Uses Of Adversity

"Ronald Wallace adapts the traditional sonnet sequence to the painful evolution of child to adult life and a healing scramble toward maturity. The best of these 100 updated Petrarchan or Italian sonnets (with skillful variations of meter and rhyme) show a capacity to discover meanings of identity and vitimization. A bitter-sweet depiction of coming of age in the 1950-1960s, the first hapf of the book is also a candid case study documenting how father and son cope with 'chaos and misrule and pain.' . . . The second half of the book, when the boy becomes a man, details discoveries of sexuality, marriage, parenthood, teaching, making decisions, 'all the burning things we can't contain.' . . . Even though 'nothing ever seemed quite level or true,' The Uses of Adversity maps a course to a place where memory and the human spirit converge.
Poet Lore

The Uses of Adversity— titled after the line from As You Like It, “Sweet are the uses of adversity” – is a collection of one hundred sonnets cobining the craftiness of traditional form with the effortlessness of free verse. The language is often richly textured and musical, often plain spoken and conversational, but always witty and accessible. The subject matter ranges widely from Rootie Kazootie and Froggy the Gremlin, Howdy Doody and Elvis Presley, to Christopher Columbus, Khrushchev, Kennedy, and Kevorkian; from Donald Duck, Mandrake the Magician, Li’l Abner and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, to Shakespeare, H.P. Lovecraft, Transtromer, Rilke, Wittgenstein, and Nietzsche; from the tradtional themes of lyrics – love (both sacred and profane), death, the changing of the seasons, marriage, birth, divorce, childhood, sex, religion,art, the natural world, illness – to the most unexpected and quirky contemporary narratives.

The title sequence, which explores a father’s illness and death, is both elegiac and celebratory, evoking the conflictual bonds in any father-son relationship. In these sonnets, by turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Wallace once again proves himself to be one of our most versatile and affirmative poets.

80 Pages, 6 x 7.5 in.

March, 1998

isbn : 9780822956716

about the author

Ronald Wallace

Ronald Wallace is the author of numerous books of poetry, including, most recently, For a Limited Time Only. He is codirector of the creative writing program, Halls-Bascom Professor of English, and Felix Pollak Professor of Poetry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Ronald Wallace