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A Leaf Out of His Book
Hi. Out of these swarms of books
why not let me be your own buzzing book,
your bible of the poor told in pictures,
or your humming sutras brought
so far, on foot, right,
from India to China, a twenty year walk?
No? Then surely you'd like me
to be your Liber Studiorum
from 'Waterstone Whispers'
A Leaf out of his Book, Penelope Shuttle's new collection, is a copious volume - more than eighty poems. With a meticulous sense of line and phrasing, they explore in one way and another the processes of love in all its manifestations; and in this book they dare to be in love in time and record the changes it effects in the self and the things loved.
Of her first book of poems, The Orchard Upstairs, Eavan Boland wrote, 'the voyages of childbirth, of love, of growth widen out the lyrics and seek their arrivals in emblems and symbols that have the power of
truth.' Her voyages have become increasingly ambitious, she has discovered areas sacred and profane and found voices appropriate to each circumstance, whether humorous or joyful. There is an unusual candour in her work, a willingness to name and evoke what she really means.
One critic describes her use of language and of the short, pacing line as incremental, rich and at the same time precise, whatever her subject-matter. The erotic, maternal loves and the world in a spirit elicit unsentimental celebration. She writes at the edge, but the edge of ecstasy rather than despair.
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