- Fading Hearts on the River (2014)
- Nakedness, Death, and the Number Zero (2009)
- They Lift Their Wings to Cry (2008)
- Uproar (2004)
- Fragments: The Collected Wisdom of Heraclitus (2003)
- Dances for Flute and Thunder: Praises, Prayers, and Insults (1999)
- The Sun at Night (Poems) (1997)
- Traveling Company (1989)
- Dead Reckoning (1989)
- Dominion (1986)
- The Lay of Eleanor and Irene (1985)
By Brittany Carr (SHS)
Brooks Haxton is an interesting poet that the state of Mississippi proudly claims as one of its own. Haxton was born in Greenville, Mississippi, on December 1, 1950. His parents are Josephine Haxton, whose pen name as a writer is Ellen Douglas, and Kenneth Haxton, who is also a Mississippi writer and musician. Haxton has two older brothers: Richard, who is a musician, and Aryes, who is studying to become a lawyer.
Brooks Haxton began to write poetry in junior high school in Greenville, Mississippi, after becoming interested in the protest lyrics of Bob Dylan. In his high school years, Haxton became more seriously interesting in becoming a writer and enjoyed the work of poets E.E. Cummings and T.S. Eliot (Haxton). He graduated from Greenville High School in 1968 (Bell).
In 1968, Haxton started his college career at Beloit College in Wisconsin. In 1972 he graduated from Beloit with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature and English composition (Bell). After graduating from Beloit, he attended Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, where he received a Master’s degree in Creative Writing, graduating magna cum laude. In addition he has finished the course work for a doctorate in Early Modern English Literature (Haxton, Bell).
Haxton has been a teacher of creative writing at both George Mason University and the University of Maryland. He was given awards by the Academy of American Poets, the D.C. Commission on the Arts, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the Wesleyan writers’ conference and the National Endowment for the Arts. His poems have appeared since the early 1970’s in magazines such as Poetry, Southern Review, Sewanee, Kenyon, and American Poetry Reviews.
His first published poem was The Lay of Eleanor. In addition, he has written poems such as Irene Dominion, Traveling Company, Dead Reckoning, and The Sun at Night. He has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Washington D.C. Council for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Ingram Merrill Foundation. His most recent collection of translated poems, Dances for Flute and Thunder: Poems from the Ancient Greek, has been nominated for the PEN translation award (Heraclitus book jacket).
Brooks Haxton says that he owes much of his success as a poet to his parents Ellen Douglas and Kenneth Haxton. Both of his parents are Mississippi writers, and his father is also a musician. Haxton states,” My parents gave me a strong sense of the beauty, expressiveness, and precision of language, a respect for truth, justice and love, which is probably the most abiding influence I’ll ever feel” (Haxton).
Haxton has just recently published his newest collection of poems titled Fragments, the Collected Wisdom of Heraclitus. This is Haxton’s second book of translations. His first book was titled Dances for Flute and Thunder: Praises, Prayers and Insults, which was published in 1999. Heraclitus is a book of translations from the Greek philosopher Heraclitus. Haxton’s book simplifies the ancient wise man’s philosophy (Lucus).
Today Brooks Haxton lives in Syracuse, New York, with his wife, Dr. Frances Haxton, his fifteen year old son Isaac and twin daughters Miriam and Lillie (in 2001) who are both seven years old. He is the former director of Creative Writing in the English department at Syracuse University and now teaches in the writing programs at Syracuse University and Warren Wilson College.
Haxton’s book of poetry published in 2008 is called They Lift Their Wings to Cry. He published Uproar in 2006. Nakedness, Death, and the Number Zero (2009) and Fading Hearts on the River (2014) have also been published.
