The Wave-Maker

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Overview

A stunning new collection from a poet who “made her name a watchword for serenity and poise” (Contemporary Poetry Review).
In Elizabeth Spires's sixth collection of poetry, the pilgrim soul, in its various guises, meditates on its own slow becoming, finding humble companions in creatures as unlikely as a lowly snail, a prehistoric coelacanth, or a tiny Japanese netsuke of a badger disguised as a monk. For Spires, life is both a pilgrimage and a deepening—birth, death, and ...

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The Wave-Maker: Poems

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Overview

A stunning new collection from a poet who “made her name a watchword for serenity and poise” (Contemporary Poetry Review).
In Elizabeth Spires's sixth collection of poetry, the pilgrim soul, in its various guises, meditates on its own slow becoming, finding humble companions in creatures as unlikely as a lowly snail, a prehistoric coelacanth, or a tiny Japanese netsuke of a badger disguised as a monk. For Spires, life is both a pilgrimage and a deepening—birth, death, and transformation all part of a seamless continuum. Possessed of a calm, crystalline sense of eternity, her poems invite fellow travelers to sit for a little while and be cleansed of the dust of existence.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Quietly serious, trustworthy and often sad, this sixth collection from Spires (Worldling) finds the poet preoccupied with first and last things: death, illness, age and debility take up much of the book, while ascetic religion, in the lives of monks and nuns, occupies more hopeful poems near the volume's end. Though only 58 years old, Spires looks back on her life as if from near its conclusion: "Like an idiot child, I piled my pretty stones,/ knowing the waves would knock them down." One of her best new poems considers the video game "The Sims," where "Adults never get older & old people can do/ anything young people can do." Again and again Spires depicts the flimsiness of all human life-defining "house," for example, as "a leaf over my head." Some will object, understandably, that Spires' new poems lack intellectual rigor-but they might well make up for that lack in their moving frailty, even giving us (as Spires sometimes implies) models for the later chapters in our own lives.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

If one word comes to mind when reading this sixth offering from Spires (Worldling), it's proficiency. Strictly speaking, proficiency is competency achieved through training, and for better or worse, most poets now receive their training in the classroom. One common criticism of "workshop verse" is that it is simply imitative; that is, students merely replicate the writing style that won them praise in the classroom. And like a photograph of a photograph, the poem loses something each time it's reproduced. The poems here aspire to the tight lines and first-person narratives that typify much mainstream verse. Most are written for or about natural phenomena, and many end with Spires achieving a degree of supreme empathy with the subjects of her pieces. When she writes about a dying snail, it is difficult not to smirk when, as the poem closes, the narrator is taught something deep, meaningful, and vaguely epiphanic about the nature of life. While Spires is clearly conversant with mainstream themes, there is little in this volume that sets it apart from the countless books just like it. Most libraries can pass.
—Chris Pusateri

Booklist
“Refusing lushness, Spires creates lean lines that hold the weight of thought and feeling like rope bridges over a chasm.”
Charleston City Paper
“A simple but elegant tapestry of language.”
New Criterion
“Quiet, unprepossessing, filled with wonder at the mortalities and fleeting beauties of the world.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393066593
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/28/2008
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 1,348,908
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Spires is the author of several volumes of poetry, including Now the Green Blade Rises and The Wave-Maker. She lives with her husband and daughter in Baltimore, Maryland, where she teaches at Goucher College.

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