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Heavenly Questions

Heavenly Questions

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Winner of the Griffin International Poetry Prize 2011.

Book of the Year 2011 in The Guardian.

"Poems with her customary eloquence and gravity now filled with shock and hurt, certainly the most beautiful work she has made”
Colm Tóibín, The Guardian

The Times Poetry Book of the Year 2011.

"Gjertrud Schnackenberg's mesmeric and enthralling Heavenly Questions was a deserving winner of the international Griffin Prize. In six meditative poems... Schnackenberg mourns her husband with extraordinary intelligence and compassion.”
Josephine Balmer, The Times

Gjertrud Schnackenberg is a major voice in American poetry, known for her imaginatively daring poetry of ideas. Her first new book for a decade, Heavenly Questions features six long poems of passion, mourning and redemption.

“She is the most accomplished master of blank verse on the planet… Here is the most powerful love poetry of our time.”
Eliza Griswold, The American Prospect

“The title comes from the ‘Heavenly Questions’ of Qu Yuan (c. 300 BCE), cosmological riddles he left on temple walls… Schnackenberg has written nothing less than a Miltonic book-length poem on eternity, infinity, and the meaning of life.”
D.H. Tracy, Poetry

Heavenly Questions demands that we come face to face with matters of mortal importance, and it does so in a wildly original music that is passionate, transporting, and heart-rending.”
Griffin Poetry Prize 2011 International, Judges’ Citation

"The momentum of her lines suggests grief's endless reprisals and perpetuations, and the rhythms of an infinite, recombinant universe. In six long poems, which constitute a single integrated work, Heavenly Questions guides us through the transformations of bereavement. The effect is immersive and utterly compelling.... The ambition and ingenuity of Heavenly Questions reminds us of what it is possible for elegiac poetry to achieve, particularly given a longer form; but the courage at its core, the tremendous, vulnerable dignity, the refusal to seek easy consolations, or depict such a grief in familiar terms, are what hold the most power to enchant and impress, and make these poems resonate long after the book has been closed."
Frances Leviston, The Guardian

Gjertrud Schnackenberg was born in 1953 in Tacoma, Washington. Her retrospective Supernatural Love: Poems 1976-2000 (Bloodaxe, 2001) includes her four collections, Portraits and Elegies (1982), The Lamplit Answer (1985), A Gilded Lapse of Time (1995), and The Throne of Labdacus (2000), winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry. She has won many literary awards, and divides her time between Tacoma and Boston, Massachusetts.