Silent Treatment: Poems


In poems at once dauntless and thoughtful, Lisa Lewis reveals the unspoken thoughts, hidden fears, and secret desires of a contemporary woman. She reminisces about the lost joys of childhood
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In poems at once dauntless and thoughtful, Lisa Lewis reveals the unspoken thoughts, hidden fears, and secret desires of a contemporary woman. She reminisces about the lost joys of childhood
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Lewis's second book unrolls its large flat verse-paragraphs and monologues in clear, American language; the poems read like speeches or stories, essays or character sketchessome approximate journalistic transcripts, a few present unreliable narrators, others are almost parables. Her sad, straightforward lines evoke, at their best, Randall Jarrell's; more often they suggest such current work as Carl Dennis's or Stephen Dunn's, though Lewis comes closer to realist short fiction, with line breaks for emphasis, pace or convenience: "I was smoking/ A cigarette to hide it from my husband,/ I have to because I'm rebelling against him,.../ Making myself different" ("The Rescue"). The people who live in Lewis's plots can be heartwrenching within their stark limits, though their problems (prescription drugs, difficult husbands or friends, neuroses) can also turn predictable. Her best verse-essays display the travails of girls and women, and draw on experience with animals, as in "Girls Who Love Horses": "For girls who grow up loving horses,/ There is no hope. Nothing will break you/ Of lover for power, yet for small things, new-/ Born colts on stilt legs, you have a soft heart..." The same readers who find this National Poetry Series-winner (selected by Stanley Plumly) samey and flat when read cover to cover, may find it-dipped into, excerpted, in parts-insightful, appropriate, quietly moving. (June)
Kirkus Reviews
A former winner of Wisconsin's Brittingham Prize for her first book (The Unbeliever), Lewis has had her second chosen by Stanley Plumy for this year's National Poetry Series. And it is a distinctive volume, not so much for its style, which can be cumbersome and proselike, but for Lewis's relentlessly bitter vision, which seems a cynical pose. Her runaway ironies barely conceal her contempt for much of the world around her: the phoney people in their suburban homes ('What House Are For'); stupid young people for their follies in love ('The Young'); married friends content with children ('Cross Country'); and'take note those who would study with Lewis at Oklahoma State!'her students in 'My Students,' a bilious diatribe against their dumb apathy. Lewis's affectless voice can be casual to the point of passionless, even as she excoriates former lovers, self-absorbed friends, and men in general. No doubt the experiences described in 'Bogart,' the narrative of her rape and the rapist's eventual suicide, and 'Sexology,' a chronicle of her wild youth, spliced with sex-manual blather focused on male pleasure, together explain her disgust. Lewis's false swagger in other poems betrays her sense of hopefulness elsewhere'even though she fails to save an earthworm ('The Rescue') and a hummingbird ('The Hummingbird')'and the power she felt as a girl who loved horses. Without rhythm, and full of spacey thinking, Lewis's tough-talking poems rely on a bad-girl vocabulary, but fail to shock as intended.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140589023
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 6/1/1998
  • Series: National Poetry Series
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 8.94 (h) x 0.29 (d)

Table of Contents

Field with No Horse in It 3
What Houses Are For 6
The Office Watch 9
The Young 11
My Students 13
On Medication 15
Animal Bodies 20
The Rescue 22
Enolia's Money 24
Cross Country 27
Girls Who Love Horses 30
The Lamed Mare 33
Bogart 39
Sexology 45
The Watchers 49
Without Understanding 51
Drought 54
Goodbye, Moon 56
The Heartland 59
I Knew If I Looked 61
The Fine Arts 63
The Thai Ballet 70
The Hummingbird 73
The Release of the Lunatic 76
Acknowledgments 79
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