Elisa Gonzalez's thrilling debut makes one "feel as if poems have never before been written" (Louise Glück).
Grand Tour, the debut collection of poetry by Elisa Gonzalez, dramatizes the mind in motion as it grapples with something more than an event: she writes of a whole life, to transcendent effect. By the end, we feel we have been witness to a poet remaking herself.
Gonzalez’s poetry depicts the fullness of living. There are the small moments: “white wine greening in a glass,” trumpet blossoms “panicking across the garden.” Some poems adopt the oracular quality of a parable but invariably refuse a clear moral. The poet moves through elegy, romantic and sexual encounters, family history, and place—Cyprus, Puerto Rico, Poland, Ohio—all constellated in “a chaos of faraway.” The collection is held together less by answers than by a persistent question: How doe you reconcile a hatred for the world’s pain with a love for that same world, which is indivisible from its worst aspects? Gonzalez’s poems draw us nearer to our own aliveness, its fragility and sustaining questions. “Since I do love the world,” she says, she keeps writing, inviting us to accompany her as she searches.
"A mesmerizing book, deeply original, one of the most profound reading experiences I’ve had in years. There is in Gonzalez's nature something volcanic, a sense of fire originating at a very great depth, so when it breaks the surface it breaks blazing. Here are wild elegies to lost selves; here, too, poems of eerie delicacy and strangeness, radiating a kind of desperate sadness. But I love best the long incautious poems: here one feels most urgently her extraordinary force, her dignity, her savage hunger, her sweetness. These poems make me feel as if poems have never before been written." —Louise Glück, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature
"In this lush, elegiac first book, Elisa Gonzalez is a stranger, a pilgrim, a visitor, a guest in pursuit of knowledge, passion, and a home. Innocence and youth give way to songs of experience. Reading her poems—with their revealing language, intimate plots, and masterful sense of the self—I feel my heart beat more quickly, like in the woods when a flower moon lights up the dark path again." —Henri Cole, author of Gravity and Center: Selected Sonnets, 1994-2022
"If the subject of traditional 'grand tour' literature was a rich European dude on a big soul-searching journey across the continent, Elisa Gonzalez’s is something else altogether: a queer American woman’s reckoning with grief, daughterhood, sexual independence, and the naked injustices of the modern world. As I read this exquisite book, I kept marveling at how many lives seem to fit into it, how many discrete and interlocking selves. Keen-sighted, effortlessly erudite, and bristling with near-perfect turns of phrase, this is an extraordinary debut." —Maggie Millner, author of Couplets
Hannah Aizenman is the Associate Poetry Editor at the New Yorker. She holds an MFA in poetry from New York University, and her poems have been published by the Academy of American Poets, Electric Literature, the Yale Review, the Iowa Review, and Birmingham Poetry Review. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, she lives and writes in Brooklyn.
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