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Sea Change

Jorie Graham

Sea Change
Categories: 21st Century, American, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (96 pages)
(Pub. May 2008)
Out of Stock
  • Description
  • Excerpt
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  • Awards
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  • I am listening in this silence that precedes. Forget
                                                   everything, start listening. Tipping point, flash
    convective chimneys in the seas bounded by Greenland. Once there was thunder and also
                                                    salvos at the four corners of the horizon, that was
    In Hell they empty your hands of sand, they tell you to refill them with dust and try
                                                    to hold in mind the North Atlantic Deep Water…  

                                                                           from ‘Positive Feedback Loop’ by Jorie Graham

    Sea Change is a poetry of the tipping point, when what is lost and damaged in our world and our humanity is forever irrecoverable, when time itself has disintegrated. Jorie Graham, acclaimed as one of America’s most innovative poets, writes in her new collection the words for the ‘silence-that-precedes’ the once-unimaginable future in which the only ways of being human we have ever known, can no longer be sustained. With a luminous formal beauty, Sea Change brings us to the threshold of that terrifying silence and affirms the fragile tenacity of the human essence that binds us to the world. It is poetry as urgent as it is essential.

    Cover painting Peter Sacks, I Remember Nothing, 2006, courtesy of Galerie Piece Unique. Photograph by Didier Morel. Cover design by



    Jorie Graham was born in New York City in 1950, the daughter of a journalist and a sculptor. She was raised in Rome, Italy and educated in French schools. She studied philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris before attending New York University as an undergraduate, where she studied filmmaking. She received ... read more
    Awards won by Jorie Graham Long-listed, 2024 The Griffin Poetry Prize
    (To 2040)
    Winner, 2023  The Laurel Prize
    (To 2040)
    Commended, 2022 A Poetry Book Society Autumn Special Commendation
    ([To] the Last [Be] Human)
    Short-listed, 2021 The ASLE-UKI Book Prize for Ecological Writing
    Short-listed, 2020 The Neustadt International Prize for Literature
    Winner, 2018 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry (Fast) Winner, 2012 Forward Prize for Best Collection  (PLACE) Winner, 2017 Wallace Stevens Award for Lifetime Achievement  Commended, 2017 Poetry Book Society Recommendation.
    Winner, 1996 Pulitzer Prize
    (The Dream of the Unified Field)
    Short-listed, 2012 T S Eliot Prize () Short-listed, 2012 Forward Poetry Prize for Best Collection ()
     'The poems in Jorie Graham's Sea Change might look unapproachable but they are models of clarity and purity.'
    Nicola Smyth, 'Books of the Year', the Independent, 28 December 2008
    Praise for Jorie Graham 'This is an urgent, vivacious book based in stark reality but written with craft and beauty.'
    Maria Crawford, Financial Times
    'To 2040 is a collection to be experienced in all its movements and formations. It articulates the collective undercurrents of our consciousness, leading us beyond the brinks of our experience, flooding us with existential concerns and threats. To 2040 further cements the might of Jorie Graham's poetic work and her immense, oracular vision, which is as astonishing as it is necessary.'
    Neha Mulay, The Adroit Journal
    'Graham is adept at this kind of philosophical, or, indeed neo-scientific, display... The result is blistering and overwhelming, a clear depiction of our extreme, accelerating existence.'
    Kate Simpson, The Poetry Review
    'The poems are invigorating in their formal inventiveness and precise use of language. The surprising lineation, extension of white space, erosion of words (you/u) and accretion of phrases have the effect of tuning us into Graham’s mind; we follow her thoughts as she wrestles with our wilful destruction of the earth, shot through with images of hope.'
    Jo Dixon, Everybody's Reviewing
    'The American writer's visionary 15th collection is one of her best books yet. These luminous poems consider the importance of attending to the wisdom nature offers us... A profound engagement with how our thinking about nature might change, and transform us in the process.'
    Rebecca Tamás, The Guardian
    'Of the many questions put throughout Jorie Graham's stunning new collection, To 2040, the first is the most urgent: "Are we / extinct yet."...The common shape of poems here is a precisely unbalanced four-line stanza: seldom do lines and phrases match, sentences spill across lines. It is the flow of intellect, the mind at work.'
    Stephen Sexton, Irish Times
    'In her new book, Graham's poems continue to exhort us to be present, and she has found a startlingly intimate way of situating an individual consciousness among its precarious cohabitants.'
    Walt Hunter, The Atlantic
    'What makes her work required reading is her readiness to go where angels fear to write, to do the terrifying work of visualising the future.... Every poem is an attempt at orientation - sometimes within a disorienting void. However considered Graham's revisions, the sense is of being in the moment with her - intimacy the closest thing to consolation.'

