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Black Lifeby Dorothea Lasky
"In a 2008 interview with Joshua Marie Wilkinson, Dorothea Lasky cites Sylvia Plath's Ariel as a major touchstone for her own writing, describing the potency of Plath's seriousness as a basis for poesis. She writes, "I am very concerned with how power occurs in a poem and so through every word I write, I try to infuse it with the kind of power [Plath] displays." Lasky attributes Plath's power to her ability to communicate "the purpose of things" with a forceful directness, and the same could be said about Lasky's second collection of poems, Black Life. Balancing a ferocious confessional poetry with her trademark levity and playfulness, Lasky examines the dark undercurrents of what it means to exist with an uncertain expiration date, the very sadness and strangeness of humanity." Kristen Evans, Rain Taxi (Read the entire Rain Taxi review)
Synopses & Reviews
You are born and it is to a black life
Full of abuse and strange things . . .
In her brazen second collection, Dorothea Lasky cries out beyond prophecy and confession, through to an even more powerful empathy. On the verge of becoming pure substance and sensation, Black Life is emotion recollected not in tranquility, but in radically affirming intensity.
I leave and I am a black life . . .
And I want to
Be what you made me to be
Dorothea Lasky is the author of three collections of poetry. Educated at the University of Massachusetts, Washington University, and Harvard University, she currently teaches at Columbia University.
"'All poetry that matters today has feelings in it,' says Lasky deep into her second book, which illustrates how that statement can be true of poems that are also hip and ironic. Though cut of the same cloth as her debut, Awe, this second book is more grown up, darker, burdened with greater weight and responsibility — though still full of flippant, adorable, and silly asides: 'The orderly staff waits with the bleach/ Asking me where the diapers are, I do not know,' she remarks in a poem about a father's failing battle with Alzheimer's disease. The death of a father and the loss of a husband come up again and again. Religious faith is also a frequent subject, handled in the same quirky, faux-childish voice as everything else in Lasky's world: 'There is only Jesus waiting in my closet/ Like he has been since I was 4 with his red eyes.' If these poems, cast in ragged columns and haphazard lines, often seem dashed off, that's part of the point: they surge with immediacy, meaning and not meaning what they say: 'There is a lot to be sad about/ But no point in feeling that sadness/ In a world that has no capacity/ To take your sadness from you in a kind way.'" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Infused with dark, tumultuous, and urgent feeling--emotion recollected not in tranquility, but in intensity.
Poetry. In her brazen second collection, Dorothea Lasky cries out beyond prophecy and confession, through to an even more powerful empathy. On the verge of becoming pure substance and sensation, BLACK LIFE is emotion recollected not in tranquility, but in radically affirming intensity.
About the Author
Dorothea Lasky is the author of two collections of poetry, AWE and Black Life (both published by Wave Books), and numerous chapbooks. She has been educated at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Harvard University and Washington University. She currently teaches in the Executive Program in Work-Based Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania.
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