Elizabeth T. Gray, Jr.

Elizabeth T. Gray, Jr.

Elizabeth T. Gray, Jr., born in Boston, Massachusetts, is the author of the poetry collection Series | India. Her celebrated translations from classical and contemporary Persian include Wine and Prayer: Eighty Ghazals from the Díwán of Hafiz, The Green Sea of Heaven: Fifty Ghazals from the Díwán of Hafiz, and Iran: Poems of Dissent.


Poetry by Elizabeth T. Gray, Jr.

With a contribution by Nathaniel Tarn

In the foreword to her book-length poem Salient, Elizabeth Gray writes, “This work began by juxtaposing two obsessions of mine that took root in the late 1960s: the Battle of Passchendaele, fought by the British Army in Flanders in late 1917, and the chöd ritual, the core ‘severance’ practice of a lineage founded by Machik Lapdrön, the great twelfth-century female Tibetan Buddhist saint.” Over the course of several decades, Gray tracked the contours and traces of the Ypres Salient, walking the haunted battlefield ground of the contemporary landscape with campaign maps in hand, reading “not only history, poetry, and fiction, but also unit diaries; contemporary reports and individual accounts; survey information and maps of all kinds; treatises on aerial photography and artillery tactics; and manuals on field engineering and tactical planning.…
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“Taking as its title a term that describes both critical insight and a devastating battle of World War I, Salient is a work of lyric investigation and recovery. Elizabeth Gray mines field manuals, trench maps, soldiers’ diaries, and officers’ reports—seeking a language that can confront the horrors of modern warfare. Addressing a guiding query—“how could one imagine this?”—Gray marries painfully precise historical accounts of the Western Front with the language and practice of Eastern protective magic. In so doing, the poet finds the “portions of this evidence which are obviously song.”

—Nancy Kuhl
Extraordinary: Gray concludes this striking work by praying that the goddesses will do what humans never could: just stay
—Heather McHugh
Her journey has allowed for the imagery and wisdom of ancient texts and stories to come alive.
—Dana Johnson, The Rumpus
A remarkable work of poetry. Everything invoked is crystal-clear while yet retaining its crystal mystery. There is a magical accession to the delineation of links and relationships developing in the poem, even the physical connections (real or imaginary) when moving from solider to solider, woman to solider, poet to solider, woman/poet to lover.
—Nathaniel Tarn
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