On Speaking Terms

Overview

“Connie Wanek . . . is superb, mature [and] a master of mood and language.”—St. Paul Pioneer Press

“No poet I know, with the exception of Jane Kenyon, is as able to discover the magic and depth in ordinary, day-to-day life and to artfully render that vision for the reader.”—Louis Jenkins

Connie Wanek’s third book of poems, On Speaking Terms, is amusing, tender, and surprising. Herself a librarian in Duluth, Minnesota, Wanek’s poems emerge from everyday objects—Scrabble, garlic, ...

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Overview

“Connie Wanek . . . is superb, mature [and] a master of mood and language.”—St. Paul Pioneer Press

“No poet I know, with the exception of Jane Kenyon, is as able to discover the magic and depth in ordinary, day-to-day life and to artfully render that vision for the reader.”—Louis Jenkins

Connie Wanek’s third book of poems, On Speaking Terms, is amusing, tender, and surprising. Herself a librarian in Duluth, Minnesota, Wanek’s poems emerge from everyday objects—Scrabble, garlic, lipstick, hawkweed—and the landscapes, waterscapes, and severe winters of the upper Midwest. Readers will shove off in canoes, buckle on skis, set fishing nets in Lake Superior, and spend time in the real world of the imagination. Lit by startling metaphors, Wanek’s work has been justly compared to Wislawa Szymborska’s for its wry wit and spare “Eastern European” sensibility.

. . . Afterwards it was Eve who made
the first snowman, her second sin, and she laughed
as she rolled up the wet white carpet
and lifted the wee head into place.
“And God causeth the sun to melt her labors,
for He was a jealous God.”

Connie Wanek is the author of two books of poems. She lives in Duluth, Minnesota, where she is a public librarian and renovates old houses with her husband. Her poems have appeared in many journals, including The Atlantic Monthly and Poetry. In 2006 she was named a Witter Bynner Fellow in Poetry from the Library of Congress.

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Editorial Reviews

Stephen Burt
Unassuming and careful almost to a fault, Wanek's poems start out in sweet sadness and end up trenchantly bitter. She should appeal to many fans of Jane Kenyon, but the disillusioned voice in this third collection brings her closer to Thomas Hardy…Nobody will call Wanek overly difficult. The most attentive readers will call her wise.
—The New York Times
Library Journal
Wanek's best poems seem to fall effortlessly into place, like a snowdrift. In "Closest to the Sky," a mother addresses her grown and departed son from his empty attic bedroom, cataloging "signs of [your] former occupation:/ mostly software—inessential shirts and socks/ and silver discs." The poem deftly melds the sadness and relief that can end a difficult familial phase: outside the window, "the crows only know/ that no one here is angry any more." This is the third collection from Wanek (after Hartley Field), and like her previous collections it's rooted in the northern Minnesota landscape that makes her tick. "Tracks in the Snow" imbues a minor fall on skis with a familiar mortal creepiness: "the heart he seldom consulted/ made itself known to him, throbbing urgently in his ears/ "Get up, get up, get up, get up." The weaker poems tend to be lesson-driven if clever, milking metaphors from the quotidian. But in most, the physical embodies the emotional without straining the material. VERDICT Readable, moving free verse possibly influenced by the work of Maxine Kumin and Jane Kenyon.—Ellen Kaufman, Baruch Coll. Lib., New York
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556592942
  • Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/2010
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 1,390,047
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Connie Wanek is the author of two books of poems. She lives in Duluth, Minnesota, where she is a librarian and renovates old houses with her husband. Her poems have appeared in many journals, including Atlantic Monthly, Poetry, and Country Journal. In 2006 she was selected by Poet Laureate Ted Kooser as a Witter Bynner Fellow in Poetry.

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