From the Publisher
“These poems are so bright they hurt: urgent and necessary, they explode and shatter into original wholeness, reclaiming for Soul its own languagefierce, challenging, and spare. This is a book Emily would have kept by her bedside. About it, she might have said, ‘Here is a newness in the wind to trouble your attention.’”Susan Mitchell
“The poems in this first collection from Davis
are taut and spare and show an obvious love of language. A fine, compelling collection.”Library Journal
"Christina Davis sends forth a wild bird in her magical first collection, and it carries messages that are at once oracular, urgent, and utterly authentic. She has inscribed a true book of mysteries."Edward Hirsch
"In the oddity and rightness of these poems, it’s 'As if there were just one/of each word, and the one/who used it, used it up.' Out of this economy, the voice that emergesrueful like Dickinson, wryly charming like Szymborskapushes the boundaries of contemporary lyric by being both runic and absolutely clear."Tom Sleigh
Simple metaphysical questioning characterizes this strong first collection: "Every question/ I have ever asked," says Davis's title poem, "could be ground down to// Do you love me? Will I die?" Davis brings a psychological acuity and a mythic, laconic approach (reminiscent sometimes of Louise Gluck) to a spare universe of ravens, mountains and purgatorial reminiscences: one of many poems about the afterlife inquires, "Does anyone ever ask to return as himself again?" Davis uses religious language, both pagan (Odin's ravens) and biblical (Noah's birds), along with forms of prayer, to explore a postreligious world marked by family trauma, skeptical hopes and (unspecified) illness; adaptations of the Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva, Emily Dickinson, Woolf, Rilke and others, provide additional reference and range. The sparseness of imagery can risk placing too much weight on unsurprising phrases, as when Davis asks "what love is." Usually, though, her demanding attitudes and her unembellished poems fit together well-"As if there were just one/ of each word and the one/ who used it, used it up." The result is a head-turning debut. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
The poems in this first collection from Davis (associate director, NYU Creative Writing Prog.; ed., Illuminations: Great Writers on Writing) are taut and spare and show an obvious love of language. "There is a Zulu word for far,/ which means: where a man cries/ "Mother, I am lost." From the opening Genesis quote (the origin of the title poem) they spin a fantasy-like, incantatory quality that at the same time seems no-nonsense, real. "In the dream, we take god out of the attic and put back the birds,/ higher than human/ but horizontal." The natural world is filtered here through Davis's transforming lens, where it becomes something to be discovered anew. Some of the poems are reminiscent of a game of connect-the-dots, fairy tales full of strange aphorisms: "They say men tend to head in the direction/ of their handedness. So I look for you/ on the right." The best poems here-and there are many good ones-are blessed with an elegiac surprise: "Then, I thought of what all/ I have never opened:/ a coffin, a parachute, someone else's scab." A fine, compelling collection; recommended for all libraries.-Doris Lynch, Monroe Cty. P.L., Bloomington, IN Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Read an Excerpt
Forth A Raven
By Christina Davis
Alice James Books Copyright © 2006 Christina Davis
All right reserved.
"Nostalgia for the Infinite”
Each time we moved,
I wanted to come back as a tree.
And each time we stayed, as a bird.
Does anyone ever ask to return as himself again?
I wanted to be a tree
a bird and myself-being-the-bird.
Excerpted from Forth A Raven by Christina Davis Copyright © 2006 by Christina Davis. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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