The Bitter Withy

The Bitter Withy

by Donald Revell
     
 

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Acclaimed poet Donald Revell continues to avow devotion to the pastoral tradition in this pilgrimage through the mind's Eden. Joy and mortality instruct these poems, using nature to inform the spirit and assemble the dream of human happiness and unification.

Overview

Acclaimed poet Donald Revell continues to avow devotion to the pastoral tradition in this pilgrimage through the mind's Eden. Joy and mortality instruct these poems, using nature to inform the spirit and assemble the dream of human happiness and unification.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"It takes guts to write more poems about peace, war, God and children, but Revell's are so fresh, it's as if he's the first person ever to do it."—TIME Magazine

"Revell is a post-Romantic, his natural imagery clear and immediate, his feelings never very far from his sleeve, his tone approaching a prayerful devotion..."—Library Journal

"What I find both moving and fresh about this collection is that it handles its subject matter with a simultaneous severity and lightness…This balance keeps the work buoyant despite its deep subject matter.”—CutBank

“...Revell, a talented poet and translator, has finally crossed the line from strange lyricism into full-blown ecstatic prophecy…This book topped my nominations for a Nation Book Critics Circle award nod.”—Sacramento News and Review

“Donald Revell's eleventh book is a collection of the crisp, intense poems for which he is known. The poems face the metaphysical and the religious head-on while leaving the reader with a feeling of new vision and open meditation"—Poets.org

"Sincerity is risky. In an age that seems averse to that risk, these poems are welcome company."—Chicago Review

"Revell’s recent collections form a steady progression toward the spiritual, and this latest offering is the most thoughtful, most moving, of them all."—Library Journal

"As a redoubt against mortality, The Bitter Withy maintains a vigilance toward the seen and an acceptance of the belated nature of understanding, a tenacity for things on the brink of vanishing..."—Pleiades

Library Journal
It can be hard to explore spiritual issues without sounding self-indulgent or didactic. But Revell—who's been grappling through many collections with a need to touch the beyond—accomplishes something entirely different here, connecting with the larger world and yet acknowledging the questions that can't be answered and the hard answers we must learn to accept. A luminous work, tightly crafted and yet ever breathing.
Publishers Weekly
Readers familiar with the unapologetically spiritual lyricism Revell has been distilling throughout his career won't be surprised by his 10th collection's sweetly poetical lexicon (rainbows, flowers, celestial bodies, trees and birds abound) and hymnlike sentiments: “When God prays, the sky turns blue.” New readers might better appreciate the book's radical strangeness and daring. Revell's voice has become ecstatic, but it has also remained clear, so his intensely personal, even visionary accounts and meditations are rendered with lucidity and ease: “Once Christ, like a girl,/ Held a buttercup under my chin.” Stunning imagery (“I am toys/ lost on polar ice”) and brilliant turns of thought (“What makes actual human happiness/ Nearly unbearable is its reality”) add interest to what might have been too pious, too simple: “This has nothing to do with Jesus/ Though he is right here beside me.” What makes this book truly exceptional is its determination to come to terms with death (one's own, others' and the mere fact of it) with faith, dignity and even wit. “My death and I are a magical hermit,” Revell writes, and in another context, the sentence might be thought simply clever. Here, it is also poignant—also, a revelation. (Sept.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781882295760
Publisher:
Alice James Books
Publication date:
09/01/2009
Pages:
61
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

From "Lay of Wood":

I want celestial light, but not apocalyptic.
The end of the world is an old story.
I'm starting a new one.
Yellowbird here for one day only,
These emeralds are trees.
Fly fast.

Meet the Author

Poet, translator, and critic Donald Revell has authored ten previous collections of poetry. Winner of the 2008 NEA Translation Award, the 2004 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, and two-time winner of the PEN Center USA Award in Poetry, Revell has also received fellowships from the NEA, Ingram Merrill, and John Simon Guggenheim memorial foundations. He is poetry editor of the Colorado Review.

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