This Caravaggio 331

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By Annie Boutelle

This Caravaggio is best described by one of its early readers, Eleanor Wilner, author of Tourist in Hell: “Here everything is lit with the sensual.” As in Caravaggio’s paintings, the light in these poems burns with a cold blue intensity, catching—in nuanced language that invites us into his mind and world—this strange amalgam of sexuality and remove, violence and delicacy, ugliness and beauty. With an incandescent clarity and a compassionate composure, Boutelle’s historical imagination—sophisticated, informed, free of judgment—opens us to possession by this seductive art and its defiant maker.

Born and raised in Scotland, Annie Boutelle graduated from the university of St. Andrews (MA), and New York University (PhD). She has taught at Purnell School, Suffolk University, Mount Holyoke College, and (for the last 28 years) at Smith College,where she currently holds the position of Poet in Residence. She has authored Becoming Bone: Poems on the life of Celia Thaxter (University of Arkansas Press), and Nest of Thistles (University Press of New England, Morse Poetry Prize). Writing This Caravaggio has been for her an exhilarating adventure.

Praise for This Caravaggio:

Gerald Stern, author of This Time: New and Selected Poems

I adore Caravaggio because he leaves nothing out—lust, murder, violence, greed, mystery. And I love Annie Boutelle’s poems for the same reason, beautifully-crafted moving poems that engage the spirit, the life, the art of Caravaggio in an amazing act of identity, yet with a certain modesty, even adoration—trying to banish the dark, as Caravaggio did. Sensual, ambivalent, shocking as Caravaggio was.

Eleanor Wilner, author of Tourist in Hell

“Here everything is lit with the sensual.” As in Caravaggio’s paintings, the light in these poems burns with a cold blue intensity, catching—in nuanced language that invites us into his mind and world—this strange amalgam of sexuality and remove, violence and delicacy, ugliness and beauty. With an incandescent clarity and a compassionate composure, Boutelle’s historical imagination—sophisticated, informed, free of judgment—opens us to possession by this seductive art and its defiant maker.

Eavan Boland, Director of the Creative Writing Program at Stanford University, and author of New Collected Poems

This daring and wonderful narrative traces Caravaggio, and more than Caravaggio, through adventures of history and art. In the process, the poems offer their own adventure, drawing the reader into a fascinating music of voices lost to time but recovered here by sheer poetic craft and courage.