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Scriptorium

Scriptorium

Poems

A collection of poems exploring questions of religious and linguistic authority, from medieval England to contemporary Appalachia

A National Poetry Series winner, selected and with a foreword by Tracy K. Smith

Author: Melissa Range

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The poems in Scriptorium are primarily concerned with questions of religious authority. The medieval scriptorium, the central image of the collection, stands for that authority but also for its subversion; it is both a place where religious ideas are codified in writing and a place where an individual scribe might, with a sly movement of the pen, express unorthodox religious thoughts and experiences.

In addition to exploring the ways language is used, or abused, to claim religious authority, Scriptorium also addresses the authority of the vernacular in various time periods and places, particularly in the Appalachian slang of the author's East Tennessee upbringing. Throughout Scriptorium, the historical mingles with the personal: poems about medieval art, theology, and verse share space with poems that chronicle personal struggles with faith and doubt.

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Range's poems show an expertise with form from sonnets to anagrams...A collection not to be missed." -Library Journal, Starred Review

"Poetry is ongoing revelation, the spirit surging in new words and shapes, in fresh forms. Yet rarely have I had such a vivid sense of this as while reading Scriptorium. This is revelatory poetry of a high order, and the poet Melissa Range seems thoroughly saturated by a range of scripture from the Bible and Christian mystics through the robust traditions of English and American poetry. Indeed, she often reaches back to Anglo-Saxon verse, at times explicitly, more often implicitly in her densely sprung rhythm, her assonantal and percussive powers...A finely tuned ear, a furtive and fertile imagination, and a gloriously rooted sense of that great word-hoard, the English language itself." -Jay Parini, author of New and Collected Poems, 1975-2015

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