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Categories: 21st Century, American, Bestsellers, Greek, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (240 pages)
(Pub. Dec 2022)
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(Pub. Dec 2022)
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Winner of the Anglo-Hellenic League Runciman Award 2023
Shortlisted for the London Hellenic Prize 2022
The Poetry Book Society Winter Special Commendation 2022
'The ancients taught me how to sound modern,' A.E. Stallings said in an interview. 'They showed me that technique was not the enemy of urgency, but the instrument.' For her, 'technique' is rooted in traditions of strict forms and metres, an interest that sets her apart as modern – and American – in challenging ways, for being on the face of it old-fashioned, yet ambitiously experimental among the forms she uses.
Raised in Atlanta, Georgia, she lives in Athens, Greece. Her poems come out of life's dailiness – as a wife, mother, teacher, an expatriate between languages, a brilliant translator of ancient and modern Greek. She also translates Latin, her most notable large work being the Penguin Lucretius, translated into fourteeners.
Being a poet in Greece entails, for her, being part of that world. She was among volunteers helping refugees as they arrived in Greece, and their experience haunted her to write, 'My love, I'm grateful tonight / Our listing bed isn't a raft / Precariously adrift / As we dodge the coast guard light...' The sharp quatrain commends the observation to memory. The poems, without self-indulgence or confession, are intimate as they address 'My love', children or friends.
Awards won by A.E. Stallings Winner, 2023 The Anglo-Hellenic League Runciman Award
(This Afterlife) Short-listed, 2022 The London Hellenic Prize
(This Afterlife) Commended, 2022 Poetry Book Society Winter Special Commendation
'I have enjoyed the range of this collection with its humour, its humanity, generosity, intelligence, love of the richness of life and the attention to the craft - that good, old-fashioned craft - at every level. This is poetry about the everyday stuff of life and the Big Themes that the ancient Greeks understood as well. Few poets can achieve this.'
D.A. Prince, London Grip
'We can enjoy Stallings's verse for the pleasure of a rhyme expertly clicked into place, for the sophisticated music of the phrasing, and for the wit of machines mourning the loss of people and the poet consoling a friend who has broken an ancient pot: 'it must mean something to survive the weather/Of the Ages - earthquake, flood and war -/Only to shatter in your very hands.'
Stephen Knight, Literary Review
'Stallings's formal ingenuity lends a music to her philosophically and narratively compelling verse... crafting clever yet profound meditations on love, motherhood, language and time.'
The New Yorker
'In the poems collected in This Afterlife - especially the ones set in the here and now - Stallings demonstrates that in the right poet's hands, the putative everydayness of the hic et nunc can be transformed into something every bit as rich and strange as even the most ancient myths.'
Ryan Ruby, The Nation
'The main thing Stallings has going for her is that she's good at writing poems... her poems satisfy in the way a handblown glass bowl satisfies; they have heft and shape.'
David Orr, The New York Times
'Rhyme and metre never go away. A.E. Stallings has demonstrated such mastery of both over the past two decades that it's surprising to find this is her first book published in England. But don't mistake this for cold, formal verse. With great empathy, she is that rare thing: a poet who can speak to the uninitiated reader.'
Graeme Richardson, The Sunday Times '5 best poetry books of 2022'
'A.E. Stallings is that rare poet who can write in a traditional form (sonnets! sestinas!) without letting the form squeeze the life out of the poem. "This Afterlife," which selects from more than two decades of work, solidifies her virtuoso status. Much of the pleasure comes from her precise, imaginative eye'
Troy Jollimore, Washington Post Best Poetry Collections of 2022
'A. E. Stallings's technically assured poems in This Afterlife are like a set of well-cut clothes... there is also profound and disturbing work here, often reflecting (as an American based in Greece) on Europe's treatment of migrants. Out in the UK this December, this Selected Poems should introduce Stallings's mastery to a wider public.'
Graeme Richardson, The Sunday Times
'Aesthetic and intellectual pleasures are everywhere in this considerable work'
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