Straight Out of View

Straight Out of View

by Joyce Sutphen
     
 

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"Joyce Sutphen's first collection reveals a poet of place whose assured, straightforward style seems sprung from the Minnesota farmlands where she was raised."-Publishers Weekly

Awarded the 1994 Barnard New Women Poets Prize, these poems are alive with motion, poems in the act of transformation even as the words fly onto the page. While rooted in the

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Overview

"Joyce Sutphen's first collection reveals a poet of place whose assured, straightforward style seems sprung from the Minnesota farmlands where she was raised."-Publishers Weekly

Awarded the 1994 Barnard New Women Poets Prize, these poems are alive with motion, poems in the act of transformation even as the words fly onto the page. While rooted in the Midwest, the poems extend far beyond the homegrown, moving from the sudden disaster of "Tornado Warning" to sweeping landscapes of the American West to London, where in gentler tones she confronts Sylvia Plath. Sutphen's voice is refreshing throughout, capturing emotion with swift imagistic strokes.

Joyce Sutphen teaches literature and creative writing at Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter, Minnesota.

Crossroads

The second half of my life will be black
to the white rind of the old and fading moon.
The second half of my life will be water
over the cracked floor of these desert years.
I will land on my feet this time,
knowing at least two languages and who
my friends are. I will dress for the
occasion, and my hair shall be
whatever color I please.
Everyone will go on celebrating the old
birthday, counting the years as usual,
but I will count myself new from this
inception, this imprint of my own desire.

The second half of my life will be swift,
past leaning fenceposts, a gravel shoulder,
asphalt tickets, the beckon of open road.
The second half of my life will be wide-eyed,
fingers shifting through fine sands,
arms loose at my sides, wandering feet.
There will be new dreams every night,
and the drapes will never be closed.
Iwill toss my string of keys into a deep
well and old letters into the grate.

The second half of my life will be ice
breaking up on the river, rain
soaking the fields, a hand
held out, a fire,
and smoke going
upward, always up.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Sutphen's first collection, awarded the 1994 Barnard New Women Poets Prize, reveals a poet of place whose assured, straightforward style seems sprung from the Minnesota farmlands where she was raised: melodious language disarmingly combined with a wry practicality towards the business of poetry. Her subject matter, however, extends beyond the homegrown, moving from the sudden disaster of ``Tornado Warning'' to sweeping landscapes of the American West to London, where in gentler tones she confronts Sylvia Plath through the medium of poetry. Sutphen's voice is refreshing in that she examines the everyday without being overtly confessional, often capturing emotion with swift (sometimes too swift) imagistic strokes. Throughout she attends closely to the internal realities of quite ordinary existence: ``It bothered my sense of symmetry to notice how a perfectly/ unplanned life could take on such an intricate pattern.'' (Apr.)
Library Journal
Moving away from the urban subject matter it has favored in the past, Barnard has awarded this year's New Women Poets prize to the work of an older poet from the rural Midwest who writes about her father's farm, unpeopled nature, and occasional sojourns into such foreign territories as London and the Grand Canyon. Sutphen has a talent for scenic description; about the Great Salt Lake, she writes: "Plagues of midges sweep the salt-white beach;/coppered snakes swirl in the silken lake./Still we go in." She does as well with suburbia: "each house with/its drapes parted slightly, wafer of lamplight/caught on bare walls... the/refrigerators are opening, letting out the cold."' Unfortunately, some of the poems are marred by a rambling self-consciousness that substitutes for self-awareness: "I hoped they would remember me, my notebook/and cappuccino, how I sat for hours watching/the children feed pigeons, indulgent in/this life across the globe." Very much a first collection, but vivid and readable.-Ellen Kaufman, Dewey Ballantine Law Lib., New York

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807068250
Publisher:
Beacon
Publication date:
04/01/1995
Series:
Barnard New Women Poets Ser.
Pages:
128
Product dimensions:
5.48(w) x 8.43(h) x 0.38(d)

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