Straight Out of View: Poems

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...

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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.
I will 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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780930100285
  • Publisher: Holy Cow! Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2001
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 106
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Joyce Sutphen grew up on a farm near St. Joseph, Minnesota, and currently lives in Chaska, Minnesota. She has degrees from the University of Minnesota, including a Ph. D. in Renaissance Drama. Her first book, STRAIGHT OUT OF VIEW, won the Barnard New Women's Poets Prize (Beacon Press, 1995, republished by Holy Cow! Press in 2001). COMING BACK TO THE BODY (Holy Cow! Press, 2000) was a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award, and NAMING THE STARS (Holy Cow! Press 2004), won a Minnesota Book Award in Poetry. In 2005, Red Dragonfly Press published Fourteen Sonnets in a letterpress edition, and in 2006 she co-edited To Sing Along the Way, an award-winning anthology of Minnesota Women Poets from the Territorial Days to the Present (New Rivers Press). Her most recent book is FIRST WORDS (Red Dragonfly Press, 2010). Her poems have appeared in Poetry, American Poetry Review, Atlanta Review, Minnesota Monthly, North Dakota Review, and many other journals, and she has been a guest on A Prairie Home Companion, hosted by Garrison Keillor.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
Straight Out of View 3
Double Exposure 5
The Farm 6
Ways of Passing 8
Tornado Warning 9
Feeding the New Calf 11
Work 13
Potato Meditation 14
My Father Comes to the City 16
St. Joe, The Angelus 17
Evening Angelus 19
Refugee Dream 20
In Black 21
In Praise of Unlovely Voices 23
Burning the Woods of My Childhood 24
Home to the Late Late Movie 27
Solitaire 29
Mr. Muse 31
The Beginnings of Philosophy 33
From Out the Cave 35
Lunar Landing 37
Of Thee, I Cannot Sing 39
Grand Canyon, Early December 41
Canyon 43
Great Salt Lake 45
Rural Route 2 46
Fishing New York 47
Coil and Halt 49
Announcing Augie 53
Not Quite Born Again 54
Civil Defense 55
Self-Defense 56
Against Decay 57
Augie, Walking in January 58
Augie Keeps Godot Waiting 59
Augie on the North Shore 60
The Old Extreme 61
Lottery 1969 62
Angie and the Pentecostals 63
Prayer For 64
Holland Park at Dusk 67
Near the British Museum 68
In the Distant Dark 69
Riding East to Dover 70
Somewhere, Close to Dover Beach 71
Reading Sylvia Plath in London 72
Tapping the Lid 74
Elegy 76
The Famous Poet's Grave 77
How the Puritans Took London 78
Waiting for You 79
Out of Orbit 80
The Plaza 82
Edgar's Dream 84
Death Becomes Me 89
Suppose Death Comes Like This 91
Memento Mori 92
Last Duet 93
Dreaming You Out of Honduras 95
What You Wanted 97
A Kind of Deliverance 98
In Quest of Agates 100
After Visiting the Oracle 101
Household Muse 102
Living in the Body 104
Crossroads 105
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