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A Village Lifeby Louise Gluck
"Though it resembles her others least, A Village Life may come to be seen as Gluck's most beautiful and moving book so far. One can't dwell too long on the volume's length, nor waste time fishing through the poems to notice the threads of the fabric stocked with unusual diction. 'Compared to the sun, all the fires here / are short-lived, amateurish.' Amateurish? Though not such a strange word in 2009, these types of phrases planted furtively in A Village Life are peculiarly contemporary for the timeless, quasi-mythic spaces Gluck creates." Adam Fitzerald, Rain Taxi (read the entire Rain Taxi review)
Synopses & Reviews
A Village Life, Louise Gluck's eleventh collection of poems, begins in the topography of a village, a Mediterranean world of no definite moment or place:
All the roads in the village unite at the fountain.
Around the fountain are concentric circles of figures, organized by age and in degrees of distance: fields, a river, and, like the fountain's opposite, a mountain. Human time superimposed on geologic time, all taken in at a glance, without any undue sensation of speed.
Gluck has been known as a lyrical and dramatic poet; since Ararat, she has shaped her austere intensities into book-length sequences. Here, for the first time, she speaks as the type of describing, supervising intelligence found in novels rather than poetry, as Langdon Hammer has written of her long lines — expansive, fluent, and full — manifesting a calm omniscience. While Gluck's manner is novelistic, she focuses not on action but on pauses and intervals, moments of suspension (rather than suspense), in a dreamlike present tense in which poetic speculation and reflection are possible.
"Pulitzer Prize — winner Gluck's 11th collection is set in an unidentified rural hill town somewhere in the Mediterranean. Less narrative than it is impressionistic, the book takes its undulating shape from natural cycles — the obvious but nonetheless awesome impact of days and seasons changing. Gluck has shown herself to be an astute, heartbreaking and often funny observer of everyday violence. In poems like 'At the River' and 'Marriage,' she tracks life's messy movement from innocence and curiosity through lust, loss, anger and resignation. However, the relationships she studies are as much to the land — with its single, looming mountain, worked fields and increasingly dried-up river — as between individuals. Gluck's achievement in this collection is to show, through the exigencies of the place she has chosen, how interpersonal relationships are formed, shaped and broken by the particular landscape in which they unfurl. Though the poems are intimate and deeply sympathetic, there remains the suggestion of a distance between Gluck and the village life she writes about. When she declaims, 'No one really understands/ the savagery of this place,' it feels as though she is speaking less about her chosen subjects than about herself. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Gluck stands at the center of time and speaks not with raw emotion or linguistic abandon, but with the ageless urgency of questions about the soul." Partisan Review
Gluck's 11th collection of poems begins in the topography of a Mediterranean village. Although her writing style is novelistic, the poet focuses not on action but on pauses and intervals meant for reflection.
Grace Schulman, already known as "an elegiac, highly original religious lyricist" (Harold Bloom), elegantly weaves between generations and continents in her new collection.
“Without a Claim is a modern Book of Psalms. Indeed, the glory in these radiant sacred songs meld an art of high music with a nuanced love of the world unlike any weve heard before. No matter your mood upon entering this world youll soon be grateful, and enchanted. In any such house of praise, God herself must be grateful.” — Philip Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Failure and The God of Loneliness
Grace Schulman, who has been called “a vital and permanent poet” (Harold Bloom), makes new the life she finds in other cultures and in the distant past. In Without a Claim, she masterfully encompasses music, faith, art, and history. The title poem alludes to the Montauk sachem who sold land without any concept of rights to property, and meditates on our own notion of ownership: “No more than geese in flight, shadowing the lawn, / cries piercing wind, do we possess these fields, / given the title, never the dominion.” She traces the illusion of rights, from land to objects, from our loves to our very selves. Alternatively, she finds permanence in art, whether in galleries or on cave walls, and in music, whether in the concert hall, on the streets of New York, or in the waves at sea.
A Village Life, Louise Glücks eleventh collection of poems, begins in the topography of a village, a Mediterranean world of no definite moment or place:
All the roads in the village unite at the fountain.
Avenue of Liberty, Avenue of the Acacia Trees—
The fountain rises at the center of the plaza;
on sunny days, rainbows in the piss of the cherub.
Around the fountain are concentric circles of figures, organized by age and in degrees of distance: fields, a river, and, like the fountains opposite, a mountain. Human time superimposed on geologic time, all taken in at a glance, without any undue sensation of speed.
Glück has been known as a lyrical and dramatic poet; since Ararat, she has shaped her austere intensities into book-length sequences. Here, for the first time, she speaks as “the type of describing, supervising intelligence found in novels rather than poetry,” as Langdon Hammer has written of her long lines—expansive, fluent, and full—manifesting a calm omniscience. While Glücks manner is novelistic, she focuses not on action but on pauses and intervals, moments of suspension (rather than suspense), in a dreamlike present tense in which poetic speculation and reflection are possible.
About the Author
Louise Gluck is the author of eleven books of poems and a collection of essays. Her many awards include the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Bollingen Prize, and the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets. She teaches at Yale University and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Table of Contents
The Sound 4
Moon Shell 8
Antiques Fair 9
Before the Fall 13
Variations on a Line by Whitman 15
Letter Never Sent 19
Poets Walk, Central Park Mall 23
Street Music, Astor Place 25
Woman on the Ceiling 27
My Fathers Watches 30
Charles Street Psalm 35
Walking to Elijah 37
Handels Messiah 46
The Last Crossing 50
At the Physical Therapists 52
In Praise of Shards 57
Love in the Afternoon 61
The Visit 63
Green River 68
Fools Gold 69
Abbaye de Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire 70
The Night Dancers 75
Cool Jazz 76
At the House of Jackson Pollock 77
God Bless the Child 81
The Printmaker 85
The Unbuilder 87
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