Carcanet online book launch: To 2040 by Jorie Graham

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Poet Jorie Graham.

10 May 2023 Tickets from £2.00 — Book now

Having published her first collection in 1980, Jorie Graham is considered one of the most celebrated living American poets and is the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Her latest book, To 2040, is her 17th and is published in the UK by Manchester’s Carcanet Press, with this online launch event hosted by the writer Robert Macfarlane.

Following hot on the heels of 2022’s [To] The Last [Be] Human and 202o’s Runaway (both also Carcanet), To 2040 continues Graham’s focus on the global climate crisis. Opening with question masquerading as fact – ‘Are we / extinct yet. Who owns / the map’ – in the collection, Graham assumes the role of part historian, part cartographer, part (perhaps) prophet, writing an urgent open letter to the future and plotting an apocalyptic event-horizon world narrated by a speaker who reflects on her own mortality and where rain must be translated, silence sings louder than speech, and wired birds parrot recordings of their extinct ancestors.

Following hot on the heels of 2022’s [To] The Last [Be] Human and 202o’s Runaway (both also Carcanet), To 2040 continues Graham’s focus on the global climate crisis.

The title poem – published in the London Review of Books, along with an audio recording of Jorie Graham’s own reading – asks, ‘what was yr message, what were u meant to / pass on?’, and the reader leaves the collection warned, wiser yet more on edge. With an apparent formal simplicity, the new poems – described as ‘visionary’ – are reminiscent of Graham’s second collection Erosion, from 1983, with a slight mistrust of both the world and the reader. The publisher elaborates: ‘In one poem, the speaker is warned by a clairvoyant, “the American experiment will end in 2030”. Graham exposes a potentially inevitable future, sirens sounding among industrial ruins. In sparse lines that move with cinematic precision, we pan from overhead views of reshaped shorelines to close-ups of a burrowing worm. Here, we linger, climate crisis on hold, as Graham invites the reader to sit silent, to hear soil breathe.’

Of last year’s collection, [To] The Last [Be] Human, Robert Macfarlane – best known for his books on landscape, nature, place, people and language – said: ‘“Emergence” is the term given in biology, systems theory, and beyond for the properties or behaviors of an entity that its parts do not on their own possess. Graham’s poetry is strongly emergent, its effects irreducible to the sum or difference of its components. It shoals, schools, flocks, builds, folds. It has life.’

Jorie Graham was born in New York City in 1950, lives in Massachusetts and teaches at Harvard University. She read philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris before studying filmmaking at New York University. She also has an MFA in poetry from the University of Iowa. Graham is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including FAST (2017), which was shortlisted in the Forward Prizes, and PLACE (2012), which won the Forward Prize for Best Collection. Her other Carcanet collections include The Taken-down God (2013), Sea Change (2008), Overlord (2005), Never (2002), Swarm (2000), The Errancy (1998) and The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994, which won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Widely translated, her poetry has been the recipient of numerous awards, among them the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the International Nonino Prize and the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry from the Library of Congress.

Robert Macfarlane is a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and writes on environmentalism, literature and travel for publications including the Guardian, the Sunday Times and The New York Times. He is the bestselling author of Mountains Of The Mind (2003), which won the Guardian First Book Award and the Somerset Maugham Award, The Wild Places (2007), which won the Boardman-Tasker Award, The Old Ways (2012), Landmarks (2015) and Underland (2019), and co-creator, with long-time collaborator Jackie Morris, of The Lost Words and The Lost Spells.

As always with Carcanet Press events, extracts of the text will be shown during the reading so that you can read along, and audience members will have the opportunity to ask their own questions. Registration for this online event is £2, redeemable against the cost of the book – attendees will receive a discount code and details of how to get hold of the new book during and after the event.

To 2040 by Jorie Graham
To 2040 by Jorie Graham

10 May 2023 Tickets from £2.00 Book now

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