Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth: New Poems

Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth: New Poems

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by Alice Walker

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The Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Color Purple gives us her first new collection of poetry in more than a decade, poems that reaffirm her as “one of the best American writers of today” (The Washington Post).
The forces of nature and the strength of the human spirit inspire the poems in Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the…  See more details below


The Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Color Purple gives us her first new collection of poetry in more than a decade, poems that reaffirm her as “one of the best American writers of today” (The Washington Post).
The forces of nature and the strength of the human spirit inspire the poems in Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth. Alice Walker opens us up to feeling and understanding with poems that cover a broad spectrum of emotions. With profound artistry, Walker searches for, discovers, and declares the fundamental beauty of existence, as she explores what it means to live life fully, to learn from it, and to grow both as an individual and as part of a greater spiritual community.
In “The Same as Gold,” Walker writes of the essence of grief, and of our inherent powers of love and acceptance. In “Everyone Who Works for Me,” Walker considers, with humor and grace, the frenzy that permeates modern life—a frenzy that prevents us from seeing the beauty in everything we do until we step back and take the time to look at and comprehend ourselves and those around us. In “The Love of Bodies,” Walker elegantly expresses the gratitude and tenderness we are capable of feeling for loved ones, living and dead, and the inescapable emotional connections that bind us together.
About Walker’s poetry, America has said, “In the tradition of Whitman, Walker sings, celebrates and agonizes over the ordinary vicissitudes that link and separate all of humankind,” and the same could be said about this astonishing new collection.
the hunger
in a garden
our own.
—from Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth

Author Biography:

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Editorial Reviews

"All of my poems," Alice Walker once noted, "are written when I have successfully pulled myself out of a completely numbing despair, and stand again in the sunlight. Writing poems is my way of celebrating with the world that I have not committed suicide the evening before." In Absolute Trust in the Goodness of Earth, her first full-length book of poetry in a decade, the author of The Color Purple celebrates our planet and its flawed inhabitants.
Stephen Whited
In the preface to this disappointing poetry collection, the author of the wonderful, Pulitzer Prize–winning The Color Purple writes that her response to 9/11 was, you guessed it, to write poems. "This was something of a surprise," Walker adds, "since I had spent the past couple of years telling my friends I would probably not be writing anymore. What will you do instead? one of them asked. I would like to become a wandering inspiration, I replied." The book combines tiresome aphorisms and platitudes with a few refrigerator-magnet poems and banal notes-to-self, like: "Beloved / You must learn / To walk alone / To hold / The precious / Silence / To bring home / And keep the precious / Little / That is left / Of yourself." If you can stand the uninspired musings and pseudo-shaman pomposity, then read away.
Publishers Weekly
"You/ are/ the sister/ The big/ Sister/ As hero," Alice Walker writes near the beginning of her sixth volume of poems: "The one who sees/ The one who listens/ The one who guides/ Teaches/ & protects." Some of Walker's fans may feel this way about the author herself, whose decades of literary production and political activism include several bestselling novels, one Pulitzer for The Color Purple, influential essays about social change (most recently, Sent by Earth) and other much-acknowledged work in gender studies and African-American letters. Walker's poems have long been her warmest, least artful utterances, invoking the solidarity and the compassion she invites her readers to feel: this thick book of short-lined poems extends those goals, exploring and praising friendship, romantic love, home cooking, the peace movement, ancestors, ethnic diversity and particularly admirable strong women, among them the primatologist Jane Goodall. Some poems address topics of recent vintage, such as post-9/11 discrimination ("If you/ Want to show/ Your love/ For America// Smile/ When you see/ His/ Turban/ Rosepink"). Other work continues Walker's longer-term spiritual and ecological interests: the poet (who subtitled her 1990 collection Earthling Poems) now writes "Divine Mother/ Keep on praying/ For us/ All Earthlings/ All children/ Of this awesome place/ Not one of us/ Knowing/ Why we're here/ Except to Be." Though critics' interest in Walker will continue to concentrate on her prose, the readers across the country who cherished Walker's earlier poems will find in this new work exactly what they've awaited. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
"I was so/ Puzzled/ By/ The Attacks./ It was as if/ They believed/ We were/ In a race/ To succeed/ &/ Someone/ Other/ Than/ Death/ Was at/ The/ Finish/ Line." In the preface to her new collection, Walker speaks of the deep sadness and incredible weariness she felt following September 11. After saying that she would probably never write again, she began each day by working on poems at her home on the Pacific coast of Mexico. She told her friends that she hoped to become a "wandering inspiration," and in this, her sixth volume of poems, she proves to be just that. Each poem consists of short lines, sometimes simply a word or two, that are all centered. A group called "Refrigerator Poems," which hovers somewhere between song and prayer, was composed while Walker was visiting a friend who had magnetic poetry tiles. Sometimes there is a real edge to Walker's poems: "Thousands of feet/ Below you/ There is a small/ Boy/ Running from/ your bombs./ If he were/ To show up/ At your mother's/house.../ He'd be invited in/ For dinner." But more often than not, the tone is more uplifting: "Though not/ A contest/ Life/ Is/ The award/ & we/ Have/ Won." For contemporary poetry and African American literature collections.-Louis McKee, Painted Bride Arts Ctr., Philadelphia
From the Publisher
Praise for Alice Walker’s poetry

