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Original Fire: Selected and New Poems Hardcover – September 2, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (September 2, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0066209862
  • ISBN-13: 978-0066209869
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #991,274 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Though a multiply award-winning novelist, Erdrich (Love Medicine, etc.) throughout the 1980s remained committed to verse; poems from Jacklight (1984) and Baptism of Desire (1989) represent her in many anthologies, some of them focused on Ojibwe heritage. This third book of poems begins with Erdrich's earliest work (much of it indebted to Richard Hugo), moves through a series of prose tales about the long-lived potato-trickster Potchikoo, then opens out into a mix of new and old verse. "All graves are pregnant with our nearest kin," Erdrich writes, and many of her poems regard first and last things-motherhood, family, death and mourning-sometimes as mythical universals, sometimes as they take place on reservations or in cold, forlorn small towns, each with its misfit (like "Step-and-a-Half Waleski") and its patron saint (the sarcastic "Rez Litany," the rapt "Seven Sleepers"). "The relentless throat call/ of physical love," and religions designed to deflect it, animate some of Erdrich's new sequences, which incorporate fairy tales, Christian ritual and reservation lore. Though her stark lines owe much (sometimes too much) to Louise Glck, Erdrich's particular landscapes and affiliations, and her way with myths and talismans, ensure that her poems, new and old, retain strengths all their own.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Erdrich's fecund poems are seedbeds for her acclaimed novels, a key facet of her work newly revealed in this soul-rocking collection, her first volume of poetry in 14 years. An irrepressible storyteller, Erdrich writes supple and cunning narrative poems about families, lovers, and trickster figures as mischievous in the afterlife as they were in the flesh. Both body and spirit fascinate Erdrich because they are born of and sustained by the life force she calls the "original fire." Reflecting on her Ojibwa and European heritages, Erdrich is profoundly sensual, frankly bawdy, and slyly comedic. Deeply attuned to the sacred as it is manifest in everything from sunlight to stones to water to plants and animals, Erdrich grapples with both Native American and Christian beliefs, and the conflicts ignited by the friction between them, in poems of sweet gratitude, voluptuous ecstasy, cutting satire, seething grief, and fiery resolve. "I'm wild for everything," writes Erdrich, a poet who is, indeed, open to and inspirited by the radiance and heat, crackle and insistence of life. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Louise Erdrich is the author of twelve novels as well as volumes of poetry, children's books, and a memoir of early motherhood. Her debut novel, Love Medicine, won the National Book Critics Circle Award. The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her most recent novel, The Plague of Doves, a New York Times bestseller, received the highest praise from Philip Roth, who wrote, "Louise Erdrich's imaginative freedom has reached its zenith--The Plague of Doves is her dazzling masterpiece." Louise Erdrich lives in Minnesota with her daughters and is the owner of Birchbark Books, a small independent bookstore.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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This grand work of poetry speaks to the deep places in my soul, to the place only poetry reaches.
Black Bird
I was compelled to keep turning the pages but I wanted to savor them and so I read them slowly to give my mind time to process them before I moved on.
Laura Booksnob
I've read and enjoyed all of Erdrich's fiction and was eager to experience her poetry when I got this book.
Marion

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Marion VINE VOICE on January 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've read and enjoyed all of Erdrich's fiction and was eager to experience her poetry when I got this book. I was not disappointed in the least.

Her poems are rich, full of life, sparkling chunks of wisdom from a woman's life. My favorite poem was "Advice to Myself" in the chapter entitled "Original Fire". She captures the ephemeral nature of life so beautifully and eloquently. If you only purchase one book of poetry this year, make it this one!!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By John Michael Albert on June 3, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Is it heresy to suggest that Louise Erdrich is a great story teller, in at least two ancient traditions (Native American, Roman Catholic liturgy), and not necessarily a poet? I became aware of her poetical work on Bill Moyers's last shows a month or so ago. They had an intense, engrossing, and very hopeful discussion centered on her poem, "Advice to Myself." I was amazed at the balance, the sanity of the conversation. Essentially: yes, we know the world at large and in particular is going to hell in a hand basket and the most anyone can do, world-wise, is to push back on the flood of insanity. But, the most powerful and personal thing we can do is to refuse to surrender to despair. The strength of character in these stories grows for that amazing place. True to both traditions, they're doggedly NOT about the teller, they're about the tale. Beautiful, evocative writing. And what happens when she converts the Desiderata from second person advice to first person? "Advice to Myself": ... Let the wind have its way, then the earth / that invades as dust and then the dead / foaming up in gray rolls under the couch. / Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome. ... And regarding the heresy? In Huckleberry Finn's immortal words, "I'll go to hell."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Susan L. Tegland on January 3, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was born near the ojibway, and became a cousin by marriage. We visited them, and they us, as family will do.
Her turns of phrase describe truly how something or someone is, there. Sometimes what the people (White or Reservation people)do makes no sense. So the poem just shows a slice of life.

I read the poems infrequently, to make the expectation last that i will be taken there once again, to a place too crowded or one too open. To see what people will do next.

She makes her words count.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Molyneux on July 8, 2012
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Some of the most down to earth and beautiful poetry that I have read in a long time. Brazen and free. Loved them.
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This grand work of poetry speaks to the deep places in my soul, to the place only poetry reaches. I love the mixture of beauty and pain and the peek inside the rich imagery of the mind of Louise Endrich. Loved her novel The Roundhouse. Love this collection even more.
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