Captivity: Poems

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The “exquisite and haunting” (Booklist) collection of poems built around the language and mystique of American captivity narratives in which Sheck enters the vivid life we live inside our own minds and selves, and takes us into the mysterious underside of consciousness and selfhood.
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The “exquisite and haunting” (Booklist) collection of poems built around the language and mystique of American captivity narratives in which Sheck enters the vivid life we live inside our own minds and selves, and takes us into the mysterious underside of consciousness and selfhood.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Sheck [is] one of the most accomplished lyric poets writing in America today.” —Boston Review

“These lyrics bring fresh insight out of numbness and joy out of sorrow.” —The New Leader
Publishers Weekly

The squat, long-lined poems of Sheck's fifth collection meditate on American captivity narratives—stories popular in the late 17th century, such as Mary Rowlandson's A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, often about abduction by Native Americans—as metaphors for the limitations of consciousness and the poetry that tries to render it. These narratives are directly addressed in the 17 "Removes," a term taken from Rowlandson's book. Elsewhere, Sheck (Black Series) references other singularly American figures, including Dickinson, Stevens, William James and Emerson. Sheck relishes the "slow conversion of myself into nothingness," a necessary (and often violent) step toward understanding "this chain of feelings by which we mean (if it is that) a self." These poems at times seem to court vagueness—words such as "scatter," "broken," and "elsewhere" are among Sheck's most precise descriptive terms. Some readers may find that Sheck exhausts her themes and the time from which they originate; modernity appears infrequently, and when it does—in the form of "a computer screen candescing," the human genome and one "marketing director"—the effect is jarring. Throughout, however, Sheck's long lines sustain an elegant uncertainty, and her fractured syntax calls both Dickinson and Gerard Manley Hopkins to mind: "The seconds slant and coarse with split-asunder." (Feb.)

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal

This petite volume of 71 poems physically resembles a psalm book or a journal. And yet, because the poet is Scheck (Black Series, among other collections), the reader should expect neither comfort nor context. Scheck's high-modern aesthetic attempts to isolate whorls of thought from the world's backdrop. Each brief poem is an isolated gesture, a voice asserting itself against the white page as if to say, I am what is not. "The Thirteenth Remove" (the lovely noun removeis borrowed from a colonial captivity narrative) gets to the psychological point: "You who paint, if you painted us, we are the spots on the canvas left uncovered." From poem to poem, there are traces of a world—a hospital, a windowed landscape—but no explanations beyond the occasional jarring detail: "today the fasting girl died." Motifs of death and illness alternate with a charged diction that the poet attributes to her "interactions with Gerard Manley Hopkins' journals." The topic is consciousness as it wavers between captivity and liberty, from "this white unswaying place" to "this green, this blueness," where the speaker finds that "sometimes what you look at hard seems to look hard at you." For sophisticated readers.
—Ellen M. Kaufman

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375711442
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/2/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 976,762
  • Product dimensions: 6.70 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Laurie Sheck is the author of five books of poetry, including Black Series and The Willow Grove, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She lives in New York City
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Read an Excerpt

The First RemoveThe others hiding away when they took her. Eventually I learned other words. Assere for knives. Toras: North. Satewa: alone.Always a breakdown of systems that will not be restored. Something cuts itself in me. It’s not a question of refusal.Esteronde: to rain. Tesenochte: I do not know. The shattered of, and then the narrowness opening where the vanished touches it–Then how the mind recombines and overthrows–The Fourth RemoveThe way sunlight amends The eyes, too, grow practiced in unsteadiness and fracture.I write this to you on air as I walk, but I think now all summary is betrayal. I picture your hands lifting a fork or folding cloth, while at the same timeI’m thinking, it was believed if their cornfields were cut down they would starve and die with hunger, And was missing from and could learn no tidings . . . And they who have taken meWere driven from the little they had . . . he fetched me some water and told me I could wash. All these so braided, where hurt is building nimbly.I feel a pleasure of never contained sweep over me, now that I know place is never Clear or wholly settled, not even the veins on the underside of a leaf, its freedoms.Crossing is a hard simple. The feet register the merest intervals and shifts; All that is tracked is also otherwise and hidden.And water lies plainlyThen I came to an edge of very calm But couldn’t stay there. It was the washed greenblue mapmakers use to indicateInlets and coves, softbroken contours where the land leaves off And water lies plainly, as if lamped by its own justice. I hardly know how to say how it wasThough it spoke to me most kindly, Unlike a hard afterwards or the motions of forestalling.Now in evening light the far-off ridge carries marks of burning. The hills turn thundercolored, and my thoughts move toward them, rough skinsWithout their bodies. What is the part of us that feels it isn’t named, that doesn’t know How to respond to any name? That scarcely or not at all can lift its headInto the blue and so unfold there?

From the Hardcover edition.

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Table of Contents

September light     3
No hour     4
The First Remove     5
A quiet skin     6
As when red sky     7
The mind would pierce them     8
Yet this may be so delicate     9
The Second Remove     10
But couldn't cross     11
Hidden liberty     12
How oddly lawful     13
The Third Remove     14
Expeditions     15
Tossed-back     16
No clockwork prayer     17
This austere and fierce machinery     18
The Fourth Remove     19
And soon scattering     20
Genome     21
The Fifth Remove     25
What is this chain     26
Unlike the winged recoil     27
Comfort binds itself     28
A crisp whiteness     29
The Sixth Remove     30
Rope-burn     31
Did not foresee     32
No summer as yet     33
Or resolve into a calm     34
The Seventh Remove     35
No purchase     36
As when an otherwise opens     37
The Eighth Remove     38
Maelstroms     39
The cells in their distant otherness     40
Mysteriously standing     41
The Ninth Remove     42
As waxen cells imprinted     43
This white unswaying place     44
A ragged fabric     45
The Tenth Remove     46
Each view intercepted     47
An alien hand     48
The Eleventh Remove     49
Sync-pulses     50
Audio-waves     51
The Twelfth Remove     52
That I might step     53
So many bending threads     54
The Thirteenth Remove     55
But there's another leaf     56
Late summer     57
Red bloom     60
This confused manner of the dust     61
The slender chromosomal strands     65
The Fourteenth Remove     66
And water lies plainly     67
Retreating figure     68
Doesn't govern the perplexities     71
The Fifteenth Remove     72
This green, this blueness     73
The Sixteenth Remove     74
The Seventeenth Remove     75
Notes      77
Acknowledgments     79
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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2013


    Rico said tokipy we vider ko

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