The Canadian poet Anne Carson was born in Toronto in 1950. She studied classical literature there and worked subsequently as a professor at various North American universities. Her writing combines her academic speciality with the emotional and experiential worlds of today in a unique and inimitable manner. Enthusiastically received by both critics and readers, Carson has been considered at the latest with the publication of her verse novel »Autobiography of Red« (1998), which sold over 25,000 copies, to be one of the most important voices in contemporary poetry in the English-speaking world.
»Autobiography of Red« tells the story of Geryon, an adolescent, humiliated outsider. His skin is as red as that of the monster for which he is named, whose story was told by the classical writer Stesichoros. According to the myth, Geryon is killed by Hercules’ arrow when the hero, in completing one of his twelve tasks, steals the herd of red-brown cattle Geryon is guarding. In Carson’s modern reworking of the ancient myth, which quotes on the first pages from the fragments of Stesicheros’ tale, Hercules is Geryon’s first love and greatest disappointment. Years later the two of them meet again in the volcanic landscape of Argentina, where Geryon’s love is once more rekindled, only to be extinguished once and for all.
Carson avoids psychological analyses of her characters, preferring instead to work with concise depictions similar to her Classical model, with which she however deals in an idiosyncratic manner. Irony, pathos and rationality blend in an unforced and natural manner, and together with the plot, which is rich in cultural-historical references, create a gripping and multi-faceted text. Similarly hybrid in origin and coherent in effect is the epic-flowing free verse, structured in short chapters and occasionally interrupted by quotations, poems or prose fragments. In this respect, the subtitle of the German edition of her book »Glass, Irony and God« (1995) is well-chosen: »Five epic poems and an essay«. Her book »Decreation« (2005) also combines the most disparate genres: poems, essays and opera libretti. Her most recent work is »Grief Lessons« (2007), a new translation of four of Euripides’ lesser-known tragedies.
Anne Carson has received numerous scholarships and awards, including the Lannan Award, the Pushcart Prize for Poetry, the Los Angeles Times Book Critics Award and the Griffin Poetry Prize. She was awarded the T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry for her book »The Beauty of the Husband. A Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos« (2001). She currently teaches Classical Literature, Comparative Literature and English at Michigan University.
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