Crossroads and Unholy Water

Overview

Marilene Phipps’s poetry invites the reader to share sharp slices of Caribbean experience: Haiti is both stage and backdrop for people who move in various strata of the social scheme and through the three stages of life, in lieu of answers to the Sphinx’s riddle. Through voices, nostalgic and tender, denouncing and shrill, we journey to a mythologizing Caribbean land populated with people whose dramatic intensity and fights for life are turned into sometimes funny, sometimes disquieting, and always richly ...

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Crossroads and Unholy Water

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Overview

Marilene Phipps’s poetry invites the reader to share sharp slices of Caribbean experience: Haiti is both stage and backdrop for people who move in various strata of the social scheme and through the three stages of life, in lieu of answers to the Sphinx’s riddle. Through voices, nostalgic and tender, denouncing and shrill, we journey to a mythologizing Caribbean land populated with people whose dramatic intensity and fights for life are turned into sometimes funny, sometimes disquieting, and always richly evocative, palpable poetry.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"[T]his wonderful collection embodies a fully initiated voice that dares some old truths through youthful language.  These poems are earned; they are woven around the breast-pin of experience.  In fact, this collection embraces awe and woe through curses and praise that unearth a meeting place for the unspeakable as well as culminant beauty—a book of acknowledgment and ritual.”—Yusef Komunyakaa

“Marilene Phipps is an exquisite poet. In her work, dragonflies flirt with water, children fly blouse kites, the Virgin appears in a blue and yellow mist to comfort the river women, the worshippers, the nonbelievers,  the bereaved, and all of us. Through Phipps' lyrical visions and breathtaking images, we are all transformed.” —Edwidge Danticat

“Marilene Phipps’s depiction of life in Haiti, where the author spent her childhood, is one that literature does not often reveal to us, and that's what gives Phipps’s poems both their energy and their corrective vision. Unapologetically, Phipps describes a life of privilege set against the backdrop of poverty, and her narratives set us smack in the center of her memory’s vivid and exacting stage. Here the women hold court, and Phipps shows us the careful balance of power between those who carve the meat in alleyways and those who drink cocktails by the pool. Washed in bold hues, in the pinks and greens of a childhood rich in both the natural and the supernatural, these poems do not fade even after the last page is turned. We come away from this book in exuberant agreement with the widow who sends off her dead husband with a slap: ‘Why, there is nothing to regret about this earth!’”—Lucia Perillo

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780809323067
  • Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2000
  • Series: Crab Orchard Series in Poetry
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Pages: 88
  • Lexile: 870L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Marilene Phipps is a poet and a painter who was born and grew up in Haiti. The 1993 Grolier Poetry Prize winner, she has been both a Guggenheim and Harvard University Bunting Institute fellow. She has won fellowships for the year 1999–2000 at the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute and the Center for the Study of World Religions, both at Harvard. Her poetry has been anthologized in Beacon’s Best of 1999

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