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Forth a Ravenby Christina Davis
Synopses & Reviews
"These poems are so bright they hurt: urgent and necessary, they explode and shatter into original wholeness, reclaiming for Soul its own language-fierce, challenging, and spare. This is a book Emily would have kept by her bedside. About it, she might have said, Here is a newness in the wind to trouble your attention.'"-Susan Mitchell
In the Book of Genesis, Noah sends forth a raven and a dove to test the status of the flood. The return of the dove is widely celebrated, but the fate of the raven-the bird who speaks-is left ambiguous. In Christina Davis'luminous first collection of poems, her questions are those raised by the journey of the raven and what he represents: language and communication, risk, exile and mortality.
"Nostalgia for the Infinite"
Each time we moved,
I wanted to come back as a tree.
And each time we stayed, as a bird.
Does anyone ever ask to return as himself again?
I wanted to be a tree
a bird and myself-being-the-bird.
Christina Davisholds an MA from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.Phil. from the University of Oxford. Her poems and reviews have been published widely, and she is the editor of Illuminations: Great Writers on Writing.The recipient of residencies to Yaddo, Bread Loaf, the MacDowell Colony, and the Valparaiso Foundation in Spain, she is associate director of the NYU Creative Writing Program.
"Simple metaphysical questioning characterizes this strong first collection: 'Every question/ I have ever asked,' says Davis's title poem, 'could be ground down to// Do you love me? Will I die?' Davis brings a psychological acuity and a mythic, laconic approach (reminiscent sometimes of Louise Gluck) to a spare universe of ravens, mountains and purgatorial reminiscences: one of many poems about the afterlife inquires, 'Does anyone ever ask to return as himself again?' Davis uses religious language, both pagan (Odin's ravens) and biblical (Noah's birds), along with forms of prayer, to explore a postreligious world marked by family trauma, skeptical hopes and (unspecified) illness; adaptations of the Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva, Emily Dickinson, Woolf, Rilke and others, provide additional reference and range. The sparseness of imagery can risk placing too much weight on unsurprising phrases, as when Davis asks 'what love is.' Usually, though, her demanding attitudes and her unembellished poems fit together well — 'As if there were just one/ of each word and the one/ who used it, used it up.' The result is a head-turning debut. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Christina Davis' deeply-felt lyric poems will seduce the reader with their spare elegance.
In the Book of Genesis, Noah sends forth a raven and a dove to test the status of the flood. The return of the dove is widely celebrated, but the fate of the raven—the bird who speaks—is left ambiguous. In Christina Davis luminous first collection of poems, her questions are those raised by the journey of the raven and what he represents: language and communication, risk, exile and mortality.
About the Author
Christina Davis received her B.A. and M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and her M.Phil. in Modernist Literature from the University of Oxford. She is Associate Director of the NYU Creative Writing Program.
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