Throughout Contradictions, his ninth book of poems, Alfred Corn looks for ways to renew our approach to experience and art by sorting out what is most vital in it. Exploring multiple and often opposing viewpoints to illuminate objects, places, and ideas, Corn’s accomplished ear and eye cut through nostalgia to present a sense of living history where “love must be reinvented.” Corn’s passion for music and the visual arts is infectious. In his long poem “Seeing All the Vermeers,” he shows how a simple vow—when taken seriously through a lifetime—can provide an exquisite framework for travel, for stories, for seeing, for living.
Suns made of thread
above a waste land of ash and soot.
holds the note the light strikes: there
are still texts to sing beyond
the confines of the human.
“Alfred Corn is one of our finest living poets.” —The Nation
“These are learned poems, rich with historical context; the first work alone follows the ‘common thread’ from fable to Rome to contemporary tragedy, and throughout Corn zings gracefully from the Torah to Celan to Vermeer. A vigorous and arresting work; highly recommended… A real poet’s poet. Corn shows us the craft of poetry at its best.” —Library Journal, “Best Books of 2002”
“Alfred Corn’s Contradictions are open, ardent, and subtle. They ask us to imagine, feel, notice, dream, think, all at once. They are lively in cadence and meter, quick in insight. The result is not a compound but an essence, not flamboyant but poignant. They reaffirm language’s truth-claim, disclosing a sense-rooted local truth, a non-consumable good.” —Marie Ponsot
“This is what professional negotiators would call a win-win situation… A first-rate volume of poetry by a premier publisher.” —Tulsa World
“Corn takes common occurrences and uses them to nudge the reader into a more enlightened and compassionate way of seeing.” —Home News Tribune
“There is refinement galore… Corn’s language is elegant to say the least… His metaphors and similes… striking.” —The Hudson Review
“Corn likes to keep his portfolio diversified: his natural affinity inclines toward well-knit stanzas and surefooted blank-verse measures… but he can also go about his business in rough-and-ready strophes… [Corn is] quick to convert his feline curiosity into cultivated irony, relying on his dexterous wit and supple turn of phrase…” —The New York Times