Winner of the 1991 Associated Writing Programs’ Award Series in Poetry
The poems in this book deal with life in a Pennsylvania Mennonite community and the tensions and conflicts that exist for the speaker as she tries to be true to two worlds, the other being New York City.
Weaver’s life studies and lyrics are imbued with a vivid sense of language, a vivid sense of the world, a vivid sense of their inseparability. And his tonal range—from unabashed passion to the subtlest velleity—is impressive indeed. This is a singular talent.—Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Praise for Maggie Anderson’s earlier work, Cold Comfort:“The crux of Maggie Anderson’s poems is the strong narrative line, one accompanied by an abundance of lore based in the folkways of the people. And her energy is that very essence of the old stories and poetry—present in the talk of ordinary people.”—Shelby Stephenson
Set amidst the mysteries and tragedies of South American culture, this book-length narrative poem is both an account of their journey and a feminist exploration of the struggle between the sexes.
Peter Meinke was a master of traditional poetic forms long before the current interest in “the new formalism.” His work is, in turn, witty, comic, sane, deeply moving, and always readable. Liquid Paper collects the best of his previously published poems from the late 1960s on with a generous selection of new work.
The result is a book of discursive meditations that will amply reward the reader. Part travelogue, part pilgrimage in which the shrines remain hidden until they are recognized later, Larry Levis’s startling and complex fifth book of poems is about the enslavement to desire for personal freedom, and the awareness of its price.
Musically complex and intellectually sophisticated, Louise McNeill’s imagery and rhythms have their deepest sources in the West Virginia mountains where she was born in 1911 on a farm that has been in her family for nine generations. These are rooted poems, passionately concerned with stewardship of the land and with the various destructions of land and people that often come masked as “progress.”
Wallace’s poems cover the range of human experience: music, religion, sex, art, childhood, adolescence, nuclear war, illness, and death. But it’s in his wit and good humor, against undercurrents of sorrow and grief that best characterize his poetry: part Emily Dickinson, and part Harpo Marx; part Woody Allen, and part Robert Frost.
Winner of the 1989 Associated Writing Programs’ Award Series in Poetry
David Wojahn deftly mixes personal history and recollections with a wide range of character studies and monologues, but the center of this book is a sequence of thirty-five poems, mainly sonnets, in which rock and roll music is a strange, kaleidoscopic mirror of recent American history. Combining rhapsodic homage, grim humor, human folly, and tragedy, these poems are like nothing else in contemporary poetry.
Celebratory or eligiac, these poems record the author’s “two-headed journey” to root herself – geographically and emotionally – in the world. Becker’s poems are from remote and familiar outposts: the watery evanescence of Venice contrasts with the desert of the American Southwest; we lean with her over the rim of a canyon or stand back to study a Giacometti sculpture. From such settings arise poems on the death of a sibling, the consoling power of painting and sculpture; others celebrate the erotic and the capacity of the female body for pleasure and pain.
What are the forces that cause us to strike out and harm each other? Captivity explores the way in which the individual is held hostage by society; how the forces of racism, sexism, and classism frequently express themselves as violence within the family. The book also explores a deeper captivity, like the Jews in Egypt yearning for the Promised Land, the soul trapped in exile from God.
The variety of subjects in Green Age is characteristic of Alicia Suskin Ostriker’s writing: from the opening poem, “Fifty,” funny, courageous, and defiant, to a set of birthday poems for a grown daughter; from emulations of the Persian mystic Rumi, to the provactive “Meditation in Seven Days,” whose central assumption is that we may find in the Bible traces of a Canaanite goddess whose worship was forbidden with the advent of patriarchal monotheism.
The speaker in Irene McKinney’s poems is most often alone, sitting at the side of a stream, or standing at her own chosen gravesite in the Appalachian mountains, and the meditations spoken out of this essential solitude are powerfully clear, witty, and wide-ranging in content and tone. The center sequence of poems in the Emily Dickinson persona explores and magnifies that great and enigmatic figure. The poems are firmly grounded in concern for the ways in which the elemental powers are at work in the earth and in us: on the surface of our lives, and deeper in the underworld of the coalmines. In McKinney’s poems, the human world is never seen as separate from the natural one.