Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth: New Poems

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In this exquisite book, Alice Walker’s first new collection of poetry since 1991, are 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 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 ...

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Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth: New Poems

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In this exquisite book, Alice Walker’s first new collection of poetry since 1991, are 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 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 experience life fully, to learn from it, and to grow both as an individual and as part of a greater spiritual community.

About Walker’s Horses Make a Landscape Look More Beautiful, America 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 can be said about this astonishing new collection, Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
"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.
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

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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812971057
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/9/2004
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 624,726
  • Product dimensions: 5.14 (w) x 7.96 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Alice Walker

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.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Alice Malsenior Walker (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      Mendocino, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 9, 1944
    2. Place of Birth:
      Eatonton, Georgia
    1. Education:
      B.A., Sarah Lawrence College, 1965; attended Spelman College, 1961-63

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

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Table of Contents

I Can Worship You 3
The Love of Bodies 4
All the Toys 7
Poem for Aneta Chapman on Her 33rd Birthday 9
The Same as Gold 15
My Friend Calls 19
Coming Back from Seeing Your People 21
Someone I Barely Know 23
Despite the Hunger 26
My African 27
How Different You Are 30
New House Moves 33
Trapdoors to the Cellar Spring-Grass Green 36
Whiter Than Bone 39
Even When I Walked Away 41
Red Petals Sticking Out 43
Inside My Rooms 44
Refrigerator Poems 47
Just at Dusk 48
The Moment I Saw Her 49
A Native Person Looks up from the Plate 52
The Anonymous Caller 56
I Was So Puzzled by the Attacks 58
At First, It Is True, I Thought There Were Only Peaches & Wild Grapes 59
May 23, 1999 61
Reverend E. in Her Red Dress 62
All the People Who Work for Me & My Dog Too 69
The Snail Is My Power Animal 71
In Everything I Do 73
The Writer's Life 75
Grace 78
Loss of Vitality 79
Until I Was Nearly Fifty 81
Thanks for the Garlic 87
The New Man 90
What Will Save Us 92
My Friend Arrived 93
Dead Men Love War 97
Thousands of Feet Below You 99
Living off of Isolated Women 101
They Made Love 102
To Be a Woman 107
Thanksgiving 108
The Last Time I Left Our House 109
I Loved You So Much 114
Winning 116
Falling Bodies 119
Why the War You Have in Mind (Yours and Mine) Is Obsolete 123
Projection 124
When You Look 127
The Tree 131
The Climate of the Southern Hemisphere 134
Where Is That Nail File? Where Are My Glasses? Have You Seen My Car Keys? 136
My Ancestors' Earnings 139
My Friend Yeshi 142
Ancestors to Alice 146
One of the Traps 148
Not Children 151
You Can Talk 153
Goddess 154
Why War Is Never a Good Idea 156
The Award 165
Though We May Feel Alone 166
When We Let Spirit Lead Us 169
Dream 170
We Are All So Busy 173
The Backyard, Careyes 177
Practice 178
Dreaming the New World in Careyes 179
Patriot 182
Because Light Is Attracted to Dark 184
When Fidel Comes to Visit Me 189
No Better Life 192
Someone Should Have Taught You This 193
Dream of Frida Kahlo 195
My Mother Was So Wonderful 199
Aging 203
Some Things to Enjoy About Aging 204
Lying Quietly 205
Wrinkles 206
Life Is Never Over 207
If They Come to Shoot You 211
You Too Can Look, Smell, Dress, Act This Way 215
The Breath of the Feminine 219
Bring Me the Heart of Maria Sabina 221
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2015


    Res 1: Rules
    Res 2: You Are Here
    Res 3: Main Camp
    Res 4: Bios
    Res 5: Announcements/Ceremonies
    Res 6: Leader's Den
    Res 7: Medicine Cat Den
    Res 8: Warriors' Den
    Res 9: Apprentices' Den
    Res 10: Nursery
    Res 11: Elders' Den
    Res 12: Training Grounds
    Res 13+ = SpiceClan Territory

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2003


    Ms. Walker displayed such a vivacious account of her experiences. She relays her new testimony toward life, (caused by the events on and following September 11, 2001), as the foundation which prompted her to return with another collection of works; after having seriously considered retirement from further literary accolades and its community. Her re-enactment of various prose provided a wonderful escape into literary fantasy, implores the urgency for activism, and harnesses the essence of spiritual empowerment. If you truly enjoy poetic excellence, this book is a must have!

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