All We Need of Hell

All We Need of Hell

by Rika Lesser
     
 

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Much of what Rika Lesser has to say can be compared to the poetry of Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Ann Sexton, Delmore Schwartz, and other poets who have struggled with manic-depressive illness. What sets her poetry apart, according to Richard Howard, is “the plot and purpose of her sequence to take us through the harrowing experiences she creates in her

Overview


Much of what Rika Lesser has to say can be compared to the poetry of Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Ann Sexton, Delmore Schwartz, and other poets who have struggled with manic-depressive illness. What sets her poetry apart, according to Richard Howard, is “the plot and purpose of her sequence to take us through the harrowing experiences she creates in her lines, and out the other side . . . this is where her book differs so from the sensational indulgences we are so familiar with.”

The book begins with poems on suicide attempts, clinical depression and mania which will attract readers with a special interest in “poetic madness.” But in the end the poet turns from death to a full engagement and participation in “normal life” and all that it entails.

In addition to the general poetry audience, this book will appeal to medical ethicists, psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, and others needing insight into manic-depressive illnesses.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In her second collection (after Etruscan Things), Lesser leads her readers on an exploration of mental illness that is less a descent into madness than a journey towards emotional health. Detailing her experience with depressionsuicide attempts, hospitalizations and the often devastating effects of medicationLesser demystifies depressive illness in poems that are direct, reflective and instructive (a glossary of pharmaceutical and medical terms is included). These are not highly figurative or dramatic poems like Plath's, to whom Lesser will inevitably be compared. Instead, Lesser rejects ornament and artifice, the ``merely beautiful'' and ``well-made'' verses that now leave her cold, in favor of straightforward, often journal-like, narratives that ``praise simple/ actions, human/ and possible.'' Lesser plumbs language (etymologies, sounds, the work of literary predecessors) for its regenerative powers as she faces her own illness and the deaths of friends from AIDS and cancer: ``... if there have been no words, no tropes for/ such occasions before, I must find them now.'' (July)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780929398921
Publisher:
University of North Texas Press
Publication date:
06/28/1995
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
88
Product dimensions:
6.01(w) x 8.96(h) x 0.32(d)

Meet the Author


Rika Lesser is a prize-winning poet and translator of Swedish and German literature. Among her previous books are Etruscan Things, Rilke: Between Roots, and Guide to the Underworld by Gunnar Ekelof . Her work has appeared in American Poetry Review, The New Yorker, and The New York Times Book Review.

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