Elegy: Poems; Mary Jo Bang

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Mary Jo Bang's fifth collection, Elegy , chronicles the year following the death of her son. By weaving the particulars of her own loss into a tapestry that also contains the elements common to all losses, Bang creates something far larger than a mere lament. Continually in search of an adequate metaphor for the most profound and private grief, the poems in Elegy confront, in stark terms and with a resilient voice, how memory haunts the living and brings the dead back to life. Within these intimate and personal poems is a persistently urgent, and deeply touching, examination of grief itself.

October 16, 2007


About the Author

Mary Jo Bang is an American poet. In her most recent collection, The Bride of E, she uses a distinctive mix of humor, directness, and indirection, to sound the deepest sort of anguish: the existential condition. Bang fashions her examination of the lived life into an abecedarius—the title of the first poem, "ABC Plus E: Cosmic Aloneness Is the Bride of Existence," posits the collection's central problem, and a symposium of figures from every register of our culture (from Plato to Pee-wee Herman, Mickey Mouse to Sartre) is assembled to help confront it.

Bang is the author of five previous books of poetry: Apology for Want, Louise in Love, The Downstream Extremity of the Isle of Swans, The Eye Like a Strange Balloon and Elegy, which won the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry and was named a 2008 New York Times Notable Book. She’s been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University. She has an M.F.A. from Columbia University, an M.A. and B.A. in Sociology from Northwestern University, and a B.A. in Photography from the Polytechnic of Central London. From 1995-2005 she was the poetry co-editor at Boston Review. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri, where she is a Professor of English and teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Washington University.

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