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All ten sections include three craft tips, each provided by an experienced, accomplished poet. Each of these thirty craft tips is followed by a Model poem and a Prompt based on the poem. Each model poem is used as a mentor, expressing the underlying philosophy of the book that the best teacher of poetry is a good poem. Each prompt is followed by two Sample poems which suggest the possibilities for the prompts and should provide for good discussion about what works and what doesn't. Each section includes a Poet on the Poem Q&A about the craft elements in one of the featured poet's poems. Each section concludes with a Bonus Prompt, each of which provides a stimulus on those days when you just can't get your engine started.
If you've been combing the bookshops for a new collection of poetry that's likely to stimulate the intellect, fine-tune the senses, and simultaneously break the heart, Kissing the Long Face of the Greyhound is the volume you're after. Here, the gifted poet Yvonne Zipter exhibits an astonishing vocabulary, offering insights that perhaps we never realized we'd missed. One stunning example: in an elegiac poem for her beloved dog, she recalls the "sweet slenderness of that languorous / lick of calcium, like an ivory flute." Another: an ekphrastic take on discarded pencils, noting "how quick they are to deny their own musings"-a notion which suggests that virtually all writers and readers of poetry will savor this book.
--Marilyn L. Taylor, Poet Laureate of Wisconsin, 2009-2010
Ghost Dogs, Dion O'Reilly's fine first poetry collection, will haunt you the way art should. Bristling with pain, wit, desire, and tenderness, these poems investigate not only "the daily harms" of an abusive childhood, but the deep solace non-human animals can offer. In vivid, sensual detail, O'Reilly conjures her companions: mastiffs with "sad, sagging faces," a beloved chestnut mare's "glowing coat," a green parrot who has managed to "fill a space in the chaos." She doesn't sugarcoat or flinch from suffering--her own or others'--she transforms it. Line by crackling line, image by unforgettable image. Contemplating her bruised knees in the poem "Given," she asks, "Is there a way to make it wonderful?" Ghost Dogs provides us an answer, a resounding yes. --Ellen Bass
Patricia Clark's poems immerse the reader in the living world through the quality of her attention and appreciation. There's hard-won intelligence here. We see it in people sharing a meal and being especially kind to each other after a suicide: lots of please and thanks / as we handed food around / basket of steaming bread / for buttering. Always, there is a deep understanding of our interconnections, as in the lovely and evocative final stanza of "Near the Tea House at Meijer Japanese Garden," now tracing a pale blue vein / under the skin like a leaf's midrib. We would do well to take Patricia Clark's guidance: The charge: note what is here, what departs.
--Ellen Bass, Indigo
A kiss is never just a kiss—heat-seeking, information bearing, coded. In this inspired collection, poet and editor Diane Lockward has assembled over 100 poems about kisses written by many of our best contemporary poets. You’ll find kisses longed for, kisses auditioned, kisses rehearsed. Ritualistic kissing. Delicious kissing. Kissing that comforts the grieving. Kissing that blesses a union … Kisses in this anthology may be romantic or funny or comforting or erotic or mournful—and more … We may hope that kissing always begins in delight and keeps on being delightful. But the truth, of course, is otherwise. This is, after all, a constellation of kisses … May there be no end to the most genuine kisses, the right kisses, the ones that are good and meant for us to savor. And while we’re at it, let’s wish for no end to poems about kissing. (from the Foreword by Lee Upton)
Sarah Wetzel’s vulnerable and intimate lyrical gestures inhabit the delicate space between this world and the world to come, between one century, one moment, and the next. Their verbs gather ghostly bodies in Rome and Tuscany, in Georgia and New York; every object they encounter becomes a sacred door. This is a memoir of a woman who moves through art as through the world, who moves through the world as through an ever changeful museum of art. She demonstrates again and again that we are never alone, even after deaths and divorce, even before the mirror of our most radiantly broken self.
Like “sunlight stroking the birds’ throats so it comes out as song,” Ann Fisher-Wirth’s graceful and sturdy lines unsettle the seemingly familiar. A writer of moral gravity, her distilled attentiveness presses against our all-too-common ambivalence and detachment from the ordinary world. Whether set in Mississippi, California, the Ozarks, or France, the poems in The Bones of Winter Birdsexhibit an abundance of compassion and civility. As Fisher-Wirth praises, laments, lets go, language salvages what might otherwise be missed. It’s with attentiveness and emotional poise that these poems lay everything bare. Despite fear and everyday darkness, “I think we are provided for” she reminds us, a consolation for which I am grateful. This is a beautiful book.
Departing from the more whimsical tone of A Glossary of Chickens, Whitehead's last book, this new collection explores, among other subjects, childlessness in middle age, the vicissitudes of divorce, the pain of parental aging, and the mystery of mortality. Laden with regret and misgiving, but illuminated by glimmers of hopefulness and joy, the poems flow organically and without sections, one building on the other with thematic or linguistic links, moving from silence to song, from a corrupted flower to "the force / of the crossing when the humming ceases."
Suspension is that rare book of poetry, as much a narrative as a collection of individually successful lyrics. We follow here the extraordinary events of a life and the visions of the one/the many living it. We end, as in life, so far from where we began that a true sense of progress is made in the reading of this poetry, and yet we’ve lingered, meditated, listened, because this is work made mostly of imagery and music, subtlety and unflinching consideration. These are poems to return to again and again, written by a poet of unique powers. —Laura Kasischke
This hilarious, imaginative book packs cigarette butts, Buddhist prayer flags, a spastic colon, Leviathan jaws, and gnats reincarnating as neonatal nurses into just one poem. Others say “Yes, to grunts and drooling”; find a Zen master in a bobcat spotted while driving; and experience an epiphany while driving with closed eyes. Bellamy’s humor is a lens exposing our foibles, fears, and loveliness. Her unstinting, self-implicating humor skewers culture, “I eat only fresh, locally sourced sadness,” and politics, religion, gender roles, and relationships, “swinging [her] axe at the root of delusion.”
—April Ossmann, Event Boundaries