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Scriptorium: Poems
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Beacon Press 2016
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Description
A collection of poems exploring questions of religious and linguistic authority, from medieval England to contemporary Appalachia
A National Poetry Series winner, selected and with a foreword by Tracy K. Smith
The poems in Scriptorium are primarily concerned with questions of religious authority. The medieval scriptorium, the central image of the collection, stands for that authority but also for its subversion; it is both a place where religious ideas are codified in writing and a place where an individual scribe might, with a sly movement of the pen, express unorthodox religious thoughts and experiences. In addition to exploring the ways language is used, or abused, to claim religious authority, Scriptorium also addresses the authority of the vernacular in various time periods and places, particularly in the Appalachian slang of the author's East Tennessee upbringing. Throughout Scriptorium, the historical mingles with the personal: poems about medieval art, theology, and verse share space with poems that chronicle personal struggles with faith and doubt.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
10/18/2016
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780807094457
ASIN:
B01B0K5YCM
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Melissa Range. (2016). Scriptorium: Poems. Beacon Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Melissa Range. 2016. Scriptorium: Poems. Beacon Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Melissa Range, Scriptorium: Poems. Beacon Press, 2016.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Melissa Range. Scriptorium: Poems. Beacon Press, 2016. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
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Date Updated:
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      • bioText: Melissa Range is the author of the poetry collection Horse and Rider (Texas Tech University Press, 2010) and the recipient of awards and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Antiquarian Society, the Sewanee Writers' Conference, the Fine Arts Work Center (Provincetown, MA), and the Rona Jaffe Foundation. Originally from East Tennessee, Range currently lives in Wisconsin and teaches at Lawrence University.
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publishDate
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title
Scriptorium
fullDescription
A collection of poems exploring questions of religious and linguistic authority, from medieval England to contemporary Appalachia
A National Poetry Series winner, selected and with a foreword by Tracy K. Smith
The poems in Scriptorium are primarily concerned with questions of religious authority. The medieval scriptorium, the central image of the collection, stands for that authority but also for its subversion; it is both a place where religious ideas are codified in writing and a place where an individual scribe might, with a sly movement of the pen, express unorthodox religious thoughts and experiences. In addition to exploring the ways language is used, or abused, to claim religious authority, Scriptorium also addresses the authority of the vernacular in various time periods and places, particularly in the Appalachian slang of the author's East Tennessee upbringing. Throughout Scriptorium, the historical mingles with the personal: poems about medieval art, theology, and verse share space with poems that chronicle personal struggles with faith and doubt.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Library Journal, Starred Review
      • content: "Range's poems show an expertise with form from sonnets to anagrams...A collection not to be missed."
      • premium: False
      • source: Booklist, Starred Review
      • content: "She avoids both folksiness and stuffiness by filling poems with incident, description, elegy, meditation, recollection, identification, and more...This book is going to dazzle a lot of poetry readers."
      • premium: False
      • source: Birmingham Poetry Review
      • content: "This collection, as fiercely contemporary as it is historical, is both unapologetically literary and egalitarian as hell. It's poetry that is truly '...for everyone / like language, like color, like air.'"
      • premium: False
      • source: Cat Fitzpatrick, The Boston Review
      • content: "Scriptorium, lush with musicality, is perhaps more sophisticated for its restraints, and her deft formal touch remains on display with sonnets, terza rima, ghazal, cento, and villanelles."
      • premium: False
      • source: Tracy K. Smith, from the foreword
      • content: "Throughout Scriptorium, Range finds the poetic in the colloquial, the past in the present, the transcendent in the immanent. Perhaps her most impressive achievement, however, is her ability to turn engagement with the long history of metrical form in English into a foundation for strikingly innovative poetic technique."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from December 5, 2016
        Range (Horse and Rider) titles her linguistically graceful and formally exquisite second collection after the room in a medieval monastery that was dedicated to textual transcription. If Range’s book is that room replete with texts, the central text is the Lindisfarne Gospels, an illuminated eighth-century manuscript of the Gospels transcribed by a monk named Eadfrith. Range frequently returns to the Lindisfarne Gospels and the bizarre methods of procuring the pigments necessary for its illumination: a yellow of “arsenic and sulfur,” purple from a snail’s glandular secretions, a crimson of the crushed worm’s eggs from which it takes its name. The document is an effective muse for Range’s imaginative talents, with its “letters traced upon the riven/ calf-skin gleams dark as fresh ash on a shriven/ penitent.” Her historical engagements extend beyond the medieval, however, including references to the 18th-century fire that damaged the original Beowulf manuscript, Navajo talking code used during WWII, Celtic queen Boudicca’s first-century rebellion against the Romans, and a smattering of Old English vocabulary. Range weaves in her own Appalachian history, where “the heart// of the Lord is a seam of coal gouged out/ to fuel the light in other places.” In less gifted hands, the mix of forms and source material could prove too much to handle, but Range’s poise shines throughout.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        Starred review from August 1, 2016

