Poetry Will Save Your Life

"It is this mystic negotiation of the knowing and unknowing, that flicker of light in a dark wood that is poetry," writes Jill Bialosky (History of a Suicide) in Poetry Will Save Your Life. Poet and novelist Bialosky fans that flame in this unconventional book that is at once poetry anthology and personal reckoning. She intertwines poems that have shaped her with the contexts in which they mattered; the bones of poetry and flesh of reflection yield something extraordinary.

Bialosky's stories swing a poignant pendulum from past to present. The loss of her father leads her to seek comfort in poems, sparking a lifelong passion for the form. Between the included poems, she meditates on moments that deal with the minutiae of life--a stolen tube of lipstick or a chance meeting with boys in a blue Corvette--as well as moments of magnitude: the miscarriage of a child or picking up her young son from his Manhattan school on the morning of September 11.

Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Sylvia Plath and Adrienne Rich are among more than 40 poets whose work Bialosky gathers, along with scholars' and critics' commentary. Her writing is itself poetic: careful, courageous and clear. She marvels at the power of poems that can punctuate life, poems that "shimmy down the page" or that, in Frost's words, become "a way of taking life by the throat." Ultimately, Poetry Will Save Your Life does all three. --Katie Weed, freelance writer and reviewer

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