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A Little White Shadow Paperback – May 1, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Alongside her justly known poems, Ruefle (Tristimania, 2003) also crafts what she calls "erasures," found texts from which she has crossed out almost all the words, leaving only a tiny poem's worth per page; the latter make up this book. In this pocket-sized reproduction of a whited-out 19th-century volume, Ruefle etches haiku-like minifables, sideways aphorisms, and hauntingly perplexing koans ("the dead/ borrow so little from/ the past/ as if they were alive") from what must have been an unusual text to begin with (Ruefle borrows the book's original title). As much a statement about the act of reading as the act of writing, this is a strange and lovely work by a singular poet. (May 1)
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Top customer reviews
But it's so much more than that, as well. Poet Mary Ruefle has created a miniature of mysterious beauty, simply by discovering, or unearthing, haiku-like poems embedded like gems in the text of an old book. Could anyone do this? Perhaps ... but it takes that poet's eye to select so precisely, to white out all but a few words, and transform what had been a fairly straightforward page of prose into these ghostly, dreamlike poems, at once delicate & piercing as a cold needle.
And it's a reminder that art, beauty, and mystery are to be found everywhere -- perhaps especially in the everyday, laid out before us, if we only take the time & effort to look. Highly recommended!
This is supposed to be an old book that has been altered into a single poem, but it feels as glossy as anything being presented by any number of print-on-demand outfits. It doesn't feel old nor smell old nor look old. And I daresay that there are dozens of other book alterer out there who have done this project many times over and probably better than this, but their name isn't Mary Ruefle and that's the reason their project wasn't published by Wave.
this could be an e-book for all it's worth. blah
I have no idea what possessed Mary Ruefle to take the text of an obscure nineteenth-century book (the author of which I've been trying to uncover ever since reading this, with no success) and turn it into poetry by whiting out most of it, but whatever it was, I like it.
I originally took it as one long piece, but others have suggested it's actually a collection, and it does make more sense that way. What Ruefle does here is to white out most of the words on the page, leaving just enough to give an intelligible image here, an interesting twist of action there. It's all quite exciting from a creative standpoint, as there are obviously any number of texts out there which can be used to the same ends, but Ruefle's eye for what to leave in makes for some extremely interesting reading, as well. I'm quite fond of this. ****