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Rough Cradle Paperback – April 1, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Solid, moving and thoughtful, this eighth collection from the Maine poet laureate follows the real lives of real people: stanzaic lyrics, most unrhymed and most in quiet American language, depict the poet, her son, her daughter, her friends, her ailing or deceased parents, her kind stepfather and the locales and vistas that enter their lives, from the Atlantic shoreline to the California coast. Careful poems depict air travel; a fine elegy, Twentieth Century Limited, laments the heyday of rail travel while its tracklike couplets mourn a traveling father. Songbirds, migratory birds and bird-watching resonate throughout Sholl's pages: a bird/ flying off doesn't have to mean gone,/ it could mean: look at that bright going. Sholl also listens to blues and jazz. A lively, long-lined poem imitates scat singing; another, in more typical language, questions the lost giants of Delta blues: You who were not recorded to be touched up/ and played back later, did you love the raw world more,/ love the shy songbird's refusal to be seen? Sholl's lesser poems grow predictable or dated, with the same consoling epiphanies each time. At her best, though, Sholl (Late Psalm) represents patience, affection and generous attention to whoever she loves and to what she hears and sees. (Apr.)
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“Betsy Sholl’s Rough Cradle is a marvelous, intricate book of contraries. Ruin and healing, beauty and blight, the just and the unjust are at war, not just out there in our politics and our histories, but in here, daily, hourly, in the human soul. I love Sholl’s unyielding honesty, the great heart and deep intelligence of her vision.”—Nancy Eimers

Sholl's masterful, musical seventh collection focuses on human dichotomies: body and soul, mystery and knowledge, grief and ecstasy. Though the self is small in relation to death, love is enormous, and no life too small or mean to matter. Rough Cradle entreats us to love everything before we lose everything. “Betsy Scholl’s poems are visual and fast moving, the whole book shot through vivid imagery…I was so dazzled by the gorgeousness of the writing…”Stride

“As she upends perspectives, her powers of synthesis, making God's-eyes of unlike threads, are near deific.” Portland Pheonix

“Maine laureate Betsy Sholl is out with a seventh book of poetry that's filled with soaring word pictures…the ideas of beauty versus darkness, grit versus comfort.”?Portland Press Herald

"Betsy Sholl's work has such fiery momentum and narrative drive that her poems seize her readers' attention and never let go, drawing us into a profound contemplation of the marriage of blessing and destruction the world offers again and again."—Mark Doty

"For Betsy Sholl, words don't merely bring us to the edge of life's mysteries, they enter those places and—if not 'solve' things—listen, lament, praise, become song. Everything can turn into poetry, if one can only find the right words, the right music. Over and over, Sholl does. Urgent, compassionate, and lyrical, this is poetry of the highest order."—Theodore Deppe

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