Customer Reviews: Open House: Poems
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on August 4, 2002
Beth Ann Fennelly's poetry compiled and showcased in Open House is a gifted grace that pleases the mind with its wit and the mind's eye with its imagery. Poem Not To Be Read At Your Wedding: You ask me for a poem about love/in place of a wedding present, trying to save me/money. For three nights I've lain/under glow-in-the-dark-stars I've stuck to the ceiling/over me bed. I've listened to the songs/of the galaxy. Well, Carmen, I would rather/give you your third set of steak knives/than tell you what I know. Let me find you/some other, store-bought present. Don't/make me warn you of stars, how they see us/from that distance as miniature and breakable/from the bride who tops the wedding cake/to the Mary on Pinto dashboards/holding her ripe, red heart in her hands.
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on June 18, 2003
Beth Ann Fennelly's debut book of poetry is an absolute delight. This is serious and intelligent poetry that should appeal to both the academic crowd as well as the average joe. And don't let "serious and intelligent" scare you away--there is great humor here as well, humor that invites and bites without stooping to the ease of pretentious irony that is so common these days. The long poem that makes up the center of the book, "From L'Hotel Terminus Notebooks," is alone worth the cover price, but even the shorter poems reveal Fennelly's mastery of language and timing and her love for the varieties of form. This is the kind of book I lend to people who say they don't like or don't understand poetry. If there were more poets writing with the intensity and surprise on display here, I believe poetry would be held more highly in the reading public's regard. Don't let this wonderful book sit on the shelf: buy it, read it, and tell your neighbors about it. Believe me, you will be hearing much more about Beth Ann Fennelly in the future.
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on October 8, 2003
Fennelly's book is the winner of the 2001 Kenyon Review Prize in Poetry. You have to read David Baker's (poetry editor of Kenyon Review) to really understand why. Then you have to read Fennelly's collection of poems, and you really understand why. It is a phenomenal collection of poems. There are countless poems in this collection that are great. This is a poet to watch.
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on May 20, 2003
Ms. Fennelly's work is clear, tight, utterly without pretense. The words are sharp, cutting through our tired understanding of "what poetry's supposed to be" to lead us through these rooms and into a wide new world of language and ideas and images. OPEN HOUSE is accessible to anyone with an open heart and an open mind, a fact that deserves the highest praise.
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on April 27, 2002
This book is, simply put, amazing. Fennelly's voice is assured beyond her years, and her subjects range all over the map, from history to other countries to poetry itself to love. The book is divided into different "rooms," beginning with "The Room of Dead Languages," a section about the hopelessness--the "impossibility"--of language and including some very striking but sad work about her father; next is "The Room of Echoes," which houses some amazing dramatic monologues in blank verse, including one from the daughter of John Milton and another from Gauguin's daughter, about whom almost nothing is known; third comes "The Room of Paper Walls," which is an absolutely astounding poem, 28 pages long, in the form of a poet's notebook--this beauty is filled with wonders, tiny poems, sharp insights, several hysterical (and sexy) bits and a curious revising character, Mr. Daylater; and finally comes the immensely hopeful "The Room of Everywhere," which is filled with poems about love. I've done this book little justice in trying to describe it, but I hope you'll buy it immediately and tell all your friends. These are poems for everyone, not just poets or professors: tell your mom, your spouse, your partner, friends. Beth Ann Fennelly is a genius with language, image and idea.
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on March 3, 2008
The key to this book is the long poem "From L'Hotel Terminus Notebooks," it might be best described as an avante garde amalgam of prose-poetry and snippets of poems and your enjoyment of this collection will hinge on your appreciation of this work. That isn't to say there aren't many excellent poems in here, there are. I especially enjoyed "Why I can't cook for your self-centered architect cousin" -- a truly food-tastic sensual little traipse through the poets psyche.

I can understand how some might struggle with the long poem, and why it might undermine their enjoyment of the work, however, I highly recommend this book, and I think the centerpiece is well worth the effort to fathom.
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on April 25, 2002
I've followed Fennelly's career with interest--her publication credits include some of the finest literary magazines anywhere. What a joy to read her work within one cover. She writes so precisely about the human condition. And she is wise beyond her years. I look forward to more--and hopefully soon!
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on June 22, 2003
Though there are a few good poems--The Impossibility of Languge, The Name of Things, Mother Sends My Poem..., Poem Not to Be Read..., Asked for a Happy Memory..., Why I Can't Cook..., I Would Like to Go Back...--I'm VERY DISAPPOINTED in OPEN HOUSE. I bought the book on the basis of Poem Not to Be Read... and all the fantastic reviews and places where the poems had been published, prizes won and all I can do is cover Aretha Franklin singing Who's ZOOmin' Who? with emphasis on ZOO! How this MS got published is totally beyond me...
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