Press 53 . PO Box 30314, Winston-Salem, NC 27130-0314

Alfred Corn
by Alfred Corn

Silver Concho Poetry Series

ISBN 978-1-935708-74-2
9 x 6 paperback, 98 pages

Alfred Corn has published eight previous books of poems, the most recent titled Contradictions. He has also published a novel, titled Part of His Story; two collections of essays; and The Poem’s Heartbeat, a study of prosody. In March 2014, Barrow Street Press will publish his new book of poems, Unions, and in the fall Eyewear will bring out his novel, Miranda's Book. Fellowships for his poetry include the Guggenheim, the NEA, an Award in Literature from the Academy of Arts and Letters, and one from the Academy of American Poets.  Poetry magazine awarded him the Levinson, Blumenthal, and Dillon prizes. He has taught writing at Yale, Columbia, Oklahoma State University, and UCLA. Since 2005, he has spent part of every year in the U.K., and Pentameters Theatre in London staged his play Lowell’s Bedlam in the spring of 2011. In 2012, he was a Visiting Fellow of Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, preparing a translation of Rilke’s Duino Elegies. His first ebook, Transatlantic Bridge: A Concise Guide to the Differences between British and American English, was published in 2012. When in the U.S., he lives in Hopkinton, Rhode Island. Visit Alfred at www.alfredcorn.org.
Praise for Earlier Books:

“By turns mandarin and earthy, intricate and bold, Autobiographies is both an exploration of our variegated national culture and a significant contribution to it. Sinuous and supple, his verse twines around our nomadic unease, rooting us in a poet's imagination. Alfred Corn is a national resource, a bard of astonishing breadth.”
—Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

​“Alfred Corn is one of our finest living poets. He works in the visionary tradition of Whitman and Crane, and makes bold new use of classical and European influences. Besides artistry, Present contains urgent lessons for our time: presence, care, visibility…. Best of all, despite the largeness of his expectations, Corn is no softie. He eschews sentimentality. He is humorous, observant, quick to see awkward details, human failings, ironic mishaps.”
—Grace Schulman, The Nation, April 29, 1997

“Corn’s formal range is everywhere apparent. He even attempts sapphics in English which closely resemble what might be accomplished in the Greek. But as he understands art to be ‘always more than technical virtuosity,’ his poetry never merely displays his considerable poetic skills, but rather becomes a mode of thought, an inquiry into art and passion, the limits of mastery, mortality, divinity, and the possible destiny of the human soul.”
—Carolyn Forché, The Lambda Book Report, Spring, 1997

“Eminently cosmopolitan, he is a stylist of the first order, both in verse and in prose … Erudite without being pedantic, Corn draws deeply from our cultural history to establish correspondences between the most disparate entities…. In verse the author’s tone ranges from the pedagogical to the personal, and the two occur together often enough to suggest that teaching what he knows both to his own students and to his unseen readers, is for him an act of love.”
—William Ferguson, The New York Times Book Review, Nov. 30, 1997

Cover art, “Boy Seated at Table with Red-Checkered Cloth (1960),” by Fairfield Porter, used by permission of Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, New York

Those first-nights when I see my charge’s panic,
And, in quick whispers, slip him mislaid lines,
Untangled recognition scenes will light
A face, inflected sense revive a flagging
Voice; and my inner rating service smiles.

No. No, the program never credits Prompter.
The same as nursing, ours is a self-reliant
Calling regarded as its own reward…
Although, in fairness, the brightest stars remember
To breathe a private “thank you” at the curtain.

Just like a turntable set, sight lines shifted
The day I gazed at that smooth slab of his—
The Unknown Soldier, who then began to prompt:
Mobilized for an afterlife of marble,
I’m bunked here in a tomb not granted those

Whose shining names appear on that bronze roster. 
Distinctions should be met with gratitude;
Which holds, at least until the censers exit.
I paid what we all owe. And would again,
Allowed to exchange this blank for clear inscriptions

Recording what I did beside my name.
A greater loss than death? Identity!
Homage rings hollow on an anonymous crypt.
From nil and dark the self I knew calls out
For the small tag love once attached me to.
Sample Poem