From Publishers Weekly
Women of the last five centuries, many from the American South, haunt this collection, which consists of work selected from Haskins's previous five collections along with 23 new poems: "Sometimes my feet carry me/ where Jane wanted to go, where Ann dreamed in her tower./ I am Ellen out of her country." The female personae, gathered together from across time, appear and reappear, engaged in "women's work": piano playing, trading alongside a husband in the frontier, teaching English to Native Americans, embroidering, caring for children, mourning silently the loss of children, dreading the prospect of a barren womb. (One would be hard-pressed to deduce from this collection that Haskins spends her days as a computer science professor at the University of Florida.) Regardless of era, all her personae speak in one spare, humble, resonant poetic voice as if one woman were tracing past lives or as if all women's lives are to be seen as part of a greater experience, which forces the reader to see each persona not as a figure from history but as a kind of contemporary. The poems that deviate from the women's voices lose force; the central section of the book, taken from "Forty-Four Ambitions for the Piano" is frustrating, as if Haskins simply set out to extend a metaphor from every conceivable piano-related term and action. But fans of Sharon Olds or Sharon Kraus will find Haskins's diachronic constellation of women's lives familiar and welcoming: "Loving a son/ hurts, like the stars/ that are always there,/ even in the day sky as if,/ looking up, I could see them past your lifetime and mine."
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About the Author
A graduate of Stanford University, Lola Haskins is the author of six collections of poetry, including Extranjera
, both from Story Line Press. She has been the recipient of several grants and awards, including the Iowa Poetry Prize and an NEA fellowship. Ms. Haskins teaches Computer Science at the University of Florida and lives on a farm outside of Gainsville.