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Recommendation: Shake and Tremor by Deborah Bacharach

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Deborah Bacharach’s Shake and Tremor is about relations between men and women, the complications and deceits involved.  She combines Biblical stories of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar, Lot and his wife, and Joseph and Potiphar’s wife, with contemporary examples.  She mixes past and present so that the reader may not know where she is as she moves from poem to poem and also within poems.

An example:  Ten Young Men of Sodom and Gomorrah opens with an epigraph from Genesis: “For the sake of ten [righteous men] I will not destroy it.”  It consists of nine vignettes.  one of them reads:

It’s not that I have greater
lungs or desert living
gives me the strength of ten.

I’d be driving my own taxi, but there are no medallions.

Or “Farewell to his Wife,” set in the moment when Lot’s wife looks back and turns to salt:

He does not look back.  He does not choose
to lunge for her hand even as her hand
slips from his grasp when she looks back.

Maybe they said their good-byes
over tax returns,
a glass of wine and orange rinds.

The poet will return to this moment another time and tell it very differently.  The shifting of both topics and attitudes keeps the reader off balance. But Bacharach is having a wonderful time with the mixture.  It’s worth the trouble to go with the flow.

The key poem for access to the mind of the poet, for me, is “I Am Writing About Fucking,” which gives a sequence of reasons: “because I am human, . . .because sorrow was taken . . .” ending with:

because it’s not polite and I am always very
please and thank you
because there are already
enough words for snow
because of shame, that fishbone in the throat
because we are made of stars.

If this word play pleases you, you should enjoy the book.  And perhaps be a bit jealous of Bacharach’s skill and her leaps of imagination.

Poems on Line

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Beate Sigriddaughter, who is a great networker from Silver City, not too far from here, has posted one of my poems .from my new chapbook, “Transported” on her website, Writing in a Woman’s Voice.” The poem is “Centripetal Forces” a fancy title for a poem about family traveling together. Find it here.

If you check there tomorrow, she promises she will have added “Ground Level” which combines an adult sense of geography with a child’s perspective.

If you wait longer, you’ll have to scroll down to find me. I am in awe of Beate’s ability to keep up her blog on a daily basis.

And I’m grateful.

Two links

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First, the promised link for the Giveaway of my chapbook Transported on Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/320806-transported

Second, a link to two poems not in the book, but also about my birth family, published on One Art week before last.

Giveaway for Transported

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I’ve been getting some very positive comments from early readers of my poetry chapbook “Transported.”

I’ve set up a giveaway on Goodreads to reach more folks. It should go live on Thursday, 3/11.

Link will follow when it goes live.

Transported is out in the world

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My Chapbook, Transported, is out.  The poems center on the two years of my childhood when my family traveled in Europe and Egypt.

They include the sense of family:

Five lean on each other,
two parents, three children,
no child’s star, pointing outward.
            (Centripetal Forces)

Things seen from a child’s point of view:

Tales of moats and castles frame
my picture of a king.  The Queen
is a prim lady in a trim suit, matching hat.

Alice’s nemesis is dwarfed
by the real, living Elizabeth,
her patient smile akin to my mother’s,
            (Parallel Lines)

The way the experience affected my later life:

She has come home
to the familiar: classmates, neighbors. 
Two years older, she doesn’t know
what’s changed, how corners of her mind
have filled with images foreign to her friends,
dropped in like squash seeds in compost,
            (Returns 1)

Contact me to buy a copy or go to Finishing Line Press.
Same price, but I include the postage and sign them.

Sunrise

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Nature made a great show this morning.

It’s Candlemas, Presentation of our Lord, the cross-quarter day and the Feast of Bridgid. So why does the groundhog get all the press coverage?

Who’s Lost in What Greenwood?

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More on my new book:  Lost in the Greenwood explores two sets of tapestries, the Hunt of the Unicorn in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Lady and the Unicorn series in the Musée du Moyen Age in Paris.  These two sets differ in style, subject, history, in every way except date, and the fact that both include unicorns, though even the unicorns are different.  Yet one set is rarely discussed without some reference to the other.

The Hunt of the Unicorn is set in thick green woods.  Who’s lost? The poet, of course.  There are three sources for this work, the Hunt, the Lady and the reflections, questions, suppositions and imagination of the writer.

Find it at: https://www.ellenrobertsyoung.com/books.html

My Unicorns Have Escaped

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My new book, Lost in the Greenwood, is out in the world. 

The poems circle around the unicorn tapestries of 500 years ago.  There’s much more than unicorns: the making of the tapestries, the world that made them, magic, nature, belief. 

It’s a book of poems about all of this, but I still think of these poems as “my unicorns.”  And these unicorns are not the modern, friendly kind. They are goatlike, feisty and as dangerous as the world in which those who imagined them lived.

In their honor, I have a new website, http://www.ellenrobertsyoung.com

The book is available at atmospherepress.com, or by contacting me.

Political Statement

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In the form of a haiku:

Presidents, whether
red or blue, were never meant
to be our saviors.

May 2021 be a year that brings good things to all.

Thanksgiving Poem

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Joining in the widespread nostalgia this year for those big extended family gatherings.

Mashed Potatoes

            “ . . . are to give everybody enough.”
                              Ruth Krauss, A Hole Is to Dig

So there must be gravy
and a decision about who’s to make it.
Thanksgiving celebrates acquisitions,
mergers: his family’s sauerkraut,
her neighbor’s homegrown squash
will be replicated for decades.
Four burners heat six pots
when the niece comes in to make
macaroni for the youngest ones
whose urgent hunger cider and celery
cannot satisfy.  A lump in the potatoes
proves they’re real.  The masher
blames distractions, so many
people in the kitchen. The gravy maker
stays focused while other pans
change places, the drawer
at his elbow opens, closes, opens.

First published in The Broken City, thebrokencitymag.org, 2013

There is much to be thankful for, even in 2020.

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