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Foiled Again: Poems (New Criterion Series) Hardcover – October 26, 2007
Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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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)
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.