The Final Voicemails

Poetry

The Final Voicemails

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“Even present tense has some of the grace of past tense, / what with all the present tense left to go.” From Max Ritvo—selected and edited by Louise Glück—comes a final collection of poems fully inscribed with the daring of his acrobatic mind and the force of his unrelenting spirit.

Diagnosed with terminal cancer at sixteen, Ritvo spent the next decade of his life pursuing poetry with frenetic energy, culminating in the publication of Four Reincarnations. As with his debut, The Final Voicemails brushes up against the pain, fear, and isolation that accompany a long illness, but with all the creative force of an artist in full command of his craft and the teeming affection of a human utterly in love with the world.

The representation of the end of life resists simplicity here. It is physical decay, but it is also tedium. It is alchemy, “the breaking apart, / the replacement of who, when, how, and where, / with what.” It is an antagonist—and it is a part of the self. Ritvo’s poems ring with considered reflection about the enduring final question, while suggesting—in their vibrancy and their humor—that death is not merely an end.

The Final Voicemails is an ecstatic, hopeful, painful—and completely breathtaking—second collection.

ISBN:
978-1-57131-511-3
Publish Date: 
09/18/2018
Pages: 
96
Size: 
5.5 × 8.5 × 0.5 in
Weight: 
8.6 oz
Author

Max Ritvo (1990-2016) wrote Four Reincarnations in New York and Los Angeles over the course of a long battle with cancer. He was also the author of The Final Voicemails, edited and introduced by Louise Glück, and co-authored Letters from Max with Sarah Ruhl; both books were published posthumously. Ritvo's poetry has appeared in the New Yorker and Poetry, among many other publications. 

Praise and Prizes

Blog Post

Louise Glück – 09/17/2018

Max Ritvo was a prodigiously gifted poet; toward the end of his life, he was also volcanically productive. Nothing he...