A New York Times Bestselling AuthorFor Jill Bialosky, certain poems stand out like signposts at pivotal moments in a life: love, loss, marriage, birth, death, tragedy. Her unconventional and inventive coming-of-age memoir is organized around forty-three of these remarkable poems. Bialosky's personal stories animate each poem, illuminating the ways in which poetry can be a blueprint for living.
"All facets of poet, novelist, memoirist, and editor Bialosky's literary pursuits coalesce in this graceful and inspiriting entwinement of memories, poetry, and interpretation. Bialosky substantiates her assertion that poetry is lifesaving with superbly selected poems incisively linked to her experiences and beautifully elucidated. As she recounts her suburban Cleveland childhood shadowed by her father's early death and her mother's depression, Bialosky revisits common first poems, including Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken, and remembers being at once enchanted and puzzled by poetry, apt responses at any age. The shock of a field trip that traversed a poor city neighborhood is paired with Langston Hughes' You and Your Whole Race. Sexual awakening and bouts with loneliness are matched with boldly searing lyrics by Sylvia Plath and Sharon Olds. Bialosky's dramatic account of sorrows, struggles, and discoveries told with candor and humor propels readers forward, while poems by Louise Bogan, Gwendolyn Brooks, Li-Young Lee, W. S. Merwin, Adrienne Rich, Wallace Stevens, and many more instigate contemplation. With brief poet biographies, this is a resplendent and invaluable anthology and an involving, richly illuminating narrative.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2017 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Bialosky (History of a Suicide) weaves 51 poems by several writers into her latest memoir, which beautifully conveys the "mystery and wonder" of poetry. Born in 1950s Cleveland, Bialosky was a toddler when her father died; though she was close with her mother and sisters, she yearned for the "tenderness and love" that she imagined a father would have provided. As she grew older, Bialosky found the tenderness she was longing for in poetry. A bookish, reserved teen, she attended college in Vermont and Ohio and then became an editor in New York (she's currently an executive editor at Norton), holding fast to her desire to write and live an independent, creative life. As the years pass in her story, Bialosky touches on familiar themes-young love, faith, grief and loss, political issues, sexuality-and intersperses vignettes from her life with the works of Robert Frost, W.H. Auden, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Sharon Olds. Readers will learn about how the "personal and communal" aspects of poetry intertwine for her, and will also discover how poems resonated with the author at specific times in her development (e.g., the loneliness of childhood is recalled in a poem by Rilke; as a new mother, Bialosky finds joy in Sylvia Plath's "Nick and the Candlestick"). Bialosky also includes some fascinating facts about the poets themselves (Robert Louis Stevenson loved The Arabian Knights; Emily Dickinson saw the publication of only 12 of her 1,800 poems). Bialosky's memoir is equally an enjoyable learning experience and an intimate rendering of a poet's passion for words. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
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