Collected Poems

ISBN: 1585674044
ISBN 13: 9781585674046
By: Paul Auster

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About this book

Paul Auster's penetrating and charged verse resembles little else in recent American poetry. This collection of Auster's poetry, translations, and composition notes from early in his career do much to reinforce the idea that Paul Auster is, indeed, a unique and masterful figure in the literary world. Taut, densely lyrical, and everywhere informed by a powerful and subtle music, this selection of writings begins with the compact verse fragments of "Spokes" (written when Auster was in his early twenties) and "Unearth," continues on through the more ample meditations of "Wall Writing, Disappearances, Effigies, Fragments From the Cold, Facing the Music," and "White Spaces," then moves further back in time to include Auster's revealing translations of many of the French poets who influenced his own writing, as well as the provocative and previously unpublished ?Notes From A Composition Book? (1967). An introduction by Norman Finkelstein connects biographical elements to a consideration of the work, and takes in Auster's early literary and philosophical influences.Powerful, haunting, and precise, this view from the past to the present will appeal to those unfamiliar with this aspect of Auster's work, as well as those already acquainted with his poetry.

Reader's Thoughts

Pliyo Senpai

Magnífico. Lo mejor que me llevo es su forma de evocar la fuerza de la palabra y el silencio, sus imágenes son densas pero esconden cosas, su voz en el poema tiene algo magnético.Hay especialmente uno que me llamó la atención:Nómada...hasta que ningún sitio, floreciendoen la cárcel de tu boca, se convierteen allí donde estás:tú leíste la fábulaescrita en la miradadel dado: (era lapalabra-meteoro, garabateada entre nosotrospor la luz, sin embargo al finalno teníamos pruebas, nopudimos presentarla piedra). El dado-con-el-dadoposeen ya tu nombre. Como quien dice,dondequierea que estás,contigo está el desierto. Como si,vayas por donde vayas, el desiertoes nuevo,va contigo.


"Notes from a composition book," the last item in this collection, is more philosophy of art than poetry - it captures an artist grappling with the ideas of Wittgenstein and Merleau-Ponty while reaching for a way to personalize them. This essay informs the rest of the poems in the collection, which makes its placement at the end of the book (rather than the beginning, which would make sense chronologically) the only real criticism I have of an otherwise wonderful collection of writing.


As a Auster artistic advocate I've read his ten (twelve)novels and his nonfiction The Invention of Solitude and The Red Notebook. As a novelist and poet myself, I felt an obligation to attempt Auster's poetry.Collected Poems spans a decade of poetry (1970-79)and a few translated French poems of his earlier work as a bonus. From the get-go I can say that his fluid novel and non fiction prose found contrasts with sometimes awkward, soul-searching poetic moments. Yet his mastery of language, intelligence and depth are found a every corner and hidden in the nooks and crannies of hazy inspirations and expirations.The poetic journey is steady and always requires your attention and your creativity, Interpretation is never easy and you feel that you are always missing something try as you may - a bit like life in fact. Unfortunately this may be a bit too alienating to most and even if there are indeniable insights and artistic prouesses, the lack of clear cohesion and inutive innovation make it hard to relate or correlate.As you read through you get used to the awkwardness, yet you do not find the key or the epiphany of some work that reveal themselves as you go. Rather you are melancholic and find "Facing the Music" not quite melodic. This cacophony cackles with brilliance, but is left mostly in the shady shadows. Only when we reach the "White Spaces (1979)" which is a cross between poetry and introspectic nonfiction to we see the great Auster emerge.An interesting exploration, but no clear findings.As for the French poetry it is neither here nor there, just gliding.Auster is a master, but here he is in becoming. Searching, swirling.Fun, far-fetched, but a bit cold and calculated like curling.

M. Sarki

Paul Auster is a very talented man. His poems are well-made and he should be very proud of them. Auster says himself (and is quoted in the introduction) that these artifacts may be seen down the road as his very best work. I was not so enamored with his translations, but I don't think it had anything to do at all with the work Auster did on them. It was important for me to read these poems and I am more impressed with Auster than before. It has enabled a clearer understanding I would not have had otherwise. I don't know of many writers who successfully write poetry, fiction, and essays as well as Auster does. Hard to do all these well. Generally we need to stick with what works best, but Auster is proof that sometimes we just don't know. Glad he had the courage to try other things than poetry. We are all better for it. I really cannot tell you what any of his poems mean, but there is something about them that stays with you, which is good enough for me.

Mugren Ohaly

I don't like his stories and prose, but I like his poems. Worth the read.


Very dense, very literate poems. Even if you don't understand what's going on at all times (and I certainly didn't; the poems' internal worlds are opaque at best), you can at least appreciate the wildly inventive language.


I wish that I could give this book 2.5 stars. I sincerely loved some of the poems and others were a complete struggle and fell flat for me.

Allison C. McCulloch

Read a poem in New York from this book. It had the word "invisible" in it and I'm like "Cool!" cuz he had a book named "Invisible" but it was written way after these poems. Weird! Trippy! But, I'm hesitant to read the rest of the poems, because they seem really boring, but we'll see.

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