Eating in the Underworld / Edition 1

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Overview

In Rachel Zucker’s re-imagining of the Greek myth, Persephone is a daughter struggling to become a woman. Unlike the classical portrait of a maiden kidnapped by a tyrant, Zucker’s Persephone chooses to travel to the Underworld and assume her role as Hades' queen. Caught between worlds—light and dark, innocence and power, a mother's protection and a lover's appeal—Persephone describes the strangeness of the Underworld and the problems of transformation and transgression. The arrangement of Zucker’s poems reflects Persephone’s travels between the Underworld and the Surface. Both spare and lyrical, they are written as entries in Persephone's diary and as letters between Persephone, Demeter, and Hades. The language—strange, urgent, direct—is pulled and changed as Persephone journeys from one world to another revealing the struggle of unmaking and remaking the self.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Evocative and mysterious, the poems hint at the faraway... the poems flow and involve the reader in the writer’s journey, whether to the real underworld or not. Zucker indeed leads us 'swimming through chaos to find the world.'”—Library Journal
Library Journal
Having won the Center for the Book Arts's chapbook contest last year, Zucker follows up with her first full-length collection, inspired by the Greek myth of Persephone. Yet while they use ancient myths for their source, these poems deal with language and life in a modern way... Evocative and mysterious, the poems hint at the faraway--"Before I leave I will turn some of these young girls to birds. So they might fly"--and sometimes describe the art of poetry itself--"I break lines, pulverize parchment/ swallow God's name/ enter the inverted ziggurat but cannot/ hide in architecture"... the poems flow and involve the reader in the writer's journey, whether to the real underworld or not. Zucker indeed leads us "swimming through chaos to find the world."
February 2003
Library Journal
Having won the Center for the Book Arts's chapbook contest last year, Zucker follows up with her first full-length collection, inspired by the Greek myth of Persephone. Yet while they use ancient myths for their source, these poems deal with language and life in a modern way: "I will sell my long hair for two mother-of-pearl/ buttons,/ unclasp my heart from its open bird cage/ but not put desire away." Evocative and mysterious, the poems hint at the far-away-"Before I leave I will turn some of these young girls/ to birds. So they might fly"-and sometimes describe the art of poetry itself-"I break lines, pulverize parchment/ swallow God's name/ enter the inverted ziggurat but cannot/ hide in architecture." The titles can be repetitive and distracting with their bracketed subtitles (e.g., "Diary [The First Seed]"), but the poems flow and involve the reader in the writer's journey, whether to the real underworld or not. Zucker indeed leads us "swimming through chaos to find the world." Recommended for most collections.-Doris Lynch, Monroe Cty. P.L., Bloomington, IN Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780819566287
  • Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
  • Publication date: 2/26/2003
  • Series: Wesleyan Poetry Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 80
  • Sales rank: 1,427,043
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 8.14 (h) x 0.26 (d)

Meet the Author

RACHEL ZUCKER has taught at Yale and New York University. Winner of the Barrow Street Poetry Prize and the 2002 Center for Book Arts Award, her poetry has been published in APR, Colorado Review, Iowa Review and Pleiades, as well as in the Best American Poetry 2001 anthology. This is her first book.
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Read an Excerpt

Before I leave I will turn some of these young girls
to birds. So they might fly.

Human eyes will guide them,
bird bodies carry them.

Their singing will torture the gods.

I never cared much for flowers,
servants to bees and beauty.

Tell the daughters to go down through darkness:
there they will find me.

And though we may bring death back with us,
every year we will return alive.

-from "Diary (On the Banks)"

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