All Souls: Poems (Paperback)

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* FINALIST FOR THE 2023 NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FOR POETRY *

In All Souls, Saskia Hamilton transforms compassion, fear, expectation, and memory into art of the highest order. Judgment is suspended as the poems and lyric fragments make an inventory of truths that carry us through night’s reckoning with mortal hope into daylight. But even daylight—with its escapements and unbreakable numbers, “restless, / irregular light and shadow, awakened”—can’t appease the crisis of survival at the heart of this collection. Marked with a new openness and freedom—a new way of saying that is itself a study of what can and can’t be said—the poems give way to Hamilton’s mind, and her unerring descriptions of everyday life: “the asphalt velvety in the rain.”

The central suite of poems vibrates with a ghostly radioactive attentiveness, with care unbounded by time or space. Its impossible charge is to acknowledge and ease suffering with a gaze that both widens and narrows its aperture. Lightly told, told without sentimentality, the story is devastating. A mother prepares to take leave of a young son. Impossible departure. “A disturbance within the order of moments.” One that can’t be stopped, though in these poems language does arrest and in some essential ways fix time.

Tenderness, courage, refusal, and acceptance infuse this work, illuminating what Elizabeth Hardwick called “the universal unsealed wound of existence.”

About the Author


Saskia Hamilton was the author of several books of poetry, including Corridor, named one of the best poetry books of 2014 by The New Yorker and The New York Times Book Review. She is the editor of The Letters of Robert Lowell and coeditor of Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell.

Praise For…


“[The] poems that make up All Souls start when and where they want to, go where they will, break off in what should have been a middle but isn’t, and then not stop, exactly, but disappear, like the little blips and half-signals that were transmitted by Amelia Earhart as she flew ... where?”—David Kirby, The New York Times Book Review

“Remarkable. . . . With astonishing formal and emotional clarity, in language at once delicate and bold, Hamilton renders afresh enduring questions of time, love, and literature as measures of our individual and shared lives.”—The New Yorker, Best Books of 2023

All Souls is a devastating reminder of one’s own mortality, written by a writer who has gone too soon.”Time, “100 Must-Read Books of 2023”

“The most moving reading experience I had in 2023 was Saskia Hamilton’s poetry collection, All Souls. . . . [It] is exquisitely and adventurously formed.”—Anthony Domestico, Commonweal

“Extraordinary. . . . [All Souls] is a dramatic rendering of Hamilton as both a writer and a reader, a rhapsodic conversation between her library and her life.”—Declan Ryan, Poetry Foundation

“Full of delicate and muscular truths and graced with rare intelligence, this posthumous volume offers the gifts of a uniquely sensitive mind.”Publishers Weekly, starred review

All Souls is an act of love so deep—for the boy, for the world, for language’s ability to soothe, prepare, and resist. It investigates our bounds of sight and knowing, it faces and refuses death at once. The book itself moves across and beneath time, communes immortally, and holds everything still. Hamilton’s astonishing final act is a kind of suspension, a breath going out forever, a piece of evidence that, in language, we may continue.”—Kyra Spence, The Adroit Journal

“[Hamilton's] meditative mode offers a deliberately slower and more languorous way of experiencing the signature whetted angularity, emotive compression, and deep intellect of her work. . . . Reading these poems after the poet’s death proves that while poetry cannot stop the journey or change the destination, it does have the power to preserve the mind at its most alive.”—James Ciano, Los Angeles Review of Books

“These works are worldly, intimate, domestic, and mortal. It's remarkable how much Hamilton makes of so little; if only all our lives were this rich in particulars recorded in detail. . . . How admirable the composure of the line, the principled refusal to imagine the end possessing more gravitas than something so ordinary as waking.”—Michael Autrey, Booklist

“A deeply philosophical and introspective window into mortality. . . . All Souls is an ethereal end to Hamilton’s much-lauded career, a collection which refuses a clean and coherent exit, a book that will quickly establish itself as what Dickinson dubbed ‘vital light’ destined to ‘inhere as do the Suns–’”—Ronnie K. Stephens, The Poetry Question

All Souls, the posthumously published final volume of poems by Saskia Hamilton, conveys a richness of stories in beautifully captured vignettes.”BookPage



Product Details
ISBN: 9781644452639
ISBN-10: 1644452634
Publisher: Graywolf Press
Publication Date: September 5th, 2023
Pages: 72
Language: English