Cornucopia: New and Selected Poems


"Molly Peacock's precision in Cornucopia makes each moment ignite with bounteous pleasures."—Yusef Komunyakaa
In poems humorous and daring, forthright and wise, Molly Peacock returns in this collection to the landscape of North American poetry she has helped create—the investigation of love in all its manifestations. In the new poems, she takes us to the Land of the Shí, a world reached not by going but by staying.

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"Molly Peacock's precision in Cornucopia makes each moment ignite with bounteous pleasures."—Yusef Komunyakaa
In poems humorous and daring, forthright and wise, Molly Peacock returns in this collection to the landscape of North American poetry she has helped create—the investigation of love in all its manifestations. In the new poems, she takes us to the Land of the Shí, a world reached not by going but by staying.

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Editorial Reviews

The New Republic
“Her poetry is remarkable for its bold exploration of terrain traditionally considered taboo.”
New Republic
Her poetry is remarkable for its bold exploration of terrain traditionally considered taboo.
Publishers Weekly
Peacock won admiration, and notoriety, in the 1980s for combining traditional rhyming forms, reader-friendly narrative interest and explicit sexual content. Raw Heaven (1984), her second book, introduced her signature devices: in it, she used skillful pentameters (in blank verse, quatrains, sonnets and other rhyming schemes) to examine, seriously and with patience, "lovers saying, let's-take-off-our-clothes," masturbation ("she lets one hand re-pin the labia/ to free the other to wander"), "the smoky smell of menses" and "time's experienced part-/ fit-into-part." Subsequent work expanded her repertoire (rondeaux, terza rima, alphabetical forms) and kept her interest in love, sex and domestic experience on low boil. "Why would an orgasm make someone weep?" one brief poem asks. "Have you ever faked an orgasm?" another inquires. At the same time, the later books widened her range to include a traumatic childhood (1989's Take Heart), a range of long-term friendships, and the vicissitudes of marriage (1995's Original Love). They also opened up Peacock's gift for quips: "Luxury is in the ordinary"; "Ours is the miracle: we're here." This volume offers a generous sampling from those three books for people who missed them the first time; nibbles and bits from her first book, And Live Apart (1980); and new poems that show Peacock trying to expand her technique toward long, halting, self-conscious free-verse sentences, and to more challenging, promising, dreamlike fragments, "a practice of words-in-blood." (Aug.) Forecast: Peacock's poems of the 1980s may seem less original now than they did then; verse celebrations of women's sexuality are no longer uncommon, and the New Formalist movement has lost the oppositional energy it once had. On the other hand, Peacock, president emeritus of the Poetry Society of America, remains very much a presence in magazines, and the poems' storytelling powers are as good as ever: look for this book to be in prize contention. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
The publication of a Selected Works is a testament to the success of any author and Molly Peacock's is no exception. Cornucopia, an apt title for this abundant collection, includes the vast majority of Raw Heaven, Take Heart and Original Love plus excerpts from And Live Apart. Peacock's acknowledged mastery of form uniquely applied to contemporary material, including traditionally shunned sexual references, creates a subtle relevance for poetic ritual applied to modern language and matter. Peacock's amazing control of traditional patterns from sonnets to alphabetic forms might best be noted in juxtaposition to the security with which she embraces creative structural variations and her assurance with irregular rhyme. At her best, her wide-reaching domestic subject matter dominates the poems to the point that poetic convention becomes transparent or invisible. The "Land of the Shi," 18 poems that comprise the "new" section of Cornucopia, presents a fresh direction for Pea-cock's work, a more concerted venture into free verse. While her consistent investigation of all possible aspects of love continues here, these poems are slightly more ethereal in tone while she explores what she refers to as "a kind of Celtic zen." This evolution, however, presents itself as seamless and inevitable, another step in her honest exploration of the world's possible realities, the manipulation of language, and in Peacock's own noteworthy career. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2002, Norton, 250p., Ages 15 to adult.
