Stumbling Blocks: Roman Poems (Paperback)
As in his 1998 New York Times Notable Book The Engrafted Word, the city of Rome becomes a lens through which to understand the contemporary human experience and the upheavals of human loss. Stumbling Blocks takes as its starting point the shattered ancient Roman ruins described in Renaissance poet Joachim du Bellay's celebrated sonnet—a landscape of death feeding upon itself and restored to life in the imagination of each successive generation to salvage its own narratives.
Kirchwey builds new arches and mythological intersections in exquisite poems that take long walks in the Eternal City, through landscapes far away and deep within. This gorgeous collection takes us back in time and brings us forward through our Old and New Worlds, revealing through the religion of art both beauty and atrocity.
About the Author
KARL KIRCHWEY is the author of six previous collections of poetry: A Wandering Island; Those I Guard; The Engrafted Word; At the Palace of Jove; The Happiness of This World: Poetry and Prose; and Mount Lebanon. His essays and reviews have been widely published. He has also written a verse play based on the Alcestis of Euripides and a translation of Paul Verlaine, Poems under Saturn. From 2010 to 2013 he served as Andrew Heiskell Arts Director at the American Academy in Rome.
"As with the poetry of Anthony Hecht, the poetry of Karl Kirchwey can startle you with emotional rawness amid its formal virtuosity." —The Hudson Review
“Karl Kirchwey reinvigorates the beauty of Rome for readers of poetry. Seeing with his clear eyes, we survey the Mediterranean’s varied history through deeply personal poems crafted with unassuming virtuosity.” —Michael Putnam, author of The Poetry of the Aeneid and Virgil's Pastoral Art
“The wonderful eloquence of these poems testifies to the traffic between ancient and new. The speaker is a witness, a visitor, a participant in the life of the great city of Rome. But there is far more. Above all, these are poems of a continuous, crafted subtlety,voicing in each poem the way the fragile present moment not only reveals the past but rescues it. This is a book that will give endless pleasure and illumination to the traveler in every poet, and the poet in every traveler.” –Eavan Boland, author of Woman Without a Country