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Stories That Listen

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Priscilla Becker, whose first book of poems, Internal West, won The Paris Review Book Prize, has written an astonishingly precise second collection, Stories That Listen. These poems attempt to come to terms with absences personal and global: one speaker wonders if a former partner still uses her map which “showed the world / before it broke up into separate / continents.” Another, missing a departed friend, retraces her steps, “took a tour of your former apartments.” The recipient of a letter containing “a ...
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2010 Trade paperback New. Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 61 p. Stahlecker Series Selections. Audience: General/trade.

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Overview

Priscilla Becker, whose first book of poems, Internal West, won The Paris Review Book Prize, has written an astonishingly precise second collection, Stories That Listen. These poems attempt to come to terms with absences personal and global: one speaker wonders if a former partner still uses her map which “showed the world / before it broke up into separate / continents.” Another, missing a departed friend, retraces her steps, “took a tour of your former apartments.” The recipient of a letter containing “a fraction of an ounce of Chanel Mademoiselle” attempts to understand the sender’s motives, “tried to scrape together enough dust / to fill a bowl or roll a minuscule cigarette. / I thought perhaps that this was your intent.”

Stories That Listen offers a science of the human, a way to understand the world through watching closely. Becker deftly slows action down—we see fingers “curl /around my coffee cup”—to find the remarkable, the noteworthy, in the everyday. Quirky, at times outright funny, always wise, Stories That Listen is a resonant, rewarding read.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This second book by Becker (Internal West) speaks from a stark place beyond heartbreak, after the dust has settled, where "It is a mistake to call logic/ cold: it has no temperature at all./ It merely reveals itself/ when the last of the emotion is gone." Cast in uneven free verse lines, this book begins and ends in resignation; it's less a journey than a confirmation of what its speaker suspected all along, that life is both disappointing and unfailingly interesting. At times these lines echo the lonely brilliance of Sylvia Plath or Louise Glück, and, of course, their forebear Emily Dickinson, for whom the natural world mirrored the inner one. Becker's claustrophobia begets insight--Becker often addresses a hazy "you," a lost beloved, but really this is the self addressing the self, saying what only the self needs to hear or can understand, "the kind of thing/ one notices--/after the extremes-- /a kind of sobriety." (Oct.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781935536055
  • Publisher: Four Way Books
  • Publication date: 10/12/2010
  • Series: Stahlecker Selections
  • Pages: 72
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

PRISCILLA BECKER writes music reviews, essays and book reviews. She teaches at Pratt Institute and Columbia University in NYC.
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Table of Contents

White Tone
The Inner Life
Hypnosis
Blue Statuary
Euthanasia afters
Hatred of Men with Blond Eyebrows
Math Poem
Sedentary Sea Organisms, Mostly Algae
Logic
Still Life Without Drugs
Numberless Hand Series
A Minor Language
Midwestern
Communication by the Remnants of Fire
Reconstruction
Psalm for No One
Monksbane
Recurrence of Childhood Paralysis
On Being Left for No One
Simulation
Moving Images
Leaving Song
Monarch
Words Above a Poem
Corner & Square
Natural Cause
Dr Hegy’s Magic Table
Last in Winter Series
Retraction of Vow
On Nothing
Part of Water Series
Disambiguation
Only Something
Seasonal Poem
Changing Contours
Stunted Things, a Miscellany
Roman Tone
The Sound of the Closing Door
Neglect
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