—James Beschta
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393325492
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/19/2003
  • Pages: 252
  • Sales rank: 1,346,320
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Molly Peacock is an acclaimed poet, essayist, and creative nonfiction writer. Her latest work of nonfiction is The Paper Garden: An Artist Begins Her Life's Work at 72. Her most recent collection of poems is The Second Blush. As President of the Poetry Society of America, Molly Peacock was one of the creators of New York's Poetry in Motion program; co-editing Poetry In Motion: One Hundred Poems from the Subways and Buses. She serves as a Faculty Mentor at the Spalding University Brief Residency MFA Program and is also the Series Editor of The Best Canadian Poetry in English.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 15
A Favor of Love 19
A Love Koan 21
The Land of the Shi 22
Lexington Avenue Musedog 23
Ash Wednesday, Hurrying Eastward 25
Nude at a Dressing Table 27
Repair 28
The Parsley Ship 30
The Umbrella 31
Refusal 33
Tan Oval Head Leaning Toward Tiny Brown Oval Shell 34
Let Me Manage Something Simple 36
The Land of Tears 38
Couple Sharing a Peach 39
Diary of Our Day in Painting Titles 40
Conversation 43
The Soul House 44
Breakfast with Cats 45
A Kind of Parlance 49
Anno Domini 53
Nightwake 54
Walking is Almost Falling 56
The Lawns of June 57
The Distance Up Close 61
The Lull 62
Just About Asleep Together 63
Old Roadside Resorts 64
Those Paperweights with Snow Inside 65
Where is Home? 66
Our Room 67
Loneliness 68
She Lays 69
The Shoulders of Women 70
The Land of Veils 71
North of the Eyes 72
Two Cups on the Table 73
Squirrel Disappears 74
Things to Do 75
Smell 76
Petting and Being a Pet 77
Waking to the Chatter of the Child Next Door 78
A Bed for a Woman 79
And You Were a Baby Girl 80
Islands in Our Eyes 81
So, When I Swim to the Shore 82
Cut Flower 83
Afraid 84
A Face Regresses 85
Sky Inside 86
Sweet Time 87
The Veil of If 88
Mental France 89
Next Afternoon 90
Cutting Tall Grass 91
A Garden 92
A Gesture 93
The Burnt Lawn 94
Nervous Jabbering 95
Among Tall Buildings 96
Aubade 97
Berries Which are Berries 98
The Little Girls 99
The Web of Histories 100
My Vast Presumption 101
Stumble 102
Novembers 103
This Time 104
Desire 105
World We Sleep In 106
Forsythia Below Clouds 107
The Breach of Or 108
How I Come to You 111
The Valley of the Monsters 112
Buffalo 114
Commands of Love 115
Say You Love Me 116
Blank Paper 118
Dream Come True 119
Unexpected Freedom 120
Putting a Burden Down 121
That Leaf 122
Blue and Huge 123
The Spell 125
A Hot Day in Agrigento 126
The Surge 128
Parrots of the World 129
Food for Talk 132
Joy 133
My God, Why are You Crying? 135
Merely by Wilderness 136
Chriseaster 137
On the Street 139
The Ghost 140
Things can be Named to Death 142
A Simple Purchase 143
How I Had to Act 146
Anger Sweetened 148
Feeling Sorry for Yourself 149
Throwing Out Old Clothes 150
Friendship with Men 151
Reunion 152
Instead of Her Own 153
Friends 154
The Worm 155
I Must Have Learned this Somewhere 157
Art Buzzards 158
Good Girl 160
Don't Think Governments End the World 161
Choice 163
When I Love You 164
One Place 165
Altruism 166
Dear Heart 167
The Smell of a God 168
Typing to Evangelize a Cut Flower 169
Dear Arm 170
There Must Be 171
The Wheel 177
So What If I am in Love 178
My College Sex Group 180
Have You Ever Faked an Orgasm? 181
Panties and the Buddha 182
The Return 183
Love Wall 184
Waking Up 185
The Scare 186
Marathon Song 187
The Purr 188
Lullaby 189
Blush Blessing 190
Little Miracle 191
The Spider Heart 195
Seeing a Basket of Lobelia the Color of a Bathrobe 197
The Rule 199
The Job 200
Yes 201
No 202
Dogged Persistence 203
The Fare 204
Miss, Miss, are You Awake? 206
Unseen 209
Floral Conversation 210
I Consider the Possibility 211
Vogue Vista 212
Portrayal 213
Love Beat 214
The Hunt 215
The Explanation 216
Baubles after Bombs 217
Religious Instruction 221
In a Long Line of Horses 223
Subway Vespers 224
Simple 226
Forgiveness 227
Cancelled Elegy 228
Happy Birthday 229
Upbringing 230
Good-Bye Hello in the East Village 232
Matins 234
Prairie Prayer 235
Life Study 236
Why I am not a Buddhist 237
Index of Titles 239
Index of First Lines 245
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