Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Freebie: Pity the Beautiful by Dana Goia and June Fourth Elegies by Liu Xiaobo

Congratulations to Thomas Baughman, winner of last week's Friday Freebie: The Cove by Ron Rash.

In honor of National Poetry Month, this week's book giveaway is a special double-prize package from Graywolf Press: Pity the Beautiful by Dana Goia and June Fourth Elegies by Liu Xiaobo (translated by Jeffrey Yang).  Both volumes of verse are well worth checking out.

Graywolf featured June Fourth Elegies at the front of its Spring 2012 catalogue and it's easy to see why the press is standing so proudly behind this book.  Here's the catalogue copy:
Liu Xiaobo has become the foremost symbol of the struggle for human rights in China. He was a leading activist during the Tiananmen Square protests of June 4, 1989, and an author of Charter 08, the manifesto of fundamental human rights published in 2008. In 2009, Liu was imprisoned for “inciting subversion of state power,” and he is currently serving an eleven-year sentence. He was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for “his prolonged non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” June Fourth Elegies presents Liu’s poems written in memory of fellow protesters at Tiananmen Square. In this bilingual volume, Liu’s poetry is for the first time published freely in both English translation and in the Chinese original.
In his foreword to June Fourth Elegies, His Holiness the Dalai Lama wrote: "Liu Xiaobo pays a moving tribute to the sacrifices made during the events in Tiananmen Square in 1989.  Considering the writer himself remains imprisoned, this book serves as a powerful reminder of his courage and determination and his great-hearted concern for the welfare of his fellow country men and women."
The day
seems more and more distant
And yet for me
it remains a needle inside my body

Pity the Beautiful is Dana Goia's first new poetry book in more than a decade; but, as Booklist has said, he "makes every collection worth the wait."  In its catalogue copy, Graywolf writes of this new book: "Its emotional revelations and careful construction are hard won, inventive, and resilient.  These new poems show Gioia's craftsmanship at its finest, its most mature, as they make music, crack wise, remember the dead, and in a long, central poem even tell ghost stories."  Here, for instance, is the first stanza of "The Road," lines which call for us to slow down and smell the roses.  Poetry like this has the power to make us better people...
He sometimes felt that he had missed his life
By being far too busy looking for it.
Searching the distance, he often turned to find
That he had passed some milestone unaware,
And someone else was walking next to him,
First friends, then lovers, now children and a wife.
They were good company--generous, kind,
But equally bewildered to be there.

If you'd like a chance at winning both books, all you have to do is answer this question:

What poet began "The Waste Land" by writing "April is the cruellest month"?

Email your answer to

Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line.  One entry per person, please.  Please e-mail me the answer, rather than posting it in the comments section.  Despite its name, the Friday Freebie runs all week long and remains open to entries until midnight on April 19--at which time I'll draw the winning name. I'll announce the lucky reader on April 20.  If you'd like to join the mailing list for the once-a-week Quivering Pen newsletter, simply add the words "Sign me up for the newsletter" in the body of your email.  Your email address and other personal information will never be sold or given to a third party (except in those instances where the publisher requires a mailing address for sending Friday Freebie winners copies of the book).

Want to double your odds of winning?  Get an extra entry in the contest by posting a link to this webpage on your Facebook wall or by tweeting it on Twitter.  Once you've done either or both of those, send me an additional e-mail saying "I've shared" and I'll put your name in the hat twice.

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