Ellen Dore Watson This Sharpening

ISBN 13: 9781932195439

This Sharpening

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Winner of the 2004 Tupelo Press Editors Prize.

This Sharpening is Ellen Doré Watson's fourth collection of poetry, and in it she confirms her reputation as one of the most important and discerning, take-no-prisoners voice in American poetry. Watson navigates the fierce terrain of marriage, divorce, love and longing. In these pages the pain of loss contrasts with the pleasures of motherhood when a long marriage ends. Whether indulging fantasies of revenge, reveling in a child's kisses, or deconstructing a first date in 25 years, Watson is utterly compelling. Watch closely as she balances edgy tempos and sassy rhythms in poems as likely to address a rat on the path as to celebrate a peach or meditate on a truckload of guns. These poems map with unflinching attention the unraveling of a marriage and the persistence of longing, but also chronicle the quotidian joys of the mothering life and the scissor grip on reality it demands, the balance it can restore.

""Ellen Watson is an eloquent, passionate poet; tender, wildly inventive, with the wonder of childhood and a grown woman's comic sense. Watson's poetry is the real thing."" Robert Pinsky

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About the Author:

Director of the Poetry Center at Smith College, Ellen Doré Watson is the author of Ladder Music (Alice James Books, 2001), as well as Broken Railings (Green Lake Chapbook Prize, Owl Creek Press, 1996). She is also the translator of eleven books from Brazilian Portuguese, including The Alphabet in the Park: Selected Poems of Adélia Prado (Wesleyan University Press, 1990), and serves as Poetry Editor of The Massachusetts Review.

Watson's poems have appeared widely in journals, including The American Poetry Review and The New Yorker. Among her awards and honors are the Bullis-Kizer Prize from Poetry Northwest, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowship, and a 1990 Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Grant. Library Journal named her one of ""24 Poets for the 21st Century.

From Publishers Weekly:

Watson's fiery third effort offers a rare combination: the propulsive rawness of performance poetry and the pathos of impending middle age. These insistent, not-quite-narrative poems describe the daughter she loves, the husband she leaves and the dangerous world through which she moves, where "a child needing new lungs / waits for another child to die." Individual lines can sound direct—"Newly in my body, blind to the lie at the core / I toy with forbidden self"—when the poems that contain them remain evasive and hard to pin down. Poems about motherhood, and divorce, paint a picture of a world both fragile and precariously coherent: to her ex, Watson (Ladder Music, 2001) writes, "I'm ashamed / we failed at forever"; about a newborn, she says, "Today is the first day everything about her / is my job." The political poems dominating the volume's close perhaps take on predictable targets ("The President // who doesn't know how to be sorry") though they do so with ferocity and confidence in the belief that the personal has always been political. The effective rapidity of these lines does deprive some poems of depth. On the whole, though, Watson's accessible subjects and clear phrasing should draw readers to her work. (June)
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