A Different Distance: A Renga
Marilyn Hacker (Author) Karthika Naïr (Author)
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In March 2020, France declared a full lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Shortly thereafter, poets and friends Marilyn Hacker and Karthika Naïr--living mere miles from each other but separated by circumstance, and spurred by this extraordinary time--began a correspondence in verse. Renga, an ancient Japanese form of collaborative poetry, is comprised of alternating tanka beginning with the themes of tōki and tōza: this season, this session. Here, from the "plague spring," through a year in which seasons are marked by the waxing and waning of the virus, Hacker and Naïr's renga charts the "differents and sames" of a now-shared experience. Their poems witness a time of suspension in which some things, somehow, press on relentlessly, in which solidarity persists--even thrives--in the face of a strange new kind of isolation. Between "ten thousand, yes, minutes of Bones," there's cancer and chemotherapy and the aches of an aging body. There is grief for the loss of friends nearby and concern for loved ones in the United States, Lebanon, and India. And there is a deep sense of shared humanity, where we all are "mere atoms of water, / each captained by protons of hydrogen, hurtling earthward." At turns poignant and playful, the seasons and sessions of A Different Distance display the compassionate, collective wisdom of two women witnessing a singular moment in history.
December 14, 2021
5.43 X 8.35 X 0.39 inches | 0.4 pounds
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About the Author
Marilyn Hacker is the coauthor of A Different Distance. She is an editor, translator, and author of sixteen collections of poetry. Her first book, Presentation Piece, received the National Book Award for Poetry in 1974. Hacker is a winner of the Willis Barnstone Translation Prize, the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, the National Poetry Series Robert Fagels Translation Prize, and the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry. She has been an editor for the Kenyon Review and Ploughshares, Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, and professor of English at the City College of New York. She lives in Paris, France. Karthika Naïr is the coauthor of A Different Distance. She is a dance producer and curator, and author of four books, including, most recently, Until the Lions: Echoes from the Mahabharata, a retelling of the ancient epic in multiple poetic forms. Naïr is also the principal scriptwriter for the dance production DESH, choreographed and performed by Akram Khan. Naïr's poetry has been published in Granta, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Review (UK), the Literary Review, Poetry International, Indian Literature, The Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poets, and the Forward Book of Poetry 2017. She lives in Paris, France.