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Alive Together: New and Selected Poems Paperback – October 1, 1996
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From Publishers Weekly
"When I am asked/ how I began writing poems,/ I talk about the indifference of nature," Mueller writes in "When I Am Asked." Many of the new and previously published poems here seem intent upon correcting that indifference. With images of flowers, trees, birds, snow and sun, Mueller is ruminating and philosophical without being doctrinaire; she inhabits a world the Romantics might recognize and offers poems with such titles as "Joy," "Immortality" and "Tears." The next line in "When I Am Asked," however, is "It was soon after my mother died," indicating another central concern. Often using her exodus from Hitler's Europe as a quiet backdrop, she probes family relationships, as in "Happy and Unhappy Families II, which references Electra: "In the play, we know what must happen/ long before it happens,/ and we call it tragedy./ Here at home, this winter,/ we have no name for it." Tapping the resources of narrative, she revisits tales, ancient and modern, always insightful in her revisions and extensions of the originals. Mueller's The Need To Hold Still won the 1981 National Book Award. Readers will be struck by the poet's steadfast ability to sustain the same focus and techniques over six volumes spanning 35 years.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Mueller's work possesses such power and authority that this collection that includes poems from her previous five books and a significant set of new poems is cause for celebration. Her major theme is announced in the title poem. It is the miracle of human love, despite all odds: "Speaking of marvels," the poem begins, "I am alive / together with you, when I might have been / alive with anyone under the sun . . . This poem is endless, the odds against us are endless." Yet such love, being alive together, exists and sustains itself amid wars and other losses. A constantly recurring trope for Mueller is Lot's wife, turned into a pillar of salt for looking back at burning Sodom. Mueller turns that salt tower into a witness who lives and speaks and never ceases to love. There is more genuine joy in this book than in any dozen other recent poetry collections--genuine in that it does not retreat from pain but persists while acknowledging it. Mueller's marvelous, lyric talent deserves much wider acclaim. Patricia Monaghan --This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Her poetry about birds is particularly detailed and lovely. As is the poetry about her mother, about death, abuse, about relationships...I can't imagine you'd be disappointed. Support POETS, support your own imagination and dreams - buy this book -- add this to your collection or give it as a gift. The title poem, Alive Together, is superb. Some other favorites: The Blind Leading the Blind, Why I need the Birds, When I am Asked, Things, Mirrors, Missing the Dead, and JOY.
here's a bit of When I am Asked:
when I am asked/how I began writing poems, I talk about the indifference of nature.
It was soon after my mother died, a brilliant June day, everything blooming.
I sat on a gray stone bench/ringed with the ingenue faces/of pink and white impatiens/and placed my grief/in the mouth of language,
the only thing that would grieve with me.