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CLMP Publishers Literature & Fiction - Poetry

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Thirst & Surfeit

ISBN: 9781734691146
Binding: Paperback
Author: Elizabeth Robinson
Pages: 80
Trim: 6.5 x 8 inches
Published: 08/16/2023

History, like "light untied and undone," disperses itself across time and memory. The poems in Thirst & Surfeit reach into these fragments to interpret and sing interactions of human and environment, spirit and subsistence. Whether exhuming a bog body, riding swells with a woman pirate, rediscovering a long lost garden, or lofting a futile resistance to an oppressive regime, the protagonists in these poems understand that the "barest contraction / makes birth into exile." Reclamation is a practice of resilience, of resourcefulness: that is what these historical fragments and splinters reveal. They pierce our complacency with the terms of survival: "What is real / deforms its witnesses." Hunger signals necessity and aspiration, both thirst and surfeit. Drawing on the resources of the past, these poems make the present resonant and immediate.


Elizabeth Robinson is the author of many books of poetry, including the National Poetry Series winner, Pure Descent, and the Fence Modern Poets prize winner, Apprehend. Her book On Ghosts was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award in Poetry. Robinson has received grants and fellowships from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the Fund for Poetry, and the Boomerang Foundation. She has been awarded residencies by the MacDowell Colony, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, the Marin Headlands Center for the Arts, and the Maison Dora Maar. Recently, Robinson has received Editor's Choice Awards from Scoundrel Time and New Letters. With Jennifer Phelps, she co-edited Quo Anima: Innovation and Spirituality in Contemporary Women's Poetry, published by University of Akron Press.


"What ties the disparate foci of these poems together? Where does consciousness lie within this catalogue of phenomena? Signs of our histories are embedded in landscape, vibing out grief, defiance, the intense responsibility of mortality. Only our imaginations and observational capabilities, which qualities have also catalyzed the destruction we witness, can re-animate these historical materials meaningfully. 'Memory is your face,' writes Robinson's Anne Hutchinson to her dead infant, 'I touch the unsullied air/ instead of it. 'We reach, we touch, we imagine our ancestors, our kin, our Others and their habitats, our singular multiplicity, our eternal ephemerality (and all other such oxymorons). And language is the invisible bridge between, beautiful, delicate, pulsing with dynamism." - Maria Damon

"Elizabeth Robinson's newest collection, Thirst & Surfeit moves us through history, through rebellion, through the boggy undergrowth of elegy. I entered another world when reading, winged with strange music, 'swept through with kinship.' There's something bewildering about these poems, how Robinson tends to our relation with visceral dust, lacquering our organs. I am happily under this spell." - Jane Wong

"In Elizabeth Robinson's enlivening Thirst & Surfeit, the reader is lead through approximately three millennia of radical spiritual and material history. Robinson's incomparable archeological-phenomenological poetics attend to the tensions of the body, law, text, and spirit via deep time voyage and vision: 'There is no such authority / as the traveler's, the one lost in the wilderness, looking forward / to it and forbidden its foresight,' she reminds us. The poems in Thirst & Surfeit are compelled by the ecological, ekphrastic, feminist, and mystic, demonstrating that one mandate of the poet is to 'venture to understand the vessel on which [they] sailed' as well as attend to 'the artifacts,' which—in Robinson's work, as always—'have pulses,' alive in lyric landscape and the inciting ethics of listening." - Caryl Pagel