From the Publisher
“‘The story of your creation starts/with a force that wanted something,’ Lia Purpura writes, ‘and worked to see if you were it.’ A myth of motherhood, a parable of artistic creation, a suite of hymns to an ambiguous emblem, this compelling, Orphic sequence pushes deeply into its chosen vehicle, seeking the diff erence between song and hunger.”Mark Doty
"Purpura's charming [third collection]...captures both the fierce love and the flighty weirdness of life with a baby, opting always for the symbolic and the surprising over the literal record..."Publishers Weekly
"This book-length sequence is reminiscent of poems by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Louise Glück, with its hypnotic voice and its otherworldly reach."Library Journal
"In King Baby...Purpura uses the physical as a conduit to the metaphysical; and circles this found fetish in ever-more-incisive gyres, to probe the never-satisfied nature of human yearning...She is particularly effective at distilling those elusive slithers of creative clarity we sometimes experience in our daily lives...Purpura is a wordsmith of the highest order..."Susan McCallum-Smith, WYPR Radio
"The poems are exquisitely tender and reverent, each temporarily holding emptiness in place with images and stories, each looking for something that can stand for holiness."ForeWord Magazine
"The poems in King Baby are both folk tales and found objects: every line reaches the page like Pushkin's talking goldfish. A child's discovery of a hand-carved totem frees Purpura from the daily rounds of semiotics. Like the Swedish poet Gunnar Ekelof's work, every poem in this collection reminds us that we are each still newly placed among the living."Stephen Kuusisto
Purpura's charming and mystifying third collection comprises a book-length sequence of attentive, rapturous untitled poems, most of them addressed to the titular figure, who becomes alternately a found doll, a missing child, a spiritual representative of childhood and a real infant to whom the poet gave birth. Purpura (On Looking) captures both the fierce love and the flighty weirdness of life with a baby, opting always for the symbolic and the surprising over the literal record: "Come. It's my birthday," she writes, addressing both her readers, and her baby. "Make me over/ into a thing a tree could use, like light to drink." Though some readers may feel lost, others should welcome how winter weather, fairy tale scenes and moments of bafflement ("You with a block of ice in your head") keep Purpura unpredictable. One of the quieter, sweeter segments compares the poet-as-mother to a builder of playgrounds and to a bowerbird: "I went out for a walk to find a blue boat," she says, "to remind you of home and having to go/ beyond the known, I did not find a boat/ but more blue things than I thought abound." (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Who is talking? Who is listening? These two questions inform Purpura's third collection of poems. This book-length sequence is reminiscent of poems by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Louise Glück, with its hypnotic voice and its otherworldly reach. Purpura's poems weave metaphors-one suggesting the birth of a child, another alluding to the progression of the seasons from winter to spring. Using lists, as in objects the narrator finds on a walk, the poems rush breathlessly from image to image. Doing this, they fuse references from the Bible and quotes from literary stars like Vladimir Nabokov to the narrator's own down-home commentary, making the kind of surreal sense found in paintings by René Magritte. Mixing tones from the profound to the flippant, the poems seek to "see as you do, King Baby," which is with a fresh eye. A National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, Purpura achieves her freshness essentially by rooting her poetry in ambiguity and irony. One is never quite sure what she's talking about, but her skillful use of language pleases as it entices. Recommended for all libraries.-Diane Scharper, Towson Univ., MD Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Read an Excerpt
Your form is always with me as I walk,
empty and pierced. Today I stopped to see,
and touched by seeing, sparrows in the bittersweet,
deep in a copse of thorns,
their bodies soft among the sharpness,
indigo in that light.
Not mottled-slate. Not bluish-grey.
How good to find distraction