BkMk Press Books

Quiet City: Poems

by Susan Aizenberg

Price: $13.95, 76 pages

ISBN: 978-188615798-9, 2015


Featured in Ted Kooser's American Life in Poetry 

Read the review in Blackbird


Many of these poems are set in the mid-twentieth century and feature such personae as writers Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams and photographer Roman Vishniac, as well as less-public figures in Brooklyn, Nebraska, and elsewhere, all of whom confront the wounds of love, family, history, and time. 

"The poems in Susan Aizenberg’s Quiet City are nothing less than luminous.  Her vision is clear, her language exact, and her music perfectly pitched, whether she’s writing about how we wound each other or how we make of our wounds art.   While it would seem beauty is a flimsy stay against the violence of history, these poems show us otherwise with their profound attention and care for detail, their way of binding empathy to loss.  These are keenly intelligent poems, navigating the distance and circuitous route between grief and its redemption."—Betsy Sholl

"The noirish glamour of America’s mid-twentieth century regains its brutal edge in Susan Aizenberg’s Quiet City, and reminds us how the wounds of history keep on wounding, both in our homes and the larger world. Across state lines and class lines, from childhoods to prisons, Aizenberg’s poems make clear for us, with excruciating eloquence, how we were, and are, a desperate people, complicit and compassionate by turns. Quiet City is a fearsome book, rejecting nostalgia and implicating us all in the 'hurricanes of time.'”—Kathy Fagan

"One of the most powerful poems in Susan Aizenberg’s extraordinary new collection is “Toward an Autobiography of My Imagination,” but don’t let that title fool you: while many of the poems in Quiet City parse her personal history, and do so beautifully, her imagination goes well beyond autobiography.  As in her first collection, Muse, which featured stunning poems about Van Gogh and T.S. Eliot’s wife Vivienne, Aizenberg imagines her way into the minds and hearts of a wide variety of others, including Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Roman Vishniac and the Warsaw Jews he photographed, Dust Bowl survivors, the mother of a teenage boy shot dead by police, the nineteenth-century inmates of a Quaker penitentiary, and a fictional member of a group like the Weather Underground.  In poem after poem, she reveals an astonishingly wide-ranging and deeply empathetic imagination, not to mention the eye of a painter and the ear of a musician.  If you read this book, you will not only be moved, you will be changed.  And if you don’t read it, you will have missed one of the best books of poetry to appear in years."—David Jauss

Susan Aizenberg's newest collection of poems is Quiet City (BkMk Press, May 2015). Aizenberg also is the author of two previous collections, Muse (Crab Orchard Poetry Series/SIUP) and Peru (Take Three/2: AGNI New Poets Series/Graywolf) and co-editor, with Erin Belieu, of The Extraordinary Tide: New Poetry by American Women (Columbia UP). Her poems have appeared in many journals, including Prairie Schooner, Blackbird, Spillway, The Journal, Midwest Quarterly Review, Hunger Mountain, Alaska Quarterly Review, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Spoon River Poetry Review, and have been reprinted in several anthologies, among them Ley Lines (Wilfrid Laurier UP) and Wild and Whirling Words: A Poetic Conversation (Etruscan). Her fellowships and awards include the Nebraska Book Award and Virginia Commonwealth University's Levis Prize for Muse, a Distinguished Artist Fellowship from the Nebraska Arts Council, the Mari Sandoz Award from the Nebraska Library Association, and a Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner award. She currently teaches at Creighton University, where she is Professor of Creative Writing and English.

Susan Aizenberg Interview


Published 2015      



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