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The Selvage: Poems Hardcover – October 23, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; y First printing edition (October 23, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547750099
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547750095
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #331,440 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

LINDA GREGERSON is the author of Waterborne, The Woman Who Died in Her Sleep, and Fire in the Conservatory. A recent Guggenheim Fellow, she teaches Renaissance literature and creative writing at the University of Michigan. Her poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry as well as in the Atlantic Monthly, Poetry, Ploughshares, the Yale Review, TriQuarterly, and other publications. Among her many awards and honors are an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, four Pushcart Prizes, and a Kingsley Tufts Award.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

The Selvage

1
So door to door among the shotgun
shacks in Cullowhee and Waynesville in
our cleanest shirts and ma’am
and excuse me were all but second

nature now and this one woman comes
to the door she must have weighed
three hundred pounds Would you be
willing to tell us who you plan to vote

for we say and she turns around with
Everett who’re we voting for? The
black guy says Everett. The black guy
she says except that wasn’t the language

they used they used the word
we’ve all agreed to banish from even our
innermost thoughts, which is when
I knew he was going to win.

2
At which point the speaker discovers,
as if the lesson were new,
she has told the story at her own expense.
Amazing, said my sister’s chairman’s

second wife, to think what you’ve
amounted to considering where you’re from,
which she imagined was a compliment.
One country, friends. Where when

we have to go there, as, depend
upon it, fat or thin, regenerate
or blinkered-to-the-end, we shall,
they have to take us in. I saw

3
a riverful of geese as I drove home across
our one-lane bridge. Four hundred of them
easily, close-massed against the current and
the bitter wind (some settled on the ice) and just

the few at a time who’d loosen rank to
gather again downstream. As if
to paraphrase. The fabric
every minute bound

by just that pulling-out that holds
the raveling together. You were driving
all this time? said Steven. Counting
geese? (The snow falling into the river.)

No. (The river about
to give itself over to ice.) I’d stopped.
Their wingspans, had they not
been taking shelter here, as wide as we are tall.


Slight Tremor


The fine fourth finger
of his fine right hand,

just slightly, when
he’s tracking our path

on his iPhone or
repairing the clasp

on my watch I
will not think about

the myelin sheath.
Slight tremor only,

transient, so
the flaw in the

pavement must
have been my

mother’s back.


Verenna

Smothered up in gauze, the sky’s
   been healing for a week or

two, conserving its basin of gruel.
   The shops have closed

in sympathy. The ferry’s ministrations
   barely mark the hour. And just

when we’d convinced ourselves that
   beauty unsubdued betrays

a coarsened mind, the fabric starts
   to loosen, lift, and daylight

all unblighted takes a gaudy good-
   night bow. What sodden

indistinction just an hour ago had all
   but persuaded us not to

regret resumes its first divisions:
   slate from cinder, ash

from smoke, warm dapple-gray from
   moleskin, dove- from

Quaker-gray from taupe, until
   the blackwater satins unroll their

gorgeous lengths above a sharpening
   partition of lake-and-loam.

Give up yet? says the cirro-strato-sable
   brush. Then watch

what I can do with orange. And,
   flood-lit, ink-besotted, so

assails the upper atmosphere that
   all our better judgment

fails. The Alps? They’ve seen it all
   before. They’ve flattened

into waiting mode. The people?
   Flat bedazzled. But

in fairness had a shorter way to fall.


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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
5 star
7
4 star
5
3 star
2
2 star
0
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See all 14 customer reviews
Savor these poems, read them aloud if they seem too cryptic, but above all, read them.
J from NY
This passage is entirely representative of Gregerson's style: extremely long sentences fractionated by very short lines.
Kevin L. Nenstiel
The fabric every minute bound by just that pulling-out that holds the raveling together.
Case Quarter

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Linda Gregerson understands history, mythology, psychology, social commentary, and knows how to paint with words like few other who elect to share the kinds of thoughts she offers in this collection of poems - THE SELVAGE. Look up the term 'selvage' and you'll find the definition 'the edge on either side of a woven or flat-knitted fabric so finished as to prevent raveling' - and while that term is the title of one of the major poems in this book (a wondrous, lengthy one) it just may also represent the manner in which she places words and thoughts on a page and discover how she 'finishes the edges' so that the thoughts she has created do not unravel but instead burn searingly on our brains. Gregerson has insights into viewing the increasingly freakish nightmares that scar our globe - war, killings, serial murders, inexplicable acts of violence, and while she makes no attempt to solve them, she at least opens a light on some of the causes, the impetus for actions that defy credibility.

