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Who Said Paperback – October 29, 2013

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Voyage of the Sable Venus
2015 National Book Awards - Poetry Winner
Get your copy of this year's National Book Award winner for poetry, "Voyage of the Sable Venus: and Other Poems" by Robin Coste Lewis. Hardcover | Kindle book | See more winners
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

If there is a fourth wall in reading, Hecht has broken it: €œGood people of Yeshiva University/ and the Jewish Center Museum// You ask me for a poem in conversation/ with an art installation// on the theme of Genesis€ she writes in a few lines from the concluding long poem of her third book, in which Blake, Frost, Keats, and Poe are just a few of the poets Hecht riffs on throughout, turning inside out their poetics and rhetoric. €Half in love with easeful Lenny Bruce/ is still alive. From the depth of some/ divine despair, it is 1965. It is 1975./ You were still Prince Hal and I was still.€ Split into nine short sections, where the often formal poems refer to each other, this book embodies, in turn, defiance and curiosity: €œMy people were existential thugs./ At circus, monkeys in derbies rode us./ Muttering, Life, in a full-bodied shrug,/ at circus we swept up the sawdust.€ As in €œA Marriage of Love and Independence,€ which mashes the Declaration of Independence with Shakespeare's €œSonnet 29,€ Hecht marries precision with experiment. As she says in this ventriloquizing collection, €œPrecision is one answer to anything.€ (Oct.)

About the Author

Jennifer Michael Hecht: Jennifer Michael Hecht earned a BA from Adelphi University and a Ph.D. in the history of science from Columbia University. Her debut volume of poetry, The Next Ancient World, won the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award. She teaches at The New School and lives in Brooklyn.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 88 pages
  • Publisher: Copper Canyon Press (October 29, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556594496
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556594496
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 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: #149,745 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jennifer Michael Hecht lives in Brooklyn, blocks from where her great-grandmother Jenny Balinsky lived. Hecht has written four books of history and philosophy and three books of poetry. She earned her Ph.D. from Columbia University in the History of Science and European Cultural History and has taken that in many directions.

I like to think about human meaning, especially the kind that exists outside the individual, in the culture and the community. The feeling of meaning is sufficient to the definition of meaning, just as the feeling of love is sufficient to the definition of love. (Of course we sometimes don't feel love, but that doesn't make us say love doesn't exist.) I believe Stay's approach to the question of suicide allows us to see ourselves as more profoundly connected to each other, and able to relax our need to each generate the entire meaning of life on our own.

For me, poetry is the best way to get to truth underneath what we think we know. My nonfiction also requests a flip in perspective. I love to hear from people! Contact me on my website:

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Keith Fahey on January 24, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jennifer Michael Hecht's poetry catapulted into my imagination on December 30, 2013. It was six days before the anniversary of my father's suicide (in 1961, Julian not yet 49). Yes, by divine grace, the worst glooms have past, but it is still a legacy that no one wants, or forgets, and it's why I responded cheerfully to Hecht's playful spirit.

Her poem, from _Who Said_, is given here in its entirety because, if you read no further, and never invest in any of Hecht's works, you will have found a rock, a foundation on which to build, whose essence you will never forget:

No Hemlock Rock
by Jennifer Michael Hecht

Don't kill yourself. Don't kill yourself.
Don't. Eat a donut, be a blown nut.
That is, if you're going to kill yourself,
stand on a street corner rhyming
seizure with Indonesia, and wreck it with
racket. Allow medical terms.
Rave and fail. Be an absurd living ghost,
if necessary, but don't kill yourself.
Let your friends know that something has
passed, or be glad they've guessed.
But don't kill yourself. If you stay, but are
bat crazy you will batter their hearts
in blooming scores of anguish; but kill
yourself, and hundreds of other people die.
Poison yourself, it poisons the well;
shoot yourself, it cracks the bio-dome.
I will give badges to everyone who's figured
this out about suicide, and hence
refused it. I am grateful. Stay. Thank
you for staying. Please stay. You
are my hero for staying. I know
about it, and am grateful you stay.
Eat a donut. Rhyme opus with lotus.
Rope is bogus, psychosis. Stay.
Hocus Pocus. Hocus Pocus.
Dare not to kill yourself. I won't either.
Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Weissman on January 29, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jennifer Michael Hecht is smart and well-read, has a good ear for our beloved English language, and has something deep to say. A small handful of contemporary poets (David Kirby, Barbara Hamby, Bob Hikok, Tony Hoaglund among others - Billy Collins is up to something slightly different) treat serious topics in playful ways, and Hecht is among the top in this group. Sure, you have to work to get some of the references, but that is part of the pleasure and fun.

I haven't figured out all the cryptograms yet, and I'm not sure they really add to the glories of the poetry here. Never mind - she gets to do what she wants with her book.

One of my friends said she is Billy Collins for smart people, and while the statement is radically unfair to both poets, there's also a tinge of justice in it.

Check out any of the poems you can see through Amazon's narrow peek-inside-the-book window, and you'll know if this stuff is to your taste. It certainly hits mine in the sweet spot.
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