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Sunflower Brother Paperback – March 1, 2007


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A Spool of Blue Thread
The story of the Whitshank family told in Anne Tyler's hallmark setting—Baltimore. Read the full description | Learn more about the author
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 89 pages
  • Publisher: Cleveland State U Poetry Center; 1st edition (January 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 188083474X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1880834749
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 5.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,243,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Sunflower Brother pairs a pastoral setting with images of fire, explosion, irradiation, and burning; both sets of images are equal parts creation and destruction. Witt's voice always feels fresh from, and flushed with loss and his elegies -- poems written for the dead -- not only acknowledge death and limitation but try to reinvest the mourning self with life. The result can be both beautiful and direct, whether the poet addresses a deceased relative, or speaks more generally to what he perceives as our decaying world. Often it sounds more like Witt's been reading Keats than anything from his own century." --Katie Peterson, New Orleans Review

"Sam Witt confesses, 'The truth is, // I love the world. / Sometimes part of me even loves / what we've done to it.' Witt loves our world hard, and what he does for it is to fashion a language, sad and bitter but tough and full of sunflowers, that shows us a way to love it, too. This is poetry for strong readers." --Robert E. McDonough

"Sam Witt's poems are rhapsody and 'crisp singing' both. The best are purest poetry -- mixing beauty, the reaches of language, and an imagination equally made up of body and grace. He speaks in all our tones. His equivalences are fresh and reveal an involved, likable world." --Carol Frost

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paula Koneazny on October 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
These are for the most part lyric narrative poems, rooted in Witt's boyhood in North Carolina, in the South. I grow somewhat tired of the "I," the first person self-gazing of such poems, although I admit that Witt is elegant and masterful in his use of the forms. The best poems in the book, in my opinion, are the first and last: "The Cold War" and "My Kiss." . Interestingly, both of these contain wire, "razorwire" in the first instance and "concertina wire" in the second, wire here a succinct metaphor for the ripping caused by death, loss, and destruction.

Most of the poems in Sunflower Brother are obsessed with death, particularly that of friends and family members. There is a murder (Emmett Till); a mercy killing (an old or injured horse); a 19th century death (a toddler in her satin-lined coffin à la book Wisconsin Death Trip); suicides; hidden death (a corpse in the leaves); political execution (Ceauscescu); death in nature ; death from old age; premature death from cancer; and death from drug overdose. And, finally, there is death as voluptuousness: (21) "I've been told that dying is a kind of honey that soaks us from inside."

These are also poems of recollected boyhood and youth, shaped by a boy's sensual and sensed apprehension of the world and of people, rooted both in the body and in the natural world; they are pastoral poems brought round to the "I." The "I" seeks his own reflection in a fish eye and in the glazed-over eye of a dead possum. Sam Witt observes his world with great attentiveness and describes it in exquisite, aching detail, as if he needs to remember each cicada, each spider's web, each blade of grass and decomposing leaf.
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By Reader on January 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
As has been said elsewhere, Sam Witt writes language of unashamed and disturbing beauty and lushness, startling imagery, with gorgeous and ambitious syntax, a serpentine and intense prose, and yet it's a poetry that knows that language isn't everything. I think he's a poet who is writing poems that are responsive to the fullness of human nature, rooted in history, culture, time, and place found in relationships and at the big moments of pressure rather than abstracted into protective humor, preciousness or other hermetic and protective postures. In all of his work, Witt is an unblinkered poet. As the cover suggests, this is a dark book rooted in Faulkner and O'Connor, and yet it is also a book about innocence.
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