[To] the Last [Be] Human

(Author) (Introduction by)

Product Details

$22.00  $20.46
Copper Canyon Press
Publish Date
7.3 X 9.0 X 1.2 inches | 1.4 pounds

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About the Author

Jorie Graham is the author of a dozen collections of poetry,
including The Dream of the Unified Field, which won the Pulitzer Prize. She
divides her time between western France and Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she
teaches at Harvard University.


Praise for [To] The Last [Be] Human"Jorie Graham faces the future anguished but unblinking in this magnificent collection of her four most recent books. . . . Their importance goes beyond the literary. . . . She is weathervane, sentinel, about-to-be lost soul. What makes her work required reading is her readiness to go where angels fear to write, to do the terrifying work of visualizing the future. . . . There is no such thing, in this poetry, of an untainted present. The flow, at times, reminds you of Virginia Woolf's The Waves, although more diluvial, and the preoccupation with time of TS Eliot's "Four Quartets"--minus the consoling decorum. 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. . . . At 72, Graham is writing for her life, and ours."--Guardian
"This omnibus edition of Graham's four most recent poetry books reifies her turn toward the climate crisis as a theme, but also highlights the way her great subject has always been and continues to be human consciousness, the manifold and many-folded self."--New York Times, Editors Choice
"A monumental exploration of consciousness in an age of ecological, political, and existential crisis."--New Yorker, Best Books of 2022
"One of the greatest living ecopoetic writers, Graham is an essential voice in American poetry. This volume, which compiles her latest four collections, paints a dazzling and often unnerving portrait of environmental contingency in poems that ambitiously and unblinkingly tackle all aspects of the human experience. Graham's power as a thinker and poet shines in these pages."--Publishers Weekly, Best Books of 2022
"In its movement from hopeful naïveté to outright pessimism, [To] the Last [Be] Human tracks not only Graham's attitude toward the nature of climate change but also the evolution of our cultural discourse. What once seemed a bleak but distant possibility now appears inevitable. But if the poems themselves no longer inspire social action, perhaps the doom conveyed in these later poems might serve another purpose. If readers imagine this book, as Graham does, as an artifact to be 'dug up from rubble in the future, ' it maintains value for later readers from distant generations or civilizations. In this sense, Graham's depiction of a world in the midst of its own ruin serves less as an antidote for impending devastation--it's too late for that--than as a minority report on our humanistic response to it, one that might persist, as Macfarlane says, across 'the long light of the will-have-been, ' even if we've failed to correct the course of our environmental history."--Los Angeles Review of Books
"Why think, why write, why break the silence? I have wondered sometimes if global warming makes our own deaths feel more real, as though threats to civilization were an overdeath, as though we had to die twice. But if 'the synthetic materials last forever, ' as Graham writes in 'Deep Water Trawling' (our plastics are destined to outlive our species), there is also a sense in which our work lasts forever. 'What the lips just inconceivably apart can make, ' she wrote in 'The End of Beauty, ' 'cannot then, ever again, be uncreated.' Art exists in theoretical permanence. It may not be remembered--there may be no record--but it did, at least, happen. There is some point of view, I'm convinced, from which everything matters. In the poem 'Untitled, ' first published in Place (2012), Graham's speaker addresses a posited reader from a deep-time future: 'you out there/peering in, listening, to see who we were: here: this was history: /their turn/is all they actually have/flowing in them.'"--New York Times
"Collecting Graham's four stellar eco-poetic volumes, this searing and sensitive portrait of environmental contingency is as formally ambitious as it is captivating and wise. As Robert Macfarlane aptly writes in his beautiful introduction, the task of these poems is one 'of record as well as of warning: to preserve what it felt like to be a human in these accelerated years when "the future / takes shape / too quickly."'. . . To hold these volumes together is to have proof of Graham's unmatched powers and to reckon with the resilience the present age demands."--Publishers Weekly, starred review
"This collection gives the reader the sensation of everything happening at once, an acceleration so complete that it feels like the apocalyptic end has already arrived. . . . To go about daily life, I am suspended between resignation and activism, and engage in too little of the latter. Graham's tetralogy gives the reader a different possibility: adaptation and radical witness. Her language and poetic structure adapt to her changing world and reality, and never succumb to denial. Words themselves shift--letters fall off of common words, in the familiar way that texting has reduced much language. Further, the orientation of the poem is frequently disrupted and justified right, bringing tension to the structure and giving the reader a visual and impending cliff."--Rumpus
"Jorie Graham's urgent and despairing [To] The Last [Be] Human stands as a thick and insistent testament of our time--this time of human-driven ecological crises."--Orion"Graham is a master of her craft, perhaps unparalleled at reflecting the human condition as we approach a post-human world. To read her is to enter a world of meditative beauty and metaphysical loneliness; that such private states can be made so touchingly public is her great gift."--Rain Taxi

Praise for Jorie Graham"One of our great literary mappers of everything, everywhere all at once. . . . Graham is a chronicler of bigness, the overawing bigness of our planet but also the too-bigness, at times, of the self. . . . Our own comprehension of enormity, Graham writes, slides off of us 'like a ring into the sea.' It's a truism that poetry's task is finding amazement in the everyday. Graham turns this into a terrifying as well as a moral project. (In her ocean metaphor, the ring is vast, and the unknowingness in which we lose it is vaster still. Perhaps her poems are salvage divers.)."--New Yorker
"Graham is one of our great poets. Her words will long outlast all of this chatter." --New York Times "Every poem, Graham suggests, is part net and part wind, its finely knotted phrases and lines straining to 'hold, ' for longer than an instant, the presence passing through them." --New Yorker "We will always need to read Jorie Graham, and to read her closely, if we want to understand the last forty years of poetry in America." --Los Angeles Review of Books "Graham begins her fifth decade of publishing with a bravura performance that probes the present for what the future will bring." --Publishers Weekly "Graham has long been breaking open the lyric voice, seeing how much of the vast, fractured, overwhelming present it can contain. Often she explores a self that won't hold together but must still be held accountable--as a political entity, a citizen." --Harper's Magazine "Pulitzer Prize winner Graham's poems are like those of John Donne and e.e. cummings but on speed dial. Like Donne, Graham seeks to encounter the metaphysics of everything." --Library Journal "Graham's poems act as the sonar devices of contemporary western consciousness, probing the depths of human existential experience." --Guardian