A collection of poems exploring religious and linguistic authority, from medieval England to contemporary Appalachia—with a foreword by Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith
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.
About the Author
Melissa Range is the author of the poetry collection Horse and Rider (Texas Tech University Press, 2010) and the recipient of awards and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Antiquarian Society, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Fine Arts Work Center (Provincetown, MA), and the Rona Jaffe Foundation. Originally from East Tennessee, Range currently lives in Wisconsin and teaches at Lawrence University.
“Range’s poems show an expertise with form from sonnets to anagrams...A collection not to be missed.” —Library Journal, Starred Review
“She avoids both folksiness and stuffiness by filling poems with incident, description, elegy, meditation, recollection, identification, and more...This book is going to dazzle a lot of poetry readers.” —Booklist, Starred Review
“This collection, as fiercely contemporary as it is historical, is both unapologetically literary and egalitarian as hell. It’s poetry that is truly ‘...for everyone / like language, like color, like air.’” —Birmingham Poetry Review
“Scriptorium, lush with musicality, is perhaps more sophisticated for its restraints, and her deft formal touch remains on display with sonnets, terza rima, ghazal, cento, and villanelles.” —Appalachian Journal
“Throughout Scriptorium, Range finds the poetic in the colloquial, the past in the present, the transcendent in the immanent. Perhaps her most impressive achievement, however, is her ability to turn engagement with the long history of metrical form in English into a foundation for strikingly innovative poetic technique.” —Cat Fitzpatrick, The Boston Review
“Each of the poems in Scriptorium is a marvel. What may likely strike you on the first read is Range’s remarkable facility with form. She moves nimbly, naturally, with comfort and acrobatic delight through the rigors of sonnets, villanelles, anagrams, cento and the like...But what you will feel more than any of this, I am certain, is an urgent usefulness. These are poems for which form is not an end in itself.” —Tracy K. Smith, from the foreword
“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. Range has 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