The Land Of Bliss (Pitt Poetry Series)

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9780822957706: The Land Of Bliss (Pitt Poetry Series)
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Cathy Song’s fourth collection of poetry unveils glimpses of the elusive but ever-present power of wisdom and compassion. Recognizing that we have the ability to create our own misery as well as our own bliss, she finds the unexpected in broken lives, despair, and even seemingly joyous occasions. Song’s poems are often, like a handful of water, "cold and impossibly / clear, unlike anything / you’ve ever held before."

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About the Author:

Cathy Song is the author of four previous books of poetry: Picture Bride, winner of the Yale Younger Poets prize; Frameless Windows, Squares of Light; School Figures; and The Land of Bliss.

From Publishers Weekly:

Song's fourth collection is neither as rigorous nor as striking as her first, Picture Bride, published in the Yale Series of Younger Poets series: its fairy-tale narratives are full of well-worn archetypes and symbols; its confessional pieces describe domestic scenes, juvenile illness and the deaths of relatives in familiar (though still painful) terms. Some pieces use a forced Hawaiian pidgin English that at times speaks with an eerie weight, as in "Pokanini Girl." In many pieces, though, short lines speed the eye down the page, but can't rescue the language's sing-songy sleepiness: "Rain that falls and has been falling/ is the same rain that fell/ a million years ago." And the more lyrical pieces can't quite break their tropes: "The roses, stems cut at a slant under rainwater, / breathe cool nights into the air thick with biscuits." Archetypes abound, but their exploration is often too cursory: "Out of the broken/ mirror, sand/ shatters the hourglass/ and a waterfall of time/ pours all the years/ you spent in the desert." The handful of narrative poems with long lines work better, as they don't pile on the drama of the short (frequently one-word) enjambed line, as in "The Bodhisattva Muses": "Slow to awaken to danger, we still did not intervene./ Even when the boy treated her badly,/ we allowed, for the sake of art, the boy to break her heart." In such poems, the collection finds its intended voice.

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