James Scully  


Aias by Sophocles

Philoketes by Sophocles

The Complete Sophocles

Vagabond Flags

Donatello's Version

Apollo Helmet

Prometheus Bound

Angel in Flames

Line Break

Raging Beauty

Quechua Peoples Poetry

Santiago Poems




Angel in Flames: Selected Poems & Translations 1967-2011

How magnificent to be able to capture one’s life-work in one highly readable, beautifully orchestrated volume. The earlier work, the translations, help bring out the sustained presence of something that must be read as poetry—even if each line punches one in the face, truth answering brutality in the one way, the one language, that brutality understands. The revisions between Donatello’s Version and Angel (the extraordinary “Scleroderma,” the added touches to “Babble”) the deletions of many poems, difficult choices but they do make for a work that can’t be ignored by any of us any longer. —Robin Magowan

The Complete Plays of Sophocles A New Translation (with Robert Bagg)

 “The complete edition of Sophocles’ plays, as translated by the poets Robert Bagg and James Scully, seems to me splendid for more than one reason. I am not a Greek scholar, but as a college professor I have often taught Sophocles in my Humanities courses at Harvard and Wesleyan, and I know that these accurate, colloquial and vigorous translations would seize the imaginations of students, as indeed of the general reader. Many respectable renderings of Sophocles exist, but too often their themes and passions are muffled by a too ‘classical’ style. Bagg’s Oedipus plays and Scully’s remarkable Aias are as finely wrought as one could desire, but they have a spare impact which gets across the moment-by-moment emotion of the plays, and makes plain the moral or political themes at issue. As a translator who has had much to do with theatre, I see the Sophocles plays of Bagg and Scully as ideal for the contemporary stage, as indeed they have already proven to be.”—Richard Wilbur

 “What’s really important is what Scully has done to make these bloody-minded, morally provocative, politically ‘incorrect’ men and women spring into language and action, take their full emotional stage in these measured precincts where all must be achieved through words and the pulse of words, through the gods who are merely human psychology unleashed from human scruples (if I understand these gods rightly). He has opened them out emotionally for fresh audiences through his sinewy, dissonant-chorded poetics, ranging from vernacular to ‘high’ diction. I found the emotional suspense in certain places, in both Aias and Philoktetes, almost unbearable. That’s real theatre.”—Adrienne Rich

 “...new renditions of the Oedipus plays are closer to the Greek, in their rhetorical power, precision of image, rhythm, pace and tone, than any other versions I know….Through his clear and bold translations, the radiant strength of the original shines through. They have the power of a distinctive personal voice, but a voice that never gets in the way of the ancient script by calling attention to itself.”Richard P. Martin, Stanford University

Donatello's Version

 “James Scully’s splendid new book, Donatello’s Version, is a social poetry which arises not from opinionation and facile protest, but from clear-eyed witness, hope, and saeva indignatio. His art is impatient of art, yet handsomely honed and phrased; it demands that we see and face injustice….”—Richard Wilbur

"And I have a chance to pick up things like Donatello's Version which is knocking my socks off. Thank Things that somebody is paying attention to what a hell our world is becoming—and, above all, that we're letting the bastards get away with it. . . . It's great to find somebody who's awake and alive. And also find a book of poems that I really want to read." —W. D. Snodgrass

 “Poems as they should be written—impatiently, impassionedly, intelligently, impertinently. …the smartest, most urgent, most actual poetry we have.” F.D. Reeve


"... Donatello's Version, is searing, incendiary. Whether it's describing the overwhelming universal cry for justice or waxing eloquent over Abu Ghraib, Scully's verse burns. This is the real thing, about the real world, make no mistake about it."—Chris Faatz, Powell’s Books


Line Break: poetry as social practice


"James Scully's essays, like his poems, refuse to soothe or simplify. They are continuously interesting because they take on poetry from so many angles, are written from a generous frame of reference and in a human voice. His fiercely demystifying intelligence is grounded in hope and realism for poetry itself along with other forms of dissident engagement." Adrienne Rich 


Apollo Helmet

“James Scully writes political poetry and his intention is to arouse… Any reader who emerges from contact with Scully's poetry untainted by unease is likely to have been feigning attention.” Choice

James Scully's sixth volume of poetry is one that “raises important questions about politics and human nature with an infectious indignation.”
Library Journal

"These poems are savagely successful, even brilliant anti-lyrical deconstructions, fueled by a rage so clean and focussed it seems as cauterizing and irreduceable as fire."
Fred Pfeil

"Scully strips away the masks of confusion and exposes the contradictions in the ruling political arena. ... allowing us to consciously understand the meaning of the pathos we are given to feel. "
Dale Jacobson 


Prometheus Bound (with C. John Herington)

"... no one who troubles to read Scully and Herington out loud can doubt it is a milestone in the translation of Prometheus Bound." Encyclopedia of Literary Translation into English


Santiago Poems

"A rich, vivid, and eloquent chronicle of life...relevant well into the future." The Minnesota Review


"...Santiago Poems is not a large book (it contains eleven poems), but through Scully's finely controlled language we are presented with a rich, vivid, and eloquent chronicle of life in Santiago during the early months of the junta's power."Roger Gaess