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Arc & Hue Paperback – September 1, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Tara Betts deftly crafted stanzas are infused with a relentless lyricism and a Chi-town girl's sensibility. This debut collection solidifies her status as a defiant and singular voice, joyous indication of a fresh new direction in poetry. --Patricia Smith, National Book Award Winner and author of Blood Dazzler

The poems in Tara Betts's debut collection, Arc and Hue, are a montage of identity politics, sexuality, music, and experiential knowledge. The joy of reading these poems is that it's the knowledge--yes, even more than the music-- that makes these poems sing. Irrespective of how familiar the scene may seem on the surface, whether the focus is a reverie on relationships--some familial, some romantic--or a projection of a subjunctive future, the acute attention to detail and keen point of view guides Betts' work to conclusions that surprise and illuminate. --A. Van Jordan, author of Quantum Lyrics

It's all here, all the nuances of body and voice, as bold and sensitive poetic attitude. How flow became form then flow again, the creative-growth-process of living writing line breath before line break, a risk in every room. Tara Betts makes silence plea then whips some crazy and some natural on the confessional. Often sassy, often black-a-demic, her non-discriminating eye is never without a fully focused art-sense of self, community and nation. So many of the poems in Arc and Hue aim for the spirit level of insight, our need-some-more-saturation souls. No bragging, no cussin folks out or refried allegorical posturing, Arc and Hue respects the currency of creativity and the unbought lives it honors. --Thomas Sayers Ellis, The Maverick Room

About the Author

Tara Betts is a lecturer in creative writing at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. She is a Cave Canem fellow who has received her residencies from the Ragdale Foundation, Centrum, Caldera and an Illinois Art's Council Artist fellowship. Tara is also a poetry editor for November 3rd Club. Tara's work has appeared in Obsidian III, Callaloo, PMS, Columbia Poetry Review, Ninth Letter, HANGING LOOSE, and Drunken Boat. Her work is anthologized in several collections, including Gathering Ground (University of Michigan Press), Bum Rush the Page (Three Rivers Press), The Spoken Word Revolution (Sourcebooks), Power Lines (Tia Chucha Press), These Hands I Know (Sarabande), Hurricane Blues (Southeast Missouri University Press), and Letters to the World (Red Hen Press).

Product Details

  • Paperback: 94 pages
  • Publisher: Aquarius Press/Willow Books; First edition (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 098192087X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981920870
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,315,213 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The studied, active, cerebral, outlandish yet introverted and hogpodge poet has sunken to cultural myth and fodder for intellectuals in the age of hip-hop, "performance" poetry, advertising slogans and one-woman or man shows in our nation's theaters. Betts' Arc & Hue is at once a call-to-arms for the recuperation of poetry's rigor and respect, a playful adventure in cultural memory and nostalgia, a pressing memoir of intellectual and societal ascension, and a throwback to the Blues Women that Betts memoralizes with poems such as "When I First Listened to Billie" (21), "Understanding Tina Turner" (19), and "One More Chance" (71). Neither redemption nor rebellion, the psychic and spiritual gifts Betts offers between 90 pages of succulent poetry (many of them previously published elsewhere) marked the official and formal debut of a inmitible voice in international and global verse.

With a heartfelt foreward by poet Afaa M. Weaver, the five sections of Arc & Hue segment the interior memories, observations, losses, regrets, hopes, cultural critiques and Womanist philosophies of a spirit at rest and in motion always. Betts' offerings reflect the varying cubicles of identity which she marks as blessing and curse. The worlds and grounds of power she interrogates with her voice are black, white, city, country, American, diasporic, woman, human, friend, lover, student, teacher, knowing, inquisitive, middle class, hood, classic, and futuristic.

I was elated to see Ms.
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Tara Betts' Arc & Hue is a kaleidoscope of feelings about self-discovery, birth, death, human suffering and family. Her poetry is sensuous and speaks of a wisdom gained through pain and pleasure, personal experience and shared tragedies. Betts has a knack for putting on paper the passion of a woman's self-discovery that is often too taboo to acknowledge. In "What a Crazy Aunt Can Give," she teases the reader with the erotic gift that will make her niece truly independent, This box opens the crazy/ possibility that she can please herself,/then pick the boys like a preference/for the most durable battery. "Escape of Choice" explores another subject dealing with women's freedom to choose; women are often prisoners in their own bodies if they choose to be. This poem exemplifies both physical and emotional abuse which the subject chooses not to accept, exit the guilt shattered by blows/with no beginnings except this one...This is a lost baby poem. In "Hurricane Kwame Offers His Two Cents" Betts' use of personification to treat the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina is compelling, She wanted to see how stone cold bitch she could be...We're usually just some restless stirrings,/rustling waves like fluffy baby locks/blowing across the Atlantic's head. We are reminded where government priorities are - or rather where they should be in "The Broken Levee" where funding is usually spent on personal interest such as tourism rather than in human interest and safety. Tara Betts' Arc & Hue is a passionate collection of poetry that mirrors her respect for women, love of community, and compassion for the less-than-fortunate.
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Format: Paperback
I read Tara Betts' latest collection of poetry, Arc & Hue, not entirely knowing what to expect. For me it was an assignment -one that I did not at first start with an open mind, but as the pages kept turning I found myself more and more wrapped up in the words and tales she was spinning. The book is a collection of poems with a range of different purposes, but all of them are tied together with Betts' experience. It is a true poet and effective writer who can weave together stories of violence and tales of love within the same binding, and this is exactly what Betts' does in Arc & Hue. One of her more serious poems, "Killed Twice", is about a girl who was murdered, who is the same age and had the same name as the narrative's voice, and she says: Before the chubby cheeked age of ten/I knew death could breathe on you early. She writes in the first two lines, and my attention is somberly grabbed. There is something about the way Betts' writes this poem that puts a gentle grace on such a terrible occurrence, and though the story itself is a humorless one, I found myself particularly drawn to it by the way she writes with stark facts that turn into emotion: The same teen, now a man set free/finds a tow-headed boy a few blocks/from the drainage ditch years past,/then loses him, the boy just a body/when found.
But Betts' isn't all sorry stories -as a matter of fact there are a number of humorous and ironic poems included in this collection that I thoroughly enjoyed as well, along with several very imaginative ones. "The Burial" is a poem about a painting Betts once saw, and she decided to fashion a story out of what she saw in the portrait.
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