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 downwe 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.
About the Author
PRISCILLA BECKER writes music reviews, essays and book reviews. She teaches at Pratt Institute and Columbia University in NYC.
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
What People are Saying About This
“There's a distinct meditation in Priscilla Becker's poetry. … It's all very personal yet, like music with its beguiling sensuality, a shared experience of love, both intimate and distant.”
“Priscilla Becker presents a mixture of feeling and thought, or rather the interaction between them. … This poetry makes you both feel and think intensively.”
"Her voice bleeds and breathes with a paradoxically innocent wisdom, a freshness of perception unique as air. They open the page: they close the book. Becker is the best."