The Nightlife

The Nightlife

by Elise Paschen
The Nightlife

The Nightlife

by Elise Paschen


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In Elise Paschen’s prize-winning poetry collection, Infidelities, Richard Wilbur wrote that the poems “. . . draw upon a dream life which can deeply tincture the waking world.” In her third poetry book, The Nightlife, Paschen once again taps into dream states, creating a narrative which balances between the lived and the imagined life. Probing the tension between “The Elevated” and the “Falls,” she explores troubled love and relationships, the danger of accident and emotional volatility. At the heart of the book is a dream triptych which retells the same encounter from different perspectives, the drama between the narrative described and the sexual tension created there.

The Nightlife demonstrates Paschen’s versatility and formal mastery as she experiments with forms such as the pantoum, the villanelle and the tritina, as well as concrete poems and poems in free verse. Throughout this poetry collection, she interweaves lyric and narrative threads, creating a contrapuntal story-line. The book begins with a dive into deep water and ends with an opening into sky.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781597090278
Publisher: Red Hen Press
Publication date: 05/11/2017
Pages: 80
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

About The Author
Elise Paschen is the author of three poetry collections: Infidelities (Story Line), winner of the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize; Houses: Coasts (Sycamore Press, Oxford); and, most recently, Bestiary (Red Hen Press). She is editor of Poetry Speaks to Children and co-editor of Poetry Speaks Expanded (Sourcebooks) and Poetry in Motion (Norton), among other anthologies. She is a member of the Osage Nation and former Executive Director of the Poetry Society of America. Paschen teaches in the Writing Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Read an Excerpt

The Wide Stars Above Our Sky

Class was called The Wide Stars Above Our Sky.
Charles and I enrolled while Shira planned her summer abroad helping those in need.
Across the kitchen table she unfurled a map, flattening it down with her palm,
then pointed to a small country near Russia.

Shira said, “Let’s check out that hot Peruvian-
Asian restaurant downtown.” I declined,
deciding to eat dinner with my parents instead.
Chai, the puppy, was eight weeks old. I plowed through snow to purchase a knee joint at Kriser’s so she would stop chewing the chairs and table.

Shira didn’t think she’d meet the right man in the tiny country adjoining Russia.
My graduate-school poetry professor offered the workshop every twenty minutes.
Black ice slicked down back alleys, intersections.
Monuments of snow barricaded sidewalks.

Charles transformed into my college boyfriend.
As we climbed into the blue Subaru
I forgot to explain that I already was married. We drove miles until we reached the summer college. My professor turned into a high-school friend, now TV host, who ambled

around the corner of the red brick building,
counting the cumulus clouds overhead.
He wore only a blue terry-cloth bathrobe.
I asked, “Will The Wide Stars Above Our Sky
begin on time?” The clock said four p.m.
That was when Shira’s plane took flight.

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