Riffraff

Overview

Stephen Cushman's Riffraff embodies the spirit of its title, a Middle English word for "every particle" or "things of small value." In this striking collection, scraps of the overlooked, and distasteful -- a prostitute passed in the street, the speaker's own forgotten dreams, toothless dogs rolling in deer offal -- become occasions to meditate on the rich experiences from which we too often turn away.

The poems reflect on the possibilities of language, the natural world, ...

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Riffraff

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Overview

Stephen Cushman's Riffraff embodies the spirit of its title, a Middle English word for "every particle" or "things of small value." In this striking collection, scraps of the overlooked, and distasteful -- a prostitute passed in the street, the speaker's own forgotten dreams, toothless dogs rolling in deer offal -- become occasions to meditate on the rich experiences from which we too often turn away.

The poems reflect on the possibilities of language, the natural world, politics, history, eros, aging, family, and spiritual devotion. Without pretension, Cushman values "adepts who can dwell in the kiosk of a kiss." Skillfully, he transmutes his own curiosity and surprise into moments of shared instruction. "Keep low," he whispers. "Stay put. / Learn from the leaves."

Riffraff culls what we have discarded, saves from abandonment the notions we have taken for granted, and, indeed, venerates every particle.

LSU Press

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807137604
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
  • Publication date: 2/16/2011
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 80
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Cushman is the author of the poetry collections Cussing Lesson and Blue Pajamas and the nonfiction book Bloody Promenade: Reflections on a Civil War Battle. He is Robert C. Taylor Professor of English at the University of Virginia.

LSU Press

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Read an Excerpt

Buck up now, my fellow superfluity,and let's both be of that worthless ilk,self-indulgent as shooting stars,self-absorbed as sunsets.Who cares if we're inconsequential?At least we can revel, two good-for-nothings,in our irrelevance; at least come and makeno difference with me. -- from "Beside the Point"

LSU Press

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