Locusts at the Edge of Summer: New and Selected Poems

John Balaban

A generous collection of poems by one of the most highly praised writers coming out of the Vietnam War experience. Interweaving more than two dozen new poems with original poems from four previous volumes, this collection presents the first full assessment of one of the most original and moving voices in contemporary poetry. Balaban’s poems reflect a courageous and eloquent search for a moral stance, requiring resolution not merely with the ambiguities of history, but with a deep sense of personal responsibility. As Melville and Whitman did in the nineteenth century for survivors of the Civil War, Balaban brings a distinctively elegiac, personal voice to speak for an age.

ISBN: 9781556591235

Format: Paperback

About the Author

John Balaban is the author of thirteen books of poetry and prose, including four volumes which together have won The Academy of American Poets’ James Laughlin Award, a National Poetry Series selection, and two nominations for the National Book Award. His book Locusts at the Edge of Summer: New and Selected Poems won the 1998 William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. In 2003, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, and in 2005, he was a judge …

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“Balaban has an uncanny ability to avoid the inessential, the trivial, or the merely ornate. His language is both colloquial and precise, carrying within it all the complex resonances of late twentieth century American ‘multi-culturalism,’ and the inevitable search for compassionate wisdom.” —W.S. Merwin

“Both luminous and interior, and hovering on the tropes of the ancient and modern idioms at once, John Balaban sings the cadences of need and want, rich with leaps of grace, in a supreme narration of righteousness and loss. Through the veils of his poetic compass, like locusts, the reader heads through darkness to light, a fresh inventory of elegiac wonder.” —Judges’ citation, National Book Awards

“Balaban seems to me to be our moral spokesperson, our lyricist, polemicist, exhorter, and consoler: in short, the poet we need.” —Maxine Kumin

“More than a mid-career reprise, Balaban’s Locusts at the Edge of Summer is a late-century American odyssey.” —Bill Christophersen, Poetry

“Balaban’s work, compelling for its personal candor, dramatizes the deep sympathy between the poems’ speaker and those who have experienced the horrors of war with him… Balaban’s emotional range is impressively wide and deeply human—by turns compassionate and angry, somber and humorous, earnest and ironic. His voice is strong; his poems are important.” —Harvard Review

“[John Balaban] is a lyric poet as well as a tragic poet with a rare moral voice.” —Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“[Locusts at the Edge of Summer] journeys out through the brutal world of war, but returns to that place in the individual where it is still possible to experience the healing unity in humanity.” —Edward A. Dougherty

Locusts at the Edge of Summer treads the narrow path where the longing for peace and the knowledge that peace exists only fitfully produce a kind of shivering beauty, fatalistic yet curiously generous… [Balaban’s] style offers a range of resonant emotion inextricably tied to language and imagery that are precise and expansive… When this poet… speaks from the heart of his blistered memory and sorrow, he is plain-spoken and plainly superb.” —Commercial Appeal

“Balaban spends language like the thin coin of moral ambiguity it is, stacking images of domesticity next to images of violence, calculating the tenor—or the terror—of America.” —The Stranger

“The best poetry is that which shows us what it means with words and images to evoke the same or similar emotional responses that the writer feels… This said, the poetry of John Balaban is some of the best poetry in print… Locusts at the Edge of Summer… has an empathy for the human condition that is uplifting. Balaban’s skillful use of language and nature are [sic] often awe inspiring and well worth the price of admission.” —Vice & Verse

“[John Balaban’s] poems reflect a courage and search for a proper historic perspective.” —American Bookseller

“[Locusts at the Edge of Summer is] a selection of elegiac and distinctively personal poems that are simultaneously tough and lyrical, clear-eyed yet hopeful, ironic and compassionate… Simply put, these are poems that matter.” —Lahontan Valley News & Fallon Eagle Standard