by Peter Richards

ISBN: 9780979975554
1 April 2011

This narrative lyric sequence is lit with a ravishing light: part erotic, part nuclear, entirely mutagenic, dangerously Sublime. From a point both in the past and the future, from a narrow cell that is at once the lyric, the body, a fort, a hospital bed, an escape pod, the mind, and memory itself, the narrator relates in image-rich lines the several rises and falls of a beloved, a queen, a monster, a regime, an imperium, a self, and the self’s various selves: as lover, captive, traitor, soldier, sensory apparatus and memory machine. Like Dante’s La Vita Nuova, Helsinki shows how the lyric, while apparently encapsulated by form, is in fact vulnerable to dazzling competing proximities—to Love, to the Past, to Story, to Power, and to Obliteration.


Iowa Review | Boston Review | Rain Taxi


Peter Richards was born in 1967 in Urbana, Illinois. He is a recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant in Poetry, an Iowa Arts Fellowship, an Academy of American Poets Prize, and the John Logan Award. His poems have appeared in Agni, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Fence, The Yale Review, and other journals. He is the author of Oubliette (Verse Press / Wave Books, 2001), which won the Massachusetts Center for the Book Honors Award; Nude Siren (Verse Press / Wave Books, 2003); and Helsinki (Action Books, 2011). The University of Montana-Missoula’s visiting Hugo Poet Spring Semester 2011, Richards has taught at Harvard University, Tufts University, and Museum School of Fine Arts, Boston.