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Heavenly Questions by Gjertrud Schnackenberg


Heavenly Questions by Gjertrud Schnackenberg

Gjertrud Schnackenberg is a major voice in American poetry known for the sensuous richness of her imaginatively daring poetry of ideas. Her first new book for a decade, Heavenly Questions is a setting of six long poems of passion, mourning and redemption. Shifting effortlessly between the lyric and the epic, it is her most deeply compassionate and strikingly personal book of poetry as well as a powerful work of intellectual, aesthetic and technical innovation.


'Schnackenberg is best known for her stunning command of prosody. She is the most accomplished master of blank verse on the planet - Her dream songs remain both impossibly intimate and formally perfect: a double monument to love and to grief. Here is the most powerful love poetry of our time' - Eliza Griswold, The American Prospect 'It is perhaps the most powerful elegy written in English by any poet in recent memory, and it is a triumphant consummation of Schnackenberg's own work - But no elegy succeeds unless it is also a love poem, and with astounding dignity Schnackenberg calls up the physical and emotional intimacy that can exist between lovers' - Karl Kirchwey, Slate 'The title comes from the Heavenly QuestionsA of Qu Yuan (c. 300 BCE), cosmological riddles he left on temple walls - Schnackenberg has written nothing less than a Miltonic book-length poem on eternity, infinity, and the meaning of life' - D.H. Tracy, Poetry 'In Heavenly Questions Schnackenberg's poems achieve a new degree of human intimacy as a result of their staggering encounter with death... It's as though the renewing faith in the power of beauty that has always animated Schnackenberg's work were itself mortally wounded; as we watch it struggle to regain its footing, we gaze more and more deeply into its striving heart' - Ann Kjellberg, Little Star'

About the Author

Gjertrud Schnackenberg was born in 1953 in Tacoma, Washington. Her retrospective Supernatural Love: Poems 1976-2000 (Bloodaxe Books, 2001) includes her four collections, Portraits and Elegies (1982), The Lamplit Answer (1985), A Gilded Lapse of Time (1995), and The Throne of Labdacus (2000), winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry. Her latest collection is Heavenly Questions, published in hardback in the US by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2010, with the first UK edition published by Bloodaxe in paperback in September 2011. She has won many literary awards, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rome Prize for Literature, and an Award in Literature from the American Academy for Arts and Letters. She has been a Christensen Visiting Fellow at St Catherine's College, Oxford, a Fellow of the American Academy in Berlin, and a visiting scholar at the Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities. She divides her time between Tacoma and Boston, Massachusetts.

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Book Info

Publication date

30th September 2011


Gjertrud Schnackenberg

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Bloodaxe Books Ltd


80 pages


Poetry by individual poets



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