Tag Archives: University of Pittsburgh Press

The Old Woman, the Tulip. and the Dog by Alicia Suskin Ostriker


 the old womanSeries: Pitt Poetry Series
Paperback: 80 pages
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (January 15, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0822962918
ISBN-13: 978-0822962915
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Review by: g emil reutter
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Although I thought it quite bold of Ostriker to attempt this collection, there was something about The Old Woman, the Tulip and the Dog, that did not wet my poetic appetite. I opened the book anyway and began to read the three stanza poems in the voices of an old woman full of memories of life, the opulent tulip and the rough and tumble dog. Ostriker tackles life through the voices of these three very different characters who have one thing in common, Ostriker’s voice.
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The Win That Blows Through Me
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I feel the hand of God inside my hand
when I write said the old woman
it blows me away like a hat
I’ll swear God’s needy hand is inside every atom
waving at us hoping we’ll wave back
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Sometimes I feel the presence
of the goddess inside me said the dark red tulip
and sometimes I see her
waltzing in the world around me
skirts flying through everything looks still
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It doesn’t matter whether you call the thing
God or goddess those are only words
said the dog panting after a run through the park
and a sprint after a squirrel
theology is bunk but the springtime wind is real
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In this one poem, Ostriker captures the essence of belief and how we all seem to have our own comfort levels in believing in God or a goddess or an enlightened view that nature itself is God.
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Using the collective voices of the old woman, tulip and the dog this collection charges into philosophical discussions between the three on a broad array of issues we deal with every day. A beautiful stanza appears in the poem, The Synagogue of the Ear Corn, in the voice of the tulip.
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When the morning stars sang together
And the sons of God shouted for joy
When the planet appeared in the sky
A blue-green jewel
I was down there in my purple dress
beside a river there were thousands of us flowers
life all around us so incredible
the mother of all rock concerts
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And so after having doubts, I must confess that once I began reading this collection, I could not stop. The crafting of the poems is exceptional, each voice unique blended by a master into an outstanding collection of poetry.
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You can find the book here:
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g emil reutter 2 g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA)

Tiger Heron by Robin Becker

tiger heronSeries: Pitt Poetry Series
Paperback: 80 pages
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (January 30, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0822962985
ISBN-13: 978-0822962984
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Review by: g emil reutter
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Intimate relationships, growing old, the independence of her parents at 80 in weathering a storm for fear of being placed in assisted living. How nice the word hospice sounds in the language when actually a word for no hope of giving up of dying. Her father’s love of the track although a loneliness hovered over him.  Becker has developed a collection of poems that offer a realistic view of life, living and dying in a compassionate voice that is calming as you page through the poems in Tiger Heron. Becker accomplishes this with startling images, such as these from the poem Hospice:
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I wanted to believe in it, the word
softer than hospital but still not home—
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like any other frame house on the street,
it had a lawn, a door, a bell—
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inside, our friend lay, a view
of the garden from her bed. But no lift
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to raise her from the bed. A sword,
the sun plunged across the cotton blankets.
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Becker describes the loss of hope surrounded by life, a view of the garden, but no lift to raise her as the sun, a life force, plunged across the cotton blankets like a sword.
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She tells us in Montefiore Cemetery:
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Although the dying don’t want to talk much,
the dead have all the time in the world.
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However, a vast difference has replaced
our old relations. Emporium of headstones!
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Since when do you leave old antipathies
Mid-sentence? Choose silence over bickering?
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Becker remembers those who are no longer with her, Bubbe, her father bristling. At the end of the poem she leaves us:
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Silence, Montefiore nods, is the restraint of wisdom.
No tongue speaks as much ill as one’s own.
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Not all is gloomy here in Tiger Heron as the first two stanzas of Holiday reveal:
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We slept and woke to the sound of rhythmic surf.
Across the room, my friend lay with her book;
I listened to the spacious hour, its humane breath
on the room, grown large with distant water.
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In that monastic calm we took ourselves
Lightly, rose and ate, walked the half moon
Beach and indulged our ankles with bracelets
Of kelp. Underwater, the day kept flut-
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Robin Becker writes of the daily challenges of midlife and those at the end of life with a sobering realism that always flickers with hope, obtainable or not.
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You can find the book here:
g emil reutter 2– g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA)  http://gereutter.wordpress.com/

