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A Phone Call to the Future: New and Selected Poems Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (March 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307267180
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307267184
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,748,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Celebrated since the 1980s for her deftly articulate, often wittily rhymed lyric poems, Salter demonstrates those strengths and others in this sixth volume. From the start, Salter's verse can sound urbane and serious, ceremonious and supple: a nine-part elegy for a friend who died young contains a villanelle with the refrain I know you're gone for good. And this is how:/ were you alive, you would have called by now. Other poems react to the death of Salter's mother, to her own experience of parenthood, and to life with her husband, poet and critic Brad Leithauser. Salter may be the most gifted mid-career disciple of James Merrill's work, and her detractors may say she still works in his shadow. Yet her loosely syllabic stanzas owe as much to Marianne Moore, and her best poems stand apart for their careful sensitivity both to works of art and to her own family life, sounding as much herself when sighing, you reach an age when classics// are what you must have read as when she imagines the synchronized operations/ across the neighborhood:/ putting the children to bed;/ laying out clean clothes. (Mar.)
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Review

“Only a few poets transcend the history of taste to participate in the history of art–and only in a handful of poems. Salter has been struck by lightning more than once… ‘Another Session’ is, like “Elegies for Etsuko,’ a disorienting work of art.” —James Longenbach, The New York Times Book Review

“Celebrated since the 1980’s for her deftly articulate, often wittily rhymed lyric poems, Salter demonstrates those strengths and others in this sixth volume . . . Salter may be the most gifted mid-career disciple of James Merrill’s work . . . yet her loosely syllabic stanzas owe as much to Marianne Moore, and her best poems stand apart for their careful sensitivity both to works of art and to her own family life.”
Publishers Weekly

“Marked by a very conscious sense of craft, Salter’s work is precise and artful, composed with a decided sensitivity toward formal poetic tradition . . . There are no extraordinary events here, just the business of day-to-day living, with its little highs and lows, recounted in poems that are deeply human, brilliantly realized and refreshingly perceptive.” —Julie Hale, Bookpage

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Marcus Aurelius on April 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
There are few poets like I look forward to new poems by with as much anticipation as those by MJS. This collection will not disappoint--unless, like me, your reaction is going to be skip the selected work; I want to enjoy the crafted pieces by a master poet. While there are only a handful of new poems, I did do what I always promise myself but rarely follow up on: I revisited a few favorites and forgotten pieces from her earlier volumes. Some readers may lament that the poems are selected and not collected, for me it was a fine blend of new and old material. If MJS's work is new to you, you'll have the joy of discovering material from her previous collections; if you've been following her work all along, you'll be happy to read the grouping that starts the collection. Everything MJS publishes is poetry of the highest order.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lawrence R. Taylor on June 22, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dr. Salter is one of the best writers alive. Her depth of language usage moves one emotionally and makes the reader a better person for the encounter.
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Format: Paperback
Sorry if my review is super scattered.
Bottom line: is she is a good writer.
I would give it 5 stars if it wasn't such heavy material (depressing) for me.

This may have value to you, however, and you should read it at least nice and judge for yourself. (Read on).

So-- This book of poems was a bit heavy for me , .....but still- I recommend everyone take a look at Elegies for Etsuko. I think it is / will become a classic, if it hasn't already. I will never forget it. I love all artists that take a risk to try and make a stab at voicing the pain of losing a friend....of unmasking the cloak that is a suicide. A warning to others as a "Phone Call to the Future", as it were, to realize the pain and finality that death leaves as a trail behind itself. (Not a direct quote, --just my of tieing the title into my review. I'm not sure where in the book lies this expression explicitly, if at all).

Elegies for Etsuko- I am so moved by this set of verses to Salter's friend, Etsuko Akai.
When her name appears, haltingly, in one of the last of the eight parts, I am jilted to the reality-- This woman, described in the poem--she is, in fact dead. I know it seems obvious , but I guess it was so striking for me because it is the tradition classically to euphemistically dance around the sadness that is someone's death. Instead, she faces it, states it, names it. It's almost awkward to be present for the revelations that are so personal. It is a reflection, nonetheless, of our modern style of everything becoming public. We say it. We are shocking. Nothing is taboo.

The taboo is th norm. To be the euphemistic, to cite a norm is the new taboo.

But there is the classic sad emotions in this poetry.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on December 11, 2009
Format: Paperback
Mary Jo Salter, A Phone Call to the Future (Knopf, 2008)

So many new-and-collected books of poetry are ways to track the change in quality of an author's work over a long period of time. The early work shows shakiness and amateurism, fading into seasoned, professional work. Or, more commonly, the fresh, new voice of the early work fades into cynicism, pedantry, or repetition. Not so Mary Jo Salter; there's almost twenty-five years of material in this book, and the stuff from the earliest represented book is just as strong and assured as the new poems. Unfortunately, I had to send it back to the library before I could pull a good quote out of it, but really, I'd have had a difficult time doing so; much of this book wants to be quoted, and as it's one of the longest single-author collections I've read in the past five years (222 pp.), that would make this review a bit longer than I like to go. (Insert emoticon here.) Stop by your local library or bookstore, open to a random page, and sample for yourself. Yes, the rest of the book is really that good, and yes, you want to read it at your earliest convenience. ****
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