The Mind-Body Problem: Poems

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In The Mind-Body Problem, Katha Pollitt takes the ordinary events of life–her own and others’–and turns them into brilliant, poignant, and often funny poems that are full of surprises and originality. Pollitt’s imagination is stirred by conflict and juxtaposition, by the contrast (but also the connection) between logic and feeling, between the real and the transcendent, between our outer and inner selves: Jane Austen slides her manuscript under her blotter, bewildered young mothers chat politely on the playground, the simple lines of a Chinese bowl in a thrift store remind the poet of the only apparent simplicities of her childhood. The title poem hilariously and ruefully depicts the friction between passion and repression (“Perhaps / my body would have liked to make some of our dates, / to come home at four in the morning and answer my scowl / with ‘None of your business!’ ”). In a sequence of nine poems, Pollitt turns to the Bible for inspiration, transforming some of the oldest tales of Western civilization into subversive modern parables: What if Adam and Eve couldn’t wait to leave Eden? What if God needs us more than we need him?

With these moving, vivid, and utterly distinctive poems, Katha Pollitt reminds us that poetry can be both profound and accessible, and reconfirms her standing in the first rank of modern American poets.
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About the author

Katha Pollitt is a poet, essayist, and columnist for The Nation. She has won many prizes and awards for her work, including the National Book Critics Circle Award for her first collection of poems, Antarctic Traveller; two National Magazine Awards for essays and criticism; and fellowships from the Guggenheim and Whiting foundations. She is also the author of Learning to Drive: And Other Life Stories and Virginity or Death!: And Other Social and Political Issues of Our Time. She lives in New York City.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Random House
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Published on
Jun 9, 2009
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Pages
96
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ISBN
9781588367808
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Language
English
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Genres
Poetry / American / General
Poetry / Subjects & Themes / General
Poetry / Women Authors
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Learning to Drive • Now a major motion picture starring Patricia Clarkson and Ben Kingsley

Celebrated for her award-winning political columns, criticism, and poetry, Katha Pollitt now shows us another side of her talent. Learning to Drive is a surprising, revealing, and entertaining collection of essays drawn from the author’s own life.

With deep feeling and sharp insight, Pollitt writes about the death of her father; the sad but noble final days of a leftist study group of which she was a member; and the betrayal and heartbreak inflicted by a man who seriously deceived her. (Her infinitely patient, gentle driving instructor points out her weakness—“Observation, Katha, observation!”) She also offers a candid view of her preoccupation with her ex-lover’s haunting presence on the Internet, and her search there for a secret link that might provide a revelation about him that will Explain Everything.

Other topics include the differences between women and men—“More than half the male members of the Donner party died of cold and starvation, but three quarters of the females survived, saved by that extra layer of fat we spend our lives trying to get rid of”—and the practical implications of political theory: “What if socialism—all that warmhearted folderol about community and solidarity and sharing was just an elaborate con job, a way for men to avoid supporting their kids?”

Learning to Drive demonstrates that while Katha Pollitt is undeniably one of our era’s most profound observers of culture, society, and politics, she is just as impressively a wise, graceful, and honest observer of her own and others’ human nature.

Praise for Learning to Drive

“The kind of book you want to look up from at points so you can read aloud certain passages to a friend or lover.”—Chicago Tribune

“A powerful personal narrative . . . full of insight and charm . . . Pollitt is her own Jane Austen character . . . haughty and modest, moral and irresponsible, sensible and, happily for us, lost in sensibility.”—The New York Review of Books

“With . . . bracing self-honesty, Pollitt takes us through the maddening swirl of contradictions at the heart of being fifty-something: the sense of slowing down, of urgency, of wisdom, of ignorance, of strength, of helplessness, of breakdown, of renewal.”—The Seattle Times

“Essays of breathtaking candor and razor-sharp humor . . . [Pollitt] has outdone herself. . . . [Her] observations are acute and her confessions tonic. Forget face-lifts; Pollitt’s essays elevate the spirit.”—Booklist (starred review)
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