Browse Results For:
Using the confluence of rivers in Pittsburgh as a metaphorical lens, Allegheny, Monongahela probes the ruinous misalignment between the external and internal lives of two sisters and their childhood in Western Pennsylvania. Their complex and difficult relationship is the spine of the collection, told obliquely through a series of sonnets and ekphrastic meditations on the paintings of Georgia O'Keeffe: the ways in which they separately navigate a violent family history that reverberates through their present and futures; their polarized impulses toward creativity and self-destruction. Rooted in a mutable, watery landscape that is not consistently recognizable, Allegheny, Monongahela investigates the collisions between the world and the self, the fissured identities that result, and the ways in which art may heal or fail to heal the cracks.
The Alphabet Conspiracy takes its name from a 1950s-era school filmstrip of the same title. With a cast that includes patron saints for country girls and criminals, a Revolutionary War hero, the Wolfman, a sin-eater, John Wayne, and Johnny Cash, these poems swagger and sulk through an educational film turned film noir, replete with femme fatales in love. The Alphabet Conspiracy is about the ways in which language itself can function as a plot, keeping us estranged from ourselves, but also about the way it can be used as a tool for recovering our truest selves.
This selection and its somewhat haphazard direction of how so many of us interact romantically—on the surface—is a gentle reminder that be it fate, chance, or will, we appear destined to carry out our mission to couple and partner, no matter what the cause or effect. If we truly desire companionship, at all cost, there is probably someone out there seeking the same measure—for better or worse. Whether it is simply ourselves, or the likes of Nathanael West (“Day of the Locus”), Amadeus Mozart (“The Dogs of Amadeus”), Mark Twain (“Mark Twain’s Cigar”), Natalie Wood (“The Late Natalie Wood”), or the poor children who haunt the camps at Terezin and Auschwitz (“ Little Ghosts”), we are all in need of the dose of kindness that love’s dispensary provides if we are fortunate enough to find it, hidden or not, among us. Whether or not a higher power is at work to guide us and grant us “The Word,” or we are determined to discover a path towards salvation through the generous acts of others—or ourselves—we follow an unconscious path, at times, and seek refuge, where possible, in places and locations we might have never imagined to investigate and bear witness. It may be upon “The Road to Jerusalem,” aboard “The New Train,” or in “The Terminal of Grief,” yet we still search for solace and speak the only common language we understand, this pursuit of love we may even try to escape—but never deny.
Each portion forming a reduced-size copy of the whole, a fractal is forever fragmented, both chaotic and ordered, endlessly complex. Timothy Green's American Fractal sees this pattern emerge from the fabric of modern culture, as it navigates the personal, the political, and the metaphysical, in a lyric dreamscape in which an eerie chaos lurks just behind the facade of order--where "what looks like / a river...could be a log," "as if accident were / the fundamental attribute of life." In separate poems, one man sells ad space on his forehead, while another examines the multitudes of his own voice on an audio cassette recorder. Each life is but another section of the fractal, the past and the future two mirrors that face each other to perpetuate the illusion of infinites. At turns evocative and sweetly ironic, Green straddles the line between accessibility and complexity, exploring "how the wind whispers our secrets," how "that little tremor" of understanding "touches your sleeve, lets go."
In two intertwined songs, a feminist epic poem and a dreamlike opera libretto, Among the Goddesses traces one woman’s harrowing mythological journey of discovery. Tutored by encounters with seven Goddesses, both frightening and nurturing, Marie/Lily is tested by loss, rape, and abortion as she finds her community and her spiritual strength. This magical book embodies the goddesses in every woman and gives voice to the power of the feminist spirituality movement.
As a psychologist, Lisa C. Krueger is familiar with digging into what makes us human. The joys and celebrations or the pain of what cuts the skin—and what cuts deeper. In animals the size of dreams, Krueger looks into the dark corners and, instead of just shining a light, strips them down to their foundations, until all that’s left is life.
“Sagan’s richly sensual writing blends elements of mature insight with deeply felt experience. These are poems of an examined life with moments of Zen clarity throughout. It is, in fact, the clarity that drives these poems. The language is careful but deliberate, exquisitely crafted and emotionally moving. One gets the sense that her desire to write poetry comes from the desire to give permanent voice to something in the experience of life – to find ourselves spoken for in art gives dignity to our pain, our anger, our lust, and our losses. This is what poetry is about. When Miriam Sagan casts her imaginative eye on something, it stares back.” —Jeanie C. Williams
On Poetry and Poets
Avocations collects the best of Sam Hamill's prose on poetry over the last 18 years, presenting insightful readings of Kenneth Rexroth, Denise Levertov, Odysseas Elytis, Matsuo Basho, Kobayashi Issa, John Logan and many others together with critical commentary on poetry in translation and the practice of poetry in general.