A longtime teacher, activist, feminist, and masterful writer of short fiction and essays, Paley is also an accomplished poet. Combining her two previous collections with unpublished work, Begin Again traces the career of a direct, attentive, and always unpredictable poet. Whether describing the vicissitudes of life in New York City or the hard beauty of rural Vermont, whether celebrating the blessings of friendship or protesting against social injustice, her poems brim with compassion and tough good humor.
"Paley is a master of the short form. She revels in the concentration of short stories. Her essays are vital and direct. And her no-frills poetry, like that of the classic Chinese, speaks worlds with a minimum of words. Paley's thrift with language is balanced by her generosity of feeling, and the combination of the two creates a hopscotching of images--quick jumps and solid landings--and perpetual youthfulness and buoyancy. Roaming as it does over four previous collections, and rounding up a set of new and unpublished poems, this radiant volume is alive with Paley's wise humor and free-flowing empathy as she writes of family and friends, the parks of New York City and the showy autumn of Vermont, the tragedies of war and the perversities of capitalism, the warmth of family and the mysteries of love, and the conflict between art and life. Paley's attentiveness, wry sense of self, and gift for finding drama in the plainest of moments imbue her poetry with toughness and joy. --Donna Seaman"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Paley (Enormous Changes at the Last Minute) has stood for decades among America's most cherished short-story writers. Her poems retain the winning openness, the whimsy and the political commitments her fiction flaunts. They also contain deep insights about narrative and voice: "A Poem about Storytelling" explains, "the first person is often the lover who/ says I never knew anyone like you/ The listener is the beloved She whispers/ Who? Me?" The poems can carry her readers through the poet's traumas, astonishments, and exclamations: when she says "Oh! the five exogamous boroughs of/ our beloved home New York," that adjective invites her readers to love it too. Poems address locales in New York City and Vermont; consider generational succession and old age; advocate an energetic acceptance of difference and diversity; and dwell on particular political struggles. (Some of the poems about Vietnam and El Salvador stick perhaps too closely to their occasions.) Her cadences and preoccupations can suggest a much slighter, and sunnier, Adrienne Rich. But in contrast to Rich, much of Paley's poetry seems unfinished, jotted-down rather than carefully made. Her lines give revelations without contexts, theses without examples, ends and beginnings without their middles: the poem "Life" reads, in its entirety: "Some people set themselves tasks/ other people say do anything only live/ still others say/ oh oh I will never forget you event of my first life." And too many lines become unadorned tracts: "It is the responsibility of the poet not to pay war taxes." Fans of the fiction will want these unguarded looks at the illimitably appealing Paley persona. And even those not already charmed by Paley's prose ought to enjoy her few best poems: an account of "twenty-two tranvestites/ in joyous parades" on Mother's Day; the superbly constructed, vertiginous "Leaflet"; the heartbreaking "On the Deck," about old age; a six-line apocalypse called "psalm." (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
|| New York :Farrar Straus Giroux,2000.
177 pages ; 24 cm
||0374126429 (alk. paper)