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Foiled Again: Poems (New Criterion Series) Hardcover – October 26, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A poet on whom precious little is lost, J. Allyn Rosser loves to subject common experience to an uncommonly intense scrutiny. Getting lost, listening to a Dean Martin song, forgetting a name, encoutering a turtle, reading a children's book―all are studied here in lively fresh language for clues about the possible truth of life. To read Foiled Again is to be edified and delighted. (Billy Collins)

J. Allyn Rosser is a comic poet whose song is frequently tinged with sadness. She keeps her sense of humor even in the direst circumstances, as she digs into the nature of modern love and old fashioned loneliness, motherhood and solitude. In one of this collection's finest poems, 'Literature,' the poet admits, 'I could use a good poem to cheer me up.' These poems, in language that is spirited, inventive, and unflinching, never fail to be cheering, because they are so good. (Mark Jarman)

J. Allyn Rosser is a poet of ebullient energy, and she has a comic gift that is all too rare among her contemporaries. (Georgia Review)

About the Author

J. Allyn Rosser's Misery Prefigured, her second volume of poems, won the Crab Orchard Award and was published by Southern Illinois University Press in 2001. Her first collection of poems, Bright Moves, won the Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize. She is the recipient of the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets, the Frederick Bock Prize from Poetry, a Pushcart Prize, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. She teaches at Ohio University and lives in Athens, Ohio.
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Product Details

  • Series: New Criterion Series
  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Ivan R. Dee; First edition (October 26, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566637635
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566637633
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.5 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,903,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Julie Langhinrichs on October 19, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book of poems because J. Allyn Rosser was one of the winners of the New Criterion Prize, and because the samples shown on-line seemed very interesting. I am very glad I did. While I am not a literary critic or professor, I enjoy poetry that tells a story in a comprehensible way. I keep finding myself re-reading this book, and picking out new favorites.

In particular, I like the author's ability to take ordinary situations and relationships and shine a different light on them, making you say "Aha!" as you get to the point.

My only complaint might be that she writes best when she doesn't go too experimental. Only a few of these poems go too far out for me (and I am a formalist at heart), but they just don't sing the way the others do.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is not immediately apparent to me why J. Allyn Rosser's poetry appeals so much to me. She, as the poet, is very present in her many of her poems and this perspective can sometimes put distance between the poet and her reader. However, Rosser manages to draw us in with her ability to find that universal moment or image.

Some examples of this are "China Map" which tells of a girl lost in a Chinese city who is helped by a man who "was old the way everyone is old/when you're sixteen: maybe fifty." He draws a map to help her find her way back to her hotel. In "Street Boy," she watches two boys standing in the rain, one of whom (the "bad boy") powerfully draws her attention. In "Unthought," she becomes obsessed about trying to recall the name of the man who donated his skull to the theater. "Subway Seethe" and "Bus to San Miniato al Monte" are also excellent poems using this approach.

She takes more risks in poems where she is more distant; however, when she succeeds with these, she succeeds amazingly well. "Be the Dog," "Soldier Lives to Tell," and "Before You Go" all have great passages but "Lullaby for the End of the Second Millennium" and "Lunch Break" with their apocalyptic themes are really magnificent. "Lunch Break" is filled with great images of an active world falling to silence while "Lullaby..." is a clever piece of writing that describes how the beginning and end of the world mirror each other in "boiling rock." These are among the best poems in the book.

Of course, poetry is a hard thing, and there are poems in this book that miss. Much of section III, for example, didn't do much for me. Still, overall, I was impressed by how well, no matter the style or subject matter of the poem, Rosser's voice came through. Having such a powerful voice is not a common skill and her poetry stands on the strength of it.
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