Named a “must-read” by the 2016 Massachusetts Book Award, Joyce Peseroff’s new collection teases the nature of self-knowledge from a world where identity is fluid, character fragmented, landscape overwhelmed, and culture riven. In poems that dramatize politics, eros, myth, and mortality, Peseroff’s edgy wit cuts through the classical Greek definition—“You’re not an animal/or a god, take the middle path”—to parse our century’s slippery dialectics. Playful and complex, Know Thyself distills music from the salt of human experience.





“These poems are local and universal, intimate accounts of landscape and people—with an almost pervasive shadow of elegy….Always loss is mixed with joy, especially in the natural world—no joy without loss, no loss without joy. Her language is dense as she loads every rift, and her demotic speech carries weight by its close packing. As with many good poets, she has an accurate ear and eye for the end of a poem. She never explains what she has just done, but finishes the poem with a leap the persuasively unites her themes, reconciling the unreconcilable. She brings up together with down as the human psyche does—and as poetry must do to be true and beautiful together.” —Donald Hall, Ploughshares


“Ironic commentary on human interventions is one of Peseroff’s strengths. She is interested in what endures—and why.” —Robin Becker, Prairie Schooner