The Selvage: Poems

The Selvage: Poems

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A magnificent new collection from National Book Award finalist and Kingsley Tufts Award winner Linda GregersonIn eloquent poems about Ariadne, Theseus, and Dido, the death of a father, a bombing raid in Lebanon, and in a magnificent series detailing Masaccio’s Brancacci frescoes, The Selvage deftly traces the “line between” the “wonder and woe” of human experience. Keenly attuned to the precariousness of our existence in a fractured world—of “how little the world will spare us”—Gregerson explores the cruelty of human and political violence, such as the recent island massacre in Norway and “the current nightmare” of war and terrorism. And yet, running as a “counterpoint” to violence and cruelty is “The reigning brilliance / of the genome and / the risen moon . . . ,” “The / arachnid’s exoskeleton. The kestrel’s eye.” The Selvage is the boldest evidence yet that Linda Gregerson’s unique combination of dramatic lyricism and fierce intelligence transcends current fashions to claim an enduring place in American poetry.

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  • Format: Hardcover

  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9780547750095

  • ISBN-10: 0547750099

  • Pages: 112

  • Price: $28.95

  • Publication Date: 10/23/2012

  • Carton Quantity: 24

Linda Gregerson

Linda Gregerson

Linda Gregerson is the author of six previous collections of poetry, most recently of Prodigal: New and Selected Poems. A former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Gregerson is the Caroline Walker Bynum Distinguished University Professor at the University of Michigan, where she directs the Helen Zell Writers' Program.
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  • excerpts

    The Selvage


    So door to door among the shotgun

    shacks in Cullowhee and Waynesville in

    our cleanest shirts and ma’am

    and excuse me were all but second

    nature now and this one woman comes

    to the door she must have weighed

    three hundred pounds Would you be

    willing to tell us who you plan to vote

    for we say and she turns around with

    Everett who’re we voting for? The

    black guy says Everett. The black guy

    she says except that wasn’t the language

    they used they used the word

    we’ve all agreed to banish from even our

    innermost thoughts, which is when

    I knew he was going to win.


    At which point the speaker discovers,

    as if the lesson were new,

    she has told the story at her own expense.

    Amazing, said my sister’s chairman’s

    second wife, to think what you’ve

    amounted to considering where you’re from,

    which she imagined was a compliment.

    One country, friends. Where when

    we have to go there, as, depend

    upon it, fat or thin, regenerate

    or blinkered-to-the-end, we shall,

    they have to take us in. I saw


    a riverful of geese as I drove home across

    our one-lane bridge. Four hundred of them

    easily, close-massed against the current and

    the bitter wind (some settled on the ice) and just

    the few at a time who’d loosen rank to

    gather again downstream. As if

    to paraphrase. The fabric

    every minute bound

    by just that pulling-out that holds

    the raveling together. You were driving

    all this time? said Steven. Counting

    geese? (The snow falling into the river.)

    No. (The river about

    to give itself over to ice.) I’d stopped.

    Their wingspans, had they not

    been taking shelter here, as wide as we are tall.

    Slight Tremor

    The fine fourth finger

    of his fine right hand,

    just slightly, when

    he’s tracking our path

    on his iPhone or

    repairing the clasp

    on my watch I

    will not think about

    the myelin sheath.

    Slight tremor only,

    transient, so

    the flaw in the

    pavement must

    have been my

    mother’s back.


    Smothered up in gauze, the sky’s

       been healing for a week or

    two, conserving its basin of gruel.

       The shops have closed

    in sympathy. The ferry’s ministrations

       barely mark the hour. And just

    when we’d convinced ourselves that

       beauty unsubdued betrays

    a coarsened mind, the fabric starts

       to loosen, lift, and daylight

    all unblighted takes a gaudy good-

       night bow. What sodden

    indistinction just an hour ago had all

       but persuaded us not to

    regret resumes its first divisions:

       slate from cinder, ash

    from smoke, warm dapple-gray from

       moleskin, dove- from

    Quaker-gray from taupe, until

       the blackwater satins unroll their

    gorgeous lengths above a sharpening

       partition of lake-and-loam.

    Give up yet? says the cirro-strato-sable

       brush. Then watch

    what I can do with orange. And,

       flood-lit, ink-besotted, so

    assails the upper atmosphere that

       all our better judgment

    fails. The Alps? They’ve seen it all

       before. They’ve flattened

    into waiting mode. The people?

       Flat bedazzled. But

    in fairness had a shorter way to fall.

Available Resources

Related Categories

  • Format: Hardcover

  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9780547750095

  • ISBN-10: 0547750099

  • Pages: 112

  • Price: $28.95

  • Publication Date: 10/23/2012

  • Carton Quantity: 24

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