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Our Andromeda

Overview

Honored as a New York Times Book Review "100 Notable Books of 2013"

Honored by Cosmopolitan as the one poetry title on their list of “Best Books of the Year For Women, by Women”

"A heady, infectious celebration."—The New Yorker

"Shaughnessy's voice is smart, sexy, self-aware, hip . . . consistently wry, and ever savvy."—Harvard Review

Brenda Shaughnessy's heartrending third ...

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Our Andromeda

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Overview

Honored as a New York Times Book Review "100 Notable Books of 2013"

Honored by Cosmopolitan as the one poetry title on their list of “Best Books of the Year For Women, by Women”

"A heady, infectious celebration."—The New Yorker

"Shaughnessy's voice is smart, sexy, self-aware, hip . . . consistently wry, and ever savvy."—Harvard Review

Brenda Shaughnessy's heartrending third collection explores dark subjects—trauma, childbirth, loss of faith—and stark questions: What is the use of pain and grief? Is there another dimension in which our suffering might be transformed? Can we change ourselves? Yearning for new gods, new worlds, and new rules, she imagines a parallel existence in the galaxy of Andromeda.

Rave reviews for Our Andromeda

“Love is the fierce engine of this beautiful and necessary book of poems. Love is the high stakes, the whip of its power and grief and possibility for repair. Brenda Shaughnessy has brought her full self to bear in Our Andromeda, and the result is a book that should be read now because it is a collection whose song will endure.” —The New York Times Book Review

"It is a monumental work, and makes a hash of those tired superlatives that will no doubt crop up in subsequent reviews. But the truth is that I have no single opinion about this collection—how could I? The book is a series of narratives that resist interpretation but not feeling—except that I am certain it further establishes Shaughnessy’s particular genius, which is utterly poetic, but essayistic in scope, encompassing ideas about astronomy, illness, bodies, the family, 'normalcy,' home." —The New Yorker

"Another Brooklyn poet, Marianne Moore, defined poetry as 'imaginary gardens, with real toads in them.' In Our Andromeda, Shaughnessy has imagined a universe, and in it, real love moves, quick with life." —Publishers Weekly,starred review

“Brenda Shaughnessy…laments and sometimes makes narratives about the struggle to keep her small family together in the aftermath of a difficult birth. In the title poem, she posits a galaxy far, far away where familial love might overtake all woe and turmoil of the heart and body and mind. Once there, she says to her son, ‘you'll have the babyhood you deserved.’ She also delivers a number of lovely lyrics in a supple, plainly stated line; some merely expressive, some with a philosophically questioning air; on fate, dreams, the present time’s long gaze back at the past — you know, all the good things poets write about.”— Alan Cheuse, on NPR’s list “5 Books of Poems to Get You Through the Summer”

“Brenda Shaughnessy’s work is a good place to start for any passionate woman feeling daunted by poetry. This book explores love and motherhood and the turbulent terrain of grief.”—Cosmopolitan

"Shaughnessy articulates, with force and clarity, the transformation that motherhood has required of her. Her poems are full of regret and ferocity."—Boston Review

"Brenda Shaughnessy explores the possibilities of a second chance in life and what could come of it. Enticing and thoughtful, Our Andromeda is a fine addition to contemporary poetry shelves." —The Midwest Book Review

Brenda Shaughnessy was born in Okinawa, Japan and grew up in Southern California. She is the author of Human Dark with Sugar (Copper Canyon Press, 2008), winner of the James Laughlin Award and finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Interior with Sudden Joy (FSG, 1999). Shaughnessy’s poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, Harper's, The Nation, The Rumpus, The New Yorker, and The Paris Review. She is an Assistant Professor of English at Rutgers University, Newark, and lives in Brooklyn with her husband, son and daughter.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This third collection from Shaughnessy (Human Dark with Sugar) is a fierce, angry, and at times wrathful book, full of anguished suffering in media res. The profound difficulties of dealing with a disabled child are not so much reflected upon by a parent as lived and registered in a poet’s language. Indeed, the torment strains against the conventions of line and stanza, brusquely resisting music and pretensions to sincerity (“I’m such a fraud/ I can’t even convince you/ of my fraudulence”). In her work, Shaughnessy has often punished herself for selfishness and even ambition, but here, life has dealt her a brutal hand, and in this ultimately brave record the poet emerges with a surprising gift. Like war poetry, this volume is about survival. Part 1, Liquid Flesh, works familiar Shaughnessy terrain—tough lyrics about self. Double Life, part 2, finds the poet in a relative and nearly banal peacetime, venting at such things as Fox News and duplicity in relationships; a sequence called Arcana follows, poems based on the Tarot (“The Hanged Man,” “The Fool,” etc.), in which the poet barely controls an anger that is beginning to rage; part 4, Family Trip, distracts with memories of the bitter struggles for identity within family (“I wish I had more sisters,/ enough to fight with…”); all of which culminates in the explosive title sequence, Our Andromeda, which settles scores, lays waste to early selves—not to mention medical practitioners and the birthing mother herself—and, in the long closing poem, by turns harrowing, mean, and fatalistic—is, suddenly, transformative. In these last pages, against all expectations, the poet has conjured an alternate galaxy in which doctors are competent, insurance companies humane, God exists (“a God for me after all”), and the boy Cal has an “even fight”—and a mother’s love. Another Brooklyn poet, Marianne Moore, defined poetry as “imaginary gardens, with real toads in them.” In Our Andromeda, Shaughnessy has imagined a universe, and in it, real love moves, quick with life. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Until recently, Shaughnessy seemed to appear every few years and sing something really wonderful, only to vanish without warning. Following the 1999 release of her critically acclaimed Interior with Sudden Joy, Shaughnessy didn't release a second volume until 2008 (Human Dark with Sugar, a James Laughlin Award winner). The wait for a third volume was blessedly shorter. This newest collection focuses largely upon the complications that accompanied the birth of her son, to whom this book is dedicated. The narrator's tone is decidedly conversational as she addresses an older version of her son, giving the book a message-in-a-bottle quality. While complex, this book is at times a bit uneven. But just as you're about to write her off, Shaughnessy feeds you a poem that redeems the shortcomings of the others, and the strong title piece, which closes the book, is the poem Shaughnessy should someday read to her son. VERDICT This book will appeal to readers interested in themes of trauma and childbirth and would be a worthwhile addition to most library collections.—Chris Pusateri, Jefferson Cty. P.L., Lakewood, CO
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556594106
  • Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
  • Publication date: 9/18/2012
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 675,084
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author


Brenda Shaughnessy was born in Okinawa, Japan and grew up in Southern California. She is the author of Human Dark with Sugar (Copper Canyon Press, 2008), winner of the James Laughlin Award and finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Interior with Sudden Joy (FSG, 1999). Shaughnessy’s poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, Harper's, The Nation, The Rumpus, The New Yorker, and The Paris Review. She is an Assistant Professor of English at Rutgers University, Newark, and lives in Brooklyn with her husband, son and daughter.
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