Vanitas, Rough: Poems

Overview

“Spaar sounds like no other poet writing today.”—Jennifer Chang, The Believer
With her trademark language—baroque yet colloquial, immediately recognizable but impossible to duplicate—Lisa Russ Spaar has written her most sumptuous, alluring, and steamy poems to date, each one bursting with an appetite for the sensuous and the lingual. “Is syntax erotic?” she asks in Vanitas, Rough. “If so, please. Please read. Here.”

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Overview

“Spaar sounds like no other poet writing today.”—Jennifer Chang, The Believer
With her trademark language—baroque yet colloquial, immediately recognizable but impossible to duplicate—Lisa Russ Spaar has written her most sumptuous, alluring, and steamy poems to date, each one bursting with an appetite for the sensuous and the lingual. “Is syntax erotic?” she asks in Vanitas, Rough. “If so, please. Please read. Here.”

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Spaar, known for unveiling erotic lyricism in the quotidian, has been likened to Dickinson and Hopkins, and in this fourth book, her linguistic mastery continues, conveying the rapture—and hilarity—that can occur in suburban stillness. Here, where the overheard shouts of co-eds conjure absurd humor against “the gasp/ of their fathers’ beer cans opening in porch shadows,” where “any held breath is wish for something/ to happen,” desire is existential. “What doesn’t love/ restraint?” these poems ask, while brimming with anticipation and urgency, and touched with wit, working to question the world’s rough beauty and transience: “Apricot pendulum lyre ticking// in the locust, blue fieldstones/ of the crumbling fence, old crush// on the world whose beauty I’ve always feared/ to see directly—will that leave me, too,// despite years that never brought me the weightless/ grace I thought I’d become for myself, or anyone?” Sequence still central to Spaar’s work, the familiar becomes holy in a new series of saint poems, named, St. Protagonist, St. Chardonnay, St. Brontë, St. Vogue. Informed by past masters and contemporary moments, Spaar’s work aims to uncover for us what of the world’s ecstatic lushness we might have missed: “Dear Reader,” Spaar writes, “one wonder/ speaks of another.” (Dec.)
Boston Review
“Lisa Russ Spaar's intensely lyrical language—baroque, incantatory, provocative—enables her to reinvigorate perennial subject matter ... Too ambitious and sensitive to settle for the merely gorgeous, Vanitas, Rough wrestles productively with its inspirations and itself, offering an electrifying glimpse of an omnivorous mind in the throes of creative activity.”
Library Journal
"To touch its truth I punched my fist/ into the chopped molest// the boscage—withdrew my red sleeve.// Abstract that." If Carole Weinstein Poetry Prize winner Spaar's wordplay overwhelms, just relax and luxuriate in the language—rich, sensuous, dizzying, lustrous, baroque as "the palace's candied gold"—as it delivers an ineffable sense of mood, of being indisputably in the world.—BH
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780892554201
  • Publisher: Persea Books
  • Publication date: 12/20/2012
  • Pages: 80
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Lisa Russ Spaar has written and edited many books of poetry. She is Professor of English at the University of Virginia. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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Table of Contents

St. Protagonist 3

Departures: Chapter One 4

St. Saint 5

St. Chardonnay 6

Old Rose 7

Trouble 8

Solo Moon 9

Midas Passional 10

Goldfinches 11

Still Life with Hare & Knife 12

Vanitas, Rough 13

Mono no aware 14

Debt 15

Broke 16

Christmas Stoup 17

Blue Moon 18

From a Life Under Jupiter 19

Trailing Mary & Martha: 3 AM 20

Darning 21

St. Volition 22

Whether 23

Billet-doux 24

Thaw 25

The Middle Ages, Bonus Track 26

Two Shrifts 27

Cathartes aura 29

St. Brontë 30

Bone Orchard Lunch Hour 31

God's Gym 32

Spring Fever 33

The Irises 34

Kismet 35

Black Snake 36

Friday Motet 38

Hang Fire 40

After Hokusai 41

Graven 43

St. Vogue 44

"I have drunk, and seen the spider" 45

Dead Moth 47

St. Home 48

Hibernalphilia 49

You, For Now 51

Iconoclast 52

Dusk Binge 53

After the Meeting, a Red Fox 54

St. Bed of Snow 55

Watch 56

Outliving Emily 57

Is There a Magic Word? 59

St. Tulip 61

Music Lessons 62

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