Curves and Angles
Curves and Angles
Knopf, Hardcover, 9780307265289, 96pp.
Publication Date: November 14, 2006
In his first collection since the widely acclaimed Darlington’s Fall, Brad Leithauser takes the reader on a bracing poetic journey. Curves and Angles begins in a warm, soft, populated world (these are the curves of the human body, as well as the elliptical pathways of human motivation), and it concludes in a cooler, sharper, more private place—the less-giving angles of an inanimate universe.
The first section, “Curves,” introduces us to a couple of passionate young lovers, indoors in the city on a rainy afternoon; to a vociferous cluster of children playing on a Midwestern summer evening; to a godlike scuba diver, “all long gold limbs and a restless halo of long gold hair.” In a pair of long poems, two aging men—one a science-fiction writer of the 1950s, the other a traveler in an airport bar—confront their mortality.
“Angles” guides us to a rarely opened north-looking attic room, made brilliant by a nearby maple in full fall orange; to a sunny Louisiana kitchen, where two bowls—one brimming with semiprecious stones, one filled with seashells—are locked in an eternal silent beauty contest; to a frozen Icelandic lake; and to a narrow unmarked entryway that possibly leads to our “true and unbounded kingdom.”
Curves and Angles wanders from the balmy waters of the South Pacific to the crystalline wastes of the Arctic, unified throughout by an embracing love of the natural world in all its inexhaustible variety—whether lush or spare, peopled or solitary, curved or angled. It’s a journey made unforgettable by these wise and exuberant poems.
Brad Leithauser was born in Detroit and graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He is the author of five novels, a novel in verse, four previous volumes of poetry, a collection of light verse, and a book of essays. Among his many awards and honors are a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Ingram Merrill Grant, and a MacArthur Fellowship. An Emily Dickinson Senior Lecturer in the Humanities at Mount Holyoke College, he lives with his wife in Amherst, Massachusetts. In 2005, the president of Iceland inducted him into the Order of the Falcon for his writings about Nordic literature.
“There’s a down-to-earth wisdom in the way Brad Leithauser sees the transcendent in everyday experience: Instead of trying to make it happen, he lets it happen.” —Katie Peterson, Chicago Tribune
“Why devote oneself to that aggressively minor genre, poetry, when novels and screenplays and tell-all memoirs get more notice and make more money? Brad Leithauser answers that question in Curves and Angles.” —The New York Times Book Review