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The Door Open to the Fire (Cleveland State University Poetry Series: LV) (Csu Poetry Series Vol. Lv) (Csu Poetry Series Vol. Lv) First Edition Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1880834411
ISBN-10: 1880834413
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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

Chatty and free-flowing, Vollmers best poems are generous celebrations of Pittsburgh and her ethnic family; the winner of Wisconsins Brittingham Prize for her first book, Level Green (1991), Vollmer teaches college writing and incorporates her experiences in a number of overly loose poems, in which she quotes her students, who also complain about her poetic models, including James Wright, the subject of a long homage for his portraits of hobos. Given to political rants, she recalls teaching in a barbaric high school during the Reagan years, when she had eaten Reagan/like a dot/of blotter acid, whatever that means. Vollmer frankly details her sexual history as well, remembering a long-ago abortion (Passing the Clinic in a Small Town) and then, in What She Didnt Tell Him, recalling the joyful relief afterward. A walker in the city, the poet sees the poor and the workers, but shes also capable of more subtle observation: We Built This City inventories its multitudes; Night Walks recommends a nocturnal journey (with mythic echoes) as an antidote to insomnia; and her one fully realized poem, The Approach, matches its claustrophobic couplets to her experience stuck in a traffic jam underground, with the promise of light ahead. With the tribal/ethnic force of Forche or Broumas, Vollmer sings herself and her city. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.


"Judith Vollmer evokes the City in all its grit and fire and seaminess, its chains and enchantments, its dreams and rude awakenings. No one has written more movingly, more affectingly, about Pittsburgh; or, for that matter, about America, about the world. Whitmanesque in their plentitude, their openeyed embraces, these poems are the grand gesture , the soaring meditation, the expansive observation, the real thing." --Ronald Wallace

"Someone observed that what was remarkable about Gertrud Stein was not that she was ahead of her time, but that she managed to be so much of her time. The same could be said of Judith Vollmer's remarkable new book, The Door Open to the Fire. The subject -- the obession -- of this book is place; the particular focus of both its rage and its love is the American city. What is amazing is the book's exemplary originality. The Door Open to the Fire is a book about the city as an idea, about the city as a body. The writing is stern and gorgeous, wry and mournful" --Lynn Emanuel

"Vollmer's embrace is so wide, her enthusiasm for participation in the streaming variations of life so evident, that these poems sweep us up in their energies, their flesh-and-blood longings, their deeply human sense of helplessness and hope. This is a citizen's testament, as passionate and complicated as a great city demands." --Mark Doty

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Product Details

  • Series: Csu Poetry Series
  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Cleveland State Univ Poetry Center; First Edition edition (October 8, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1880834413
  • ISBN-13: 978-1880834411
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,590,969 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By A Customer on September 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
Judith Vollmer is perhaps the greatest Pittsburgh poet that ever lived. Like a character, the city is both memorable within moments and devestatingly ugly at its worse. As a Pittsburgher, I know these places Vollmer writes about, and more importantly, understand what it's like to be surrounded by city. She also touches on many of the things that shaves so close to most Pittsburghers: ethnicicity(perhaps not the safest subject to write about by a white woman in todays academy). Her family and her history rolls along the book like so many of the city's hills. The narrative poetry stretches, swings and challenges readers with its dark music the same way Marina Tsvetaeva managed to do. Vollmer can take me on a tour any day -- I know I will come out both exhausted and revived in the end.
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By A Customer on October 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
Vollmer obviously loves Pittsburgh, and readers familiar with the city will probably enjoy this good-natured book. It works best as a set of sociological, journalistic and personal sketches. It's less successful, though, as book of poetry; the artlessness of her approach, the shapelessness of many of the poems, the frequent clumsiness of line, the congested diction and the predictability of the language, together with an overbeholdenness to several unconcealed and imperfectly assimilated influences, give much of the book a disappointingly slapdash quality. Many of the pieces read like works in progress rather than finished poems. It will be interesting to see whether Vollmer will explore similar material again, but with much more artistic control and without as much overdependence on her models, which puts her at a remove from her subject matter. Overall, VOllmer is a promising writer who may emerge with a voice uniquely her own. The blurb comparing the book to O'Hara is unfortunate and irresponsible; any lover of "The Day Lady Died" or "Second Avenue" is going to be disappointed by this book.
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