National Book Award Finalist
Book of the Year honors from Publishers Weekly
"As if hurled from a pitching mound, James Richardson's aphorisms and images approach the reader like fastballs, only to curve at the last second, painting the corners of the reader's mind with wisdom and delight. In By the Numbers Richardson dips into an expansive repertoire of approaches and shows excellent command, as he illuminates the commute between the ordinary and the mystical." —National Book Award finalist, Judges' Citation
“[O]ne of America’s most distinctive contemporary poets…a powerful and moving body of work that in its intimacy and philosophical naturalism is unique in contemporary American poetry.” —Boston Review
“James Richardson’s Interglacial, a poetry finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, is like a beautiful river, under the thin surface of which rushes an intensely felt life and a never quite lost yearning to belong.” —NewPages
“James Richardson’s poetry is…unusual, quirky, personal, and profound.” —The Threepenny Review
“James Richardson is…a poet who earned his reputation as a master of imagery and concision.” —The Christian Science Monitor
James Richardson is the author of six books of poetry and two critical studies. His poems appear frequently in The New Yorker, Slate, and Paris Review. He is a professor of English and creative writing at Princeton University.
Richardson is one of the finest poets now writing, and the best contemporary practitioner of the art of aphorism, as this eighth collection of poems and aphorisms will attest. Richardson's aphorisms--of which there are 170 in this book--are nothing short of genius, concise, reflexive, witty, wise, and startlingly true: "Spontaneity takes a few rehearsals," reads one; "Beware of speaking of The Rich as if they were someone else," reads another; "Loving yourself is about as likely as tickling yourself," says a third, and there's much more where these came from. In his poems, Richardson speaks with a world-weary voice that is also at times cautiously optimistic, managing to view the world from intimately personal and omniscient vantage points at the same time. One group of poems tries to take the measure of experience via numbers, letters, and "The stars in order of/ magnitude." Another suite anchored in Greek myths finds new resonance for old stories: "Did a god steal her daughter/ or has she been living all this time in Manhattan...?" Throughout, Richardson's aphoristic powers resurface, yielding stellar lines. Richardson deserves wider recognition, and this book should earn it.