Advice from the Lights: Poems

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Advice from the Lights: Poems

By Stephen Burt

Released Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Advice from the Lights is a brilliant and candid exploration of gender and identity and a series of looks at a formative past. It’s part nostalgia, part confusion, and part an ongoing wondering: How do any of us achieve adulthood? And why would we want to, if we had the choice? This collection is woven from and interrupted by extraordinary sequences, including Stephanie poems about Stephen’s female self; poems on particular years of the poet’s early life, each with its own memories, desires, insecurities, and pop songs; and versions of poems by the Greek poet Callimachus, whose present-day incarnation worries (who doesn’t?) about mortality, the favor of the gods, and the career of Taylor Swift. The collection also includes poems on politics, location, and parenthood. Taken all together, this is Stephen Burt’s most personal and most accomplished collection, an essential work that asks who we are, how we become ourselves, and why we make art.

Stephen Burt is a poet, literary critic, and professor. His essay collection Close Calls with Nonsense (Graywolf Press, 2009) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His other works include The Art of the Sonnet (Harvard University Press, 2010), Something Understood: Essays and Poetry for Helen Vendler (University of Virginia Press, 2009), The Forms of Youth: Adolescence and 20th Century Poetry (Columbia University Press, 2007), Parallel Play: Poems (Graywolf, 2006), Randall Jarrell on W. H. Auden (University Press, 2005), Randall Jarrell and His Age (Columbia University Press, 2002), and Popular Music (Center for Literary Publishing, 1999). His latest collection of poems, Belmont, was published by Graywolf Press in 2013. Burt grew up around Washington, DC and received an A.B from Harvard in 1994 and a Ph.D. in English from Yale in 2000. He taught at Macalester College for several years before becoming a Professor of English at Harvard University. He lives in the suburbs of Boston with his spouse, Jessie Bennett, and their two children.