Passing through a Gate: Poems, Essays, and Translations

John Balaban

John Balaban is an extraordinary writer and storyteller whose prize-winning poetry and prose are informed by a love of languages, deep scholarship, hard travel, and a willingness to confront the violence and sufferings of the world. In this essential collection of his work, the best of his prize-winning poems since 1970 are collected in one place, threaded through with essays that link poetry to Balaban’s extensive travels, whether hitchhiking throughout the United States or wandering the countryside of Vietnam during wartime to record and translate folk poetry.

ISBN: 9781556596919

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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“In his new selection of poems, essays, and translations, John Balaban leads us through many gates, from the grounds of a temple in Vietnam to a Pueblo spirit gate, from the goddess-inhabited Acropolis to the merely functional gate of an isolated ranch which he slipped through in order to wander, lost, for hours in the high desert of New Mexico. It is a long road through time as well as space.”—Susanna Lang, Rhino Poetry

“Throughout Balaban’s distinguished career as poet, essayist, and translator, he’s chronicled complex events. He was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, and the tragedies of that era run throughout his work. Balaban’s essays chart the wanderings of an inquisitive soul. . . . Along with his own splendid poems, works shaped by a spiritual inquisitiveness, relationships with others, and thoughts of one’s fragile mortality, Balaban’s enlightening translations of Vietnamese folk poetry are also included, among them his highly praised translations of Ho Xuan Huong (1772-1822), whose works shine. . . . Itself full of grace, this is a unique and affecting collection.”—Raúl Niño, Booklist