Lawrence Booth’s Book of Visions

Maurice Manning; Foreword by W.S. Merwin

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July 11, 2001
96 pages, 6 1/4 x 7 1/2
ISBN: 9780300089981
Paper

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Cloth

This year’s winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition is Maurice Manning’s Lawrence Booth’s Book of Visions. These compelling poems take us on a wild ride through the life of a man child in the rural South. Presenting a cast of allegorical and symbolic, yet very real, characters, the poems have “authority, daring, [and] a language of color and sure movement,” says series judge W.S. Merwin.

From Seven Chimeras

The way Booth makes a love story: same as a regular story, except under one rock is a trapdoor that leads to a room full of belly buttons;  each must be pushed, one is a landmine. The way Booth makes hope: thirty-seven acres, Black Damon, Red Dog. Construct a pillar of fire in the Great Field and let it become unquenchable. The way Booth ends the Jack-in-the-Box charade: shoot the weasel in the neck and toss it to the buzzards. The way Booth thinks of salvation: God holding a broken abacus, colored beads falling away.

Maurice Manning is a native of Danville, Kentucky. He holds degrees from Earlham College, the University of Kentucky, and the University of Alabama, where he received his MFA in 1999. He has held a writing fellowship to The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. He currently teaches English at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana.

"The Yale Series of Younger Poets remains the most prestigious [of poetry contests]."—Library Journal

“Manning’s . . . verses bring him close to ambitious Southerners from Robert Penn Warren to Frank Stanford; his often antirealist forms seek to capture a South many people will find incredible.”—Publishers Weekly

“Not many books of poems put you in mind of Robert Penn Warren, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the brainiac whimsy of McSweeney’s quarterly at the same time.  In his first book, Lawrence Booth’s Book of Visions, Maurice Manning displays not just terrific cunning but terrific aim—he nails images the way a restless boy, up in a tree with a slingshot, nails anything sentient that wanders into view.”—Dwight Garner, New York Times Book Review

“A postmodernist journey through the rural Kentucky landscape of the 1970s. . . . Despite poverty, abuse, and ignorance, Booth emerges victorious in the ‘archetypal knick-knack paddywhack/dolorous process of becoming.’ This brilliant book is recommended for all libraries.”—Library Journal

“A pure romp through one man’s strange imagination. . . . This poet wears his learning lightly. He welcomes the reader into his created world. And he clearly enjoys the making of poems. The book is a romp. Read it.”—Leatha Kendrick, Lexington, Kentucky Herald-Leader

“Outstanding. The language is rich and densely flavorful, and Manning’s work will recommend itself highly to those readers who are interested in experiments with the lyric form. The world Manning creates in this book is compelling and deeply strange.”—Black Warrior Review

“Maurice Manning offers a stimulating approach to the problems of representing childhood in Lawrence Booth’s Book of Visions. Definitely a book of verse, the volume nevertheless resembles in other ways a coming-of-age novel or short-story collection. . . . [An] arresting debut collection.”—John Taylor, Poetry

“The poet remains behind the curtain, except as an omniscient narrator. . . . But what I really do know about this new poet—and all I need to know—is that he has created a book-length poem that knocked me off my shelf with the energy of its linguistic imagination.”—Beloit Poetry Journal

“These poems constitute a highly original and vigorous treatment of the journey from innocence toward experience. . . . A worthwhile addition to the brand-new accumulation of twenty-first century poetry. . . . A bracing, refreshing experience.”—Patricia Young Smith, Wind
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