Sleeping Late on Judgment Day: Poems

Overview

"My heart is bursting with homage as I / head off to a hostile eternity," writes Jane Mayhall, now eighty-five, who wrote most of these poems in an urgent outpouring over the last few years. From the decades-outdated subway token in the bottom of her shoulder bag, which calls forth earlier days in New York City, to the violin her father practiced among the pantry's jam jars in her Kentucky childhood, Mayhall plucks small treasures that bespeak her fierce devotion to life, with its clutter of memories and imperfections. In her tightly knotted,
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Sleeping Late on Judgment Day: Poems

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Overview

"My heart is bursting with homage as I / head off to a hostile eternity," writes Jane Mayhall, now eighty-five, who wrote most of these poems in an urgent outpouring over the last few years. From the decades-outdated subway token in the bottom of her shoulder bag, which calls forth earlier days in New York City, to the violin her father practiced among the pantry's jam jars in her Kentucky childhood, Mayhall plucks small treasures that bespeak her fierce devotion to life, with its clutter of memories and imperfections. In her tightly knotted, beautifully turned short poems, she elegizes a world not quite gone, and brings us into contact with some of her contemporaries, from Lincoln Kirstein to Theodore Roethke.

Chief among her cherished memories is her long bohemian marriage, which she recalls in a series of ravishing love poems to her late husband. In lines saturated with feeling she describes how she accommodates her grief at losing him and, as throughout this exquisite volume, how we must continue to greet life, in all its gorgeous strangeness.

Jane Mayhall was born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1918 and attended Black Mountain College in North Carolina. She has taught at the New School for Social Research, Hofstra University, Morehead State University, and the Summer Writers' Workshop at Hindman Settlement School in Kentucky. Her fiction and poems have appeared in The Yale Review, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and other publications.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
The title of Jane Mayhall's book suggests a confident yet anxious insouciance, reflecting, perhaps, the fact that this is the 85-year-old author's first full-length collection of poems. As an active member of the 1950's bohemian scene in New York City (her husband, Leslie Katz, published the work of the photographer Walker Evans and others in his fabled Eakins Press), Mayhall absorbed the American modernist school's values of iconoclastic formal experimentation, psychological self-exploration and a belief that making art represents a spiritual practice of the highest order. — Andy Brumer
The Washington Post
I've been deeply moved by the love poems -- urgent, ravishing, grief-stricken -- in Jane Mayhall's exceptional new book, Sleeping Late on Judgment Day. These 38 poems, which constitute the second section of Mayhall's collection, celebrate her long bohemian marriage ("the bond of mystery") to Leslie George Katz, who died in 1997. They seem poured out in a torrent, in a sudden rush of memories. At 85, Mayhall has broken through a wall of silence and transformed the oceanic depths of feeling into the faithful nuances of art. — Edward Hirsch
Publishers Weekly
Fans of Virginia Hamilton Adair and Ruth Stone will find the poems of Jane Mayhall, making her book debut at 85, "tough in the unwatered heat./ An old-age brownish glare not wiped/ out, the inner resplendent." While some may balk at a "Ballad of Playing Tennis with Theodore Roethke at Yaddo" or considering "[Lincoln] Kirstein's Table," two of the more name-droppy poems in Sleeping Late on Judgment Day, Mayhall has insights for all tastes and moods, "cordial, volatile." Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400041749
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/3/2004
  • Pages: 112
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.38 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Jane Mayhall was born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1918 and attended Black Mountain College in North Carolina. She has taught at the New School for Social Research, Hofstra University, Morehead State University, and the Summer Writers’ Workshop at Hindman Settlement School in Kentucky. Her fiction and poems have appeared in The Yale Review, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and other publications.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Table of Contents

Too Much Is Not Enough 3
Uncensored Note to Auden 4
Spending the Unspent 5
Token 6
In New York 7
The Apple Accident 8
The Whittled Forest 9
Experience 10
Wastebaskets 11
Righteousness Is Kleenex 12
The Cane 13
2001, a Backward Glance 14
The Tides of Andre Gide 15
Say 16
Protection (Elegy for James Still) 17
Brueghel's Games 18
My Nephew and His Wife 19
Photographer 20
Healing and Light 21
Picking Up 22
Crude Thoughts 23
Wish Fulfillment 24
William Stafford, Coincident with Easter 25
Unaccountably 26
To "Even" 27
Sun on the Kitchen Wall 28
Source Books 29
The Snow Goose 30
Shape of Sentences 31
"Never Apologize, Never Explain" 32
Miss P 33
Listening and Heeding 35
Like Oscar Wilde 36
Glad 37
A Distant Trumpet 38
Disobedience 39
Emergency Room Enjoyments 40
Ballad of Playing Tennis with Theodore Roethke at Yaddo 41
Opinion 42
Kirstein's Table 43
The First Death 44
Postcard from a Dream 45
Wendell and Schubert 46
Youth, Age 48
Presumptions 49
Vesper Hours 50
The Conrad Aiken Dream 51
Voice 53
Altar 57
The Risk 58
Notes for a Sixtieth Wedding Anniversary 59
His Speech 60
Species Talk 61
You Think That 62
The Beacon 63
The Forbidden 64
Paean 65
Sturdy Truth in a Rarified Fog 66
Untitled 67
Flesh and Nature 68
The Tree of Necessity 69
The Shelter 70
Early Spring 72
Why a Corner in the Apartment Puts Me to Sleep 73
Love Is 74
The Superstition 75
I Cant't Distance Myself from You 76
The Guess 77
Leslie's Glance 78
Painkiller 79
The Gilded Shadow 80
At a Recent Cinema 81
The Comb 82
Easter Music 83
Grief 84
Inadvertent 85
Jingle Dream 86
Name 87
Occupancy 88
Pigeon Wings 89
Restoration of Trust 90
Renewed Hope 91
Serenade 92
Twilight Rain 93
Untitled 2 94
Polly's Legacy 95
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