But as always a poet's worth is in her words, so the following are offered:

HER ARGUMENT FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
This one then: the
doctor, who of course possesses a foreign name, thus
gathering all our what
shall we call them our powers of foreboding in a single

sordid corner of
the morning news, contrived to miss the following:
eight fractured ribs, three missing fingertips, infected tissue, torn and partly

healed again,
between the upper lip and gum and, this you have to use
your Sunday
finest to imagine, a broken back, third lumbar, which

has all
but severed the spinal cord, leaving him "floppy," or so
the coroner later
determined, below the waist.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J from NY VINE VOICE on September 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Linda Gregerson is more than a poet of note: she is a poet, I believe, who will produce lasting work. "The Selvage" opens up with an obvious and mysterious piece with a not too difficult a recalling of our last Presidental election, and ends on a nearly perfect note. Her use of aggressive enjambment and classical mythology (Dido, Theseus) are by turns traditionalist and modern. She is one of those rare specimens of poetry who doesn't write for a moment of glory, but to write a few real poems. She deserves an award for one poem alone, I believe, one poem in this collection which axes the ice in our souls, as Kafka might say:

"HER ARGUMENT FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD"

This one then: the
doctor, who of course possesses a foreign name, thus
gathering all our what
shall we call them our powers of foreboding in a single

sordid corner of
the morning news, contrived to miss the following:
eight fractured ribs, three missing fingertips, infected tissue, torn and partly

healed again,
between the upper lip and gum and, this you have to use
your Sunday
finest to imagine, a broken back, third lumbar, which

has all
but severed the spinal cord, leaving him "floppy," or so
the coroner later
determined, below the waist. Now granted, she might not have

thought to expect
a wailing one--and-a-half-year-old to toddle obligingly
over the tiles nor
felt she had the leisure to apply her little mallet just below the

knee, we see that, but
we are not talking nuance here. The tooth he had swallowed, so
hard had been
the blow to his face - of course one had no inkling, that would

take some sort of
psychic or an MRI.
Read more ›
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David Saemann VINE VOICE on August 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Linda Gregerson is a poet of high aspirations. She tackles subjects of mythology, biblical history, Renaissance Art, and other worthy concerns. Her poems show considerable mastery of language and form. However, I often find her poetry needlessly convoluted in syntax and arch in manner. I recognize that some poets tend to think idiosyncracy can pass for high art. But poets such as Billy Collins have demonstrated that there is still life to be found in language that is direct and unforced. Gregerson is much too in love with her products to view them with a critical eye. The Selvage is a work of marked talent that is imperfectly realized. Gregerson as a person seems considerably self aware; I only wish this quality extended to her craft.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Aceto TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Linda Gregerson is a fitful poet. She publishes a volume and goes off for a decade and a half before the next. Now she has for us a new slender volume on several themes. Poetry has always appeared thusly. Thick volumes are for looking back, not bringing you new. Because she is not so well known, I will begin with a warning, especially for the poetry intolerant or dogmatic.

If yo
U can
Get over her jokes about

How

Poems should

look. On the
page Then maybe you can see her chunky frames where is no sensible
Punctuation, and I will not keep this up much more
For the sake of sanity

Just read these poems ignoring all the printed arrangements.

Force yourself to read it all aloud, and all of a piece and you will hear her.

Now that we are over that, let us return to her work. Gregerson entitles this volume THE SELVAGE. This is no mystery book, so I spoil nothing to tell you she is using the word for what was once the "Self Edge", that border you see on some fabrics that stop the unravel. So you see the immediate urgency of lingering over her poems. 'Tis poetry stops our unraveling our sleeve of care.

She begins in North Carolina with the long gone election on her mind. Then in Michigan to bleakness in the cold. Her images are simple and striking. Her poems are easy to read and to sip. Just do not stub your toe on the arcane. Move on. These references all wait if you care to go back and unearth them, except for her private-ish messaging.

Moving on, she has a nice telling of the Ariadne story, so long as you already know it. Robert Graves does a good job if you do not. Ms. Gregersonson seems to assume you do because she gives us more like a meditation.
Read more ›
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