A Review of Fragments: The Collected Wisdom of Heraclitus
by Brittany Carr (SHS) 2001
Fragments, The Collected Wisdom of Heraclitus is a wonderful collection of the ancient Heraclitus’ wisdom translated by Mississippi poet Brooks Haxton. Haxton translated this book of poems from Greek to English. Heraclitus was heir to the throne in Ephesus, which was one of the world’s richest and most powerful cities at the time. Heraclitus surprised everyone when he gave up the kingdom in order to seek the word of wisdom. His writing survived the Persian empire, which was dominant in his time, and the Greek and Roman empires. For hundreds of years, great writers such as Plato, Aristotle, and many other honored Heraclitus with great respect. His great book, On Natures, unfortunately has disappeared and has since never been found.
The book has no actual setting other than the Greek period, but is translated from the ancient Greek times. This collection of poetry is different, and very informative, especially if you are interested or are familiar with the wisdom of Heraclitus.
Since the only thing left from Heraclitus’ famous book is the fragments, Brooks Haxton did a wonderful job of translating and getting the meaning of some of these fragments. The existing fragments of Heraclitus are divided into three types, which are direct quotations, reputed paraphrases, and commentaries. Since the accuracy of these sources can never be established, Brooks Haxton tried to make the most of what he had by tailoring paraphrase and commentary to it stylistically with quotes. One, for example, is the fragment in which Heraclitus is still best known as the man who said that you could not put your foot in the same river twice. Haxton describes this as “”The river/where you set/your foot just now/is gone/those waters/giving way to this, /now this.” This is a much simpler version for today’s language.
Brooks Haxton interpreted many of Heraclitus’ words of wisdom, but in reading this book of poems, the reader can create his own interpretations of the work. If you want to know more about the wise words of this ancient Greek, the read this book, Heraclitus, I recommend it.
Interview with Brooks Haxton
by Brittany Carr (SHS) 2001
When and where were you born?
December 1, 1950, in Greenville, Mississippi
What are the names of your parents?
Josephine Haxton, whose pen name as a writer is Ellen Douglas, and Kenneth Haxton.
Do you have any siblings? If so, what are their names?
Richard and Ayres are my two elder brothers.
What year did you graduate from Greenville High School?
Did you go straight to college after graduating high school?
What year did you graduate from Beloit, Wisconsin?
After earning your Master’s and Doctorate in Creative Writing from Syracuse University, did you jump straight into teaching? If not, what did you do after that?
The Master’s was the last degree I earned. I finished the course work for a doctorate in Early Modern English lit., but I started working to support my wife in medical school before I finished.
Do you have a wife, or any children, and if so, do you mind telling me their names?
Wife, Dr. Frances Haxton, son Isaac Haxton, 15, twin daughters Miriam and Lillie Haxton, 7
How did you begin writing poetry?
I started writing poems in junior high school under the influence of Bob Dylan’s protest lyrics. In high school I started reading more poetry and trying to learn from poets like e.e. cummings and T. S. Eliot.
Who has influenced you most as a writer?
My parents gave me a strong sense of the beauty, expressiveness, and precision of language, a respect for truth, justice, and love, which is probably the most abiding influence I’ll ever feel.
Are you working on anything new?
Always. Lately, I’ve been translating poems from French, and writing new original work.
- Brooks Haxton’s faculty page at Syracuse.
- Randomhouse information about Brooks Haxton.
- Review for The Sun at Nighton Amazon.
- “Amazon.com: Buying Info: Heraclitus. “ [online] Available http://www.amazon.com/exec/obiods//ASIN/06…144/sr=1-1/ref=sc_b_2/103-8823307-3182246. April 23, 2001.
- Bell, Sharon, Greenville High School. Telephone Interview with Brittany Carr. 17 April 2001.
- “Faculty profile: Brooks Haxton.” Syracuse University. [online] Available http://www.edu/depts/english/cwp/haxton.htm
- Haxton, Brooks. Fragments: The Collected Wisdom of Heraclitus
- Haxton, Brooks. “Re: Interview.” Email. 25 April 2001.
- Haxton, Brooks. “Re: MS Writers.” Email. 21 April 2001.
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