The Mind-Body Problem
"... a careful and skillful poet..." - Wales Arts Review
"Pollit has given us a satisfying collection." - Planet Magazine
The Mind-Body Problem introduces British readers to the much-praised and widely published American poet and essayist Katha Pollitt, who brings a distinctive blend of wit and lyricism to a profusion of subjects, sad, glad and everywhere in between.
Ranging across jumble-sales, Jane Austen, Chinese poets, birds and flowers and cats and dogs, New York City in its crumbling glory, mothers in the playground and hermits in the desert, Pollitt gives a modern, paradoxical twist to philosophical and political conundrums – how do you write an anti-war poem that isn’t also a pat on the back to the ever-so-sensitive poet? And in a brilliant central section, she reimagines biblical stories to give the last word to female characters like Martha and Lot's wife.
Admirers of Wislawa Szymborska will recognize a kindred spirit, balanced between amusement and melancholy at the endlessly fascinating world.
“Her work will delight British readers with its eye for detail, its lyric grace and its unpretentious humanity.” – Carol Rumens
“It’s awfully good to have such a great-hearted poet as Katha Pollitt take on mortality’s darkest themes. Again and again she finds a human-sized crack of light and squeezes us through with her.” – Kay Ryan, US Poet Laureate
“You’d think little new could be said about ageing and the passage of time, but it is freshness that strikes us, astonishing yet proverbial, in Katha Pollitt’s new book. Here our lives might be ‘hard and pure like marble statues’, our voices might emerge from ‘the kingdom of health and silence’ and the night subway may well open on to Xerxes with his troops. Here the familiar wakes gratefully to sour milk in a strange city that is clear, humane and grave, beloved but forever strange.”
– George Szirtes