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"Laux writes gritty, tough, lyrical poems that depict the actual nature of life in the West today."—Philip Levine
In her powerful fourth collection, Dorianne Laux once again strikes fire from neighborhood moments: a quiet street at dusk, a pool hall, a bare tree. Focusing on the grace of working people, she captures the pain and beauty of women in all their variety, caught in the "lunar pull" of our time.
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Dorianne Laux lives in Eugene, Oregon, and teaches at the University of Oregon. She is co-author with Kim Addonizio of The Poet's Companion.From The Washington Post:
By Robert Pinsky
Poetry appeals to people who get bored easily. It can accomplish a lot in small spaces: sometimes, in almost no time at all. Often, it works by moving rapidly, skipping over predictable or needless steps, disregarding or exploding the obvious. Sometimes, it feints in one direction, then takes another. Or, the poem quickly upends our first, easy associations, as when William Blake uses the nouns "rose" and "love":
THE SICK ROSE
O rose, thou art sick;
The invisible worm
That flies in the night,
In the howling storm,
Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy,
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.
Blake reverses conventional expectation from his title onward, with a violent and exuberant forward thrust. A poem in Dorianne Laux's recent collection Facts About the Moon also has the quality of speed, incorporating reversal into a more zigzag movement:
Not nearly a woman like the backyard cedar
whose branches fall and curl,
whose curved body sways in wind,
the little magnolia is still a girl,
her first blossoms tied like white strips of rag
to the tips of her twiggy pigtails.
Who are the trees? They live
half in air, half below ground,
both rooted and homeless, like the man
who wedges his life between
the windbreak wall of the Laundromat
and the broken fence, a strip of gritty earth
where he's unfolded his section
of clean cardboard, his Goodwill blanket.
Here's his cup, his candle, his knife.
The title is like a magician's gesture of misdirection. The metaphors of the first sentence get displaced or amended by the central question, and even the simile that compares "rooted and homeless" trees to the "rooted and homeless" man is not a resting place or resolution. It depends on the more enigmatic, unresolved question: In what way does the homeless man, or anyone, live "half in air, half below ground"?
The poem touches on the way any perception, any thought, perhaps any life, exists in two elements, half-submerged and half-exposed. As the three nouns of Laux's final line suggest, human life, like poetry, requires -- along with a container for sustenance and a source of light -- a sharp instrument.
Copyright 2007, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.
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Book Description W. W. Norton, 2005. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110393060969
Book Description Condition: New. New. Seller Inventory # STR-0393060969
Book Description W. W. Norton, 2005. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0393060969
Book Description W. W. Norton, 2005. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0393060969