Finalist for ForeWord Magazine’s 1999 Poetry Book of the Year
A reader and a writer don their respective roles and embark on the journey of a book. This is their storyultimately a love storydarkly funny, mournful, testy. It is about a reader who at times presides over the page like a god, and at others follows the leash of the author's voice through the dark streets of the book like a dog, and it is about a writer of determined slipperiness. As we read, we think that each of us is The Reader, the one who knows the Real Story. But the more we think we understand, the more the story moves away from usall is not what it seems.
This eagerly awaited third volume by the poet whose work The New York Times described as "at once charmed and frightening" is a book of high-spirited subversiveness, a work of argument, seduction, and a relentless devotion to language. Then, Suddenly bristles with the sound of the author's voiceinsistent, vital, hilarious, and iconoclastictearing away at the confinement of the page and at the distance between the page and the reader. Emanuel's images are dazzling. She creates a performance that is fearsome and funny in its portrayal of the argument between the work of the text and the world of the body. The Gettsyburg Review has called her a writer of "exquisite craftsmanship" who can "strike from language . . . images chiseled clean as bas-relief." Then, Suddenly is a book of spectacle and verve, part elegy, part vaudeville.
About the Author
Lynn Emanuel is the author of three previous poetry collections: Hotel Fiesta; The Dig; and Then, Suddenly-. Her work has been included in the Pushcart Prize anthology, Best American Poetry, and The Oxford Book of American Poetry. Emanuel is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Eric Matthieu King Award from The Academy of American Poets, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, and a National Poetry Series Award. She is professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
These poems are an intriguing challenge. On the face of it -- they are simple, the language and imagery straightforward and easy to grasp. But Emmanuel struggles to push these poems beyond either conventional poetic imagery and sentimentality or modernist abstraction, to some kind of purity where she and the reader can meet on honest if not equal terms. In some of her poems, Emanuel begins by laying out some rich imagery only to systematically un-do it as the poem unfolds. In others, she literally argues with the ghosts of the dead who try to impose meanings she would resist, or strip the poem of meanings and images she would settle on too easily. Sometimes, her striving to negate conventional sentiment comes off as a bit self-indulgent. But she certainly deserves credit for working toward a kind of courageous honesty. And some of the poems are simply perfect. Good poetry should not be easy to read, and this book is no exception. But it is worth the work.