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
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.
"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.
"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
Read an Excerpt
I Can Worship You
I Can Worship You
I can worship You
But I cannot give You everything.
If you cannot
If you cannot
Put your lips
If you cannot
The Love of Bodies
Of flesh & bone
There is in
Such a delight
In the recent feel of your warm body;
Your flesh, and remembrance of the miracle
The structure of Your sturdy knee.
The softness of your belly
Your tush, seen bottomless,
Is like a small,
In which is grown Yellow Melons.
It is such a blessing
To be born
And what a use
The tree next door
They are cutting
It down, piece
By heavy piece
With a thud,
To The earth.
May she know peace
Eternal Returning to
That her beauty
With air & fog
And bowed to
Until this Transition.
I send love
After the bombing of 9/11, September 25, 2001