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Headwatersby Ellen Bryant Voigt
Synopses & Reviews
Rash yet tender, chastened yet lush, Headwaters is a book of opposites, a book of wild abandon by one of the most formally exacting poets of our time. Animals populate its pages—owl, groundhog, fox, each with its own inimitable survival skills. But the power of these extraordinary poems lies in their recognition that all our skills are ultimately useless—that human beings are at every moment beginners, facing the earth as if for the first time.
end of the day daylight subsiding into the trees lights
in the milking barns as somewhere out in the yard some
are tucking in their aphids for the night behind
hydrangea leaves or in their stanchions underground.
"Voigt's slim eighth collection of poetry is defined by a liquid precision. The poems, constructed of long lines and spontaneous rhymes, put Voigt's technical mastery of verse with no punctuation on full display. Her pieces open without capitalization as though she has burst in on each poem mid-thought: 'end of the day daylight subsiding into the trees lights coming on/ in the milking barns.' The simplicity of her titles is deceptive: poems called 'Cow,' 'Mole,' 'Geese,' 'Privet Hedge,' and 'Bear' begin with these common animals and objects but glide into intimate and fearsome spaces. Voigt regards a chameleon, stating, 'I see you do not move unless you need to eat you almost fool/ the mockingbird nearby in a live oak tree flinging out another's song/ which is me which which is me.' In another poem titled 'Noble Dog' she recalls the haunting experience of someone watching her daughter in the bathroom: 'we thought when we bathed in the claw-footed tub we could pretend/ we stayed inside the natural world no shutters no shades at night' but after calling the police and tracking the stranger with a dog, 'we knew this was a moment of consequence but we couldn't tell/ whether the world had grown larger or smaller'" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A meticulously crafted new volume from the acclaimed American poet whom the called a "genius."
Rash yet tender, chastened yet lush, is a book of opposites, a book of wild abandon by one of the most formally exacting poets of our time. Animals populate its pages--owl, groundhog, fox, each with its own inimitable survival skills--and the poet who so meticulously observes their behaviors has accumulated a lifetime's worth of skills herself: she too has survived. The power of these extraordinary poems lies in their recognition that all our experience is ultimately useless--that human beings are at every moment beginners, facing the earth as if for the first time. "Don't you think I'm doing better," asks the first poem. "You got sick you got well you got sick," says the last.
About the Author
The author of seven previous volumes of poetry, Ellen Bryant Voigt has twice been a finalist for the National Book Award and once for the Pulitzer Prize. She lives in Cabot, Vermont.
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