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Marilyn Hacker

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  • Marilyn Hacker is the author of fourteen books of poems, including Blazons (Carcanet 2019), A Stranger’s Mirror (Norton, 2015) and Names (Norton, 2010), and an essay collection, Unauthorized Voices ( Michigan, 2010). Her sixteen translations of French and Francophone poets include Vénus Khoury-Ghata’s A Handful of Blue Earth (Liverpool, 2017) and Emmanuel Moses’ Preludes and Fugues (Oberlin, 2016). She received the 2009 American PEN Award for poetry in translation for Marie Etienne’s King of a Hundred Horsemen, the 2010 PEN Voelcker Award and the international Argana Prize for Poetry from the Beit as-Sh’ir/ House of Poetry in Morocco in 2011. She lives in Paris.

    Marilyn has contributed to the Carcanet Blog: click here to read her two-part Letter from Paris.
    'Translated forms give rise to the morphic quality of Hacker's language, whilst still maintaining the truth of her subject.'
    Elizabeth Ridout, Agenda
    'The literal translation of images and sources from French, Francophone and Arabic poets serves Hacker's elegant fusion of the contemporary, the colloquial and the precise, spare form, to create new communication of the experiences of the refugee and the bilingual, the world citizen.'
    Elizabeth Ridout, Agenda
    'Witness Blazons filled with poems using form and formal devices with apparent ease and joy. Her discipline is also reflected in language and syntax that are rich and syncopated....While Hacker's mastery of form and language continue to delight, her discipline as a translator, as a poet equally committed to other poets and with political implications, also inspires.... If poetry is a practice, a discipline, Hacker is one of the greatest masters and Blazons is one of her achievements from her practice and discipline.'

    Julie R Enszer, The Rumpus

    'There is no poet writing in English with a better claim for the Nobel Prize in Literature than Marilyn Hacker. Indeed, I view Blazons: New and Selected Poems, 2000-2018 as a brief for that case.'
    A.M. Juster, L.A. Review of Books
    'Her forms are invariably generous, inviting the reader in as a participant which entrains our emotions like a melody... Marilyn Hacker has style'
    Norbert Hirschhorn, London Grip
    'She has rendered these forms supple, natural, and substantial and has filled them with energy both intellectual and emotional... her poems are works of heroic reportage from the front delivered in a crisp hard bitten New York colloquial style that is counterpoise to the architecture of the form.'
    George Szirtles, The Poetry Review, Summer 2019
     'It is difficult to think of a poet writing today who could surpass Marilyn Hacker's combined formal, sonic and linguistic dexterity... Hacker's poems reach with both hands towards an intimacy of place, language, knowledge and more. Even towards the lyric self, where there is sometimes a wry sensibility, there is also very often an acknowledgement of an in-betweenness. Relating perhaps to Hacker's own life as a Jewish American now living in Paris - the poet-traveller raises her shield, forms her report, hoists the herald, all of these in English and French types of blazons, in order to correspond with her reader, another, the self.'
    Sandeep Parmar, PBS Spring Bulletin 2019
     'Combining toughness with tenderness, uniting the personal with the political, using traditional forms for new and urgent purposes, reaching out to others and otherness, taking the poem into divided and often terrifying circumstances, Hacker's Blazons confirms just how uncompromising, lucid and lyrical her poetry is.'
      'Like Marilyn Hacker's earlier books, it rejoices wherever it can, above all in the particular pleasures of particular places: "Inhabit daylight, unfurl where it's found", "Lauds" invites us, adding "Praise even the tea-stained quadrilled paper, praise / the notebook". Many of the poems are set in Paris, which Hacker, an American, increasingly calls home. "Why is it I don't like closing the curtains?" the poet asks, drawing the reader into "For Despina", a meditation on identity ("How are you a Jew? ... First, because I haven't the choice to not be") and the sins of the fathers, in which Hacker juxtaposes her train of thought with the warmly quotidian "December sun in a bedroom window".'

    Beverley Bie Brahic, The TLS

     'A poetry of passionate engagement. Like John Donne, she writes conversationally, roughly rather than smoothly, as a mode of resistance to authority and an expression of pent-up energy. Her tone is somehow both casual and intense, and always brimming with intelligence.'

    Alicia Ostriker, Persimmon Tree

    'Like all great poets, she transcends the very material she collects and alters. Her true quest is for language that will realize the stranger, and, in doing so, unify the self.'
    Grace Schulman, The Kenyon Review

       Hacker breathes new life, she makes poetic forms meaningful, relevant, fresh. She holds up a mirror to our human conditions with language so taut, so highly charged, that it dazzles with its power and complexity.

    Julie Enszer, Lambda Literary Review

     'Marilyn Hacker's text is masterly and authoritative, in the same way as is Auden's, Rich's, Fenton's and the best of Brodsky's... she convinces us of the authenticity of a world as it exists in language, through mastery, delight, desire, passion and wit. The wit is sexual and rakish, the passion humane and dense, the delight is in the mastery that is both formal yet acrobatically flexible and free-spirited, often breathtaking.'
    George Szirtes, The Guardian
    Awards won by Marilyn Hacker Commended, 2019 Poetry Book Society Special Commendation
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