The Bower

University of Chicago Press
Free sample

How can a person come to understand wars and hatreds well enough to explain them truthfully to a child? The Bower engages this timeless and thorny question through a recounting of the poet-speaker’s year in Belfast, Northern Ireland, with her young daughter. The speaker immerses herself in the history of Irish politics—including the sectarian conflict known as The Troubles—and gathers stories of a painful, divisive past from museum exhibits, newspapers, neighbors, friends, local musicians, and cabbies. Quietly meditative, brooding, and heart-wrenching, these poems place intimate moments between mother and daughter alongside images of nationalistic violence and the angers that underlie our daily interactions. A deep dive into sectarianism and forgiveness, this timely and nuanced book examines the many ways we are all implicated in the impulse to “protect our own” and asks how we manage the histories that divide us.
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About the author

Connie Voisine is professor of English at New Mexico State University. She is the author of three previous books of poems, most recently, Calle Florista, also published by the University of Chicago Press.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
May 2, 2019
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Pages
80
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ISBN
9780226613819
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Language
English
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Genres
Poetry / American / General
Poetry / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Naomi's words and images meander through shadows and light, between demons and angels, yet the poetry is always accessible. In this moving collection, she often goes back in time, to the days when her family lived in (and escaped from) Hitler's Europe. The journey helps inform who she is today, including the indelible scar worn by anyone whose family has borne witness to genocide. —Stewart Florsheim, author of The Short Fall from Grace.

 "(W)e are all/each other's/raw/material" writes Naomi Ruth Lowinsky in her wise and moving book Adagio and Lamentation, the "we" born not only of others but histories and places, all of this inspiring our very human connection over time to vitality and imagination. Lowinsky's music is poignant and haunting, moving the listeners and readers of her poems with the miracle of arrival that is all new life and the celebration of thriving. —Forrest Hammer, author of Call and Response, Middle Ear, and Rift. 

Naomi Lowinsky's poetry is both fierce and tender, political yet intimate; and, for her, the political is personal. Lowinsky's poems "voices from the ashes"and "great lake of my mother" are particularly moving. Her work is deeply lyrical and transformative. It makes you think and feel. It makes you wish you'd written these poems. Adagio and Lamentation is a stunning and memorable book. —Susan Terris, author of Contrariwise, Natural Defenses, and Fire is Favorable to the Dreamer.

Naomi Ruth Lowinsky was the first child born in the New World to a family of German Jewish refugees from the Shoah. Many in her family were lost in the death camps. It has been the subject and the gift of her poetry and prose-to write herself out of the terror, into life. Naomi had a special tie with her only surviving grandparent, the painter Emma Hoffman, whom she called "Oma." Oma showed her that making art can be a way to transmute grief, a way to bear the unbearable. The cover of Adagio and Lamentation is a watercolor by Emma Hoffman-an interior view of the Berkeley home where Naomi visited her often as a teenager. Oma tried her best to make a painter of her, but Naomi was no good at it. Poetry was to be her vehicle. Adagio and Lamentation is Naomi's offering to her ancestors, a handing back in gratitude and love. It is also her way of bringing them news of their legacy-the cycle of life has survived all they suffered-Naomi has been blessed by many grandchildren.

The Bird is Her Reason
There are some bodies that emerge
into desire as a god
rises from the sea, emotion and
memory hang like dripping clothes—this
want is like
entering that heated red

on the mouth of a Delacroix lion,
stalwart, always that red
which makes
my teeth ache and my skin feel
a hand that has never touched me,
the tree groaning outside becomes
a man who knocks on my bedroom window,
edge of red on gold fur,
the horse, the wild
flip of its head, the rake of claws
across its back, the unfocussed,
swallowed eye.

Rare High Meadow of Which I Might Dream is a book haunted by the afterlife of medieval theology and literature yet grounded in distinctly modern quandaries of desire. Connie Voisine’s female speakers reverberate with notes of Marie de France’s tragic heroines, but whereas Marie’s poems are places where women’s longings quickly bloom and die in captivity—in towers and dungeons—Voisine uses narrative to suspend the movement of storytelling. For Voisine, poems are occasions for philosophical wanderings, extended lyrics that revolve around the binding and unbinding of desire, with lonely speakers struggling with the impetus of wanting as well as the necessity of a love affair’s end. With fluency, intelligence, and deeply felt emotional acuity, Rare High Meadow of Which I Might Dream navigates the heady intersection of obsessive love and searing loss.

Praise for Cathedral of the North
“Voisine’s poetry is wholly unsentimental, tactile, and filled with unexpected beauty. She is political in the best sense. . . . A dazzling, brave, and surprising first book.”—Denise Duhamel, Ploughshares
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