Cynthia Zarin is the author of four previous collections, including most recently The Ada Poems, as well as a book of essays, An Enlarged Heart: A Personal History, and several books for children. She is a longtime contributor to The New Yorker and the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Ingram Merrill Foundation. A winner of the Peter I. B. Lavan Younger Poets Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for poetry, she teaches at Yale and lives in New York City. "Meltwater" first appeared in Little Star, and "Anxiety" in The Nation. (Author photo by Benjamin Swett)
In this, her fifth collection, Cynthia Zarin turns her lyric lens on the worlds within worlds we inhabit and how we navigate our shared predicament—the tables of our lives on which the news of the day is strewn: the president speaking to parishioners in Charleston, the ricochet of violence, near and far. Whether writing about hairpin turns in the stair of childhood, about the cat’s claw of anxiety, on the impending loss of a young friend, or how “love endures, give or take,” here is the poet who, in the title poem, “bartered forty summers for black pearls” and whose work is full of such wagers, embodied in playing cards, treble notes, snow globes, and balancing acts. Zarin reminds us that the atmosphere created by our experiences shapes and defines the orbit we move through. Along the way, she is both witness and, often indirectly, subject—“I do not know how to hold the beauty and sorrow of my life,” she writes. This book is an attempt at an answer.
Praise for Cynthia Zarin:
"Cynthia Zarin knows that sometimes all that's needed to raise ordinary speech to poetic richness is a single, right word."
—The New York Times Book Review
"Cynthia Zarin's poems are as beautiful as anything being written today."
Alfred A. Knopf