- Paperback: 80 pages
- Publisher: Many Mountains Moving (April 27, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1886976244
- ISBN-13: 978-1886976245
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.2 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,054,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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All That Gorgeous Pitiless Song
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About the Author
Rebecca Foust won the 2008 Many Mountains Moving Press Poetry Book Prize for ALL THAT GORGEOUS PITILESS SONG. Her other books include GOD, SEED (Tebot Bach Press, 2010), environmental poetry with art by Lorna Stevens, and two chapbooks, Mom's Canoe and Dark Card (Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prizes, 2007 and 2008). Foust received her MFA from Warren Wilson College in 2010.
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In her most recent collection of poems, All that Gorgeous, Pitiless Song, Rebecca Foust offers the kind of poetry that makes us remember that people are watching and recalling times that pass either unnoticed in their transient beauty or become marooned as memories preferred forgotten. She examine the detritus of the `progress' science has left behind to haunt us after the glories of new discoveries have quieted - that contamination that changes lives and towns and generations of an altered mankind to come, as in the following:
Altoona to Anywhere
Go ahead, aspire to transcend
your hardscrabble roots, bootstrap
the life you dream on,
escape the small-minded tyranny
of your mountain bound
coal mining town.
But when you've left it behind, you
may find it still there, in your dreams,
in your syntax, the smell of your hair,
its real smell under the shampoo.
Beware DNA. It will out or be outed,
and you'll find yourself back
where you started, back home, unable
to refute the logic of blood and bone,
you'll slip, and pick up the Velveeta
instead of the brie. It's inexorable.
Kansas one day will turn out to be Oz
and Oz Kansas,
with the same back porch weeping,
the same husbands sleeping around,
addiction, cancer, babies born wrong.
The same siren nights pierced
with stars seeping light, all that
gorgeous, pitiless song.
Foust is able to look at death without a flinching eye, with the maudlin elegies that so often coat the finality of someone's passing. She shares death simply:
What Was Sacred
It took a long time for your body
to grow cold in the dawn
of your dying, but the AC did its work
and I waited, holding your hand
until I was sure you were gone.
They left us alone for the time that it took,
and the curtains were drawn for respect.
Afterwards, I stayed in your room
to hold hands
with the mail-order chaplain
and watch the sun heave its blaze up
over Brush Mountain, scatter
the gray embers of day.
And in another more painful mode she relates another memory of death:
His First Death
He died when he was born
for ten or more seconds
while I drew in three long breaths.
The hand pump hissed
and his face was dusk. I dreamed
the dreams mothers dream
for their first sons - kick and suck,
pupils that tighten in sunlight,
stand, walk, and run. Act-out
and talk-back, eye met by eye,
roll in wet grass. Three beats
passed. His Dixie-cup chest
inflated, then crumpled. I drew in
and released my own great
useless lung loads, each profligate breath.
And she relates memory of a life:
No Longer Medusa
When I had you, daughter, I gave birth
to my mirror,
the chink in my armor.
Once, I turned men to adamantine
with a glance, dove from cliffs
into dark quarries, swung grapevines
over ravines, rode arcs of tall birch trees
into the ground. Now I am alive
all night with fear for you, undone
by your sweet, milky breath,
the bobcat tufts on your ears,
your pink ribbon gums.
You freeze my heart to stone
when I measure your foot with my thumb.
Rebecca Foust, then, is a poet by definition in that she is `is especially gifted in the perception and expression'. Yet less the reader finds her works represented here for thought morbid or dark without an entry for light, then her entire output needs to be read - and read again. Here is a woman so sensitive to the pulses of living wholly from birth to death, from grief to joy, that her words that seem to flow so effortlessly and without obvious impediment that rules of form impose that she transcends the obvious by celebrating it. This is the passion that, too, is poetry - unafraid and proud - and profoundly moving. Grady Harp, July 10 [first published in POETS AND ARTISTS, August 2010]
I have read some great reviews about All That Gorgeous Pitiless Song and I must say I cannot compete with them and so I will not try to be overly fancy with my words. I don't have a deep understanding of poetry and I have not read a lot of poetry but I know what I like and what I don't like and I will say again, I loved it! So following is a review in layman's terms.
Once again I have to thank Rebecca Foust for opening my eyes to the world of poetry. All That Gorgeous Pitiless Song is the second collection I have read of Rebecca's (God, Seed being the first I read) and it is my favourite. It really touched me in ways I cannot explain. It was an emotional journey for me - quite literally! I was reading this on the bus on the way to work one morning and wham-o, out come the tears! Rebecca has used her words to create a very deep and intimate sense of feeling and I just could not help succumbing to those tears on the bus.
Four poems which stood out for me were `Moon on Snow', `Mineshaft Memory', `How the Fish Feels' and `Raystown River Trout'.
`Moon on Snow' describes a father's body shutting down and `Mineshaft Memory' demonstrates a sense of being lost when someone you love is no longer. These two pieces make you question yourself and how you would react in similar circumstances. They cut right through to my heart. I dare you to read these and not shed a tear.
`How the Fish Feels' is about how a fish is caught and killed and `Raystown River Trout' is about catching a fish and wishing you didn't. These made me think of how defenceless fish are and how we as humans pluck them from their environment in order to give ourselves something tasty to eat. Poor fish. It made me remember when I was in primary school I wrote a similar piece in relation to chickens. I don't think my teacher would have eaten chicken for at least a month after that one, if not longer.
I say those four stood out for me but really the whole collection was touching and eerily beautiful.
Thank you, Rebecca, for providing me with your collections of poetry, especially this one.