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House of Lords and Commons

Cover of House of Lords and Commons

House of Lords and Commons

Poems

A stunning collection that traverses the borders of culture and time, from the 2011 winner of the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award

In House of Lords and Commons, the revelatory and vital new collection of poems from the winner of the 2013 Whiting Writers' Award in poetry, Ishion Hutchinson returns to the difficult beauty of the Jamaican landscape with remarkable lyric precision. Here, the poet holds his world in full focus but at an astonishing angle: from the violence of the seventeenth-century English Civil War as refracted through a mythic sea wanderer, right down to the dark interior of love.

These poems arrange the contemporary continuum of home and abroad into a wonderment of cracked narrative sequences and tumultuous personae. With ears tuned to the vernacular, the collection vividly binds us to what is terrifying about happiness, loss, and the lure of the sea. House of Lords and Commons testifies to the particular courage it takes to wade unsettled, uncertain, and unfettered in the wake of our shared human experience.

A stunning collection that traverses the borders of culture and time, from the 2011 winner of the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award

In House of Lords and Commons, the revelatory and vital new collection of poems from the winner of the 2013 Whiting Writers' Award in poetry, Ishion Hutchinson returns to the difficult beauty of the Jamaican landscape with remarkable lyric precision. Here, the poet holds his world in full focus but at an astonishing angle: from the violence of the seventeenth-century English Civil War as refracted through a mythic sea wanderer, right down to the dark interior of love.

These poems arrange the contemporary continuum of home and abroad into a wonderment of cracked narrative sequences and tumultuous personae. With ears tuned to the vernacular, the collection vividly binds us to what is terrifying about happiness, loss, and the lure of the sea. House of Lords and Commons testifies to the particular courage it takes to wade unsettled, uncertain, and unfettered in the wake of our shared human experience.

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Awards-
About the Author-
  • Ishion Hutchinson was born in Port Antonio, Jamaica. His poetry collection Far District (2010) won the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award. Other honors include a Whiting Writers' Award, the Glenna Luschei Award fromPrairie Schooner journal, and the Academy of American Poets' Larry Levis Prize. He is an assistant professor of English at Cornell University.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from September 19, 2016
    “History is dismantled music; slant,/ bleak on gravel,” Hutchinson (Far District) writes in a second collection that sees him profiting highly from Emily Dickinson’s dictum to tell the truth but tell it slant. In poetic suites more narrative and seamlessly associative than his previous work, Hutchinson melds Jamaica’s history of political strife and the lives of its citizens into sensuous evocations of landscape: “After the hurricane walks a silence, deranged, white as the white helmets of government surveyors looking into roofless/ shacks.” Hutchinson finds a dexterous register in which high and low diction strike sparks: “I mitre solid shadow, setting fire to snow in my ark./ I credit not the genie but the coral rock.” His eye for local color elevates neighbors and relatives into figures of archetypal resonance, and his biting precision captures “Pure echo in the train’s/ beam arriving on its cold nerve of iron.” Informed both by sonorous biblical cadence and a fibrous Saxon lexicon of canonical Western references, Hutchinson’s majestic lines snap like starched laundry in coastal wind: “drift-pocked, solitary/ ducks across the bay’s industrial/ ruts.” Yet this jaunty “ice-pick raconteur” is capable of stunning moments of visionary lyricism: “A soft light, God’s idleness/ warms the skin of the lake.” These poems herald the maturity of a major poetic voice.

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    Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Poems
Ishion Hutchinson
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