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Rare High Meadow of Which I Might Dream

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
 
 

72 pages | 6 1/8 x 8 1/2 | © 2008

Phoenix Poets

Poetry

Reviews

“Whether it’s a crowded New York subway, a truckstop in Tennessee, or a cheap hotel in the South of France, each place Voisine takes on in these heart-grabbing poems suddenly reveals both its most dangerous and its most thrilling core. These poems constitute a lyric chronicle of the exhilaration and difficulty of making one’s way in a world by turns so generous and so stingy. One way or another, each of them charts the ‘old fashioned, struggling / with grace.’”

Jacqueline Osherow

Rare High Meadow of Which I Might Dream generates and sustains a momentum all its own. Centered firmly in a sensibility both ‘rare’ and ‘high,’ it is as down to earth as what we all walk on. It’s a book I won’t be able to read enough times.”

James McMichael

“Connie Voisine is that rarity—a lyric poet of the highest order who is also a wonderful storyteller. She has mastered the narrative poem with a fierce precocity, infusing her lines with a dark, shimmering music and employing a variety of voices, all perfectly pitched. From the stunning ‘First Taste,’ rich and compressed as a novella, to the staccato imagery of her shorter poems, she is a poet of transport, of transformative journeys, from the lower depths of Manhattan to the open highways of the West. This is a brilliant collection from a poet with a long career before her, and I shall treasure it.”

Nicholas Christopher

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements

The Early Days of Aviation
The Invisible Man remained
The Bird is Her Reason
Anonymous Lyric
Love Poem
Fly
Dangerous for Girls
Apart, Away
First Taste
Weathercam—the Horizon
The Bitter After
Sorry I Don’t Like You
The Beginning of Things
This is for the silver of highway

Notes

Awards

Los Angeles Times: Los Angeles Times Book Prizes
Shortlist

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