Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Antigone Poems: Review and Giveaway

"I was born to join in love, not hate--that is my nature.”
~ Antigone, Sophocles

The Antigone Poems is a collection of poems written by Marie Slaight between 1972 - 1981, which was published in 2014.  This collection is a poetic interpretation of the Sophocles tragedy, and the poems are loosely based on the Greek myth of Antigone.  The author dedicates this book to Terrence Tasker (1947-1992), whose charcoal drawings are featured in this poetry collection.

Antigone, a Greek tragedy by Sophocles.  Hmm...  I looked in my bookshelves because I wondered if I still had a copy of Sophocles: The Theban Plays.  I did (complete with some of my in-book notes and scribbles).  This is the description on the back of my book, a Penguin classic: "Antigone is the tragedy of a woman ruled by conscience, an over-confident king, and a young man tormented by conflicting loyalties".  I read some of the erudite introduction by E.F. Watling, then parts of the play, Antigone, in my tattered volume, to reacquaint myself with this ancient Greek tragedy by Sophocles (496 - 406 B.C.).  In the play, the female protagonist, Antigone, is tormented because she mourns the death of her brother, Polynices, and wants to give him a proper burial, which defies the order of the King of Thebes, Creon, an offense that's punishable by death. 

Divided into five brief chapters, the poems are accompanied by several charcoal drawings by Terrence Tasker, which are interspersed throughout the book.  The drawings are quite remarkable.  Together, poems and pictures depict emotional torment, physical anguish, and spiritual darkness.

Many of the poems in this book are short and sparing; they're bold and dramatic, and they deftly delineate an original, poetic portrait of a woman's severe suffering, pain, and heartbreak.  I think the author chose Antigone as a symbol of struggle and agony, which may be meant to represent the universal or collective suffering of women.  

Gypsy shackle sacred.
Wrists bound in blood.
Burnt in anguish
Of daemon ancestry.
(in Chapter Two)

The poems are deceptively simple yet evocative, and the art complements these qualities.  Often the poems are very short and sparing, like this one in Chapter Four. 

...gods speak to the wind and winds whip through me...

The look of this prose on the page is quite stark and dramatic.  A handful of words make their appearance on the right side only; they pierce and provoke.  Pages on the left are blank; the sparsity of words makes this work even more profound and disturbing.

Although short, The Antigone Poems is a powerful and profound collection that deserves to be read, relished, and reread.  This would be a great choice for readers with an interest in both poetry and Greek tragedy, although you don't need to have extensive knowledge of Antigone to understand this work.  Altaire Productions & Publications and TLC  are generously offering a copy of this striking volume, The Antigone Poems, as a giveaway to one of my readers (U.S./Canada only).

  • To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment.
  • For another chance at winning, become a follower of this blog, or let me know that you're already a follower.
  • For an additional chance, post about this giveaway on your blog, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter.
  • For yet another chance, mention if you've read Antigone (even if it was years ago, like me).

Enter by 5 PM PDT on Monday, June 1.  One winner will be selected randomly and announced on Tuesday, June 2.  Good luck! 

Special thanks to Lisa from TLC for sending me a copy of this book.  For additional reviews and other features, please visit the other stops on TLC's book tour for The Antigone Poems.


  1. This poetry collection sounds impressive and your review was excellent. Thanks for this very interesting feature and giveaway. I am an e-mail subscriber. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  2. Antigone is such an important and moving work.

    This collection of poems look so good. I like the idea that Slaight wrote an entire series of poems around the play. Something of this sort is, in my opinion so much more valuable then the popular trend of retelling of old stories.

    I am a follower of your blog Suko:)

  3. Thanks for your wonderful review. I am not familiar with the Greek tragedy Antigone. However, the excerpts and images you've shared seem like they can stand alone. I am a follower of your terrific blog. Thanks for the givaway. I'll share it on Twitter.

  4. I remember reading Antigone at school. Sadly only a photocopied handout (I still have it in a cupboard) I might have taken more notice if I had seen these wonderful illustrations.

  5. Great review! I like that the poems are all about the play.

  6. I read this collection also. It is very challenging and worth the time

  7. I'm impressed that you had your old copy of Sophocles so easy to hand! And I'm very glad that you enjoyed this book. Thanks for being a part of the tour.

  8. The Antigone Poems sounds worth reading, I like the blend of Greek tragedy and poetry. The presentation looks like it evokes even more emotion.
    Great post Suko!

  9. I agree - I'm also impressed that you had Sophocles so handy! I slightly remember reading about Antigone in my high school Greek Mythology class. This collection of poems and art looks like it is worth a good read and contemplation.

  10. This is a powerful collection. I'm not an expert on poetry but I loved it. I've got it on my shelf for future rereads. It was also great in that it had me wanting to learn more about Antigone. I never studied anything like that in school although I wish I had. I'm glad you enjoyed it as well Susan.

  11. It does sound fantastic, and I'm intrigued by what I've seen of the drawings.


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