Poet, translator, and critic A. E. Stallings, recipient of the prestigious MacArthur “Genius” Grant, among many other distinctions, includes Ernest Hilbert’s 2019 poetry collection Last One Out alongside several others for her contribution to the Poetry Foundation’s “May 2020 Reading List,” a feature of the Harriet Blog.
The prize for most aptly-titled poetry collection this year surely goes to Peter Junker’s Things Will Get Worse, a group of sturdy little poems in a form he’s dubbed a “hekaton.” Another timely title is Christian Wiman’s Survival Is a Style: enviably good, the book sizzles with energy. Ernest Hilbert’s Last One Out (also resonant) is full of a tender masculinity, fatherhood, unfathering. I am rereading poets recently plucked by posterity: Roddy Lumsden, Lisel Mueller, and now, alas, Eavan Boland. I’m intrigued with a reissued debut: Rosamund Stanhope’s 1962 So I Looked Down to Camelot. She’s remembered now, if at all, for her recherché vocabulary. What might have seemed ornamental then, however, now seems gorgeous, organic, and architectural, not in the sense of brick or stone, but open ironwork—which could be a gazebo, or an Eiffel Tower: as she says of a spider’s web, sustained by a “lace intelligence.”
Many thanks to Stallings as well as the Poetry Foundation for the recognition. For more information about Last One Out, click here.