Recommend Reading for National Poetry Month

national-poetry-month-4

This is the first in a series of books recommended by the FCR staff for reading during National Poetry Month.

g emil reutter 2

From g emil reutter 

bloom

Bloom in Reverse by Teresa Leo

http://www.amazon.com/Bloom-Reverse-Pitt-Poetry-Series/

 divine

On the Street of Divine Love: New and Selected Poems by Barbara Hamby

http://www.amazon.com/On-Street-Divine-Love-Selected

loose-weather

Loose Weather by Robert Herschbach

http://www.amazon.com/Loose-Weather-Robert-Herschbach

 cities-hidden

Cities Hidden by Rain – Edgar Cage

http://www.rainmountainpress.com/books26.html

 pob-cover

Principles of Belonging by Joshua Gray

http://www.amazon.com/Principles-Belonging-Joshua-

-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA). You can visit him at http://gereutter.wordpress.com/

Sound of the Ax: Aphorisms and Poems by William Stafford

sound of
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Series: Pitt Poetry Series
Paperback: 104 pages
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (February 10, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0822962969
ISBN-13: 978-0822962960
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Review by: g emil reutter
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Editors, Vincent Wixon and Paul Merchant have once again explored the William Stafford Archives at Lewis & Clark College to bring us the Aphorisms of William Stafford from over fifty years of Stafford’s daily writing, four hundred aphorisms are published here from thousands Stafford wrote. Intermingled are twenty-six poems by Stafford.  Stafford passed away in 1993, yet here we are in 2014 once again reading the works of William Stafford.
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These cuts of language that often became poems by Stafford offer insight into the wit, humor, and strengths. These cuts are inspirational as Stafford’s finely sharpened ax has left behind.
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To call some people losers is to reveal your limits in
defining categories into which people can go.
 
It’s a tall order, finding your way. Maybe it’s winter
and you can’t just stand around waiting for help.
 
Poetry is the kind of thing you to see from the
corner of your eye. You can be too well prepared for
poetry. A conscientious interest in it is worse than
no interest at all. If you analyze it away, it’s gone. It
would be like boiling a watch to find out what makes
it tick .
 
A speech is sometin you say so as to distract
Attention from what you do not say.
 
A common sin: Insufficient care in avoiding the
approval of others.
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The bonus in this collection are the poems. Poems such as Consolations.
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 Consolations
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“The broken part heals even stronger than the rest,”
they say. But what takes awhile.
And, “Hurry up,” the whole world says.
They tap their feet. And it still hurts on rainy
afternoons when the same absent sun
gives no sign it will ever come back.
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“What difference in a hundred years?”
the barn where Agnes hanged her child
will fall by then, and the scrawled words
erase themselves on the floor where rats’ feet
run. Boards curl up. Whole new trees
drink what the rivers bring. Things die.
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“No good thing is easy.” They told us that,
while we dug our fingers into the stones
and looked beseechingly into their eyes.
They say hurt is good for you. It makes
what comes later a gift all the more
precious in your bleeding hands.
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Sound of the Ax is a precious collection of Aphorisms and Poems by William Stafford, a master of language we can all learn from.
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g emil reutter at Chop Suey Books-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA)

