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January 2009
80 pages  

6 x 8
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Bachmann, Beth
Winner of the 2008 Donald Hall Prize in Poetry
Selected by Lynn Emanuel

Winner of the 2010 Kate Tufts Discovery Award

The elegies in Temper interrogate the way grief leaves us confrontational, in a state of fracture.

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Beth Bachmann’s previous poetry book, Temper, received the Donald Hall Prize in Poetry and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. Do Not Rise received the Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award. Her poems have appeared in the American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, Boston Review, and Southern Review and have been anthologized in The Best New Poets 2005 and 2007. Her honors also include the American Poet Prize and fellowships from the Tennessee Arts Commission, Bread Loaf, and the Sewanee Writer’s Conference. Bachmann teaches creative writing at Vanderbilt University.
“Temper is an unforgettable first book. Embodied in a poetry that quakes with sorrow one moment and is steely with forensic detail the next, Temper's account of a murder encompasses the polarities of flesh and spirit, love and horror. What is most compelling is the way Bachmann presides over the drama with a courage and restraint that manifest themselves as the beauty of these poems.”—Lynn Emanuel

“Tempered by silence and grappling for meaning beyond story, beyond what is spoken or known, these poems recall absences everywhere—the losses by which we are plagued, what we must endure.”—Natasha Trethewey

“Restraint and abandon ride side-by-side through these fiercely distilled poems—again and again they bear reluctant witness to the shadows hovering around the edges of every moment. A beautiful unease suffuses these poems—they make me aware I'm alive, and certain of nothing. A stunning debut.”—Nick Flynn

“In its clarity of voice-stark, startling and objective-Temper reminds me of Louise Glück’s First Born. Bachmann works the charged margins of the mythic imagination, but with a terrifying difference. For her, myth is also fact: a murdered sister, an accused father, and an inconsolable mother. A marvelous, compelling, and disquieting addition to contemporary poetry.”—Michael Collier

“An often haunting image of time juttering forward and back ceaselessly, lives never completely explained or tragedy never finally understood.”—Heavy Bear

“The difficulties of making art about violence might have churned the poems into melodrama or diffused them into abstraction, but Bachmann’s temperate approach yields work that is eerily calm and anything but bloodless. Tough and impressive, ‘Temper’ leaves its mark.”—The Georgia Review

“In her lush economies, psychic darkness, and imperative forthrightness, Bachmann is clearly an heir of Louise Glück and there’s a trace of Whitman here, too . . . The grief in ‘Temper’ is raw, relentless, and unadorned; in the crucible of Bachmann’s sensibility, this sorrow becomes gracious force.”—On the Seawall

“Nothing short of a stunning debut. Rarely have I felt so compelled by a collection, so utterly incapable of turning away. “—Poet Lore

“A thorough and vivid emotional narrative, taking the reader to an unsettling depth of personal tragedy at breakneck speed.”—Oxford American

"Here we have metamorphosis, resonance, transfromation, the alchemy of art. Bachmann is able by a few simple direct gestures . . . to connect her personal grief and tragedy to the whole tradition of English (and Western) verse and to the poetic impulse itself to make beauty out of sorrow."--Poetry

Complete Description Reviews
Pitt Poetry Series Table of Contents
Poetry Read a selection from this book

Temper is at once violent and controlled, unflinching and unforgiving in temperament. The poems are mercilessly recursive, placing pressure on the lyric as a mode of both the elegiac and the ecstatic. The result is an enforced silence, urgent with grief.


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