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The Captain Lands in Paradise

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  174 ratings  ·  13 reviews
Sarah Manguso’s first collection, a combination of verse and prose poems, explores love, nostalgia, remorse, and the joyful and mysterious preparation for the discoveries of new lands, selves, and ideas. The voice is consistently spare, honest, understated, and eccentric.
Paperback, 72 pages
Published July 1st 2002 by Alice James Books (first published January 1st 2002)
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Dec 03, 2007 Helena rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fellow poetry groupies; proponents of the unabashedly beautiful
Holy fuck.

This is one of those books of poetry I keep next to my elbow while writing prose, so I can read it and be inspired when my own prose starts not to sound beautiful enough.

It's also one of those books of poetry that makes you desperate to be best friends with the author, and SURE that she would be your best friend, if only you could meet her.

Seriously. It's like having fantastic sex next to a half-open window on the first cold day of autumn. That's how good.

Her first, the obviously-an-MFA-manuscript book. Which is not to say there aren't delightful and astonishing moments. But nothing that makes me have to put the book down because I am so blown away. Not yet anyway.
Great poetry. Even if you don't like poetry, you should try it. "Beautiful Things" is now one of my all-time favorite poems. Check it out:


Sometimes I think I understand the way things work
And then I find out that on Neptune it rains diamonds.
On this world you can get out of work early, unclog the drain,
hear music. Any of the above should prove the existence
of God or at least some kind of beautifying engine
but in Germany when they couldn't figure out
how to tranquilize the polar b
I don't think I'd win many arguments trying to convince you that Sarah Manguso's poems are personal. They aren't vignettes or quotidian or breathless. There isn't much in the way of a persona lurking behind her poems. Quite the opposite, there's an almost airless quality. Like looking up at the heavens in a night filled with stars and this text starts scrolling down like the opening sequence to star wars. That's what Manguso's poetry is like. Not non-sequiturs or quips or even aphorisms. Just th ...more
Vincent Scarpa
Some really great stuff here, but I much prefer her second collection, Siste Viator, which feels like it has more skin in the game, so to speak.
Great poems make you wish you were a poet. Or, if you once were a poet, great poems make you miss being a poet in a way not unlike, I suspect, one might miss God if one no longer believed in God. And these poems -- most of them, that is -- do that. Too many of them are too inscrutable, and so (while often beautiful) are a touch too alienating to give the book five stars. But the poems in here that stun ("Beautiful Things," "Wild Goose Chase," "Address to Winnie in Paris," "What I Found," "The Ba ...more
Jesse Rice-Evans
Manguso's sometimes esoteric style works well in her short prose; in poetry, it prompts more questions than it solves.
I'm interested in the way the imagination helps to spell out the wisdom in this book, and I'm assured of the imagination's strength in composing these poems, but I'm not sure how far they take me with their wisdom. And I feel that the speaker in these poems is very interested in making me understand what she has discovered.
Like a primer when I began writing school and then like a "stone" because that's exactly what Jane M. said about using the word "stone" when you don't know shit.
Brilliant book filled with fantastic language and imagery. I found the earlier poems in the book stronger than the later ones, but all are worth a read.
I just finished Two Kinds of Decay and feel drawn to read everything she has published in book form.

I admire her work, very much so.

Tasha Cotter
Brilliant collection of poetry. I really like her work.
I'd eat it!
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Sarah Manguso (b. 1974) is an American writer and poet. In 2007, she was awarded the Joseph Brodsky Rome Prize Fellowship in literature by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her memoir The Two Kinds of Decay (2008), was reviewed by the New York Times Sunday Book Review and named a 2008 "Best Nonfiction Book of the Year" by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Her poems and prose have appeared in The
More about Sarah Manguso...
The Two Kinds of Decay Ongoingness: The End of a Diary The Guardians: An Elegy for a Friend Siste Viator Hard to Admit, Harder to Escape

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