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Zephyr Paperback – June 5, 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

SUSAN BROWNE was born in Long Beach, California. She was educated at California State University, Chico, and the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including River City, The Mississippi Review, Gargoyle, and Alaska Quarterly Review. She won the Four Way Books Intro Prize selected by Edward Hirsch and has received awards from the Chester H. Jones Foundation, the National Writer's Union, and the Los Angeles Poetry Festival. She teaches literature and writing at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, California, and lives with her husband in Oakland.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 92 pages
  • Publisher: Steel Toe Books (June 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0982416946
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982416945
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.2 x 5.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,417,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Michael Meyerhofer on February 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
The poems in Zephyr, winner of the 2009 Steel Toe Books Prize in Poetry (Editor's Choice), by Susan Browne, reminded me right away of Bob Hicok's work--and I mean that as the highest of compliments. Browne, like Hicok, is willing to take big risks in her poems. Unlike other established poets who begin to play it safe after awhile, Browne continuously pushes the envelope, betting the success of each poem on its next line. That makes these poems daring, authentic, and fun.

As the one-word title implies, there's a certain directness to these poems, but it's not the directness of Zen-like brevity; rather, it's the directness of the snappy punch line; the elegant, quick turn of phrase; the wholly unexpected image that, once you read it, you can't imagine a thing being described any other way. Take, for example, the everyday malaise described in Mountain: "Maybe a map is a good thing / On those days I feel / Like I'm riding a rhino up a mountain..." (53).

Another fine example can be found in Tuesday, wherein Browne perfectly captures the combination of panic and numbness felt by someone who returns home to find her house has been broken into: "The front door's smashed open, wood busted, / Hinges broken, a dusty space / Where the TV had been, / And what you feel is Oh. / ....Then the police arrive, their radios blaring. / Sorry, they say, but this happens every day. / Oh, you say. Just Oh, nodding, wearing all / your best jewelry at once" (46).

She is also a poet who knows how to use line breaks (to flush out double-meanings, to create tension, to set up a joke) in an era when many other poets struggle with basic punctuation. Take, for example, the first and last lines of At Bloomingdale's Grand Opening in San Francisco.
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By Em on April 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
I had to read this book for my Advanced Poetry class and I thought it was a great way to end the semester. The author is 100% honest in all of her poems and by reading the book you get a feeling for each poem. She has such charisma and it shows when she opens up and becomes personal throughout her writing. The book is broken up into three sections and I thought of it in relation to her life. The poems aren't insanely long, in fact, they all fit on one or two pages. It's a simple read that has such depth and meaning to life.
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Format: Paperback
In her collection Zephyr, Susan Browne is like the kind of friend you want to have. She makes you laugh, think, and wonder. But mostly, Susan Browne is real. She doesn't hide anything in her poems. And like a good friend, her brutal honesty makes us question ourselves: "You're too serious and not funny enough,/ you're not thankful enough,/ you don't put your shoes on your head enough."
Browne is a West Coast poet blowing in like the Santa Ana winds--fierce, hot, and unrelenting. Her lines are fast. And while she will sweep you away, her words are still accessible to all. She doesn't hide her themes behind flowery language. She embraces her life and her body in poems like "Facing Fifty" and "Hot Flash: Two A.M." And she tells us her deep thoughts, "one day I won't think I am so lucky/ and realize how luck I am." She introduces us to her husband before they were married, with her "fork raise ready to use as a weapon against this animal...his silk shirt splattered with braised sinew." And we mourn with her at her mother's death, "I knew something had happened." Browne is a poet, but also a teacher. With an eye-out for the poetic Browne guides us through an authentic American experience teaching us a bit on the way: "The alliteration alone is admirable, and the cadence--/nothing better than iambic pentameter:/Two Clerics Hacked to Death in Holy City."
Browne gives you the range of emotion. From sadness: "Your one hope was to be the saddest person alive/and win an award. The Blue Ribbon of Despair." To the upbeat: "Let us live for passion,/ for the taking off of clothes,/tossing them over our shoulder." Susan Browne is a poet of our time, for our time. And if you are skeptical about poetry she, don't worry, she is too:
"What can I say right now that's worth
the money I need to live,
and why should I receive this honor?
Why is the scarlet ibis flying over the crematorium.
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Six long years have passed since Browne's Buddha's Dogs, and she comes back full force here. Nothing is taboo for Browne; hot flashes, love, food, birth, death, funerals, are all in the mix here, and it all blends perfectly.
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Zephyr explores areas of living with attention to expressions that are both poetic and yet understandable. Susan Browne displayed no pretense in describing reality in her creative interpretations that appear on every page. The reader comes away with worthwhile etchings left in thought and straight from the heart. A must read!
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