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And Her Soul Out Of Nothing (Wisconsin Poetry Series) Paperback – October 15, 1997
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“And Her Soul Out of Nothing is, quite simply, unlike any other collection I can remember reading in recent literature. There is an eerie precision to her work—like the delicate discernment of a brain surgeon’s scalpel—that renders each moment in both its absolute clarity and ultimate transitory fragility. Her language is quirky in the very best sense of that word; her use of syntax is brilliant.”—Rita Dove, Judge, Citation for the 1997 Brittingham Prize in Poetry
“A treasury of broken meditations and chipped singing, moments of insight and yearning appearing like bits of statuary plowed up in a field, perhaps more beautiful for their sudden unlikely emergence. Olena Kalytiak Davis’s poems find evidence of the spirit everywhere, in laundromats, in parking lots and frozen landscapes, in the panic of birds.”—Dean Young
About the Author
Olena Kalytiak Davis lives in Juneau, Alaska. A first-generation Ukrainian-American, she grew up in Detroit and has since lived in San Francisco, Prague, Lviv, Paris, Chicago, and the isolated Yup'ik community of Bethel, Alaska. She studied at Wayne State University, University of Michigan Law School, and Vermont College. She was the winner of the 1996 Rona Jaffe Writer's award, and her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry 1995, New England Review, Poetry Northwest, Michigan Quarterly Review, Field, Indiana Review, and elsewhere. This is her first book.
Top Customer Reviews
While you are gone, I keep the house
quiet. Did I ever tell you,
I once heard a woman speak of her loneliness
as if it were a small bird. Imagine: her sorrow
had a wingspan! . . .
This book is a gift to its reader. Thanks to Davis for writing it.
She uses language unlike anyone else -- as a playground, a laboratory, a room with rubber walls. Her imagery is idiosyncratic, but always powerful, always somehow just right. Her rhythms pull her words to and fro, clattering and clashing together, bouncing off each other, bounding and rebounding across landscapes of dreams and portents. With any other poet, I'd quote some lines, but that wouldn't do Davis justice, for her poems need elbow room and time for their wonders to accumulate. With any other poet, I'd tell you, If you like X, you'll like this one -- but for Davis there is no X. She is her own equation, sui generis.
Few collections of poetry have so much to offer, so much depth and substance, so much sustenance for the reader ready to listen.
This book is always on my bookshelf and the poems have been such a comfort to me when I felt like I wanted a little poetry in my day. I can just flip to any page and read something sweet.
If you like this, I'd recommend the novel "How Should A Person Be?" by Sheila Heti. Similar personal narrative-prose style. Similar quirky cheeky lines.
A poem can save a life and calm a weary, heavy soul. Words are things: concrete, healing, calming, comforting and consoling. The poems in this book spoke straight to my heart and were a salve to my wounded soul. Thanks, Ms. Davis, for sharing your poet-heart with the world.
"The smell of ink is intoxicating to me -- others may have wine, but I have poetry." ~Terri Guillemets
A favorite poem, among many in this book:
THE PANIC OF BIRDS
By Olena Kalytiak Davis
The moon is sick
of pulling at the river, and the river
fed up with swallowing the rain,
So, in my lukewarm coffee, in the bathroom
mirror, there's a restlessness
as black as a raven.
Landing heavily on the quiet lines of this house.
Again, the sun takes cover
and the morning is dead
tired of itself, already, it's pelting and windy
as I lean into the pane
that proves this world is a cold smooth place.
Wind against window---let the words fight it out---
as I try to remember: What is it
that's so late in coming? What was it
I understood so well last night, so well it kissed me,
sweetly on the forehead?
Wind against window and my late flowering brain,
heavy, gone to seed.Read more ›
"And Her Soul Out Of Nothing"
The first thought that struck me about Davis was that if I had never known her name or seen her picture on the back of the book, I would still have known her for a woman. Her voice is very feminine, by which I mean that her observations strike me as observations that only a woman would make. I'm a big believer that while men and women are certainly equal, we are certainly very different (thank God!). This is never more manifest than in our thought patterns and use of language. Davis thinks like a woman, writes like a woman, but she does so casually, without needing to make a big splashy "I am woman! RAWR!" statement. For example, in "Another Underwater Conversation", she reflects on the way girlfriends will replay, analyze and break down every conversation between their friend and her lover. "...You turn / your good ear. Sometimes you don't want to hear / the way he f***ed her before calling / the whole thing off, oh, the replay, the revival..." (11). In "Thirty Years Rising", she references her own past relationship analysis, and how those experiences have shaped her. "...each man / with a car and a wife, the ones I slept with / and arranged, neatly, like a newly laid / subdivision" (35). Though men may, from time to time, engage in such types of thoughts and analysis, women are notorious for it. I like that Davis reflects these things in her work, it makes her more approachable.
There are a few motifs that surface again and again throughout the entire book. These reoccurring images and metaphors aid in tying the separate poems together into an organic whole. Birds are a big one, as are sleep, dreams and cold.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This has to be one of the best books of poetry of all time... solid work all around.Published 10 months ago by Tara Chez Britton
Davis is our finest poet, a great voice, truly unique & wonderful. After my girlfriend passed this spring, this work has nourished me...Published 19 months ago by Beemer buddy
If you're thinking about purchasing this book go for it, it will be money well spent. Reading the book is time well spent.Published on May 15, 2007 by A. Budor
Everyone should read this highly original, honest and unabashedly real first collection of poems. These poems pack a lot of punch. Read morePublished on October 25, 2006 by Matthew Siegel
This garbage is like Sharon Olds on crack. Cliches, cliches, cliches... poorly broken! Self-pity! Purile! Don't waste your time!Published on December 22, 2003