The Iovis Trilogy

the-iovis-trilogyColors in the Mechanism of Concealment
2011 • 720 pages • ISBN: 978-1-56689-255-1 • $40 • Poetry
Coffee House Press

Published for the first time in its entirety, this major epic poem assures Anne Waldman’s place in the pantheon of contemporary poetry.

The Iovis Trilogy, Waldman’s monumental feminist epic, traverses epochs, cultures, and genres to create a visionary call to poetic arms. Iovis details the misdeeds of the Patriarch, and with a fierce imagination queries and subverts his warmongering. All of Waldman’s themes come into focus—friendship, motherhood, politics, and Buddhist wisdom. This is epic poetry that goes beyond the old injunction “to include history”—its effort is to change history.


“Begun in the 1980s, this mammoth work may be the summit of [Waldman’s] career and . . . an attempt at a new world history, a radical re-creation myth, an homage to Blake’s epics and Pound’s cantos, and a mystic or matriarchal answer to the male-dominated civilization that we have known. . . . A book to admire, to pay homage to, to get lost in, Waldman’s epic goes splendidly on and on, mixing the shamanistic with the diaristic, the topical with the prayerful, incorporating almost everything . . .”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“I understand bearing witness, in the African American spiritualist tradition, to mean to hold a space, to be able to acknowledge and to hear, to be able to be an empath, to absorb and participate with what is presented, with what is being said. And also it means to look at what is not said, what is unseen in any given presentation. So the listener, the witness, the reader of the work can’t be passive. Bearing witness calls for a certain level of participation. My experience of Anne’s work is that it calls for me as a reader to participate in a way that is sometimes uncomfortable, that sometimes makes me argumentative, that is sometimes simply joyful, but it calls for me to become community to the work. Anne’s work challenges me to hold the space of witness, to dissect the easy binaries, to enter into a “queer” poetics in search of the angels.”
—Jacket Magazine, Issue 27, Akilah Oliver

“We are lovely people for each other when we read Iovis together. We are forces of good together; we witness for each other and together what is and what may be imagined. Together we witness as Anne experiences and imagines, as she assembles and teaches and indeed it feels as though she has materialized among us… But that is not all. ‘This is everything, this is nothing, this is not a conclusion.’ With its energies animated on the breath of its readers, it is how we make space and, how, most importantly, we, along with Anne, create a cultural document, ‘leave a trace so that poets of the future know we were not just slaughtering one another.'”
Jacket2, Linda Russo

“This Virgilian epic song, a vast written performance that must be acknowledged for its “orality of intention,” is an expression of knowledge—embodied and disembodied, material and transcendental, violent and pacifist, visionary and starkly realist, present and transhistorical. To read it, to move across its many pages, is to invite a demand for and a belief in freedom that is platonic and phonemic. The three books collected in The Iovis Trilogy . . . together show the force of Waldman’s galloping collection of forms as a vibration of knowledge through ceaseless experiment, a sensorium through which the roundness of self burrows in to win the furthest circumference.”
The Poetry Project Newsletter, Sara Jane Stoner

“Waldman takes you by the collar and slams you down with language, image, and message, leaving you breathless and shattered in the aftermath of her incantatory vision. . . . The poems repeat themselves, wrap around themselves, glide through linguistic holes that only the poet herself could have seen. They trumpet, blare, and whisper vision upon vision of a world gone crazy with war and patriarchal mores, then proceed to share another vision, one of healing and peace. . . . This is a book of action, a poetic clarion call. Huge and weighty, it will be compared to The Cantos and Paterson. It is neither. It is Iovis; it is an act of incendiary love, and it stands alone.”

“This dense, mythic, personal cycle that looks at life, relationships, and war is an altogether admirable achievement.”
Time Out New York

“This great work makes itself open to all, both for its great poetry and for the spiritual and familial contexts it presents.  This masterwork, Waldman’s masterpiece, presents itself independently and fully formed, at last, for anyone who can read the English language to peruse and enjoy and many surely will as time passes.  This great book’s time is now, however, after a gestation period apparently of over thirty years in its author’s mind and pen.  . . . Waldman’s Iovis is the first major epic to be completed in the twenty-first century and it is likely to remain one of the best as the century proceeds and other poets weigh in with theirs.”
A Gathering of the Tribes

“[An] epic, richly textured poem exploring the manifestations of patriarchy, braiding history and myth, Buddhist philosophy, and conversation snippets.”
The Shambhala Sun

“Encompassing over twenty years of personal, national, and international comportment, The Iovis Trilogy tracks familial and marital relationships, numerous wars, and encounters with other cultures and human visages, male and female, in person and via letter.”
Alice Notley

“Waldman’s achievement in Iovis is very real, a 1000 page epic poem by a major American woman poet…The discipline and the range of the task here are truly awe-inspiring.”
A Gathering of the Tribes