    Kate Kellaway, The Observer

    'Attempting to comment briefly on this visionary commotion is like trying to capture thunder and lightning in a bottle... This is a world beyond humanity, beyond nature, beyond culture, and yet amid the ruins there is the undeniable triumph and power of poetic utterance'

    Rachel Hadas, Times Literary Supplement

    'From its opening page until its final lines, Graham''s 15th collection of poetry has the heightened urgency of a young writer's debut. True to its title, it hurtles forward. Poems pour forth, frothing and pooling and threatening, at times, to overflow their banks...Runaway feels as though it has been written for right now, especially as we find ourselves in the midst of a pandemic, but also for a target audience that might emerge 100 years on...'

    Jeff Gordinier, New York Times

    'Sweeping lines and fractured phrases, ampersands and italics, lines unexpectedly justified right: all of these wake us up to 'the freshness of what's / there.'

    Fiona Sampson, The Guardian

      'Her most thrilling poems hurtle through long, unpredictable lines that devour and spit out ancient echoes and internet detritus as they go. . . . She in her poems remakes a world you can inhabit, one in which you sense what it is you're letting go of, now, before it's gone.'

    Harper's Magazine
    'Runaway, Jorie Graham's expansive new book, insistently tunes us to the human urgency for wholeness, for the meanings of embodiment in a time when some of us/are murdered, and some of have mouths that keep saying yes.'

    Forrest Gander, New York Times

    'Even when these poems are at their darkest and most purposefully incoherent in terms of voice and tone, there remains a trace of language's ability to seek out, transmit and make visible the impact of the world on the self for others to experience.'
    Oxonian Review

    'The reason that poets are addicted to poetry and they write it for a lifetime, is because a poem will permit you to go through life and have an experience you can't have by any other means.'
    Jorie Graham talking to Ian McMillan on Radio 3's The Verb, 15 December 2017

     'Another striking book from Jorie Graham, and one that frequently reaches fever-pitch in its frantic explosion of the lyric mode. Graham's themes in these poems -ranging through sickness, death and environmental crises -would rattle any reader, and her long lines, clamouring fragments and sprawling chorus of voices increase this effect to a dramatic extent. These are urgent, stressed and stressful poems that produce a panicked motion-sickness as you spiral through them. This is an important, desperate and, at times, frightening, book that truly captures the tone of contemporary times.'
    The Poetry School Books of the Year 2017

     'In FAST, [Graham's] subject is mortality - her own (she was diagnosed with cancer five years ago), her parents', that of intellect and culture (in dementia, in digital overwhelm), that of the planet. It is a collection of sensual poems so urgent that, by the end, they have abandoned traditional beginnings and are physically bunched up on the right-hand side of the page. And through it all, an unwavering, serious belief in the power of poetry, a repeatedly inhabited rejection of Auden's assertion that poetry makes nothing happen.'
    The Guardian

     'Fast might immerse us in monstrous acts of environmental and political violence, our obsession with progress, money, and our own individualistic, virtual worlds, but what still succeeds is the wish to live on. Perhaps if we were to listen to that wish we might, amongst all the acceleration, stop and think again.'
    - The London Magazine

    'We should be grateful to Jorie Graham for her own heroics of perception, even if they show up our ordinary insight. If we can't see, with Graham, "the spots where the birds must eventually land", at least we know now where we should be looking.'
    Gwyneth Lewis, Times Literary Supplement.
    'Graham's best book in at least a decade.'
    Publishers Weekly
     'There are erotic poems, elegiac poems, and there are dauntingly difficult, allusive and even impenetrable poems. Throughout there is a powerful, engaging intelligence and an affirming lyric grace.'
    Stephen Matterson on The Errancy, in Poetry Ireland Review, vol. 62
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