Count the Waves: Poems

W. W. Norton & Company
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“Beasley uses humor and surprise like a scythe, cutting to the root of a matter.”—Washington Post

In Count the Waves, Sandra Beasley turns her eclectic imagination to the heart's pursuits. A man and a woman sit at the same dinner table, an ocean of worry separating them. An iceberg sets out to dance. A sword swallower ponders his dating prospects. "The vessel is simple, a rowboat among yachts," the poet observes in "Ukulele." "No one hides a Tommy gun in its case. / No bluesman runs over his uke in a whiskey rage."

Beasley's voice is pithy and playful, with a ferocious intelligence that invites comparison to both Sylvia Plath and Dorothy Parker. In one of six signature sestinas, she warns, "You must not use a house to build a home, / and never look for poetry in poems." The collection’s centerpiece is a haunting sequence that engages The Traveler's Vade Mecum, an 1853 compendium of phrases for use by mail, telegraph, or the enigmatic “Instantaneous Letter Writer."

Assembled over ten years and thousands of miles, these poems illuminate how intimacy is lost and gained during our travels. Decisive, funny, and as compassionate as she is merciless, Beasley is a reckoning force on the page.

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About the author

Sandra Beasley is the author of I Was the Jukebox, winner of the Barnard Women Poets Prize, and Theories of Falling, winner of the New Issues Poetry Prize, as well as the memoir Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life. She received a 2015 National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. She serves on the faculty with the low-residency MFA program at the University of Tampa, and lives in Washington, DC.

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Additional Information

Publisher
W. W. Norton & Company
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Published on
Jun 1, 2015
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Pages
96
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ISBN
9780393243215
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Poetry / American / General
Poetry / Women Authors
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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A beautifully written and darkly funny journey through the world of the allergic.
 
Like twelve million other Americans, Sandra Beasley suffers from food allergies. Her allergies—severe and lifelong—include dairy, egg, soy, beef, shrimp, pine nuts, cucumbers, cantaloupe, honeydew, mango, macadamias, pistachios, cashews, swordfish, and mustard. Add to that mold, dust, grass and tree pollen, cigarette smoke, dogs, rabbits, horses, and wool, and it’s no wonder Sandra felt she had to live her life as “Allergy Girl.” When butter is deadly and eggs can make your throat swell shut, cupcakes and other treats of childhood are out of the question—and so Sandra’s mother used to warn guests against a toxic, frosting-tinged kiss with “Don’t kill the birthday girl!”
 
It may seem that such a person is “not really designed to survive,” as one blunt nutritionist declared while visiting Sandra’s fourth-grade class. But Sandra has not only survived, she’s thrived—now an essayist, editor, and award-winning poet, she has learned to navigate a world in which danger can lurk in an unassuming corn chip. Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl is her story.
 
With candor, wit, and a journalist’s curiosity, Sandra draws on her own experiences while covering the scientific, cultural, and sociological terrain of allergies. She explains exactly what an allergy is, describes surviving a family reunion in heart-of-Texas beef country with her vegetarian sister, delves into how being allergic has affected her romantic relationships, exposes the dark side of Benadryl, explains how parents can work with schools to protect their allergic children, and details how people with allergies should advocate for themselves in a restaurant.
 
A compelling mix of memoir, cultural history, and science, Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl is mandatory reading for the millions of families navigating the world of allergies—and a not-to-be-missed literary treat for the rest of us.


From the Hardcover edition.
A beautifully written and darkly funny journey through the world of the allergic.
 
Like twelve million other Americans, Sandra Beasley suffers from food allergies. Her allergies—severe and lifelong—include dairy, egg, soy, beef, shrimp, pine nuts, cucumbers, cantaloupe, honeydew, mango, macadamias, pistachios, cashews, swordfish, and mustard. Add to that mold, dust, grass and tree pollen, cigarette smoke, dogs, rabbits, horses, and wool, and it’s no wonder Sandra felt she had to live her life as “Allergy Girl.” When butter is deadly and eggs can make your throat swell shut, cupcakes and other treats of childhood are out of the question—and so Sandra’s mother used to warn guests against a toxic, frosting-tinged kiss with “Don’t kill the birthday girl!”
 
It may seem that such a person is “not really designed to survive,” as one blunt nutritionist declared while visiting Sandra’s fourth-grade class. But Sandra has not only survived, she’s thrived—now an essayist, editor, and award-winning poet, she has learned to navigate a world in which danger can lurk in an unassuming corn chip. Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl is her story.
 
With candor, wit, and a journalist’s curiosity, Sandra draws on her own experiences while covering the scientific, cultural, and sociological terrain of allergies. She explains exactly what an allergy is, describes surviving a family reunion in heart-of-Texas beef country with her vegetarian sister, delves into how being allergic has affected her romantic relationships, exposes the dark side of Benadryl, explains how parents can work with schools to protect their allergic children, and details how people with allergies should advocate for themselves in a restaurant.
 
A compelling mix of memoir, cultural history, and science, Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl is mandatory reading for the millions of families navigating the world of allergies—and a not-to-be-missed literary treat for the rest of us.


From the Hardcover edition.
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