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If Birds Gather Your Hair For Nesting: Poems (The National Poetry Series) Paperback – March 15, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Many female poets address sex in tones of victimhood, but Journey is downright predatory. Indeed, she's all about ecstasy in the original sense, meaning to leave your state of being. But if living to the fullest requires ecstasy, then it also requires a dose of death. Journey has her misgivings about this, which hints at a kind of existential sanity. That makes If Birds Gather Your Hair for Nesting a fabulous little book, the work of a young poet (I kept hearing bits of Wallace Stevens and Maxine Kumin) wise beyond her years.

(Los Angeles Times)

With these poems Journey flings the shop door wide open. She puts the needle on the record. She pumps up the bass.

(Blackbird)

If Birds Gather Your Hair for Nesting is an audacious book written by a poet of wide erudition with a feverish and relentless imagination. Her experiments are actually new experiments. Her music will make your ear need to dance. And, on top of that, her poems make you want to read and read and read them!

(Thomas Lux National Poetry Series judge)

In her spellbinding debut collection, Journey is the voice of that 'adorable siren' whose pleasurably startling images and exquisite perfect-pitch language recognize-no, bless that all 'cries want to be something else.' It is simply one of the most magnetic books I have read in a long time.

(Beckian Fritz Goldberg author of The Book of Accident)

In digging up graves and rooting through the past, Anna Journey’s rich lines assert the writing of poetry as the vehicle that can change one’s luck, one’s history and future.

(The Rumpus)

Anna Journey has talent to burn: gothic, elegiac, and celebratory by turns, her poems possess a giddy imaginative dexterity that is exceedingly rare in a debut collection. More important, there is a gravity and heft to her poems; they are willing to confront the Big Issues and militantly resist the easy tour de force. Jarrell says somewhere that a certain helplessness before her material is one of the poet’s principal tools. I hear that haunted helplessness in lines such as these: 'I can’t stop― / the story // going like the tongue goes: // lit and loosed, moving, / like Lucifer, / down.' Anna Journey is on the threshold of a significant career.

(David Wojahn author of Interrogation Palace: New and Selected Poems 1982-2004)

The tropic foliage of Anna Journey's book is so lushly ashimmer with invitation and threat that it's difficult to tell the two apart. Which is just what this poet intends: the world seduces us to enter, and to enter again, and to do so is both to find pleasure and to perish into a field of ghosts. Sexy, baroque, and southern to the core, this is a full-tilt splash of a debut.

(Mark Doty author of Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems)

To read even the table of contents of this audacious first book is to fall, I’m afraid, hopelessly in love. . . .By the end of the first poem. . .Anna Journey will have re-arranged the furniture in your brain, right down to the last, needless antimacassar.

(Sarah Maclay Poetry International)

From the Inside Flap

In this debut collection, Anna Journey invites the reader into her peculiar, noir universe nourished with sex and mortality. Her poems are haunted by demons, ghosts, and even the living who wander exotic landscapes that appear at once threatening and seductive. In these poems, her sly speaker renames a pink hibiscus on display at Lowe's, "Lucifer's Panties"; another character chants, "I'd fall devil / over heels over edge over oleander"; and one woman writes a letter to the underworld:

Dear black bayou, once, by a river

I bit a man's neck. His scent: the raw

teak air husked inside stomachs of six

Russian nesting dolls--the ones in the attic I pulled

apart and open. The ones I

pulled apart and open like Styrofoam cups.

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Product Details

  • Series: The National Poetry Series
  • Paperback: 104 pages
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press (March 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0820333689
  • ISBN-13: 978-0820333687
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #922,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By Erin L. Martin on October 15, 2014
Format: Paperback
Really exciting, lively language and innovative themes for the poems.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Disappointed with physical state of book, covered in stickers that are hard to remove/
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Format: Paperback
This is a wildly exciting book from one of our best young poets. Read this book and be amazed with what Ms. Journey can do with a line, an image. This book will blow your freaking mind.
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Format: Paperback
If Birds Gather Your Hair for Nesting is the most exciting new book of poetry I've read this century. The blurbs on the back of the book are unusually accurate: it's as re-readable as Thomas Lux says it is, as "magnetic" as Beckian Fritz Goldberg says it is, and as "lushly ashimmer with invitation and threat"--not to mention as "sexy" and as "southern"*--as Mark Doty says it is. Journey has created a beautiful work of art.

These 44 poems are as complex and hard-to-pin-down as the world they're part of. The persona that comes through as the speaker of most of them, as the information about "Anna Elizabeth" and her history accumulates, is a consistent character, but she is also "made/ of so many girls (she) can't get them all/ drunk at once or they'd mutiny."

Quoting FROM the book, I find, is an inadequate means of revealing its power. You'll just have to read it. And keep reading it.

*The only way it could be more southern is if it had a dead mule in it somewhere.
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