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Finding My Elegy: New and Selected Poems Hardcover – September 18, 2012
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From the Inside Flap
Though internationally known and honored for her imaginative fiction, Ursula K. Le Guin started out as a poet, and since 1959 has never ceased to publish poems. Finding My Elegy distills her life's work, offering a selection of the best from her six earlier volumes of poetry and introducing a powerful group of poems, at once earthy and transcendent, written in the first decade of the twenty-first century.
The fruit of over a half century of writing, the seventy selected and seventy-seven new poems consider war and creativity, motherhood and the natural world, and glint with humor and vivid beauty. These moving works of art are a reckoning with a whole life.
From the Back Cover
At the Center
If the intrepid hero with his flashlight
should get through the trashy
outskirts to the door to the corridors that
wind and clamber in my mind, and force
his bright lightbeam through crumbled
intentions and forgotten passions encumbering
attics and blind basements, and get finally
to the oldest, inmost chamber, he will find
no minotaur, nothing frightening,
nothing even to shine his light on,
only the deep smell of dry grass
and dry adobe of an August hillside
when you lie down on it face down
breathing into and out of that one place
in the long, kind, warm dusk
after sunset and before the stars.
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Top Customer Reviews
Best known for her award-winning science fiction and fantasy, LeGuin has also kept many irons in the fire: she's also an esteemed translator, critic, and essayist. Her poetry also proves a remarkable reward, offering glimpses into one of our time's greatest minds. And considering the range of time covered in this collection, from 1960 to 2012, we get to see her evolution over the course of a productive, unconventional career.
The first half of this collection selects highlights from LeGuin's prior collections. The table of contents cites thirteen collections, a remarkable number number for someone not known as a poet. Many respected poets have not been so prolific, perhaps because she writes full-time, and does not teach. Perhaps more important, because she writes for a paying audience and not for the tenure committee, her poetry is remarkably lucid:
So still so sunny and so Sunday
is this early day,
what's done needs to be quiet:
a white butterfly
by the red fuses of the fuchsias.
Some of LeGuin's earliest poetry utilizes the same fantastic imagery that informs her famed speculative fiction. Minstrels and maenads, nymphs and sun gods. But she does not linger on these tropes, and largely writes them out remarkably early. LeGuin writes poetry separately from her fiction.Read more ›
Still, I admire her greatly for many things, not the least of which is a writing style full of bring-me-up-short imagery. That's why I was happy to choose her book of collected poems from my Amazon Vine selection, with 30 of her older poems and 90 new ones. I hadn't read any of her poetry before, so it was all new to me. I don't read poetry a LOT, anymore, but my first published work was a poem (when I was all of 13 years old) and I took poetry-writing in college with Frank Bidart as my teacher, so I'm not a poetry heathen.
And... I like Le Guin's poetry. By the nature of any collection (from short stories to poetry) some work better than others, and poetry is so much a matter of "what speaks to me right this second" that it's fairly impossible to proclaim "goodness" for anyone else. Some poems made me shrug and turn the page, where others stopped me in my tracks. Several of the poems are on topics that become more meaningful as I get older: about aging, and living alone, and appreciating nature. Some are long; others, like "Sleeping with Cats," only a few lines long.Read more ›
Many of these poems are magical - often childlike and simplistic, occasionally referring to a private world which you, the reader, may not always be able to enter. What matters here, however, is being able to experience the state of wondrous innocence and illumination that Le Guin has also been able to invoke in many of her fantasy novels.
For forty years, I've regarded Ursula Le Guin's A WIZARD OF EARTHSEA as my favorite novel, its message of owning one's shadow having deeply impacted my life ever since. But I had never read her poetry, and was delighted to be able to review her latest book of poems. I was not disappointed, although I found this collection to be inconsistent - inferior poems scattered like dime store glitter among polished jewels.
Also diverse is her subject matter - invocations and prayers, the experience of children, and of fantasy characters and mythical figures. Poems celebrating nature in all of its seasons, California and Oregon, pets and wild animals. Reflections on the artifice of Las Vegas and the enslavement of owning. Poems about silence, language, writers, singers, historical persons. Marriage poems, and poems about daughters and granddaughters. Powerfully moving poems on the evils of war. A multiplicity of poems about aging and approaching death.
FINDING MY ELEGY is indeed a cornucopia of styles (rhymed and unrhymed) and subjects, expressing a full range of voices, from the childlike, magical and celebratory to the maternal, grief-stricken and poignantly reflective.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Homage to and Review of <i>Finding My Elegy: New and Selected Poems</i> by Ursula K. Le Guin
<strong>Ursula K. Le Guin</strong> is my favorite writer. Read more
Poetry is not for everyone, but it is a chance to walk through someone else's mind, and see Life as they do. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Cheryl L. Devecka
I don't mind reading poetry, but I can't say that it is something I have a significant interest in.
I chose this book because I enjoy Le Guin's fiction. Read more
I grew up reading Ursula Le Guin's books, so full of creativity and depth of character. I was excited to get what I was sure would be some real spit-fire poetry. Read morePublished on April 5, 2013 by WhereWaldoFindsHimself
Ursula K. Le Guin, Finding My Elegy: New and Selected Poems (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012)
Full disclosure: This book was provided to me free of charge by Amazon... Read more
I have no information to pass along. The recipient is a sci-fi fan - has read all the other books by Ursula K. LeGuin, requested this on a Christmas list . .Published on January 28, 2013 by Garden girl
This collection, slim as it seems, contains an astonishing range of style, form, character and subject matter. Read morePublished on November 5, 2012 by Pasiphae
Ursula K. Le Guin is mostly known for her execellent and well-regarded science fiction books like The Left Hand of Darkness. Read morePublished on October 26, 2012 by USAF Veteran
Finding My Elegy: New and Selected Poems
Ursula K. Le Guin
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: September 18,... Read more