Messenger: New and Selected Poems 1976-2006

Messenger: New and Selected Poems 1976-2006

by Ellen Bryant Voigt

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“Genius. Voigt is a poet of knowledge, and knowledge in the living, messy world.”—Robert Pinsky, Washington Post Book WorldSee more details below


“Genius. Voigt is a poet of knowledge, and knowledge in the living, messy world.”—Robert Pinsky, Washington Post Book World

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Consistently respected by her contemporaries, Voigt's quiet but often violently powerful poems of autobiography, pastoral and history have not always gained the broad attention they deserve. This seventh book (her first retrospective) may ensure that she gets it. Voigt's descriptive powers pop out first: a snake, for instance, is a "wrinkle coming toward me in the grass." Her anecdotes, scenic lyrics, parables and loosely structured sequences ask, however, to be judged for the ways in which they depict people-the poet, her husband, her sisters, their ailing and dying parents, or, in Kyrie (1995), the victims of the devastating flu epidemic of 1918. Voigt seems to know a lot about birds and bird-watching, and even more about the classical piano repertoire; these specialties further enliven the sensitive poems of domestic and wild spaces she has composed throughout her career, from a catalogue of birds early on to a recent "redbird fixed on the branch like a ripe fruit." Voigt's latest and most original poetry delves furthest into the human interior, finding-like a friendlier, warmer version of Voigt's longtime friend Louise Gluck-the hidden motives behind all human endeavor: "the past," she writes, "is not a scar but a wound;/ I've seen it breaking open." (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Voigt's latest represents a large body of work from a poet too little known. These poems convey a rare sense of motion from line to line, as in the dynamics of the piano music the poet often describes from the perspective of its player, with theme, variation, and the able use of those evocative Italian terms, like rubato and glissando. These qualities sweep the reader into a deeply felt natural and imagined world. Birds are familiars (grosbeak, chickadee) seen from below that land in meadows dense with life (old oaks and oleander) but with life's mutability inherently understood. Some of the best work here also documents the movement of families-as in a long, sequenced narrative following sons coming back from war less than whole and those dead from flu on the home front, circa 1919. For readers tentative about poetry, this large and varied collection is accessible, with language that is never falsely elevated but that takes pleasure in naming what it knows. Readers who enjoy such diverse contemporary poets as Maxine Kumin and Ted Kooser will find much to admire here, as will those who treasure the poems of an earlier generation (Robert Frost and Elizabeth Bishop come to mind). Recommended for large public and academic libraries, particularly those seeking to extend their contemporary poetry selections.-Sue Russell, Bryn Mawr, PA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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