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Perennial Fall (Phoenix Poets) Paperback – April 1, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Stately free verse, pentameter stanzas and quatrains commemorate lost lovers, a child suicide, elegiac landscapes and, above all, a brother who may have killed himself seven years ago; Dietz depicts them all, in this debut, with clarity and resolve. Dietz's technique suggests, at its most lyrical, Derek Walcott, at its starkest the recent poems of Robert Pinsky, though Dietz includes a quiet humility, even a resignation, alien to both. "The immutable speaks," she declares; "Anyone can hear who listens." Despite its variety of line and locale, some readers may find the volume too emotionally uniform, too given to a single, regretful note: yet this uniformity—or unity—comes perhaps from the elegiac tradition in which Dietz works, one designed to answer the largest questions of all: "what it means to love and suffer," as her last poem phrases it, "what it is to die and live." (Apr.)
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“In Perennial Fall, distinct, hard-edged images create a haunting counter-play of distortion, troubled insight or menace. The simultaneous clarity and shadow has the quality of a dream that can be neither forgotten nor settled. The disturbed speaker of the final, audacious dramatic monologue articulates in its most extreme form Maggie Dietz’s sense of the uncanny forces under life’s surface. Her achievement—and the source of excitement for her readers—is an urgent fidelity to both that surface and the underlying caves and rivers of the imagination."—Robert Pinsky

(Robert Pinsky)

“Graced with a subtlety of vision and formal versatility that bring Bishop and Bogan quickly to mind, Maggie Dietz’s Perennial Fall both embodies and enacts the trajectory from being haunted by loss, to accepting the fact of it, to refusing a life that doesn’t include ‘dusk, dying, [and] ends.’ ‘I love/this world, my heart is/here, where a body breathes,’ says Dietz, reluctant to know an afterlife where there’s ‘Nothing to tend,/nothing you're up against.’ Dietz speaks with the hard-won authority of one ‘who's lost, who’s lost someone’ and has learned that to love and suffer is to have lived fully, and with eyes wide open. These poems are the stirring record of such a life, and the welcome announcement of a masterful new voice in American poetry.”—Carl Phillips

(Carl Philips)

Perennial Fall is a first book of unusual delicacy and precision of feeling, and masterful economy, even starkness of presentation. I admire the poise in these lines, which is a moral and psychological balance, charged with ambiguity, ripe for disturbance. The human beings in Dietz’s poems have a participatory relation to the nature that surrounds them, and human nature in her world is brave and permeable: ‘Among the welcome elements not one/thing did not hunger to be changed.’ These poems are, themselves, welcome elements in a crowded and noisy world.”—Rosanna Warren

(Rosanna Wareen)

"[Maggie Dietz]'s got plenty of attitude, as well as skill to back it up....[Her] lippy candor is invigorating in a wish-I'd-thought-of-that way, and it's a pleasure to be led through her world as she looks at familiar subjects with fresh eyes....Intimate, idiomatic and thoroughly original."—David Kirby, New York Times Book Review
(David Kirby New York Times Book Review 2006-08-20)

"Dietz's poems evoke the elemental, organic connections layered beneath the surface of experience in nature and in dreams."
(J.H. Keith Bostonia)

"Once you are invited in, it is difficult to walk out unchanged, to ignore the sense that this fall to which Dietz refers is not simply seasonal, but also a commentary on humanity--its loves, its losses, its own perpetual waiting."
(Aimee Pozorski Cold Mountain Review)

More About the Author

Maggie Dietz grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin. She earned a B.A. from Northwestern University in 1995 and an M.A. from Boston University in 1997. She currently teaches in the creative writing program at Boston University and is assistant poetry editor for the online magazine Slate. For many years she directed the Favorite Poem Project, Robert Pinsky's special undertaking during his tenure as U.S. Poet Laureate, and is coeditor of three anthologies related to the project: Americans' Favorite Poems, Poems to Read, and, most recently, An Invitation to Poetry. Her awards include the Grolier Poetry Prize, and fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Phillips Exeter Academy and the NH State Council on the Arts. Her work has appeared in journals such as Poetry, Ploughshares, Agni, and Salmagundi. Her first book of poems, Perennial Fall, won the 2007 Jane Kenyon Award for Outstanding Book of Poetry.

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