Hands of the Saddlemaker

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Nicholas Samaras; Foreword by James Dickey

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Nicholas Samaras's Hands of the Saddlemaker, the winning volume in the 1991 Yale Series of Younger Poets competition, was selected from among 710 entries in this annual competition.
The broad theme of Samaras's poems is the connection between eternal things and the passing world, between our sense of exile and our sense of commonality. Equilibrium between these worlds is achieved only through human feeling, through language. Samaras examines the commonality of experience in diverse international settings—from Byzantium to the cathedrals of technology in the modern cities of America. His language extols the primary delight and purpose of poetry: the music and inventiveness of language, wholly new and transformed, language that is both ancient and modern. Through an intensely personal and visual approach, these poems reveal our lives to us for time to come.
Nicholas Samaras was born in Foxton, Cambridgeshire, England, in 1954. He was raised there and in Woburn, Massachusetts, and later settled in New York. Samaras received his undergraduate degree from Hellenic College, Brookline, Massachusetts, in 1978 and a Masters of Fine Arts in 1985 from Columbia University. He is currently working on his Ph.D. in English and creative writing at the University of Denver. His poems have appeared in such magazines as The New Yorker, Poetry, and American Scholar. Among his honors and awards are a New York Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellowship in 1986, a Taylor Fellowship for study abroad in 1981-82, and a prize from the Academy of American Poets in 1983.

"Nicholas Samaras's poems are unique in their orientation and display a linguistic sense that should earn him a wide and discriminating audience. The most engaging quality of his work is his metaphysical internationalism, the note of the eternal exile who yet finds remarkable and life-enhancing particularities in the countries through which he passes."—James Dickey 





"Nicholas Samaras's first book is remarkable, chosen by James Dickey for the Yale Series of Younger Poets, which has a long history of publishing the first books of poets who have had distinguished careers—among them James Wright, Robert Hass and Carolyn Forche.  Mr. Samaras deserves to be in good company.  He is a stern and original poet, whose seriousness and morality seems almost foreign. . . . This is a poetry of beauty and purity, often painterly.  Mr. Samaras can sweep from one country to the next, from ancient history to now in America, and yet create a methodical, weighted sense of time and place."—Liz Rosenberg, New York Times Book Review

"Selected by James Dickey as this year's winner of the Yale Younger Poets competition, Samaras' book might have deserved the prize merely for his stunning `In the Shell of a City Cathedral,' one of the most magnificent longer poems of recent years. . . . Powerful visionary states are difficult, nigh impossible, to capture in time-centered languages like ours, but Samaras comes close."—Pat Monaghan, Booklist

"These meditative, searching poems, often strikingly set in the shelter of churches or in the Greek countryside, are full of images of displacement and allusions to the religion and culture of forefathers."—Library Journal

"For the pilgrims that inhabit Samaras's first collection . . . travel is an encounter with the strange and the familiar which, in the immediacy of recovery, has the quality of the uncanny. . . . [Samaras's] poetry often eloquently chronicles how exploring what is unknown enables one to experience again what one knows best of all."—Publishers Weekly

"Samaras's voice seems at once fresh and aged, speaking across cultures, traditions, and oceans. . . . Meditative, deliberate work which honors the past an yet carries us forward into our own self-creation."—Bruce Murphy, Poetry

"Samaras is acutely perceptive, and his descriptions are bright, vivid, and economical. . . . Samaras composes provocatively, challenging our imagination and our emotions.  Even more, he drives us to seek the inner, deeper meaning of our transience and our relationships with fellow human beings.”—Hellenic Journal

"Samaras has genuine talent."—Choice

Winner of the 1992 Colorado Book Award Contest, Poetry Division

ISBN: 9780300054583
Publication Date: April 22, 1992
80 pages, 5 1/2 x 9
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