“A sensitive, spirited, and intelligent poet. Feeling is channeled into a style that is direct and sharp....Wit and tenderness combine into humanity.”
Poetry, about Once

“In these poems there’s the power of a mind’s concentrated passion....Walker’s language moves among griefs, loves, hopes....There’s a compassion in the poems that is not only painfully earned but has, each time, to be earned over again—and it is this that gives it its authenticity.”
—Denise Levertov, author of Life in the Forest, About Good Night, Willie Lee, and I’ll See You in the Morning

“[Alice Walker] is exceptionally brave: She takes on subjects at which most writers would flinch and quail, and probably fail. She shrinks from no moral or emotional complexity....In Walker’s work nothing is ordinary....She is a marvelous writer.”
San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle, about You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down

“Graceful in their spirituality, openness to experience, and rueful humor, Walker’s poems revolve around love and gratitude for the earth.”

“The overall effect is that of listening to a wise woman—the ‘apprentice elder’... whose gift to us is a vision of wholeness and delight in the world.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer

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Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.54(w) x 9.74(h) x 0.85(d)

Read an Excerpt

I Can Worship You
I Can Worship You
I can worship You
But I cannot give You everything.
If you cannot
This body.
If you cannot
Put your lips
To my
Clear water.
If you cannot
Rub bellies
My sun.
The Love of Bodies
Dearest One
Of flesh & bone
There is in
My memory
Such a delight
In the recent feel of your warm body;
Your flesh, and remembrance of the miracle
Of bone,
The structure of Your sturdy knee.
The softness of your belly
My hand;
Your back
Warms me.
Your tush, seen bottomless,
Is like a small,
Undefended Country
In which is grown Yellow Melons.
It is such a blessing
To be born
Into these;
And what a use
To put
Them to.
To hold,
To cherish,
To delight.
The tree next door
Is losing
Its body
They are cutting
It down, piece
By heavy piece
With a thud,
To The earth.
May she know peace
Eternal Returning to
Her source
That her beauty
With air & fog
Was seen
And bowed to
Until this Transition.
I send love
And gratitude
That Life
Sent you
(And her)
To spend
This time
With me.
After the bombing of 9/11, September 25, 2001

Copyright© 2003 by Alice Walker

Meet the Author

ALICE WALKER won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award for her novel The Color Purple. Her other novels include By the Light of My Father’s Smile and Possessing the Secret of Joy. She is also the author of three collections of short stories, three collections of essays, five previous volumes of poetry, and several children’s books. Born in Eatonton, Georgia, Walker now lives in northern California.

Brief Biography

Mendocino, California
Date of Birth:
February 9, 1944
Place of Birth:
Eatonton, Georgia
B.A., Sarah Lawrence College, 1965; attended Spelman College, 1961-63

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