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The Fields of Praise: New and Selected Poems

The Fields of Praise: New and Selected Poems

by Marilyn Nelson

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LSU Press

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Embracing themes of motherhood and marriage, racism and religion, Nelson recombines accomplished works from earlier volumes (The Homeplace; Magnificat) with new poems. In one run-on sentence the narrator of "Bali Hai Calls Mama" recalls a Saturday afternoon in which, "I was putting away the groceries/ I'd spent the morning buying" and "the baby was screaming/and I dropped the bag of cake flour..." when suddenly through the window comes "the cry of wild geese." Section II offers poems about her childhood. "How I Discovered Poetry" (listening to a teacher read) and "Sisters," with schoolgirls fist fighting at a bus stop, mix with resonant paeans to her parents. Strongest is Section III; its poems, grappling with evil and filled with biblical and philosophical references, demonstrate a luminous power. Included are a series of parables about the holy figure, Abba Jacob, whose teachings are delivered in taut, colloquial verse: in one, after he gives up in his fight with an angel, "she took his hand in hers/ and put her arm around his neck./ Then he heard the music." The final section, with its sequences on love and forgiveness, closes with the story of a racist incident which ends with a wholly unexpected apology, a "minor miracle" in the life that we must navigate together, as Nelson persuasively reminds us in this stirring assemblage of poems. (May)
Marilyn Hacker
"....Te Fields of Praise is a mid-career selectison from four earlier books, combined with new work. Rather than arrange the poems chronologically, Nelson has chosen to order them thematically: roughly, the maternal and paternal principles; a multi-generational African American family history; spiritual parables; meditations on the nature of good and evil. Still, the book traces a thematic and formal development, as the poet's world-view opens out through her chosen subjects...." The Women's Review of Books

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Louisiana State University Press
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6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

Meet the Author

Marilyn Nelson's other poetry titles include Magnificat; The Homeplace, which was a finalist for the National Book Award; and Mama's Promises. A recipient of the Annisfield-Wolf Award, she is professor of English at the University of Connecticut at Storrs.

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