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The Red List

A Poem

88 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / no illustrations

ebook available


  Paperback / 9780807156896 / October 2014
The “red list” of Stephen Cushman’s new volume of poetry is the endangered species register, and the book begins and ends with the bald eagle, a bird that bounded back from the verge of extinction. The volume marks the inevitability of such changes, from danger to safety, from certainty to uncertainty, from joy to sadness and back again. In a single poem that advances through wordplay and association, Cushman meditates on subjects as vast as the earth’s fragile ecosystem and as small as the poet’s own deflated fantasy of self-importance: “There aren’t any jobs for more Jeremiahs.”
Simultaneously teasing the present and eulogizing what has been lost, Cushman speaks like a Shakespearean jester, freely and foolishly, but with penetrating insight.
Stephen Cushman has published five collections of poetry as well as two books of criticism, and two books about the Civil War. He is general editor of the fourth edition of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (2012) and Robert C. Taylor Professor of English at the University of Virginia.

Praise for The Red List

“Diatribe, paean, talisman, irreverent incantation, prayer, The Red List is a cosmos. . . the poem’s obvious ancestor is Song of Myself. Cushman shares Walt Whitman’s acute attentiveness, love of nature, and penchant for restless cataloging.”—Lisa Russ Spaar, Virginia Quarterly Review

“The poem gathers weight via its intention to go deliberately, unconventionally slow through the fast-paced world, yet it covers extraordinarily broad terrain in the expanse of a relatively few pages. . . . The voice is breathtaking in its honesty, humor, and empathy.”—Image

“‘Yes indeed, some days it helps to think of extinction,’ writes Stephen Cushman in his joyride of a jeremiad, The Red List. Baring everything from his soul down to his cholesterol levels, this stargazer, Biblical exegete, and campus flaneur composes a twenty-first-century self-portrait in a funhouse mirror. ‘Maybe, could it be, hopelessness is ecstasy?’ asks Cushman. Count me a believer. The Red List gives us hope for that endangered literary creature, the American poem.”—Srikanth Reddy, author of Voyager

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