Poems under Saturn. From 2010 to 2013 he served as Andrew Heiskell Arts Director at the American Academy in Rome.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments                                                                              6                     
A Fatal Hand (Joachim Du Bellay)                                                    8                                                                                               
Leaving                                                                                               10
Airbus                                                                                                 11
PATER * FILIO * FECIT                                                                 13       
Body and Mask                                                                                  14
On the Janiculum, January 7, 2012                                                     15                                                                                                                   
Roma 8F 9260                                                                                     17       
Tiber Island                                                                                         19
Janiculum Staircase                                                                             20       
North Frieze Block XLVIII, Figures 118-20                                     22                   
The Stones at the Circus Maximus                                                     23
A Pair of Fountains

  1. Ask a Question25
  2. Starry Crown26
Stumbling Blocks: For Pius XII                                                         27
Troia                                                                                                    30
Stromboli                                                                                            31
Aeaea                                                                                                  32
Argos                                                                                                  33
A Letter From Istanbul                                                                       35
Santa Cecilia                                                                                       42
Chiaraviglio                                                                                         43
A Roman Garden                                                                                45
Santa Maria in Trastevere                                                                   47
Two Farewells
            1. A Narcissus                                                                         48
            2. Villa Aurora                                                                        50
Gentle Joyous God                                                                             53
Reading Apuleius                                                                               54
Pentecost                                                                                             55
Fiumicino, Morning                                                                            57
Ostia Antica                                                                                        58
A Return                                                                                             59
Roma città aperta                                                                                60
Notes                                                                                                   61
About the Author                                                                               63

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