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All Saints: New and Selected Poems Paperback – November 1, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0807121986 ISBN-10: 0807121983 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"you might say i have / this peculiar fascination / with the dead," admits Brenda Marie Osbey in All Saints, her American Book Award-winning collection of poems. As a New Orleans native speaking through historical Creole characters, she celebrates the ways the dead maintain a living presence in New Orleans, whether in their above-ground tombs, in religious hoodoo ancestor worship, or in bricks from an old slave factory in the Treme fauborg--a New Orleans usage for "neighborhood," as Osbey's extensive glossary explains. The glossary, like Eliot's notes on "The Wasteland," stands as an interesting document itself; using it isn't necessary to understand the poem, however. Spoken by characters from throughout New Orleans history, the poems understandably vary in tone and appeal.

Osbey's style is accessible. Idiosyncrasies such as the absence of capital letters fade into the background once a reader tunes in to the poems' compelling dramatic situations: a desperate dialogue with Coffin Street's prophetic Mother Catherine, a prayer from San Malo for his maroon colony, an heartfelt open letter about the evening news to singer Nina Simone. Like Jonathan Swift's "Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot" and other formal verse satires, Osbey's poems stack their grievances and observations on top of each other until, near the end, the tone breaks and she utters terribly moving truths--"the night is a bastard gleaming"--before cooling down. Osbey's book details family relationships, community life, and the struggle for redemption. This struggle is laid bare in "The Head of Luis Congo," a sequential poem about the beheading of Congo, a free black man hired in 1726 as keeper of the road along Bayou St. John, a route favored by escaping slaves. The poem's interplay between confession and braggadocio is a testament to Osbey's skill as a storyteller; the reader damns and pities Congo simultaneously. The book's title refers to the New Orleans custom of whitewashing tombs on All Saints' Day, and at her best, Osbey gives us a chance to observe how life and death intertwine. --Edward Skoog


Alberta (factory Poem/variation 2)
Another Time And Farther South
The Business Of Pursuit: San Malo's Prayer: 1
The Business Of Pursuit: San Malo's Prayer: 2
The Business Of Pursuit: San Malo's Prayer: 3
The Business Of Pursuit: San Malo's Prayer: 4
The Business Of Pursuit: San Malo's Prayer: 5
Desire And Private Griefs
The Evening News
Everything Happens To (monk And) Me
Faubourg Study No. 3: The Seven Sisters Of New Orleans
For Charles H. Rowell, On The Death Of His Father 1
For Charles H. Rowell, On The Death Of His Father 2
For Charles H. Rowell, On The Death Of His Father 3
For Charles H. Rowell, On The Death Of His Father 4
The Head Of Luis Congo Begs A Favor
The Head Of Luis Congo Calls For His Medicine
The Head Of Luis Congo Confesses His Sin
The Head Of Luis Congo Cries Out For Water
The Head Of Luis Congo Has His Littly Say
The Head Of Luis Congo Speaks
The Head Of Luis Congo Weeps
House Of The Dead Remembering
Mother Catherine
Peculiar Fascination With The Dead
Sor Juana
Speaking Of Trains: Incognito: Woman In Blue
Speaking Of Trains: Movement 2: How To Meet The Train
Speaking Of Trains: South Train Study, Movement 1
St. Martin
Stones Of Soweto
Suicide City
-- Table of Poems from Poem Finder® --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 140 pages
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press; 1st edition (November 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807121983
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807121986
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #529,171 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Brenda Marie Osbey is a poet and essayist working in English and French, and the author of six volumes. She is the recipient of the American Book Award for All Saints: New and Selected Poems in 1998, and the Langston Hughes Award in 2014.

She has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Louisiana Division of the Arts, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation and others, and has been a resident fellow of the MacDowell Colony, the Millay Colony, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College, Harvard University, the Camargo Foundation at Cassis and Dora Maar House at Ménerbes, France.

Osbey is Poet Laureate Emerita of Louisiana, and Distinguished Visiting Professor of Africana Studies at Brown University.

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By Loralee Kendall on October 7, 2014
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Revealing yet mysterious stories and information about New Orleans.
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