ISBN-10: 155659660X
ISBN-13: 9781556596605
Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
Publish Date: 09/06/2022
Dimensions: 9.00" L, 7.30" W, 1.20" H

[To] the Last [Be] Human

Introduction by: Robert MacFarlane


Price: $22.00


[To] The Last [Be] Human collects four
extraordinary poetry books–Sea Change, Place, Fast, and Runaway–by
Pulitzer Prize winner Jorie Graham.

From the introduction by Robert Macfarlane:

The earliest of the poems in this tetralogy were written at
373 parts per million of atmospheric CO2, and the most recent at 414 parts per
million; that is to say, in the old calendar, 2002 and 2020 respectively. The
body of work gathered here stands as an extraordinary lyric record of those
eighteen calamitous years: a glittering, teeming Anthropocene journal, written
from within the New Climatic Regime (as Bruno Latour names the present), rife
with hope and raw with loss, lush and sparse, hard to parse and hugely powerful
to experience … Graham’s poems are turned to face our planet’s deep-time
future, and their shadows are cast by the long light of the will-have-been. But
they are made of more durable materials than granite and concrete, they are
very far from passive, and their tasks are of record as well as warning: to
preserve what it has felt like to be a human in these accelerated years when
‘the future / takes shape / too quickly, ‘ when we are entering ‘a time / beyond
belief.’ They know, these poems, and what they tell is precise to their form….
Sometimes they are made of ragged, hurting, hurtling, and body-fleeing
language; other times they celebrate the sheer, shocking, heart-stopping gift
of the given world, seeing light, tree, sea, skin, and star as a ‘whirling robe
humming with firstness, ‘ there to ‘greet you if you eye-up.’

I know not to mistake the pleasures of this poetry for
presentist consolation; the situation has moved far beyond that: ‘Wind would be
nice but / it’s only us shaking.’ … To read these four twenty-first-century
books together in a single volume is to experience vastly complex patterns
forming and reforming in mind, eye, and ear. These poems sing within
themselves, between one another, and across collections, and the song that
joins them all is uttered simply in the first lines of the last poem of the
last book:

The earth said

remember me.

The earth said

don’t let go,

said it one day

when I was




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Praise for [To] The Last [Be] Human

"Jorie Graham faces the future anguished but unblinking in this magnificent collection of her four most recent books. . . . Their importance goes beyond the literary. . . . She is weathervane, sentinel, about-to-be lost soul. What makes her work required reading is her readiness to go where angels fear to write, to do the terrifying work of visualizing the future. . . . There is no such thing, in this poetry, of an untainted present. The flow, at times, reminds you of Virginia Woolf's The Waves, although more diluvial, and the preoccupation with time of TS Eliot's "Four Quartets"–minus the consoling decorum. Every poem is an attempt at orientation–sometimes within a disorienting void. However considered Graham's revisions, the sense is of being in the moment with her–intimacy the closest thing to consolation. . . . At 72, Graham is writing for her life, and ours."–Guardian

"This omnibus edition of Graham's four most recent poetry books reifies her turn toward the climate crisis as a theme, but also highlights the way her great subject has always been and continues to be human consciousness, the manifold and many-folded self."–New York Times, Editors Choice

"A monumental exploration of consciousness in an age of ecological, political, and existential crisis."–New Yorker, Best Books of 2022

"Four of Graham's seminal works are collected and serve as a lyric testament to the poet's writing on climate change and loss, while also celebrating the beauty and gifts of the world."–Publishers Weekly, Fall Announcements Top Ten

"In its movement from hopeful naïveté to outright pessimism, [To] the Last [Be] Human tracks not only Graham's attitude toward the nature of climate change but also the evolution of our cultural discourse. What once seemed a bleak but distant possibility now appears inevitable. But if the poems themselves no longer inspire social action, perhaps the doom conveyed in these later poems might serve another purpose. If readers imagine this book, as Graham does, as an artifact to be 'dug up from rubble in the future, ' it maintains value for later readers from distant generations or civilizations. In this sense, Graham's depiction of a world in the midst of its own ruin serves less as an antidote for impending devastation–it's too late for that–than as a minority report on our humanistic response to it, one that might persist, as Macfarlane says, across 'the long light of the will-have-been, ' even if we've failed to correct the course of our environmental history."–Los Angeles Review of Books

"Why think, why write, why break the silence? I have wondered sometimes if global warming makes our own deaths feel more real, as though threats to civilization were an overdeath, as though we had to die twice. But if 'the synthetic materials last forever, ' as Graham writes in 'Deep Water Trawling' (our plastics are destined to outlive our species), there is also a sense in which our work lasts forever. 'What the lips just inconceivably apart can make, ' she wrote in 'The End of Beauty, ' 'cannot then, ever again, be uncreated.' Art exists in theoretical permanence. It may not be remembered–there may be no record–but it did, at least, happen. There is some point of view, I'm convinced, from which everything matters. In the poem 'Untitled, ' first published in Place (2012), Graham's speaker addresses a posited reader from a deep-time future: 'you out there/peering in, listening, to see who we were: here: this was history: /their turn/is all they actually have/flowing in them.'"–New York Times

"Collecting Graham's four stellar eco-poetic volumes, this searing and sensitive portrait of environmental contingency is as formally ambitious as it is captivating and wise. As Robert Macfarlane aptly writes in his beautiful introduction, the task of these poems is one 'of record as well as of warning: to preserve what it felt like to be a human in these accelerated years when "the future / takes shape / too quickly."'. . . To hold these volumes together is to have proof of Graham's unmatched powers and to reckon with the resilience the present age demands."–Publishers Weekly, starred review

"This collection gives the reader the sensation of everything happening at once, an acceleration so complete that it feels like the apocalyptic end has already arrived. . . . To go about daily life, I am suspended between resignation and activism, and engage in too little of the latter. Graham's tetralogy gives the reader a different possibility: adaptation and radical witness. Her language and poetic structure adapt to her changing world and reality, and never succumb to denial. Words themselves shift–letters fall off of common words, in the familiar way that texting has reduced much language. Further, the orientation of the poem is frequently disrupted and justified right, bringing tension to the structure and giving the reader a visual and impending cliff."–The Rumpus

Praise for Jorie Graham

"Graham is one of our great poets. Her
words will long outlast all of this chatter." –New York Times

"Every poem, Graham suggests, is part net
and part wind, its finely knotted phrases and lines straining to 'hold, ' for
longer than an instant, the presence passing through them." –The New Yorker

"We will always need to read Jorie Graham,
and to read her closely, if we want to understand the last forty years of
poetry in America." –Los Angeles Review of Books

"Graham begins her fifth decade of
publishing with a bravura performance that probes the present for what the
future will bring." –Publishers Weekly

"Graham has long been breaking open the
lyric voice, seeing how much of the vast, fractured, overwhelming present it
can contain. Often she explores a self that won't hold together but must still
be held accountable–as a political entity, a citizen." –Harper's Magazine

"Pulitzer Prize winner Graham's poems are
like those of John Donne and e.e. cummings but on speed dial. Like Donne,
Graham seeks to encounter the metaphysics of everything." –Library

"Graham's poems act as the sonar devices
of contemporary western consciousness, probing the depths of human existential
experience." –The Guardian

More Reviews


ISBN-10: 155659660X
ISBN-13: 9781556596605
Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
Publish Date: 09/06/2022
Dimensions: 9.00" L, 7.30" W, 1.20" H
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