What I so much like about Carolyn Raphael’s poetry is its intense skill, how Dancing with Bare Feet’s dramatic monologues unwind so fittingly, how the book’s witty poems jab so severely and swiftly, and how its poems reeling from others are brought before us with such loving care. My favorites here include “Sleeping with Darth Vader,” “Great-Grandma’s Counsel,” “Kaddish for the Cardinal,” “Thank You for Coming” and “Sprezzatura.” This is a collection where the historic and the ironic exist alongside the wicked and the delightful. Carolyn Raphael’s poems are exacting and out-of-the-self—achingly true poems of the human dance.
—Dick Allen, State Poet Laureate of Connecticut, 2010–2015, is the author of This Shadowy Place and seven other poetry collections.
If you like to travel, these poems are for you. The excellent poet-guide takes you not only to relatively accessible places—a health club for The Beautiful People, for example, or a Washington subway stop where a famous violinist is performing incognito—but also to destinations reachable only via time travel: fifteenth-century Rome and Venice, the sixteenth-century auto-da-fé that finished off Giordano Bruno, or the graveside of a slave who sued for her freedom in pre-Civil War Massachusetts.
And then there are those other, least accessible places of all, human minds not our own, peered into from various angles: a parent learning to “let go” and an adopted child choosing to let go by leaving his parentage uninvestigated; a stranger aging in the mirror; the poet herself on a bad day . . . .
Come aboard! I guarantee you'll laugh, learn a lot, and go home with valuable souvenirs.
—Rhina Espaillat, bilingual poet in English and Spanish, has published eleven poetry collections including Rehearsing Absence, which won the Richard Wilbur Award.
Carolyn Raphael’s formal dexterity dazzles and her aphorisms sizzle in Dancing with Bare Feet. Jaunty meters anchor the poet’s sometimes witty, sometimes tender arguments. She mocks, parodies, and tugs the truths from art, music, parent-and-grown-child dilemmas, aging and more. Whether she stops the family car by the woods to tease Robert Frost or one-ups Browning with “The Next Duchess,” Carolyn Raphael aims to arm-wrestle the canon—and wins. Bravo for Dancing with Bare Feet.
—Molly Peacock is a multi-genre writer whose six books of poetry include Cornucopia: New and Selected Poems.
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Carolyn Raphael retired from the English Department at Queensborough Community College, CUNY, after more than thirty years of teaching. Her poems have appeared in journals including The Lyric, Orbis, Measure, and Long Island Quarterly and on the Newington-Cropsey Cultural Studies website for the American Arts Quarterly, where her poem, “Honorable Mention,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her chapbook, Diagrams of Bittersweet, was published by Somers Rocks Press in 1997, and her poetry collection, The Most Beautiful Room in the World, was published by David Robert Books in 2010.
Carolyn Raphael is the poetry coordinator of Great Neck Plaza in Great Neck, New York, where she ran a poetry reading series. Guests included such luminaries as X. J. Kennedy, Tom Disch, and Rhina Espaillat. Now she is working on a project called “Poetry in the Plaza,” which places poems on local bulletin boards, much as “Poetry in Motion” places poems on the subway. She also coordinates the annual Great Neck Plaza Poetry Contest.
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Book Description White Violet Press, 2015. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0692568034