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On the North Slope: Poems

By author: Catharine Savage Brosman
Product Code: P444
ISBN: 9780881462739
Product Format: Paperback
Publisher: Mercer University Press
Availability: In stock
Price: $17.00

On the North Slope, Catharine Savage Brosman’s ninth collection of poetry, displays once more the impressive range of her artistry and her powerful poetic vision. Divided into four parts, the volume includes free verse, blank verse, and rhymed quatrains. Taken together, the poems impart the very feeling of consciousness and illuminate both its potentialities and its burdens as it relates to the world. After the introductory poem, the first part, “A Commonwealth of Place,” features the winds, snow, light, and sunset of a Colorado winter. Following poems combine elements of personal and historical experience with mountain and desert scenes, which illustrate the subtle bonds between such experiences and their natural and cultural settings. “Order Under the Sun” comprises eighteen lyrics, mostly rhymed, dealing with flowers, birds, trees, and—one of Brosman’s specialties—foodstuffs, including carrots, honey, and garlic. The tone of these lyrics, which focus on the human meaning of such natural objects, ranges from humorous to grave. “The Scripted Fate” brings together narrative and lyric poems treating the poet’s girlhood, in addition to such topics as failure and unhappiness, dying, and friendship and love, ending with an affirmation of married happiness. The final part, “Themes for the Muses,” features creative artists—Rodin, Donizetti, Liszt, and Yeats, among others—and performers. The poems emphasize creative work but even more the often dramatic dimensions of artists’ lives and the implications of artistic vision. Readers of Brosman’s new collection will find a generous spectrum of responses to experience, both light and dark, in poems of great verbal and visual appeal.
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Review by: Ray Olson, Booklist - April 15, 2012
Brosman continues to shower us with a personal poetry so expansive in spirit and intellect that it makes the personal poetry called confessional seem like so much trivial self-indulgence. For her, the world, life, and the mind are vast. When in this book’s first part, “A Commonwealth of Place,” she writes of her homeland, the Southwest, color and heat stretch the poems into landscapes worthy of Bierstadt or O’Keeffe. In “Order under the Sun,” concerned with flowers, birds, trees, and—odd one in—cheese, her gift for precise observation repeatedly refines words into fine-grained photographs, even lyrical cinema. Turning to time and death in “The Scripted Fate,” she sees from an elder’s perspective the shapeliness of whole lives and, in five elegiac sonnets, in particular, the sometime fitness of a life’s end. In the final section, “Themes for the Muses,” she extends her passion for the appreciated life to those of dancers, poets, composers, and artists, great and homely. She writes in four particular forms—sonnet, rhymed quatrain, and two lengths, six- and eight-line, of blank-verse paragraphs—with unforced elegance, achieved in no small part through complete mastery of those humble poet’s tools, enjambment and punctuation.
Review by: Derek Turner, novelist and editor of the Quarterly Review - March 1, 2012
Catharine Savage Brosman’s scintillating verses are like seventeenty-century Dutch seascapes—supremely controlled yet compassionating observations of people and places loved and too often lost, seen against a wide, wild world full of beauty, movement and possibility. Every heartfelt but precise syllable of each poem reveals an expert practitioner of unusual musicality, warmth, intelligence, and culture
Review by: Michael Tilby, Selwyn College, Cambridge - March 1, 2012
These finely chiselled poems enact a movement from an avowedly anecdotal delight in person, place, and nomenclature to a heightened sensitivity that allows the reader to share in unsuspected depths of feeling. On the North Slope is, above all, a celebration of the rich compatibility of the intellectual and affective realms.

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