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Poems and Satires

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Edited by Tristram Fane Saunders

Cover of Poems and Satires by Edna St Vincent Millay
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Categories: 20th Century, 21st Century, American, Irish, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Classics
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (200 pages)
(Pub. Sep 2021)
£14.99 £13.49
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(Pub. Sep 2021)
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  • Description
  • Author
  • Reviews
  • Edna St Vincent Millay (1892–1950) was one of the most popular American writers of her generation, and the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Thomas Hardy once remarked that America had only two great wonders to show the world: skyscrapers, and the poetry of Edna St Vincent Millay. Poems and Satires restores that wonder to view, while also revealing Millay as a more innovative and versatile talent than she is usually given credit for being. It includes some of her wickedly funny satires (published under the pseudonym Nancy Boyd, out of print since 1924), as well as her acclaimed play Aria da Capo, and reveals her to be not only the defining 'flapper' poet of the 1920s but a crucial voice for the 2020s.

    The 'fierce and trivial' persona she cultivated in her early lyric poems and sonnets – with their dazzling wit and daring attitudes towards love and sexuality – captured the whirl of bohemian life in New York. In her genre-defying satires, she questioned society's treatment of women and artists in surreal stories and plays, non-fiction and spoof agony aunt letters, and even a Handmaid's Tale-esque dystopia disguised as an almanac from the future.
    Edna St. Vincent Millay
    Edna St Vincent Millay (1892–1950) was one of the most popular American writers of her generation, and the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Thomas Hardy once remarked that America had only two great wonders to show the world: skyscrapers, and the poetry of Edna St Vincent Millay. ... read more
    Tristram Fane Saunders
    Tristram Fane Saunders lives in London and works as a journalist. He is the author of five pamphlets and one poetry collection, Before We Go Any Further (Carcanet, 2023), and is the editor of Edna St Vincent Millay: Poems and Satires (Carcanet, 2021). His poems have appeared in The TLS, The ... read more
    'Poems and Satires is more a reintroduction of a once-ubiquitous voice than a full reckoning of Millay's poetic achievement, but seeing most of her best work in new covers is heartening.'

    Declan Ryan, Poetry Foundation

    'This elegant paperback, with Art Deco flappers gracing the cover, a sprightly introduction, a revolutionary reordering, and new prose material, will recommend itself to readers who think they are familiar with Edna St Vincent Millay as much as to a new young readership for whom she will be an enviable discovery.'

    A.E. Stallings, Times Literary Supplement 

    Praise for Tristram Fane Saunders 'Before We Go Any Further is full of song and mirth, a welcome celebration of life and hope and newness, but delivered with dry wit and ironic formality: an excellent debut collection.'
    Kevin Gardner, Wild Court
    'erudite and witty, playful and discontented, pessimistic but full of cheer. What sets Saunders apart from many contemporary poets (certainly debutants) is his joy and skill with rhythm and rhyme. His poems are driven by their musicality, though thanks to his careful phrasemaking, they never go off the road... Wide-ranging and gentle with its intellect, this is a charming and inventive first book.'
    Stephen Sexton, Irish Times
    'Far from being static and uninvolved, the voice of Fane Saunders's brilliant debut is more often than not in a state of disarray... Before We Go Any Further is a book about turbulence and disorientation, and ingeniously engineered exits from these conditions into something both sustaining and enduring.'
    David Wheatley, TLS
    'It's difficult to sum up briefly what this collection is 'about' but this poem comes close: surviving, getting through, all the ways of coping. What good's a page against the whole damn world? - literally, not much, but metaphorically the words on the page, then the words on the next page, will -€“ like this collection - help. When the words, lines, poems are as good as this they help a lot. The collection in one word? Exhilarating.'
    D.A. Prince, The Friday Poem
    'The poems in Before We Go Any Further are rhythmically curious and refreshingly sensitive. But as a collection that demands to be read and received as a whole, it also succeeds in the rigour of its design... Executed with such intensity of spirit, these are astute, witty and memorable poems for our time.'
    Kate Simpson, The Telegraph
    'A debut packed full of surprises, from thoughtful mental health odes that elude closure, to poems surfing the lingos of the infotainment industries, to hilarious psychogeographical excursions through the tarnished oasis of Crystal Palace Park... the volume as a whole charts the emergence of a new voice which is at once warm and edgy.'
    Philip Terry, The Guardian
     "These poems cut quite a dash! Tristram Fane Saunders is the kind of verse stylist who seems able, whether the lines resound with euphonious music, or clatter with barbed juxtapositions, to fully inhabit the breadth of the English language and its many ways of saying. Before We Go Any Further is a breath of clean, fresh, air."
    Kayo Chingonyi
    'Before We Go Any Further would be a striking debut on the strength of its formal confidence and original phrasemaking alone; but what separates it from the competition is its shamelessly bold return to a poetry of the imagination, to poetry's old tradition of making it new. These poems see it as their business to make connections, shed light and extend their empathies into the world; that they do so with such originality and flair makes for one of the most purely enjoyable and invigorating first collections I've read in a long time.'
    Don Paterson
    'Tristram Fane Saunders is a joyfully idiosyncratic new voice in contemporary poetry; cultured, wry, formally adept, and adroitly musical. But what I love most is the deep compassion beneath the play. Many of these poems seek remedy for their suffering beloveds, only to be openly frustrated by their own limitations. These moments of radical kindness and vulnerability completely floored me, and make this a collection to cherish.'
    Fiona Benson
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