Alive Together: New and Selected Poems

Alive Together: New and Selected Poems

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by Lisel Mueller

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LSU Press

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Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"When I am asked/ how I began writing poems,/ I talk about the indifference of nature," Mueller writes in "When I Am Asked." Many of the new and previously published poems here seem intent upon correcting that indifference. With images of flowers, trees, birds, snow and sun, Mueller is ruminating and philosophical without being doctrinaire; she inhabits a world the Romantics might recognize and offers poems with such titles as "Joy," "Immortality" and "Tears." The next line in "When I Am Asked," however, is "It was soon after my mother died," indicating another central concern. Often using her exodus from Hitler's Europe as a quiet backdrop, she probes family relationships, as in "Happy and Unhappy Families II, which references Electra: "In the play, we know what must happen/ long before it happens,/ and we call it tragedy./ Here at home, this winter,/ we have no name for it." Tapping the resources of narrative, she revisits tales, ancient and modern, always insightful in her revisions and extensions of the originals. Mueller's The Need To Hold Still won the 1981 National Book Award. Readers will be struck by the poet's steadfast ability to sustain the same focus and techniques over six volumes spanning 35 years. (Nov.)

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Louisiana State University Press
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