Catharine Savage Brosman
Catharine Savage Brosman is Professor Emerita of French at Tulane University. Her new poetry collection, A Memory of Manaus, has just been released by Mercer University Press. Her latest prose books are Southwestern Women Writers and the Vision of Goodness and Music from the Lake and Other Essays. Her verse has appeared recently in the Sewanee Review, First Things, Able Muse, Méasŭre, and Modern Age.
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A Memory of Manaus: Poems
Catharine Savage Brosman’s singular and authoritative voice, familiar to poetry readers in the South since the late 1960s, is heard again as she brings to scenes and topics, both new and familiar, her broad range of craftsmanship and styles, using, as one critic wrote, “metaphors brilliantly fitted in detail to the moods and workings of the human heart and mind.” Her poetic practice shows how closely the art of verse can, and must, be connected to human experience, the very feel of which comes through in the poems here.
The book features travel poems from four continents, rhymed lyrics on small or expansive topics, narratives in blank verse (concerning El Cid, Swift, Dickens, Charles Dodgson, Saint-Exupéry, and two women writers), five translations from Baudelaire (among the least-known poems), and satires concerning painting and publishing. Recurring themes include “great age” and death, friendship, piano playing, flowers and gardens, and the desert.
Whatever the setting and topic--exotic cities, a Rocky Mountain cabin, Breton dolmens, dinner by the water, a nasty fall, a flowering vine--readers will recognize their truth, feeling both little flickers of sensation and the deep currents of love and suffering. The collection closes with a series of eight rhymed poems inspired by illuminations from The Hours of Catherine of Cleves, presenting saints and martyrs, with their iconographic paraphernalia. Retrospectively, this final series sheds on the preceding poems its thematic lighting, combining tones of sorrow, sacrifice, charity, and joy. The ensemble creates what David R. Slavitt identified in an earlier volume by Brosman as “the morality of vision.”
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