This book collects over four decades of work by this unique and imaginative poet. Wronsky's poems, informed by her reading of classical texts as well as contemporary poetics, explore feminism, environmentalism, and mortality in language that is both multi-layered and musical. At times dark and at times humorous, her poems speak to our strengths as well as our frailties.
TABLE OF CONTENTS From Again the Gemini are in the Orchard Twenty-three 9 She and I 10 A Postscript 23 Weird Beach 24 The Other 25 Parting 26 The Main Attraction 27 Ceci n’est pas un morçeau de fromage 28 Death 29 From Dying for Beauty I Died for Beauty 31 from The Earth as Desdemona 32 Ne Me Quitte Pas 40 from Sor Juana’s Last Dream 41 From Poems for Infidels Tango of Fear 43 Tiger-Kitten 44 Dance of Re-memberment 45 Elegy from a Nightingale’s Point of View 46 Poem 50 The Story of O as Told by E 51 Cirque du Liz and Dick 52 An Ornate Encounter 54 From Blue Shadow Behind Everything Dazzling A Portal on the Forehead 56 Go On, Sure, Why Not? 57 Domestic Animals 59 Someone Greeting you from Afar 60 When This Warm Scribe My Hand 61 What Is So Amazing 62 From So Quick Bright Things Jade Night 65 Effusion 1 66 Couple with their Heads Full of Clouds 67 What Scrapes the Clouds: A Digression, or Christopher Marlowe is Dead 68 Tortured Little Sensitivities 69 Afternoon of a Faun 70 Sphinx-like 71 Effusion 5 72 From Imperfect Pastorals Clearer than amber gliding over stones 74 The light and shade upon the globe 75 For not in vain we name the constellations 76 So much effect has habit on the young 77 What delays the long nights 78 Dry cracking sounds are heard 79 Wild beasts and fish, cattle and colored birds 81 Alone, rather because not otherwise 82 The heron leaves her haunts in the marsh 83 And in green meadows raise a marble temple 84 Light chaff and falling leaves or a pair of feathers 85 Drawn by a team of three-legged fish-tailed horses 86 Days such as these shone out and went their way 88 Let not the spangled lizard’s scaly back 90 in these latitudes/of indeterminate/waves 91 Wild olive, bitter-leaved, alone survive 92 Let thought become your beautiful lover 93 What need to tell of autumn’s storms and stars 94 The bank all green with celery, the cucumber snaking 95 The trees that lift themselves spontaneously 96 New Poems Poetry 98 Let’s Not Fetishize the Negativity 99 The Only Thing We Have to Lose is Loss Itself 100 Brushing Against the There 101 Photograph 103 The Petty Infinite 104 Eternity in the Santa Monica Mountains 105 House with Two Wounds 106 Conspiratorial We 107 A Mountain of Gin 108 Aging 109 The Avocado Tree’s Rebirth 110 Jasmine 111 Historians of the Defeat 112 Tony 113 How It’s Done 114 Keep Me Violent, She Says 115 The Poem Rings Twice 116 Perilous Observations 117 Driven into Nowhere by this Poem 118 The Non-Self 119 The Necklace 120
“Gail Wronsky is an astonishing poet whose work I’ve turned to for more than twenty-five years to find the most deeply compassionate, artistically complex and intellectually astute poetry being written in this country. She is a literary revisionist of the most exquisite order, reconstructing the poetic canon, challenging the historical conventions of poetry and striking urgent, lyric chords of female empowerment. A breathtaking stylist—at times philosophical and meditative, at times powerfully gestural and painterly—Gail Wronsky is a poet of lasting beauty and relentless invention. With this book she takes her rightful place among the most celebrated of American poets.” —David St. John
“A master of the lyric, a visionary never far from the complicated, wondrous relations between world and imagination, body and mind, Gail Wronsky is one of our most indispensable poets. Her Under the Capsized Boat We Fly: New and Selected Poems brings together a body of work that is at once fierce, sensual and startling: “I lie like a sunbeam/amazed/at the edge of the page.” The scale, the point of view Wronsky inhabits––part oracle, part brilliant best friend––is unlike any poetry I know. Anarchy, domesticity, death, love, and the delicate, almost unnoticed invisibilities of the quotidian reign, never far from revolution. An epigrammatic wisdom arrives by often standing on its head: an uncanny truth that is so second-guessed and interrogated one can’t help but trust in Muriel Ruykeyser’s prediction: “If a woman said the truth about her life, the world would split open.” At last, as Etta James would sing it. As spiky and uncompromising as the work of Leonara Carrington, these poems carry a rare, mystical alchemy. And as Wronsky writes, “I am the woman filming it.”” —Gillian Conoley