Bloom in Reverse by Teresa Leo

birSeries: Pitt Poetry Series

Paperback: 104 pages
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (February 5, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0822962977
ISBN-13: 978-0822962977
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Review by: g emil reutter
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Teresa Leo has always been a poet who never hides behind the curtain. Bloom in Reverse is a collection of poems presented in stark realism in both subject matter and words. There are none of the current clichés used by those language folks nor are there any tee hee moments or a need to figure out exactly what the poet said. Leo is one of a growing group of poets who can return poetry to the mainstream by presenting poems people often have experienced in their own lives. As much as it may pain some, truth be told, people want to read poems, if at all that reflect their lives, losses and loves. Leo accomplishes this in this outstanding collection of poems written by a poet with the heart of a story teller.
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From – Elegy, Two Years Later
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I will no longer think
of her last moments on earth-
 
her final thought
or what random thing her fingers
 
may have touched
the  residue of warmth
 
that radiated there, pulsed
an undercurrent that looped
 
back into the body, spun
thourgh the neutral net
 
past organs and bones,
traveled up the spine
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so that the brain
would recognize touch
 
in its form as pen or chair,
an image that might have stayed
 
in her mind, lodged
the last image
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It is in poems such as this that Leo reminds us of the importance of passion and substance. That in fact ideas and the motivations behind them lead to poetry with a heartbeat.
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From – Home is a Four Letter Word
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There are other ways to say it-
trap, cell, rope, hell,
 
the kind of place
where she’ll pull up daylilies
 
on a cold morning
wearing only a thin nightgown,
 
and after that with dirt
still odged beneath the fingernails,
 
she’ll tear down photos
like the pornographic ransom notes
 
they are, trace evidence
of the felon she once loved,
 
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In Bloom in Reverse, Leo, brings us into her world of loss of a friend and at other times a lover. She chooses her words carefully and with great honesty.
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Teresa Leo in The Fox Chase Review http://www.foxchasereview.org/10SU/TeresaLeo.html
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g emil reutter– g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA). http://gereutter.wordpress.com/
 
 
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On the Street of Divine Love: New and Selected Poems by Barbara Hamby

 DIVINESeries: Pitt Poetry Series
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (January 21, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0822962888
ISBN-13: 978-0822962885
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Review by: g emil reutter
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Her words whirl along the pages encased in a cyclone of metaphor and images, full of passion and reality. Hamby is comfortable eating barbecue in southern Georgia, hanging out at the town hardware store as she is in Paris or flying with angels, dealing with Satan and idols, saints and old cowboys.
 
From – Questions for My Body
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Your brain like 100 million hornets in a Campbell’s Soup can,
                 so where’s the axe to split it open?
Speaking of can openers, what is it about midnight that makes
                 your spine shake like the hand of a holy roller
                 shooting craps against a back alley curb?
                 Click, click, click — snake eyes, and all your pretty dresses
                  lie in tatters, Ave Maria and her butternut squash.
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From – Ode to Barbecue
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We are lost again in the middle of redneck nowhere,
                  Which is a hundred times scarier
than any other nowhere because everyone has guns.
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Hamby sets the stage and takes a twist near the end of the poem
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                … we bear Adam’s stain, and the only way
To heaven is to be washed in the blood of the Lamb,
                 Which is kind of what happen when out of the South
Georgia woods we see a little shack with smoke
                  Pouring from the chimmey through it’s August
And steamier than a mild day in Hell; we sit at a picnic table
                   and a broad-bellellied man sets down plates of ribs,
a small mountain of red meat, so differenct from Paris
                    where for my birthday my husband took me
to an elegant place where we ate tiney ribs washed down
                   with a subline St.-Josephe. Oh, don’t bet me wrong,
they were good, but the whole time I was out of sorts,
                    squirming on my perfect chair, disgruntled,
because I wanted to be at Tiny Register’s, Kojacks
                J.B.’s, I wanted ribs all right but big juicy ribs dripping
With sauce, the secret recipe handed down from grandmother
                to father to son, sauce that could take the paint off a Buick,
a hot, sin lacerating concoction of tomatoes, jalapenos
                and sugar, washed down with iced tea, Coca-Cola, beer,
because there’s no water in Hell, and Hell is hot, oh yeah.
 
Hamby’s unconventional style causes page after page to turn and upon reaching the last page of this selected poetry collection, the reader is left looking for more. She is a poet of energy, breathing life into words with passion. The way a poet should.
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g emil reutter at Chop Suey Books– g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA).