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The Reservoir Paperback – November 11, 2002

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Editorial Reviews


"Meticulous and haunted, these poems live in a world only partly ours—one that overlaps into others where mirrors line the throats of birds and bees are baked into cakes. It's often evening here; we're often in a garden; we're often wandering. Stonecipher's precise language is both pensive and uncannily present, her images both seductive and oddly settling. She has achieved a beautiful truce among the most difficult emotions without compromising a thing."--Cole Swensen

"Stonecipher gives her poems both the texture and the structure of a continuous meditation on her own best, strongest, or prettiest memories . . . Stonecipher spent part of her youth in Teheran, and some of her twenties in the Czech Republic. Unsurprisingly, she enjoys writing about place; ultimately, though, all her poems are meditative, inward, remotely Proustian."--Boston Review

"Her unusual style and skillfully turned language, applied to a range of women's secrets, make this collection a read that is both compelling and haunting, and one to which readers will wish to return many times."--Carolina Quarterly

"Life on several continents, sexual passion and intellective experience among the recesses of language produce the unique prose poems in Donna Stonecipher's The Reservoir. Residence in Teheran, Prague, Seattle and Iowa—and study of prose-poem masters from St. John Perse to Killarney Clary—inform the inviting reflections and meditations in Stonecipher's volume.”--Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Donna Stonecipher grew up in Seattle and Teheran. She lived in Prague from 1994 to 1998 and graduated from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 2001. Her poems have appeared in Denver Quarterly, Field, Indiana Review, New American Writing, and Web Conjunctions, among other journals.


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Product Details

  • Series: The Contemporary Poetry Series
  • Paperback: 88 pages
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press (November 11, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0820324639
  • ISBN-13: 978-0820324630
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 5.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,019,414 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 11, 2002
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In this astounding debut volume, Stonecipher studies with painstaking accuracy the psychodynamics of homeostasis: an organism's tendency toward maintenance of a stable psychological condition with respect to contending drives, motivations, and forces in relation to the outside world. In the book's title poem--what might be considered her ars poetica, her ars vida--Stonecipher forthrightly pronounces the aesthetic covenant of the reservoir: "I was anxious to tell my version of the story of what the world has done to me--but you must be careful how many times you ask to be rescued" ... "The flow must be regulated. Keep some water for the reservoir. Never spend it." The human reservoir, with its mechanism of dams and spillways, needs to allow for the regulated flow, the egress and congress of what it contains in order to maintain balance. Herein lies the struggle: One must risk disclosure, capture, in order to have one's inner life recognized and deemed beautiful. A perfectionist's rigor masks a starveling's thirst for satiety. Far from the flow of life, the tendency to not let go can produce a stagnancy in which the "done violet gusts" of yesterday's poppies become a choker of years. The psyche's refusal to change or admit impediment can result in the compensatory behaviors that Stonecipher examines here: the vicariousness and safety of fantasy, the aggrandizement of one's own sense of victimization, the attraction of ravishment where the pursuer divines the secretly contained desire of the pursued who remains passive, the need to see one's beauty reflected only in the glass of a vanity mirror.
There are many kinds of reservoirs or vessels for containment, some better adapted to the regulation of flow than others.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kent Shaw on March 13, 2012
Format: Paperback
There were a few summers during my late 20s when I was a fanboy astronomer. The first Friday of every month, at the archery fields of Forest Park, the members of the Astronomy Club of St. Louis would set up their telescopes and invite people to come and look at the moon, at Jupiter and Mars. It is an odd feeling to give shape to what you thought was supposed to be a star. But it's odd that even with the more powerful telescopes, a planet looks like a paper cut-out of a planet. Jupiter looks like someone is standing right by the lens holding up a paper puppet of the planet. The telescope supposedly brings me closer to the planet, but I walk away trying to understand which impression of the planet is actually more real. Similarly, how does a star that I can only see through a telescope really exist in my world? For instance, the Pleiades cluster. I have seen them through a telescope, but I can never see all of them together. They don't fit into one arrangement, like fruit in a bowl. No matter how hard I look, there is at least one star of the cluster that falls out of my focus, as though it were sinking back into space. It is a common experience to look at the stars and realize the earth is not the center of existence. But, in reality, that isn't how I have experienced the night sky all my life. I look up at the sky, and the stars are there. Then I look through a telescope, and I have to understand that each star is uniquely distant from the earth. The sky has depth. Perhaps I will be incapable of fathoming it.

It's the analogy that comes closest to my experience with Donna Stonecipher's book The Reservoir. What is the depth of an aphorism? How do you sound the authority of a secret? What dimensions do we give certainty when we finally come to a decision?
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