Four Quartets: Poetry in the Pandemic
by Kristina Marie Darling & Jeffrey Levine
$25.95 – $39.95
In this timely anthology, established and emerging poets bear powerful witness to the COVID-19 pandemic in writing that reels from collective grief and uncertainty. This volume consists of sixteen separate chapbooks, and a collection of pandemic-era photography, which are unified by a shared narrative: public and private experiences of quarantine, and the impulse toward creation during a time of enormous upheaval, injustice, and protest. Each voice brings with it a deeply personal account of this globally historic moment, and in doing so, conveys the urgency of introspection, of isolation, and of revolution. These pieces feature B. A. Van Sise, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Yusef Komunyakaa, Laren McClung, Stephanie Strickland, Mary Jo Bang, Shane McCrae, Ken Chen, J. Mae Barizo, Dora Malech, Jon Davis, Lee Young-Ju, Jae Kim, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, A. Van Jordan, Maggie Queeney, Traci Brimhall, Brynn Saito, Denise Duhamel, and Rick Barot. This is a transcendent and ultimately transformative book of poetry written through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The poems in Four Quartets speak from the immense middle of events that we are still in the middle of. Their in medias res reportage counters the ‘masked and gloved’ separations of a time when every headline can recall an elegy. Together, these chapbooks show that life at the brink can still brim over; the news of catastrophe may move too quickly to process, but poetry’s ways of knowing can move even faster, suggesting, as Shane McCrae writes, that we may find ‘at the end of the world more world.’ This is an anthology of urgent response, and it suggests how poetry can remain responsive—and responsible—in the moments ahead.”—Zach Savich
“Taking place at the crossroads of contemporary poetry’s manifold divisions, from eco-poetry to neo-formalism, comes Four Quartets: Poetry in the Pandemic, an astounding anthology of verse written during Covid-19, evoking the wide swath of themes we lay heir to (Babylonian exile, Darwinian survivalism, Western civilization, eros, enlightenment, purgatory, and the oceans of Styx). It’s a celebration of what Mary Jo Bang describes as the ongoing struggle to just be. Nuclear warheads vs. ecocide: Choose a side in “your own America,” asks this polyphonic collection. How would an immuno-ravaged poetic body respond? Pulse, syncopation, breath, in harmony with the wild buffalo, wolves, and other animals that roamed North America before their extinction, and then, as the rhythm of collective voices rise, a resounding hymn of “intimate democracy”: our public commons, echoing in quarantine and isolation, replacing the wasteland of colonialist empire and capitalism T. S. Eliot decried, with higher roads known to individual souls.”—Virginia Koncha