An eclectic collection of poems about New York City.
"New York, the city that never sleeps, contains more light than all the myriad heavens conceived of by its denizens of every possible race, religion, culture, color, and creed combined. All poets are besotted with light: it is the most transformative of all phenomena and we are permanently drunk on it—moon mad, sun blind, star struck." — from the Foreword by Anne Pierson Wiese
As Shawkat M. Toorawa writes in his preface, "Not every poet loves New York, but each and every one is mesmerized by it." Indeed, with its protean mix of cultures, languages, natives, transplants, and exiles, New York City seems to exert a special hold over the poetic imagination. The sixty-one poems, extracts of poems, and song lyrics collected here reflect a wide range of responses to New York, both positive and negative, insider and outsider. Arranged in four sections—Morning, Day, Evening, and Night—the collection not only gives the reader the opportunity to experience twenty-four hours in New York through poetry, but also puts poems and poets in conversation, debate, and even occasionally in conflict with one another.
Rather than attempting to be exhaustive or definitive, this volume juxtaposes well-known poets and lyricists such as Maya Angelou, Bob Dylan, Denise Levertov, and Walt Whitman with important and emerging voices such as Valzhyna Mort, Purvi Shah, and Melanie Rehak, as well as poets less frequently included in such anthologies, such as Mahmoud Darwish, Anna Margolin, and Nicanor Parra. The result is a collection of poems that vary in their aesthetics, tone, mood, and subject, and thereby reflect the vexed and manifold nature of their subject—New York, the city that never sleeps.
Shawkat M. Toorawa is Associate Professor of Arabic Literature at Cornell University. He has written, edited, and translated many books, including the collection of Adonis's poetry A Time Between Ashes and Roses: Poems.
"Shawkat Toorawa has selected a thrilling chorus of voices, familiar and new, formal and slangy, immigrant and native. A perfect companion for your day or night on the town." — Robyn Creswell, poetry editor of The Paris Review
"A strength of this collection is its rich mix of female and male poets, and its wide range of demographic, racial, linguistic, aesthetic, and other multicultural perspectives across a period of time ranging from the late nineteenth century to our own decade. The poems are as various and full of élan as the city itself." — Lisa Russ Spaar, editor of All That Mighty Heart: London Poems
"There are almost as many anthologies of New York poems as there are skyscrapers, but in terms of sheer reading pleasure The City That Never Sleeps towers over them all." — Don Share, Editor, Poetry magazine