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The Selvage: Poems Hardcover – October 23, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

A magnificent new collection from National Book Award finalist and Kingsley Tufts Award winner Linda Gregerson

In eloquent poems about Ariadne, Theseus, and Dido, the death of a father, a bombing raid in Lebanon, and in a magnificent series detailing Masaccio’s Brancacci frescoes, The Selvage deftly traces the “line between” the “wonder and woe” of human experience. Keenly attuned to the precariousness of our existence in a fractured world—of “how little the world will spare us”—Gregerson explores the cruelty of human and political violence, such as the recent island massacre in Norway and “the current nightmare” of war and terrorism. And yet, running as a “counterpoint” to violence and cruelty is “The reigning brilliance / of the genome and / the risen moon . . . ,” “The / arachnid’s exoskeleton. The kestrel’s eye.” The Selvage is the boldest evidence yet that Linda Gregerson’s unique combination of dramatic lyricism and fierce intelligence transcends current fashions to claim an enduring place in American poetry.

About the Author

LINDA GREGERSON is the author of Waterborne, The Woman Who Died in Her Sleep, and Fire in the Conservatory. She teaches Renaissance literature and creative writing at the University of Michigan. Her poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry as well as in the Atlantic, Poetry, Ploughshares, the Yale Review, TriQuarterly, and other publications. Among her many awards and honors are a Guggenheim Fellowship, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, four Pushcart Prizes, and a Kingsley Tufts Award.
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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; y First printing edition (October 23, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547750099
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547750095
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,238,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Linda Gregerson understands history, mythology, psychology, social commentary, and knows how to paint with words like few other who elect to share the kinds of thoughts she offers in this collection of poems - THE SELVAGE. Look up the term 'selvage' and you'll find the definition 'the edge on either side of a woven or flat-knitted fabric so finished as to prevent raveling' - and while that term is the title of one of the major poems in this book (a wondrous, lengthy one) it just may also represent the manner in which she places words and thoughts on a page and discover how she 'finishes the edges' so that the thoughts she has created do not unravel but instead burn searingly on our brains. Gregerson has insights into viewing the increasingly freakish nightmares that scar our globe - war, killings, serial murders, inexplicable acts of violence, and while she makes no attempt to solve them, she at least opens a light on some of the causes, the impetus for actions that defy credibility.

But as always a poet's worth is in her words, so the following are offered:

HER ARGUMENT FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
This one then: the
doctor, who of course possesses a foreign name, thus
gathering all our what
shall we call them our powers of foreboding in a single

sordid corner of
the morning news, contrived to miss the following:
eight fractured ribs, three missing fingertips, infected tissue, torn and partly

healed again,
between the upper lip and gum and, this you have to use
your Sunday
finest to imagine, a broken back, third lumbar, which

has all
but severed the spinal cord, leaving him "floppy," or so
the coroner later
determined, below the waist.
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Linda Gregerson is more than a poet of note: she is a poet, I believe, who will produce lasting work. "The Selvage" opens up with an obvious and mysterious piece with a not too difficult a recalling of our last Presidental election, and ends on a nearly perfect note. Her use of aggressive enjambment and classical mythology (Dido, Theseus) are by turns traditionalist and modern. She is one of those rare specimens of poetry who doesn't write for a moment of glory, but to write a few real poems. She deserves an award for one poem alone, I believe, one poem in this collection which axes the ice in our souls, as Kafka might say:

"HER ARGUMENT FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD"

This one then: the
doctor, who of course possesses a foreign name, thus
gathering all our what
shall we call them our powers of foreboding in a single

sordid corner of
the morning news, contrived to miss the following:
eight fractured ribs, three missing fingertips, infected tissue, torn and partly

healed again,
between the upper lip and gum and, this you have to use
your Sunday
finest to imagine, a broken back, third lumbar, which

has all
but severed the spinal cord, leaving him "floppy," or so
the coroner later
determined, below the waist. Now granted, she might not have

thought to expect
a wailing one--and-a-half-year-old to toddle obligingly
over the tiles nor
felt she had the leisure to apply her little mallet just below the

knee, we see that, but
we are not talking nuance here. The tooth he had swallowed, so
hard had been
the blow to his face - of course one had no inkling, that would

take some sort of
psychic or an MRI.
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Linda Gregerson is a fitful poet. She publishes a volume and goes off for a decade and a half before the next. Now she has for us a new slender volume on several themes. Poetry has always appeared thusly. Thick volumes are for looking back, not bringing you new. Because she is not so well known, I will begin with a warning, especially for the poetry intolerant or dogmatic.

If yo
U can
Get over her jokes about

How

Poems should

look. On the
page Then maybe you can see her chunky frames where is no sensible
Punctuation, and I will not keep this up much more
For the sake of sanity

Just read these poems ignoring all the printed arrangements.

Force yourself to read it all aloud, and all of a piece and you will hear her.

Now that we are over that, let us return to her work. Gregerson entitles this volume THE SELVAGE. This is no mystery book, so I spoil nothing to tell you she is using the word for what was once the "Self Edge", that border you see on some fabrics that stop the unravel. So you see the immediate urgency of lingering over her poems. 'Tis poetry stops our unraveling our sleeve of care.

She begins in North Carolina with the long gone election on her mind. Then in Michigan to bleakness in the cold. Her images are simple and striking. Her poems are easy to read and to sip. Just do not stub your toe on the arcane. Move on. These references all wait if you care to go back and unearth them, except for her private-ish messaging.

Moving on, she has a nice telling of the Ariadne story, so long as you already know it. Robert Graves does a good job if you do not. Ms. Gregersonson seems to assume you do because she gives us more like a meditation.
Read more ›
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