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October 5, 1988
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v2.1 Reference

Against the Meanwhile

3 Elegies

Three elegies exploring the nature of remembered time and space.

Mark Irwin's boyhood near the nuclear laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, haunts his poetry. This book of three elegies explores the nature of remembered time and space—personal, historical, geological—against the progression of time—evolution, germination, cell division, nuclear fission, the decay of memory and feeling. This, the poet says, is a kind of "fossil record" of science's impact on the modern world. Entropy (the tendency of atoms towards disorder) becomes a god, a blueprint for possibility. Disorder—frenzy, darkness, chaos—leads to evolution and evolution to order, harmony, and beauty. A star burns and sunlight falls on the world.

About the Author

MARK IRWIN was graduated from Case Western Reserve University (B.A. 1974, Ph. D. 1982) and the University of Iowa (M.F.A. 1980). An associate professor of literature and philosophy at the Cleveland Institute of Art, he has also taught at Case Western Reserve and the University of Akron. He received a Discovery/ The Nation award in 1984. Irwin is the author of The Halo of Desire, and the translator of A Notebook of Shadows, by Philippe Denis, and Ask the Circle to Forgive You: Selected Poems of Nichita Stanescu, 1964-1979. His home is in Cleveland.


"When Hegel spoke of poetry as 'the sensuous radiance of the idea' he might well have bee referring to Mark Irwin's extraordinary new volume of poems Against the Meanwhile. These meditations on loss serve as elegies for places, people, and memories given up to history, to passage, to faithlessness. Geological and evolutionary time loop through these poems, weaving together the historical, the personal, and the natural, providing a dazzling perspective that is unique in American poetry."—David St. John

"These three long elegies are major clusterings of lyric outcry. Irwin reminds us that the rising water is supported by a falling water. The field of epiphany, here, is unlikely, pure, but lawful of a physical world. It is a splendid book."—Norman Dubie
Wesleyan University Press
Wesleyan Poetry Series

9780819511515 : against-the-meanwhile-irwin
Paperback / softback
79 Pages
$15.95 USD

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