"One of America's most distinctive contemporary poets."—Boston Review
"James Richardson's poetry is . . . unusual, quirky, personal, and profound."—The Threepenny Review
For James Richardson, poetry is serious and speculative play for both intellect and imagination. By the Numbers is striking for its range of line and movement, for its microlyrics, crypto-quatrains, "ten-second essays," and the twist and snap of aphorisms. Drawing from myriad fables—Ovidian, Shakespearean, georgic, and scientific—Richardson makes familiar scenes strange enough to provoke new and startling insights.
"Ten-second Essay #138"
Faces are motion, which is why all the photos of you are bad. Even the most natural-looking portrait is a sentence interrupted, one note of an aria, held. Though faces themselves hide a deeper motion. You seem to sit there and meet my eyes across the table, but you are so many other places, clinging here for a moment against all the currents that will soon sweep you onward. We are so moved by the faces caught in the windows of trains going the other way because they tell us how all faces really are.
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.
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