        As the title suggests, the poems go deep and wide in this National Poetry Series winner (Range's second book, following Horse and Rider), exploring both medieval liturgy and an Appalachian childhood as they depict monks copying religious texts, Navajo code-talking, and a grandmother's accomplished swanning (cursing). A delightful number explore the properties of colors, some unfamiliar (e.g., woad) and others more common (e.g., lampblack). Here's how Range gives life to the latter: "Black as a charred plum-stone, as a plume/ from a bone-fire, as a flume or ravens/ startled from a battle-tree." In "The Fortunes of Men," the poet describes a youngun's birth: "the Lord tracks her/ like a trained coonhound." Besides sharing interesting historical facts, Range's poems show an expertise with form from sonnets to anagrams. But they're anchored by language, both formal and in dialect; note the authentic East Tennessee twang in "Flatter than a flitter, a mountain/ when its top's blown off." These masterly poems are involving, interesting, and rich with musicality. Occasionally, a word is repeated too often, but otherwise they allow readers to experience other places, other times. Even when describing a common farm animal, they sing. VERDICT A collection not to be missed.--Doris Lynch, Monroe Cty. P.L., Bloomington, IN

        Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from October 1, 2016
        A roots poet if ever there was one, Range takes her idiom and subject matter primarily from her east Tennessee mountain homeland and the Christian Middle Ages, that is, from the roots of her speech and the roots of modern Western culture. She doesn't, however, corral the hillbilly poems into one section and the medieval ones into another. Rather, a poem about manuscript illumination may be followed by another about a typical expression in the poet's mountain dialect, and that by one illustrating the apophatic or negative theology of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. She avoids both folksiness and stuffiness by filling poems with incident, description, elegy, meditation, recollection, identification, and more. Negative Theology focuses on her grandmother's last illness and death. Responding off-kilter to her sister asking for one difference . . . / between Old English and New English, Ofermod relates that Old English word to the character of our kind / of people. Range obviously knows a lot about theology, language, the first English literature, and the downside of Regionalism ( People mock the South wherever I pass through ), and she knows just as much about formal poetry in the wake of Robert Frost. This book is going to dazzle a lot of poetry readers.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2016, American Library Association.)

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shortDescription
A collection of poems exploring questions of religious and linguistic authority, from medieval England to contemporary Appalachia
A National Poetry Series winner, selected and with a foreword by Tracy K. Smith
The poems in Scriptorium are primarily concerned with questions of religious authority. The medieval scriptorium, the central image of the collection, stands for that authority but also for its subversion; it is both a place where religious ideas are codified in writing and a place where an individual scribe might, with a sly movement of the pen, express unorthodox religious thoughts and experiences. In addition to exploring the ways language is used, or abused, to claim religious authority, Scriptorium also addresses the authority of the vernacular in various time periods and places, particularly in the Appalachian slang of the author's East Tennessee upbringing. Throughout Scriptorium, the historical mingles with the personal: poems...
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