Cate Marvin uses language the way a gymnast uses her body; she is a formalist who has thoroughly learned the pleasures and gains of abandon. But it is her excursions into wild image and passionate song that win the reader's heart. The heart is central in World's Tallest Disaster , which is essentially a book of love poems—love lost and found, love requited, love abandoned and betrayed. What Cate Marvin has done in her remarkably assured and powerful first collection is to remind us in fresh terms of the news that stays news: that our desire is "Not a sea of longing,// but the brack of wanting what's physical/ to help us forget we are physical."
"Violently passionate and firmly symmetrical, like tango or the blues, these poems-at first-are about sexual passion. . . . But in the great tradition of love poetry, these poems don't stop with love. They move from eros to imagination. Or they thrash between the two. . . . This is an encouraging book in the context of American poetry's fashions or factions, because it evades categories. [Marvin's] is an urgent as well as an artful voice."—from the Foreword by Robert Pinsky
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Cate Marvin was born in Washington, D.C. She received her B.A. from Marlboro College in Vermont, and holds two M.F.A.s: one from the University of Houston in poetry, the other from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in fiction. She has been awarded scholarships to attend both Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers' Conferences. Her poems have appeared in such magazines as New England Review, The Antioch Review, The Paris Review, The Georgia Review, and Ploughshares, among others. She is lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in English at the university there.
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About the Author
Marvin's first book, World's Tallest Disaster, was awarded the 2000 Kathryn A. Morton Prize by Robert Pinksy (Sarabande 2001). In 2002, she received the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. Her poems have appeared in The Paris Review, New England Review, Ploughshares, Fence, Georgia Review, Slate, and The Kenyon Review. She is a creative writing professor at the College of Staten Island.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
There are some poems here you may come back to, but as a whole, I'm afraid the collection is fairly forgettable. If you're looking for an enjoyable collection to escape into, I'd move elsewhere; this isn't something to keep or learn from as opposed to simply reading, absorbing in a single read, and moving on from.
This is a great book. Sexy and deep and shimmering with anger and energy and eros and word play and wit.
There are a few good lines and metaphors here.