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Overview

Using natural, biblical, and classical imagery, these poems explore the difficulties of faith and love—particularly the difficulties of their expression, their performance. Moving between dramatic and interior monologue, and moving through intersecting histories, the ambiguities of inwardness and the eros of wakeful existence, these poems search for relationships with self, others, the world and God that are authentic—however quirky or strange.

"This is poetry of a rare fine delicacy. Its very modesty testifies ...

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Overview

Using natural, biblical, and classical imagery, these poems explore the difficulties of faith and love—particularly the difficulties of their expression, their performance. Moving between dramatic and interior monologue, and moving through intersecting histories, the ambiguities of inwardness and the eros of wakeful existence, these poems search for relationships with self, others, the world and God that are authentic—however quirky or strange.

"This is poetry of a rare fine delicacy. Its very modesty testifies to a great ambition—to overcome by the quietest of means."—Donald Justice

In Tennessee I Found a Firefly
Flashing in the grass; the mouth of a spider clung
to the dark of it: the legs of the spider
held the tucked wings close,
held the abdomen still in the midst of calling
with thrusts of phosphorescent light—

When I am tired of being human, I try to remember
the two stuck together like burrs. I try to place them
central in my mind where everything else must
surround them, must see the burr and the barb of them.
There is courtship, and there is hunger. I suppose
there are grips from which even angels cannot fly.
Even imagined ones. Luciferin, luciferase.
When I am tired of only touching,
I have my mouth to try to tell you
what, in your arms, is not erased

"This is poetry of a rare fine delicacy. Its very modesty testifies to a great ambition—to overcome by the quietest of means."—Donald Justice

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Winner of the 2002 Beatrice Hawley Award, Szybist here looks at the connecting power of prayer; the best of these 37 poems express an almost intimate relationship between the poet and the sacred. Using free verse (the two formal poems are less successful), she writes from her own perspective and that of Jesus Christ; his mother, Mary; and the Archangel Gabriel, making the book resemble a polyphonic hymn. Using fresh metaphors-"When I consider the body in the manger/ I feel it on my face"; "a prayer of high-rouged cheekbones"-Szybist examines spiritual states from longing to abandonment to ecstasy. Her most evocative poem, "Script Says Cry," suggests those states and is written in two voices. The first is that of Jesus Christ, as he hangs on the cross, with his thoughts taking him past this moment of abandonment to the poet, whose longing and ecstasy form the second voice. As these poems spring from the deepest recesses of the poet's psyche, reading them at times feels like an intrusion. This fine first book is recommended for public and academic libraries.-Diane Scharper, Towson Univ., MD Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781882295371
  • Publisher: Alice James Books
  • Publication date: 4/1/2003
  • Pages: 80
  • Sales rank: 623,231
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Table of Contents

Mutatis Mutandis 1
What If I Could Look at You 2
Naked and Unashamed Are Two Different Moments 4
Swamp 5
What the World Is For 6
Raiment 8
Idealized Head 9
Twelfth Night from the Willow Cabin 10
First Confession 12
His Animals 13
Long After the Donkey and Desert 14
When I Was a Spoon in My Mother's Kitchen 16
Crylight 18
Via Negativa 19
Monologue to be Spoken by an Archangel 20
Again, the Body as Temple 21
Script Says Cry 23
Against Bitterness 24
In the Glare of the Garden 26
Response to Sunlight 27
First Mardi Gras 28
The Way One Picks Up a Shell on the Beach 30
The Mouths of Carp 31
Approaching Elegy 32
Heaven in Miniature 34
Withdrawal 36
Apology 38
On Gravity 39
Train Station, Reno: Early December 40
"... What a Lovely Way You Have of Putting Things" 42
Our Lady of the Milk 43
The Technique of the Lifelike 44
The Waiting 45
Wafian as in Waven as in Wif 47
Self-Portrait with a Bee in My Mouth 49
Two Figures Lying on a Bed with Attendants 51
In Tennessee I Found a Firefly 54
Notes 57
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Deep Wells of Longing, Long Flights of Dreams

    It is rare to have a poet so vividly, so unmistakeably, so symbolically go after some hard truths. Namely, what we long for in love, and how our lives of passion actually play out and what patterns we get trapped in. If one doesn't make early, naive mistakes - and we all do - then we are still left with relationships that don't always make us whole nor strong, independent people. Yet, there is longing, there are ideals...there are wonderings about the machinations of heaven. Here is "Monologue to Be Spoken by an Archangel":

    Snow! & snow of Our Lady!
    Know the lamb

    has dropped into sleep, numb,
    stiff as a courtier, the lamb

    (Hands indicating the motions of waves)

    is not with you.

    (A long time passes)

    ...and Our Lady grows
    distressingly simple, caught
    beneath stones, her white
    bruises... Who has

    (Indicating the eyes)

    not been God's thief?

    (disappears)

    Our Lady! is dizzy,
    ill, among sparrows-She
    is stripped and salts herself.
    When she cries, she cries
    out to...

    (Indicating absence)

    ...Who
    has not been God's wife?


    I found Szybist's style to be daringly abstract/symbolic, making the language lush and colorful and the messages behind the words emotionally powerful. Her commentary is more about the world than her own efforts and responsibilities, but in her stories we find a call for higher existences here on earth, for expectations that love can mean more than it ever has. A creative, revealing voice.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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