Tag Archives: University of Pittsburgh Press

Sound of the Ax: Aphorisms and Poems by William Stafford

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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).