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Book Title

That Was Now, This Is Then

Author 1
Vijay Seshadri
Poem Excerpt

I wanted to curl up
in the comfortable cosmic melancholy of my past,
in the sadness of my past being passed.
I wanted to tour the museum of my antiquities
and look at the sarcophagi there.
I wanted to wallow like a water buffalo in the cool,
sagacious mud of my past,
so I wrote you and said I’d be in town and could we meet.

—from “Visiting San Francisco”

No one blends ironic intelligence, emotional frankness, radical self-awareness, and complex humor the way Vijay Seshadri does. In this, his fourth collection, he affirms his place as one of America’s greatest living poets. That Was Now, This Is Then takes on the planar paradoxes of time and space, destabilizing highly tuned lyrics and elegies with dizzying turns in poems of unrequitable longing, of longing for longing, of longing to be found, of grief. In these poems, Seshadri’s speaker becomes the subject, the reader becomes the writer, and the multiplying refracted narratives yield an “anguish so pure it almost / feels like joy.”


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The brilliant new collection from Vijay Seshadri, author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning 3 Sections


About the Author

Vijay  Seshadri
Credit: Lisa Pines

Vijay Seshadri was born in Bangalore, India, and came to America as a small child. He is the author of three collections of poems: 3 Sections, winner of the Pulitzer Prize; The Long Meadow, winner of the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets; and Wild Kingdom. He is currently the Myers Professor of Writing at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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  • “[Vijay Seshadri’s] intellectually nimble new collection . . . reads like a warning to readers in ways real and emotional. . . . It has such power and unease, you may leave it feeling less alone.”Lit Hub
  • “[That Was Now, This Is Then] strikes a rare balance of humor, poignancy, and intellectualism. . . . It is a thrill to watch every iteration of Seshadri’s speaker unravel and re-thread themselves on the page.”ZYZZYVA
  • “Seshadri's intellectually graceful poems offer refuge in emotionally turbulent times and invite readers to cross the sacred threshold typically separating the poet from his rapt audience.”Shelf Awareness, starred review
  • “Vijay Seshadri conjures the poems in That Was Now, This Is Then out of absence, fashions language from the vast and wild silences surrounding our living. Seshadri’s poetry presses into and recedes from our gaze all in the same gesture. . . . Inconceivably, Seshadri’s best yet.”—Kaveh Akbar
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