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What Madness Brought Me Here: New and Selected Poems, 1968-1988

What Madness Brought Me Here: New and Selected Poems, 1968-1988

by Colleen J. McElroy

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A collection of new and old poems that explore the relationship between language and the self.


A collection of new and old poems that explore the relationship between language and the self.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“McElroy is the master of long, finely-crafted poems, each with a particular melodic intensity and tone.”
San Francisco Review of Books

“McElroy is a strong poet who deserves to be widely read.”—Aspen Anthology

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Bringing together poems from McElroy's ( Bone Flames ) previous collections, along with a dozen new pieces, this volume constitutes a protracted study in solipsism, as language, according to the poet, embodies our madness and cannot succeed in communicating. Madness also serves as a convenient metaphor for her style, which often emphasizes stream-of-consciousness and rifts in association: ``this is she it is I / we are pronouns abandoned / by all nouns / I am the crazy lady escaping from Sexton's poems.'' The poet believes ``Remembering too much of anything is its own / Form of madness,'' and the tone of this hard-to-swallow collection reflects her preoccupation with remembering the traumas she suffered as a child. In ``Breaking the Kula Ring,'' McElroy attempts to contain her memories of a home she is leaving within a ceremonial ring which would give her an easy security, but to no avail--``the unfinished metaphors / now trapped in hollow rooms / it is over, closed / like all the windows / the landlord has painted shut.'' (Jan.)

Product Details

Wesleyan University Press
Publication date:
Wesleyan Poetry Series
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.36(d)

What People are Saying About This

Denise Levertov
“I am delighted to see this substantial collection. McElroy’s work has long interested me. Her poems combine the authenticity of the personal with a strong sense of history. They can surprise and delight the reader.”
Al Young
“Colleen McElroy’s voice in poetry is what Sarah Vaughn’s was to song – lyrical, versatile, earthy, and always full-hearted.”

Meet the Author

COLLEEN J. MCELROY holds a B.S. from Kansas State University (1958) and a Ph.D. from the University of Washington (1973) in cultural linguistics and language art. She has followed a passion for language through careers as a speech therapist, poet and short story writer, and professor of creative writing, third world and women’s literature. “Madness,” says McElroy, “is a kind of liquid state that can disappoint, terrify, and delight.” What Madness Brought Me Here is McElroy’s third book with Wesleyan. The first, Queen of the Ebony Isles (1984) earned her a Before Columbus Association’s America Book Award. For the second, Bone Flames (1987), she received the Washington State Governor’s Award. She has also received an NEA fellowship and a Fulbright Creative Writing Fellowship which took her to Yugoslavia in 1988. Her other books of poetry are: Lie and Say You Love Me, Winters Without Snow, and Music from Home: Selected Poems. McElroy is the author of two works of fiction, Jesus ad Fat Tuesday and Driving Under the Cardboard Pines. She is a professor of English at the University of Washington and lives in Seattle.

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